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Member Profile: Julian Moss

Julian Moss has been working in the software industry since 1990.

Q: Why did you decide to work in the software industry? What is your background working in the software industry?
My career in computing began as a programmer on mainframes in the 1970s. When personal computers became available in the 1980s I used them for a hobby. As a programmer, I wrote my own software for them and it was a natural next step to try selling it. Over a long period, this developed from a not-very-well paying hobby to my full time business.

Q: What work do you do/have you done in the software industry?
I am MD of Tech-Pro Limited, which operates tech-pro.net and several other smaller sites that are now principally involved in promoting software sales as an affiliate. I originally came into this business as a developer of shareware, and we still have a couple of products that I developed, but it became clear to me a couple of years ago that it was easier to make money selling other people's software than writing my own, so our focus now is entirely on the affiliate marketing side of the business.

Q: What advice would you give to people/businesses getting started in the software industry?
Don't do it if your main reason for doing so is that you just have an urge to write programs! That's a sure way to get disappointing sales. First, identify a niche that does not have too much competition and then work out what you could offer that would make your product stand out in that sector. Then be prepared to put in a lot of work before offering your product for sale. The early days of shareware when you could put out a half-completed product and ask people to register 'to encourage further development' are long gone. Now you must think and operate like a real business to have any chance of success. If you are thinking of starting another PAD file listings site, again, don't bother. There are way too many already. Why do you suppose that so many download sites end up as parked domains after a couple of years? Instead, think of a software niche, and try to create a site focussing on that niche. Consider adding forums and other content to build a community, to! You can then sell software.

Q: What is/are some of the greatest challenges facing people/companies in the software industry today?
There are no easy roads to quick riches any more. I think the biggest problem facing anyone starting out today is getting people to visit their new website. It takes time - or a lot of money - to build good search engine positions, and it is expensive to try to get the same results using PPC advertising. 'Build it and they will come' used to be true of websites, but not any more. So you must be prepared not just for the technical side of creating the product or site (which is what appeals to most of us) but to engage with marketing as well. When I started in this business the big names in software weren't even involved online, and it was easy to sell shareware. Now they dominate the market and micro ISVs must compete or die.

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