Serpens Creator Joshua Knauber & The Anatomy of a Successful Product Launch

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about the types of products you create.

My name is Joshua, I’m from Germany and I just started studying Interaction Design in Berlin. I did some programming in school and started to really get into it with Blender addons. This is also what I’m focused on with my products. I currently have two addons, ‘Layer Painter’, which is for layer-based texturing inside Blender, and ‘Serpens’ which has just launched and adds Visual-Scripting nodes.

What does it mean to you to have a “successful” product launch? 

I’ve only had two big product launches, so that’s a little hard to answer, but I would say that you should have customers who can say that their expectations, from your marketing beforehand, match what they got from the product. This is the basis for growing a bigger group of people who like and share your product with others.

Once you’ve finished crafting your product, how much time do you generally expect to spend on preparing your product launches?

I like to start preparing while I’m still in the middle of working on the product and also to share pieces of what I’m working on. This helps to get a feel for what people expect from your product before you even launch it and this way you can give them the best possible result right from the start. For the launch itself, I’d say start as early as you can with creating a product description, trailer, and images, and refine them as you go. This way you have some time to think about it and change parts. If you know what customers want from sharing snippets beforehand, you can then focus on that in your marketing.

What sorts of things are on your “launch checklist” that you want to be sure are in place before your new product publishes?

For bigger add-ons, it’s important to have proper documentation in place. And this is not only text-based info but, most importantly, video tutorials. I didn’t do this for my first addon and it was the biggest issue with that launch. It helps people to get a feel for your product and to get started with it so you don’t have to answer the same basic questions over and over again. Finding affiliates to do videos for your addons also works great if you don’t want to record your own. In addition to that, you can get exposure outside your bubble for your product.

Apart from that, having a place where people can report issues and share feedback is also essential.

What channels do you use to get the word out about your new product? Have you found that some are more effective than others?

I use Twitter as the main platform, but things like Blender Artists, BlenderNation, etc. are also great. I like to post some type of trailer or feature showcase on YouTube, as well, to have something that people can look at. Having something visual is usually better than long text-based descriptions. You should have both, though, if there’s someone who wants to get a more detailed description.

With Serpens, I tried to use Discord a bit more and that worked well in my specific case. I started building a bit of a community there before the release and it is now the main place of communication. This is great because people can help each other, share their work, issues, and solutions.

Is the hard work done once the product has been published?

This depends a lot on your product. If you have something that you can update like an addon, then publishing it is only the very start. This is when you start getting feedback from your customers and start to build on your initial product. For me, releasing something is just the beginning of that product, but that might differ for whatever you’re creating.

How do you keep the momentum going and maintain customer awareness of and interest in your product after the initial sales and reviews are in?

If you maintain the philosophy of having an ever-changing and improving product, then this should be fairly easy. Each update can be its own ‘product launch’, in a way. You can sell new features just as well as new products if you work on things that people want.

Of course, you can also sell things that people don’t need but then this will be a lot harder.  A good product can, in a way, sell itself. This doesn’t mean that it will, and it also depends a lot on what group you’re targeting, but in general, something that gets people excited will also spread in the community. If you then keep updating it to keep it fresh and interesting, this will keep the awareness high.

The best example of this is the products by MACHIN3 or TeamC. With each update, they manage to keep people excited about their great products. They don’t just sit on something that’s already great but they keep improving it with features that keep their customers interested and also attract new ones.

What do you know now about preparing new products for sale that you wish you had known when you first started selling products on Blender Market?

Focus on your documentation! I can’t stress this enough because it’s just as important as having a good product.

A great thing that no one can use is just as worthless as a bad product.

Big thanks to Joshua for sharing his approach to launching new products with us! What's an essential part of your product launches?