How I developed, marketed and sold a translation software product that Proz.com would not let me speak about

Published by: jankapoun, dated: February 15, 2021

And why do some people seem to utterly hate it …without even trying it out?

Am I getting paranoid?

Selling is hard

So, yestarday and today, 3 of my posts in Proffesional Translators and Interpreters discussion group on LinkedIn got kicked out from the thread. For those who dont’ know, most of my posts on LinkedIn are about Bohemicus, which is a tool for translators that can greatly help you to work faster. I think you can google it yourself, I don’t wanna post any links here… they could kick me out again.

This is the first time in my life I am actually trying to sell a product. Well, I am not a professional salesman so I am pretty much struggling. Selling software seems to be really hard, even if it’s a great product I have full confidence in…. and it’s also very emotional, as I am going to explain in just a minute. Perhaps I should pay a professional salesman to sell it for me…. which I am actually doing right now, trying to partner with 2 joint-venture software selling portals.

How to sell a product?

I started studying some materials on marketing and sales, watched a couple of videos with Neil Patal, Greg Kononenko and others to find out how to actually sell software… or just about anything for that matter. So I did all what they had to say: created a Youtube channel, created some really cool webpages, wrote a couple of articles…. and started to actively take part in discussions on Proz.com, LinkedIn … and I am going to try Facebook as well.

Things started to go awry

And of course, it was on Proz.com where things started to go awry. I was naive enough to start posting on Proz discussion forums. I think those were pretty innocent posts, something like: “Hey guys, how do you deal with various quotation marks in your languages?” or “Do you use any clipboard manager? Well, I use this one, because I made it myself to exactly address my needs. I think it works pretty well!”. And of course I posted some links.

They gave me their hatred

And boy how suprised I was…. I expected replies something like: “Oh, that seems to be interesting, that could actually help me! I will try that out!”…. but I couldn’t have been more wrong. That utter hatred some of my colleagues gave me! To say the truth, I was really shocked by this. And of course, soon enough, one of these haters denounced me to the forum admin for placing “spam” in it…. and she kindly asked me to stop posting. I had also similar experience on LinkedIn where one of the translators was utterly laughing at my software, saying he could work with just his own tool much faster…. which he said was MyFingers&Brain4.0. 😀 That’s actually funny… but you can feel the hatred too.

Why do people act in an evil way?

I really do not understand it: you show them something that could actually make them work 2-3 faster, thus making 2-3 more money… and they start hating you for this! Without even trying it out! (I get an email everytime someone downloads this software.) How absurd is this?

After my emotions drifted away…. I started thinking about this. Why do they hate it so much? And then it struck me… it’s the good old envy. I just created something they would never be able to create themselves…. and I am trying to sell it! OMG, we have to lynch him right now!

An interesting turn

And this is where the story takes an interesting turn. I decided to go to Proz.com and actually pay them to show my ads. Rocío Tempone from the Proz.com team seemed really helpful…. in the beginning. So I told her all the required info about my software, sent her some links and requested some more detailed info on the ads format, pricing, etc. And then…. nothing. So I waited a couple of days and wrote an email to her colleagues. She said Rocío was busy organizing their Proz conference… and would reply later. She never did.

This is the point where I started to feel all those doubts and insecurities you read about in all those business books or hear from all those great enterpreneurs. I felt like: OMG, my software is such a piece of crap they won’t even consider it for paid advertizing! I am an incompetent idiot, what was I thinking?

Rethinking

But well, I waited again for my emotions to drift away and took a thorough look at my product again. Yes, it’s true, the UI did not look like much. So I added a blue title bar with some custom control box icons and I aligned the buttons and boxes a little bit to make it look neater. Much better now, still certainly not the best in its class. A specialized UI designer would certainly do a much better job. But I think it’s neat now.

But the code that runs behind the scenes is simply superb. It’s highly functional, it does what is promises to do – it helps you to work faster and more effectively, thus making more money, saving your time. Some features run even faster than those in SDL Studio (importing a TMX file). The code is sound, there’s no doubt about that. I think there’s no need to feel ashamed for it.

And this makes me think: Why would they not let me speak about it? I don’t think I am posting any downright adverts or spam: I just do a short video, mostly working in some CAT tool or MS Word, showing a feature that Bohemicus does behind the scenes. There are no links to the product, no prices, no sales campaing… nothing like that. Well, watch one of these videos for yourself:

So what is actually spam?

Because if this is spam…. then you wouldn’t be able to talk about any product in their forums! Everything would be considered spam! You want to show how to do something in MS Word? Spam! Showing how to export a TM from SDL Studio? Spam!

Well, I think they just hate the connection – they see my name and my product tagline below my name… and then a video showing this product. Hmmm… so perhaps I should pay someone to show these videos for me.

Or maybe, the admin of this group is just envious the same way those translators were. He hates the idea someone could actually make money on something he would never be able to do. This is what he wrote after I posted a short video showing how to quickly convert screws into milimeters:

No, wrong. It was removed (“banned is a little melodramatic) because I can’t see the relevance for a translation group. Not of the product, but of the repeated ads. Do enlighten us.

After pointing out the obvious: converting from the imperial to the metric system and having actually tried to pay Proz for advertizing, he added:

Adverts are allowed here from time to time and are free. But if you want to advertise commercial products consistently, you need to put in the hard work of building up your own community.

Getting paranoid

This afternoon, I was also getting a bit paranoid. Why in bloody hell would they not take my money to show a couple of my ads on their site? Could it be that it’s some kind of a weird clique they have with SDL, Kilgray and a couple of other companies to prevent anyone new to enter this market? This seems to me to be really far-fetched, but I still do not understand why they would not take my money.

Or are they perhaps afraid translators would start using this product’s features extensively and break the non-disclosure agreements? Because yes, the machine translation and voice dictation features could be a potential issue – data is sent to Google for further analysis. But as Google say they do not use the data for any other purpose except to provide you the service you asked for.

I think this is exactly why e.g. the SDL Studio will always display the “AT” mark with a segment that has been machine translated…. so that everyone can immediately see you used the automated solution. But not with Bohemicus – all machine-translated segments will appear as manually translated in SDL Studio.

Persistence is the key

Well, I have sold a couple of copies sofar…. and I am going to continue this journey. That’s another think wise men say: Persistence is the key.

I do not depend in any way on this product financially, but it just interests me where would this road take me, where would it lead. Beside this, I very much enjoy developing software in C#, it’s actually my passtime …. and after finishing this record-keeping and invoicing features of Bohemicus, I am planning to turn it into a proper CAT tool that will just run faster and be more convenient to use. I mean – how hard can it be? It just a simple text editor with a database after all.

Also, I think, all those things I learn from the development of this software product, marketing and sales, could be of a great advantage in the future.

After almost 2 years…

So, it¨’s been some 2 years now since I started to sell Bohemicus. Things started to take off a little bit…. I sell a stable number of copies every month. Certainly nothing that would make me a millionaire, but it is OK. This Bohemicus project is a great way of learning the art of marketing and sales.

Things that work and things that don’t

And yes: PERSISTANCE IS THE KEY. I already learned I cannot be too salesy, because that turns people instantly off. What I have figured out so far: Make Youtube videos, write articles, maintain the product webpage… and let interested users come by themselves. What doesn’t work: posting obvious links in professional forums and discussions – this is a really bad idea, as this very much attracts haters and people with psychological problems (envy).

Software selling portals

I have tried JVZoo, a joint-venture portal to sell software…. and my opinion is: it’s just scam to make money for its owners. I haven’t sold a single copy through this portal. It only attracts people from 3rd world countries trying to make a quick buck. They want to be my associates… but they never actually bother to download my software and try it out.

More serious portals, such as SourceForge or our Czech version “Slunecnice” could perhaps be of some help in terms of link building and SEO. But don’t expect too much from them either.

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