The Ruby Community’s Information Marketing Mania

Hi – this is a guest post by Giles Bowkett. I made at least $10,000 in the last few months selling videos on my personal blog (including at least $5,000 selling a video about how to have a terrific programming career, and at least $5,000 selling a video about how to sell videos on your blog).

As crazy and hucksterish as this might seem, I’m not the only one. PeepCode, the Pragmatic Programmers, RailsEnvy, ThinkCode.tv, and Codeulate all sell Ruby-related screencasts; Rubyists selling Ruby-related ebooks include Jeremy McAnally, former Rails Activist Mike Gunderloy, Marc-AndrĂ© Cournoyer, the husband-and-wife team of Thomas Fuchs and Amy Hoy, and, if you go back as far as 2006, DHH himself, and 37Signals as a whole (who made $120,000 in one month selling a PDF off their blog, and in the process sparked a debate with Tim O’Reilly about whether traditional publishers still had any value at all – a debate somewhat ironic in the context of this year’s new, traditionally-published 37Signals book, Rework). Fuchs and Hoy also sell online training webinars, using a business model familiar to classic internet information marketing, but on topics like JavaScript and how to ship projects.

Just this week, Michael Hartl of Rails Tutorial has created an audacious, $495 webinar/screencasts program as well. Meanwhile, Xavier Shay is touring the US with his Database Is Your Friend live training program, and of course the Pragmatic Studio live trainings have been going for years. (I attended the TDD studio twice, it’s great.) Live training sometimes goes one-on-one, as well: I give programmers personal coaching, as does Greg Brown (of Prawn fame). Somewhat atypically for this list, Greg is also developing a free program called Ruby Mendicant University which uses the info-marketing “webinar” model but gives everything away for free.

Although info marketing’s been part of the Ruby community since 2006, it’s grown in the past year; many of the projects listed above are new in the last six months. What does it mean? A rough, practical entrepreneurship runs strong in the Ruby and Rails communities, with a spirit audacious and independent enough to border on a punk rock vibe.

DHH has made fun of venture capitalists for spending millions to launch a company, when he built Basecamp on just ten hours a week, but ten hours a week is overkill for an information marketing business. I literally started my first such business with $30, selling Warcraft ebooks with pay-per-click advertizing. Rubyists are reacting to the dismal economy with their own gutsy ventures, which is what we should expect.

Google PageRank In Five Lines Of Ruby

Giles Bowkett – Ruby Inside’s Top Presenter of 2008 – contributes a guest post:

I created a 90-minute video called How To Get A Kickass Job, Making Six Figures Working (From Home) With The Stars Of Your Community, Even If You Just Got So Fired That The Cops Hauled You Out Of The Building In Handcuffs. Part of my magic formula includes understanding Google PageRank, and the best way to understand complex, abstract mathematics is to reduce them to a very short Ruby script. As an aside, you’d be surprised how many complex, abstract theoretical thingamajigs can condense down to just a few lines of easily understandable Ruby.

Having problems watching the video embedded above? You can go directly to the video on Vimeo.com.