I need to protect my work

  De Marcus 22:39 17 Jul 05

Hi all, I'm in the middle of a career change and would like your thoughts and opinions. I have website tutorials that are massively popular and would like to start charging (a tiny fee) for the use of these tutorials. I have a few tutorials which are widespread click here of which I'm happy to be so widespread but I also have some tutorials with which aren't published and I would like to charge for. My new website is going to be based on my portfolio of work and I would like to add a section (with samplers) of tutorials to give people an idea of the content they will receive should they sign up for a small fee.

What sort of payment system should I opt for? Should it be a merchant account type or pay pal style, or anything else that is reliable and trustworthy? I'm at a loss when it comes to implementing such a payment system and would appreciate any help. Also is there is any way of properly protecting the new tutorials (i.e. pdf versions) so they don't become so widespread?

  Forum Editor 00:07 18 Jul 05

is that massively popular tutorials often stop being popular very abruptly, once you start charging for them. It's a fact of life I'm afraid - there are just so many free resources still out there.

Experience shows that a 'tiny' fee is just as much a deterrent as a not-so-tiny one, so that if for example you charge 50p for something, you may sell as many copies (or as few) as you would if you charged £1. It's not so much the small charge that deters people as having to go through all the faff of getting out a credit card, or even worse, opening a PayPal account. They simply can't be bothered, unless the product is unique, and sadly yours isn't - I found at least half a dozen very comprehensive free Maya tutorial sites with just a UK search.

The Google search page in your link uses your own name as a search reference, and that's not really what people will use.

As far as payment systems go, you might be well advised to try PayPal to start with - customers can pay with a credit card, and PayPal is an easy route to online selling. It's also a respected name in the business. That way you won't be committing to expensive shopping cart solutions before you have some idea of how the business will go.

Forget about protecting your work - there's no way you can do it so it's foolproof, and it isn't worth trying. Make sure you have a copyright claim clearly visible on the PDF, and get your customers to tick a box to confirm that they have read your terms and conditions of sale - one of which will be that your work may not be copied or distributed, in whole or in part, or placed on an electronic retrieval system without your prior consent.

  De Marcus 16:30 18 Jul 05

Well that's a lot to be getting my head round, I think a reconsideration is in order, I'm thinking of offering one 2 one tutorials (web based), if it flops I won't have lost much money, but I've at least gotta give it a try.
Thanks for the frank and honest opinion FE, it puts things into perspective.

  Forum Editor 18:35 18 Jul 05

might stand a chance - if you can package the idea attractively. Win XP's remote assistance tool has revolutionised the way I deal with some of my overseas clients; I can show them how to do things rather than trying to tell them on the phone, or by email.

You may not use that method, but I like the idea of individually-tailored tuition, it might just work.

  ade.h 16:50 22 Jul 05

I know a couple of people who run IT support companies (mostly self-empolyed) and one to one tuition is available as part of their service. That, of course, is face to face; I don't know if it would be quite as easy to do over the web, but it's worth a go I think. Would you also consider offering your service locally, face to face?

  De Marcus 12:23 23 Jul 05

I would consider it, if there were aspiring graphics artists en masse where I live, unfortunately there isn't and so I don't think it's a viable option to head down that path. I'm currently doing a bit of research with regards to using the built in remote assistance tool available in XP, feedback from graphics companies has so far been quite positive, most of them putting the emphasis on troubleshooting when things go wrong or they hit a brick wall with regards as to how to do something in Maya or another graphic application. The problem I can see I'm going to have is trying to juggle between work and this little 'project'.

  ade.h 17:21 23 Jul 05

Aah, I see your point. If the type of assistance that you offer is quite specific, then it would be best to look further afield, perhaps idendifying suitable companies accross the UK and writing to them about your service. Maybe use your own design skills to produce a nice professional-looking leaflet. The more I think about your idea, the more I think that you've got real potential on your hands. Best of luck in your venture.

  Forum Editor 17:55 23 Jul 05

and as ade.h has confirmed, there is potential, but I think it might not lie in selling pre -prepared tutorials, at least not wholly.

Almost all of my clients want me to provide a personal consulting service - one where I go to them, or at least talk to them by phone. Many's the time I have tried to produce manuals/documents on various aspects of IT and get people to use them, but I've failed. Few busy people can be bothered to plough through reams of text nowadays; they much prefer a meeting and/or a hands-on advice session. As I said before, the Win XP remote assistance facility has been a godsend - I can sort out many common software problems online, and one of my Hong-Kong clients recently arranged for me to do a FrontPage 2003 training session for six of their web-site maintenance staff via the phone and WinXP remote assistance. It worked far better than I hoped, and it was great to hear a small ripple of polite Chinese applause when I signed off at the end.

You might think about offering a similar service in your speciality.

  De Marcus 18:53 23 Jul 05

I'm putting remote assistance to the test this afternoon with a friend of mine at sony who's having a problem with NURBS, it'll be the second time I've ever used this feature and no doubt there'll be teething problems, I'll report back with what happens or doesn't!

  De Marcus™ 21:42 23 Jul 05

Well XP's remote assistance worked a treat, it was simple and easy to use, with a running commentary from both us, now how to package the idea as FE has said, is going to prove much more difficult. I'll probably return to this thread with some idea's.

  De Marcus™ 01:52 22 Jan 06

Well, I'd like to take the time to extend my thanks to FE and ade.h, I've been up and running with this venture for almost 6 months now, I recently (pre-Christmas) managed to land myself 2 big contracts, one from the states (not allowed to mention :-( ) and one from Japan (capcom) as their resident online troubleshooter available 24/7. The hours of work are somewhat unsociable but mostly enjoyable and I'm now interviewing GA's (graphics artists) to help with the wokload.

Again, I'll extend my thanks for the pointers and direction, plus xp remote assitance ;-)

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