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  • Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

    I've developed a series of actions that produce effects like some commercial plugins. Because the quality of output compares well (and in some ways surpasses what's already out there,) I think users would be willing to pay for the actions at a fraction of the cost of a plugin alternative.

    I've put two months of my own time into these actions already. Could they make money or would selling them amount to nothing but wasted time and effort?

    I'm concerned about piracy, of course, but moreso about theft of the methods these actions use. Unlike a coded plugin, of course, the recipe behind an action is open. It could be imitated and given away for nothing. Even worse, it could be used for others' profit.

    I've seen hundreds of actions available for free, but far less for sale. How much of a market is there for Photoshop actions? Do action publishers have any means of protecting their work?

  • #2
    Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

    First off, congratulations on your endeavor. I admire creative, innovative people like you. Here are some of my thoughts...

    Can one make money?

    I would say, "Yes, under the right circumstances." People like Kevin Kabota, Jeff Schewe (Pixel Genius) and Panos (http://www.panosfx.com/) have done well, I'm sure.

    How much of a market is there?

    It would depend on things like:
    * What the actions do, how well they do it
    * How fast they can complete a task
    * Whether or not they are flexible enough to work on images of any size and/or resolution
    * Are they designed to work in batch
    * What are the plugin competitors and how much do they cost

    Long term success/income considerations:
    * Developing more actions (expanding your offerings)
    * Finding ways to continually reach new potential customers
    * How well you market, promote
    * Will Adobe add the equivalent functionality in a future release like they have over the years with red-eye fix, dealing with noise, adding grain, stitching pix into a panorama, etc.

    Do action publishers have any means of protecting their work?

    Other than legal "warnings" (Don't copy! Don't distribute!) which don't have much teeth with .atn files, here are a couple things I have seen:
    * Convert actions to droplets and distribute them as .exe files instead of .atn format. This would provide thorough protection from code theft, but introduces other issues.
    * Hiding actions behind a Javascript interface.

    Other thoughts...

    The downside of actions vs. plugins:
    * No practical means for potential customers to "try before buy" (without them having full access to .atn code)
    * Functional limitations
    * Difficult or slow to "preview" outcome
    * Inflexible vs. a plugin's "sliders" and button options
    * Typically no "support" (as in technical assistance)
    * No future versions to get customers to "upgrade" (spend more money)

    [before posting my reply I was re-reading my comments. I'm not trying to "rain on your parade." Getting into business, any business, has its challenges as does this endeavor. Just go in with your eyes open.]

    One thing is for sure: Failure is 100% certain if you don't try.

    The very best of luck.
    Last edited by DannyRaphael; 04-19-2010, 01:40 PM.

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    • #3
      Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

      Wow. Thanks for the detailed reply, Danny. I don't take it as raining on my parade at all. Your opinions seem balanced and you capped them with cautious encouragement. That works.

      I'm considering exploring the Javascript route but the learning curve could prevent these actions from getting released for too long. And who knows – Adobe might add the functionality to Photoshop by the next release.

      The droplet method is intriguing but I can picture droplet icons all over the place! Haha. These actions work together, creating a multilayer, multigroup stack. Because of the initial complexity (which will be clear after a handful of uses) it's probably best for users to stay in Photoshop as much as possible. Going back and forth from desktop to application would be a hassle with this process, even as easy as it it with Exposé on the Mac and Aero Peek (?) on Windows. Again, a tidy Javascript UI would be the best route to both obscure the process and provide a clean interface, but the learning curve is daunting.

      SO, I'll likely create a Configurator panel to go along with the actions. The functionality the actions provide along with supplementary materials I'm planning to include should make it a worthwhile purchase. I'm thinking of a low price point to sweeten the deal.

      As for now, piracy be damned. I think there are enough honest people out there to make this approach worthwhile.

      Again, thanks for your great reply.
      Last edited by Rydiant; 04-21-2010, 07:24 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

        A little more info. Droplets are not secure as they can be converted to an atn file. An action can be converted to javascript, this may be of more use as this can be compiled so that the code is not visible.
        For the tools to do all this check out Xbytor's Xtools.
        http://ps-scripts.sourceforge.net/xtools.html

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        • #5
          Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

          I would go the scripting route. With script listener, you can record all the steps you do with the action - not much need for doing lots of your own code, then save as a binary file so folks can't peek at your script.

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          • #6
            Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

            Rydiant, I help developers promote commercial actions as well as plug-ins on my website (at no cost to the developers). Contact me for more info if you're interested.
            DISCOUNTED plug-ins, FREE digital imaging ezine archive and PHOTO BLOG:
            www.plugsandpixels.com

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            • #7
              Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

              Thanks, everyone. The consensus is clear -- now just to find the time and some resources to learn the basics.

              And I'll keep Plugs 'N Pixels in mind when it's showtime.

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              • #8
                Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

                Originally posted by csuebele View Post
                I would go the scripting route. With script listener, you can record all the steps you do with the action - not much need for doing lots of your own code, then save as a binary file so folks can't peek at your script.
                How could you make the Script a Binary File?

                Thanks.

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                • #9
                  Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

                  Originally posted by Drazick View Post
                  How could you make the Script a Binary File?

                  Thanks.
                  Under the file menu of the extendScript tool kit program there is a submenu called export as Binary. Make sure you save your files the normal way too, as you will not be able to read these either.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

                    Originally posted by Rydiant View Post
                    I've seen hundreds of actions available for free, but far less for sale. How much of a market is there for Photoshop actions? Do action publishers have any means of protecting their work?
                    Actions can be made into an Automate Plug-in which of course, can be locked as a salable item like any other plug-in. That’s exactly what the PhotoKit line (pixel genius) of products is. Now the question becomes, can you afford to pay for the engineering time and PG licensing to build your actions into a plug-in? But its doable (see www.pixelgenius.com).

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                    • #11
                      Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

                      Rydiant,

                      Any chance you could post a before and after pic showing what your action, in action?
                      Just curious to see what it does exactly...

                      Dak

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                      • #12
                        Re: Is it worthwhile to sell actions?

                        Hi Dak,

                        Thanks for your interest. I'll present the 1.0 version when it's done but there'll be no previews.

                        R

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