Step 2: Write up a project summary

In the previous chapter, you formulated your project’s chief objective, now it’s time to put it into writing. The aim of this step is to come up with a brief, yet descriptive summary of your software that will eventually appear as the subtitle to your project name. This subtitle is the first, if not the only bit of text people will read when stumbling across your project, so it is vital that by reading it, anyone can immediately tell what your software does.

Your project summary should aim to fulfil a number of important purposes such as: describing its primary function, differentiating itself from others, maximising search discoverability, and doing essentially 99% of the product marketing. Coming up with one or two sentences that can fulfil all of the above is not easy, but it is also not impossible. The most difficult of these goals is search discoverability. If we can achieve this, the others should slot into place relatively easily.

To maximise your project’s visibility, your text should contain keywords that people often search for, and there is an excellent online tool for determining just that: Google Adwords. Browse to and create a free account. Start a new “ad campaign” setup wizard and skip to the page that contains the “Keywords” section. In the search bar below this tool, type a few comma separated words and phrases related to your project, then click “Add”. Once you’ve added a few keywords to the list, you will be able to see how frequently they are searched for under the “Search popularity” column. You can also click the “More like this” button next to each result to get more suggestions. Try to stick with keywords that get at least 1,000 searches a month. Inserting these keywords into your project summary automatically fulfils two of the purposes we touched on earlier: describing its primary function, and maximising search discoverability.

Conveying an idea of what your project does is only half the battle though, the other half is marketing. At the core of any marketable product is a convincing sales pitch, or in our case, an elevator pitch. The term “elevator pitch” originates from the idea of having to impress a senior executive during a brief ride in an elevator. Here is where it gets a little tricky, and hence where you will likely differentiate yourself from the others. Finding that sweet spot between being both brief and detailed at the same time is challenging, but I assure you, achieving it will contribute richly towards the eventual success of your project. As an open source software developer, you are only perceived to be as successful as your software is.

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