How to Publish on Alexa without Coding

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As companies look to “the next big thing,” and start asking questions about Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, the inevitable question becomes, “How do I create a skill without coding?” REWIND: Before I delve into that, let me provide a little background. By now, you’ve probably heard of this new invention from Amazon called Alexa, an interactive voice speaker, or Google Home, or perhaps Siri, or Cortana. The truth is that companies have been working on voice interactions for many years, starting with IVR on telephones, and now progressing to intelligent speakers.

Last week, I gave a 2-hour talk about Alexa to the Woodstock WordPress Meetup Group, led by April Wier in which I drew the conclusion that Skills on Alexa were going the way of the app store for your smartphone. I also presented research from OC&C Strategy Consultantsthat shows voice speakers will be a $40 billion market by 2022 in the USYou can watch my entire Alexa Meetup presentation on YouTube here.

In previous posts, I’ve provided content on how to create Alexa Skills from writing requirements, adding MP3 sound filescalling APIsbeta testing, and finally tips on getting your skill certified by Amazon. If you’re wondering what the heck an Alexa skill is, please start with my Alexa Skill 101 post here.

Back to the question at hand, “How do I create an Alexa Skill without Coding?”

If you asked me that question last year, the overwhelming response would have been Storyline. Storyline was a company that raised $770,000 in seed funding and created a website where people could create Alexa Skills without coding. In fact, last year’s Kid’s Challenge grand prize winner (over $20,000 USD) used Storyline to create her skill without writing a single line of codeAmazon even encouraged creators to use Storyline on their developer’s blog here.

Unfortunately, in late 2018, Storyline changed from a free service to a $99/month subscription service and rebranded themselves Invocable. According to this article, Storyline published over 5,000 Alexa Skills, and creators had 2 months to move their skill off the Storyline platform, or lose access to editing their skill.

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The good news is that Amazon has just announced the ability for skills created in “Blueprints” to be submitted and certified for distribution in the Alexa Skill store. Previously, skills created in “Blueprints” would only work on the creator’s personal devices.

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Blueprints are a way for users to create Alexa Skills without coding. Users simply select from a menu of templates ranging from Q&A, quizzes, or a flash briefing, fill out the information, and voilà, create a skill without writing a single line of code.

If you have a podcast today, I’d suggest getting started by creating a Flash Briefing for Alexa using Blueprints. I’ve created a step-by-step video tutorial below:

Another popular type of skill is a Quiz or Trivia type skill. I’ve also created a step-by-step tutorial video here.

Good Luck with Alexa Blueprints, and let me know if you need my help with your Voice strategy.