On the first day of Python Unconference Hamburg 2015 I moderated an open discussion about how to convince customers and employers that Python is a good choice for their upcoming project. Here are some takeaways from the discussion that I want to share.
Whet their appetite
Solve a pain point of potential customers with a few lines of Python code. They might come back later with bigger problems. It helps if it is packaged nicely for easy use, e.g. with py2exe.
If you want to convince your employer use Python for a project, it is easier when you have demonstrable experience. A way to demonstrate your experience can be open source work and being active in the Python community. Don’t say you “want to give Python a try”, instead be confident and bring up relevant arguments why Python is a good solution for the problem at hand. Which brings us to our next point:
Actually use the right tool for the job
Yes, we all love Python and it a very versatile tool that can be used for many domains. But that doesn’t mean it is the appropriate tool for every problem. Make sure that you have other tools in your toolbox or that you at least know what other tools are available.
Sell a solution, not a technology
Another takeaway was to position oneself as an domain expert that provides a solution to a business problem instead of focusing on the technology. If you are a Python software developer and decide to go freelance, the obvious way to get started is to sell what you know, namely Python software development. This might not be in your best interest for various reason. One of them might be that you might have trouble to find enough customers if you want to work with a non-mainstream technology (like Python still is in Germany). Another one might be that you might be seen as a commodity resource which makes it hard to charge a sustainable rate. I refer you to Patrick McKenzie for a more in-depth discussion on why you should not call yourself a programmer.
Know who to sell to
Depending on your situation, you have to sell Python to different people. Your boss might actually not care about the technology you choose as long as you get your job done, but you might have to convince your colleagues of the benefits of Python because they are responsible for maintenance when you are on holiday.
Be an evangelist
Last but not least, an appeal to the Python community at large: talk about how you build awesome stuff with Python. Give presentations at meet ups. Add a “Python powered” tagline to your website footer. It might help your fellow Pythonista to do that next project in the language they enjoy.
Header image: picjumbo