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Author Topic: What does it mean when I say "successful freeware"?  (Read 10658 times)
vlastimil
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« on: February 12, 2011, 03:08:15 PM »

In my opinion, these are some the signs of a successful freeware (in no particular order):
1. If you show it to people, they will keep using it.
2. People will recommend it to their friends with similar interests.
3. There are independent blog posts about your software.
4. People are recommending your software on forums/facebook/twitter/...
5. People are requesting new features.
6. You already have plans for next version.
7. You get a good spot on Google for relevant keywords.
8. People are offering help/sending donations.
9. People are making tools that complement/extend your software.
10. You are surprised, what people are using your tool for.

I would like to know which of your freeware projects are you considering the most successful and why. And what lessons have you learned coding/extending/supporting the free software?
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timns
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2011, 03:21:55 PM »

Why are any of those comments restricted to "freeware" except 8?

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vlastimil
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2011, 03:55:39 PM »

Why are any of those comments restricted to "freeware" except 8?

Good point. I guess in case of commercial software, the success is usually measured by the number of sold copies. For freeware I was forced to look for other metrics.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 03:59:08 PM by vlastimil » Logged
MilesAhead
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2011, 04:05:09 PM »

Does 8 include corporate sponsorship? I think my freeware would feel way more successful if somebody gave me a $20,000/year stipend and paid my filing and online fees. Wink
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2011, 05:02:23 PM »

It means the brand name is not popular enough that you need to add "successful freeware" besides it so that people will pay attention.  tongue

For me the most successful software are commercially backed freeware like Virtualbox, Firefox, Chrome and OpenOffice.

However if we're describing smaller scale, the most successful software are ones that could be marketed as the best kept secrets of the internet to people who know very little about them and have a dedicated loyal community firmly behind it that few people know about.

Said freeware include software such as:

Opera 10.10 (anecdote) - I just read from the Opera forums that this was the latest stable version. Opera is a constant leader in browser security and unlike other browsers like Chrome who pretend to be lightweight but can't support as much tabs without crashing - Opera's main weaknesses are that they don't improve as much on their native browser features and would rather focus on extra features like mail client, widgets, etc. They also don't like interface harmony like being able to right click on bookmarks and would instead prefer to change hotkeys veterans are used to. Nonetheless they are the leader in the desktop as far as a browser that can have lots of tabs opened.

Revo Uninstaller - Where other uninstallers aimed to be more lightweight, Revo not only assumed users would want an uninstaller that would actually "remove" software (go figure) but their website is a testament on how to do both b2b and b2c right as far as creating a professional website that doesn't confuse the hell out of it's users and the way they "inconspicuously" pop-up and advertise their pro versions is another underrated hallmark of a freeware service that clearly deserves it's success because the developers have in mind the desire to sell to their users without sacrificing their service.

Syphir.com - Successful freeware are like leaders. They define an industry. Though not very well known, little syphir was so influential in refining gmail that not soon after big daddy Google released the Priority Inbox.

Soluto - Successful software is not always about getting the most marketshare or the most hype but delivering the best bang for the buck. In that category, Soluto is among those that not only understands how to make a professional looking and beautiful freeware - they managed to think big enough that when their tag-line for their freeware says "Anti-Frustration Software" and you become skeptical - all that evaporates after you've restarted your PC and witnessed their freeware take action.

Everything and DocFetcher - Sometimes success isn't about kicking ass in the freeware department but kicking ass in the professional department. Both of these desktop search engines could easily have gained more press if they were paid software with fancy schmancy marketing and design but instead they chose the KISS method and instead of being all negative and interpreting the last S as stupid. They ignored it and might as well have renamed it the Keep It Super Simple method because these two software knows how to get one powerful thing done in a clear and concise method.

Extreme Warfare Revenge - It's one thing to talk about kicking professional software' ass but professional games?! EWR was so bad-ass that when it's creator decided to create a professional game - most of the EWR community criticized it's features because it was just that good of a freeware. Not only that, the WWE/THQ couldn't match up it's GM mode with this freeware's depth that they instead mostly focused on improving their cinematic story/career mode because they clearly could not touch the success of this game despite their budget.

These aren't the only ones out there but I consider these examples as among the hallmarks of "the most successful" because it's one thing to be the top of the mountain because you've got a design budget or a marketing team behind you or a bunch of fans who like your application - it's another different thing to provide "one of a kind" freeware while being the underdog or the lesser knowns. (Kinda like the difference between buried treasure and expensive diamonds on a famous shop only the treasure is so kickass awesome, even if the store offered the diamonds for free, the treasure would have more value and the only reason it couldn't be considered just as big a success is because it's buried under a world full of advertisements)

Oh and the lesson I learned was: Content may be king but marketing is queen and just because we live in a world of geniuses, doesn't mean geniuses can't be pawns to the Corporate Popes err... bishops  Sad
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 05:07:46 PM by Paul Keith » Logged

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kip
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2011, 05:40:16 PM »

What do we mean by successful? Well known in its field, a million downloads, top of the pile in Google searches?
There are many definitions of successful.
I like to think I produce a range of successful software, and altogether I  can identify about 250,000 downloads, but this is small beer compared to something,like Opera, yet search for something generic such as web browser in Google and opera ranks as the 5th entry, a multi-billion pound / dollar budget is not all that helpful either, try typing office and Microsoft can only reach number 5.
Both of these examples are leaders in their respective fields and are considered successful, but does number 5 on Google constitute meeting criteria number 7, either for free or commercial software.
Now try a search for assistive software and check the entries at number 1 and 2, free assistive software, look at entry number 3.  There are over 500 sites and blogs which refer to this site, so is this site more successful than both Opera and Microsoft Office, or maybe its just the fact that this site is aimed at a smaller specialist group of users.
Ultimately, what I am trying to say is that success is something which cannot be defined in such constrained parameters, but needs to take account of things like market sector, competing software relevance, if any.

Taking your original points,

1. I do show some of the software to people, but mostly its word of mouth / blogger reviews which encourages the use, and yes due to the relevance of the software, users continue using it.
2, 3 & 4. Ditto above ref blogger reviews.
5.  Probably 1 request per thousand downloads
6.  Depends, if its stable and fit for purpose, why follow the bloating of commercial apps if there is no need for it.
7.  Damn good position due to reviews and blogs, plus relevant keyword planning
8.  After 250000 downloads and inclusion on many AT freeware compilations throughout the world, not one offer of support or donation has been received.
9.  Difficult, as I plan to get required functionality without extension - see comment about bloating above.
10. I am never surprised as to the uses, but that may be due to the target market and the ingenuity required therein.

So, my question is, is my software successful?
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2011, 07:33:03 PM »

I think search terms used is most important to find the right and best software.
With 'free assistive software' your site comes up.
Other terms are used to find this kind of help.
'assistive' comes up as spelled wrong here in FF.
Although it is a word spelled correctly.
'assistance' or 'assistant' is the most likely best spelled term to use.

Your site, kip, http://www.fxc.btinternet.co.uk/ .

Nice work btw, these should be among the first 5 for any search for helping with seeing what is in print on the screen along with the other visually helpful items you have.
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kip
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 03:26:44 AM »

Thanks for the thoughts cmpm, and a very special thank you to Cranioscopical - you know why my friend.
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mouser
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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2011, 07:51:30 AM »

to echo one point kip made, if you consider the number or amount of donations as a criteria for having a successful freeware application, then you are settings yourself up for failure.  even people who love your software are very unlikely to donate -- it's just not something that people are used to doing (yet).
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Renegade
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« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2011, 09:00:31 AM »

Oh where to start...

This is going to be a bit long, so feel free to skip to headings. My aim is to see *WHERE* people's interest in this discussion lies.

ABOUT ME

It helps to know who's speaking, so for the benefit of those that don't know me...


Hopefully that provides a bit of context.


METRICS

I think it's important to define "success" and it's important to place some kind of metrics on that.

Key metrics:

* Money
* Money
* Money
* Downloads
* Installed base
* Active user base
* Money
* Money
* Money

Ok. I emphasized money there, but that's because of the world we live in. Money == Success.

I write software because I love it. But I also need to put food on the table, fix the car, pay the rent, etc. etc. etc. All that takes money.



FORMS OF FREEWARE

Freeware takes several forms.

* Labour of love
* Demonstration of ability
* Business
* Boredom

Some people write freeware because they love something and want to do something. It's personal. Success is then mostly irrelevant.

Some people want to demonstrate their ability and perhaps get a consulting gig or better job or whatever. Success is then how it advances their career.

Some people are simply bored and write freeware as a hobby. Success is then self-defined.

And sometimes freeware is a business. This is where "success" is most interesting. This is the part that I'd like to comment on.



FREEWARE AS A BUSINESS

This is difficult.

Is this the point of interest?

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vlastimil
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« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 02:37:00 PM »

Thanks for the reactions! Money was mentioned a lot. Freeware or not, it seems to play an important role.

Kip, you have a great number of tools on your web, some of them completely unique. With the number of downloads you have, I would expect at least some donations. It could be due to the web. It feels a bit impersonal - visitors may have hard time seeing a human behind. What if you integrated for example facebook comments on your pages? It would give the users a way to communicate with each other, there is power in the social network  Wink.

Renegade, I am in similar position as you, having some paid and some free software. I guess the free tools have impact on the paid tools, but how can we measure this? And should we?

I started this topic, because I did not know how to "measure" the success of free tools. I am inclined to consider a popular freeware a success regardless of the direct financial compensation for the author. BTW is there a guide how to make successful (popular) (profitable) freeware?

What are the core ingredients of success (in freeware)? Is is the niche? The typical users? The programming skills? The marketing skills?
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mouser
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« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2011, 03:52:49 PM »

Regarding donations, I think it's been really well established that:

  • It is very hard to get people to donate for software in even the best of circumstances.
  • If you want donations you have to make a very big effort to let people know that they are important to you -- a simple button will not do it -- you have to really make clear that they are a critical part of your work.
  • I hope these things change as we move forward -- I think that they will once we get some big players addressing the obstacles to micro donations.

My points are not meant to discourage anyone from asking for donations -- in fact quite the contrary -- I think we are all better off if we team up and champion the idea of donating to support free software.  Just be prepared for a long hard slog if you are trying to raise money through donations for your software, and most importantly, don't get discouraged if people don't donate -- it's not that they don't love your software it's just that the culture hasn't yet caught up to the idea that people should contribute financially if they aren't forced to.
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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2011, 04:17:05 PM »

I think software users have a lot of misconceptions about software development.  In the way they think Ben Casey will do neurosurgery on you for free if you can't afford it, and a couple of college kids start a search site in their spare time and become billionaires, they think we have bucks to set up all these machines to test software on various combinations of machine, OS, etc..

And of course we are up on the internet putting this stuff out so there must be something in it to be had.

For the one person programmer I think people are most likely to donate or pay for software if the program facilitates getting other stuff for free.  Binary newsreaders come to mind.  Video converters etc..

Even something like BD Rebuilder that has obvious benefits, the author has to periodically harangue the faithful for more contributions.  At this point when I get a stray donation I just consider it a nice gesture from an individual who liked one of my programs. It's not going to make a dent in my expenses.  The cost of filing the annual report for my LLC is more than the sum of individual donations for the year.  I'm obviously not gonna' be buying new convertibles any time soon.

But "on internet = rich in 6 months" seems to be the myth that's aggressively promoted.  Why I have no clue.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2011, 04:18:40 PM by MilesAhead » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2011, 04:53:58 PM »

Quote
But "on internet = rich in 6 months" seems to be the myth that's aggressively promoted.  Why I have no clue.

Oh come on. Spam and web marketing doesn't induce blindness.  tongue

Seriously though, from the outside looking in, it's not fair to say donationware is either hard or easy.

The reality is, just like software design, few freeware programmers are willing to take the risk to develop a cashcow.

Take the OneNote interface. It's nothing special. However it took ages before anyone would seriously consider that interface.

Therefore design-wise, most freeware lack the bang to attract paying customers.

But then let's consider everything else. Just like forums and blogs need good image synchronization in order for people to pay attention (something I still have a hard time doing) we know videos/blogs/community are at least a bare bones element of what should attract donations but how many actually have that?

I think the bar for verifying donationware has to be something like Evernote did. Sure, it's not a small company but let's look at everything they did correctly and tell me most freeware programmers do this:

Pander to the more profitable crowd - I mean this is generally bad and yeah you don't want to listen too much to your users but Evernote did the opposite and they not only didn't listen to their existing customer base, they angered them with version 3

Create a brand - Basic marketing but how many freeware programmers settle for just having blogs that are basically changelogs with the occassional update? Contrast this with web services like Ning/Remember the Milk/Evernote blog hell... DonationCoder's blog and it's not even close. Most program download sites look like abandonware except for the occassional update.

Create a demand - How many freeware programmers tell their communities to try using their software in novel ways? For every NANY there's a billion freeware that only becomes advertised through blogs like Lifehacker and Mashable and Techcrunch and that's their high point where as for successful freemium products that's just the definition of a successful launch.

Make it easy - How many have a DonationCredit system like DC? Over here, I'm not a programmer and I'm just writing articles and someone would go ahead and send DonationCredits and it often makes me feel bad that I'm just sharing an article and not really being a developer. Unless every notable freeware has a micro-system there's no metric to talk about.

The reality is, even for non-software less-rewarding one day/one week only Campaigns to raise awareness for a Cause, it's trial and error. There's no theory except to learn from a failed campaign and being less gun-shy about promoting a campaign. Yet almost all those individual campaign makers probably did a lot more to generate interest in donations than freeware developers. Hell...than professional software developers.

But it's also why freeware's success can't be determined in money. Yes, that's a huge proof of success but most freeware developers have to have the mindset coming into their software development stage to make users want to pay for their software. The paradox however is that if most of them think like that, there'd be more adware and less freeware. As much as it would make sense that it would be nice for people to put food on your table - first people from both sides have to understand what putting food on the table means. For every good will, there's an incentive to shell out that good will. Even for successful large projects like Linux distributions - donations only come because Open Source is sold as a cause and not just software and it was helped by many individual evolutions from Torvalds to Stallman to Web Access to better evolving interface (while the program keeps it's name).

In short, freeware does not need to be a business to be successful at gathering donations. It just needs to be an advocacy.
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vlastimil
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« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2011, 05:07:22 PM »

Coincidentally, I learned about a possible solution for micro-donations - bitcoin ( http://www.bitcoin.org ). It is an attempt to create a virtual currency, something I have been thinking about for years, but never really started to work on it. While I feel that bitcoin has some drawbacks, it also has potential. The idea of eliminating the middle man (banks) and hence not needing to trust anyone is powerful.
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« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2011, 05:08:08 PM »

I guess there are people out there trying to "make money" by writing freeware -- much in the same way that some businesses are trying to get rich developing Open Source software.

While that does seem to be possible -- to my simple mind, that way lies madness.

If you want to make lots of money, do things that make money.

If you want to create free software and have a rewarding experience interacting with your users -- freeware/donationware/opensource are the way to go.
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« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2011, 07:10:29 PM »


If you want to make lots of money, do things that make money.

It would be nice if life was so simple. If you're a shoe string operation you don't have marketing money.  I'm convinced much of the plethora of corporate sponsored "free" software is out there to preclude the possibility of a one man shop from producing the same product and getting a foothold.  The days of one guy coding up an editor and making a buck are gone and it's no accident.

There are lots of boards where I give what amounts to free support but if I put my url in my signature, they'd kick me off.  I don't see corporate sites spamming products on boards and a one man programmer getting legitimate exposure as both "spam".  One is spam and the other is goodwill.

Goodwill is hard to come by these days.

Much of "donationware" started out as an attempt to sell a product, but when reality hits you figure you might as well hang out the donation shingle as you might at least get a few donations from individuals as a thank you for your efforts.

So in conclusion I'd say what makes "successful" freeware is some corporation paying you a salary to write the stuff so they can give it away. smiley

« Last Edit: February 13, 2011, 07:14:12 PM by MilesAhead » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2011, 07:31:39 PM »

I think it ultimately depends on what your motives are when you release your creation as freeware. That and whether you primarily look inward, or outward, for personal validation.

To my way of thinking, something that is truly freeware was created for no reason other than the satisfaction and pleasure of doing it; and was released for no other reason than the desire to get it out where it could be used.

If it was done for any other purpose or reason, I don't consider it freeware. I see it as a software product that's been licensed for public use at no charge.

A subtle distinction? Perhaps. But it's an important one, since not making this distinction often results in a great deal of confusion for the general public, and significant bitterness and resentment on the part of the software community.

Such faux 'free' software may play a role in a larger agenda.

   Or it may be part of a business strategy.

      But the one thing it's not - is freeware.

         At least not in my book... smiley

So to your question: how do you measure the "success" of a freeware product?

Well...that would be for you (and you alone) to say. Wouldn't it? smiley

« Last Edit: February 13, 2011, 07:43:33 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2011, 08:45:42 PM »

Quote
To my way of thinking, something that is truly freeware was created for no reason other than the satisfaction and pleasure of doing it; and was released for no other reason than the desire to get it out where it could be used.

Of course the problem with this definition is that it sounds more like it's about open source software specifically. Most freeware developers may not consider their software as "releases".

Quote
If it was done for any other purpose or reason, I don't consider it freeware. I see it as a software product that's been licensed for public use at no charge.

Also problematic in that there are "free for personal use" freeware and "free for free" freeware "but get me famous/ego building" and finally the ever famous "free for free but only so I can get popular and sell you my new boosted program" freeware.

Quote
A subtle distinction? Perhaps. But it's an important one, since not making this distinction often results in a great deal of confusion for the general public, and significant bitterness and resentment on the part of the software community.

I think in order for the general public to be confused they have to be aware.

Most freeware users view freeware as being no different than paid software. (from a monetary perspective).

The term "I'll use it if I need it badly enough" so to speak.

Quote
Such faux 'free' software may play a role in a larger agenda.

Unfortunately, they are also often the ones with the better quality.

In the end, my entire point is that it doesn't matter how we define freeware. Open Source for example. Even fanatics don't really know what that means philosophically and they often cheer browsers like Firefox thinking it's somewhat of a true virgin counterpart to Chrome's gold digger pizzazz.

In the end, success often blurs the definition, not the course. Take Ubuntu and the "proprietary codecs" elites argument but also take the "interface elites" who won't try to make a better Ubuntu because "it's for teh noobs" until some developers actually go ahead and prove them wrong and becomes a dark saint in that shady argument.
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« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2011, 09:48:36 PM »

Of course the problem with this definition is that it sounds more like it's about open source software specifically. Most freeware developers may not consider their software as "releases".

Free software has nothing intrinsically to do with open source software. Open source refers to the philosophy and practice of making source code available. Open source software may be licensed in a variety of ways including proprietary restricted. It can also be fully protected by patent or copyright. And just because source code might be available doesn't mean you can obtain a copy at no charge. There are several open source products that you need to buy in order to use in any capacity.

Repeat 10 times: open source is not a synonym for free.

---

By "released" I meant exactly what the dictionary definition means by "release" when it's used as a verb.  I'm not using the word in the software industry sense as a noun. Try not to read too much into it. If you'd prefer a different word, feel free to substitute.  Grin

Also problematic in that there are "free for personal use" freeware and "free for free" freeware "but get me famous/ego building" and finally the ever famous "free for free but only so I can get popular and sell you my new boosted program" freeware.


Not at all problematic AFAIC.  Grin

From my perspective, those are examples of misusing the term "freeware." If there's a condition attached, it ain't free. Nor is it "no cost" since the attached condition represents a cost. It's "no charge," which means absolutely nothing other than no money was exchanged.

I'd prefer to say "This software is licensed at no-charge for personal use only."

The second example (free for free but...) isn't freeware either. It's a business marketing strategy. As such it's really more an advert or come-on. The fact it incorporates a piece of software is wholly incidental since its real function is to be a sales tool which gets you to buy something. In this respect, it's no different than offering a "free" t-shirt or product sample.

And...I'm gonna have to leave it here for a while. Just got a server alert that needs attending. Let's call it for now and pick up on the rest of your points later. Apologies.  smiley

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« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2011, 10:46:06 PM »

Quote
Free software has nothing intrinsically to do with open source software. Open source refers to the philosophy and practice of making source code available. Open source software may be licensed in a variety of ways including proprietary restricted. It can also be fully protected by patent or copyright. And just because source code might be available doesn't mean you can obtain a copy at no charge. There are several open source products that you need to buy in order to use in any capacity.

Repeat 10 times: open source is not a synonym for free.

Oh sorry. I didn't mean it that way.

I was referring only to your post:

Quote
To my way of thinking, something that is truly freeware was created for no reason other than the satisfaction and pleasure of doing it; and was released for no other reason than the desire to get it out where it could be used.

That's the definition of source code sharing right there. Also, that's not really the open source philosophy. More like the open source dogma/mantra/mandate.

The philosophy is more akin to your first sentence:

Quote
something that is truly freeware was created for no reason other than the satisfaction and pleasure of doing it

i.e. the philosophy of gratis rather than just libre.

Quote
By "released" I meant exactly what the dictionary definition means by "release" when it's used as a verb.  I'm not using the word in the software industry sense as a noun. Try not to read too much into it. If you'd prefer a different word, feel free to substitute.

Yeah... sorry about that. My use of the word release only makes sense if we understood each other regarding open source.

It's not the wording that's the problem. It's the whole "release in open source" vs. "release as something people would use". Hope that makes more sense.

P.S. I also meant exactly how it's used in the dictionary when used as a verb  - just more in the "let go" emphasis per the open source philosophy Wink

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The second example (free for free but...) isn't freeware either. It's a business marketing strategy. As such it's really more an advert or come-on. The fact it incorporates a piece of software is wholly incidental since its real function is to be a sales tool which gets you to buy something. In this respect, it's no different than offering a "free" t-shirt or product sample.

Err... not quite. Again going back to your statement:

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was created for no reason other than the satisfaction and pleasure of doing it; and was released for no other reason than the desire to get it out where it could be used.

Also even with free T-shirts. There's a difference between "Yehey! Celebrate: Free T-Shirts for everyone for special occassion" and merchandising which again falls under business marketing strategy.

But let's omit the word "business" and bring another elephant in the room question:

Can freeware be successful with no marketing strategy?

or let me rephrase for the lucky software developers:

Can freeware continue to be successful with no marketing strategy?

Remember everything from putting your open source project on sourceforge or posting changelogs to your blog can count as a marketing strategy.

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And...I'm gonna have to leave it here for a while. Just got a server alert that needs attending. Let's call it for now and pick up on the rest of your points later. Apologies.

Actually I'm busy too. No idea why I keep returning to DC in quick intervals but yeah, later.
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Renegade
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« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2011, 11:06:02 PM »

I found that about 1 in 3,000 downloads results in a donation in the past.

Donations really only amount to beer money, if that, for most freeware developers anyways.

I'm currently working on a site that's going to have freeware, but I'm still messing around with how to monetize it. It's tough to balance some things.

Things I'm considering/doing:

* Ads - I've always hated ads, but...
* Donations - No brainer. If people will donate, let them. smiley
* Subscriptions - Still hashing out how to do this right.
* Paid versions - Why not sell licenses?
* In-app ads - Not sure about this...
* Custom branding - Again, not sure about it or if there's a demand even.
* Hire us - Why not use the site to get other business?
* Toolbars - Everyone else has a bundled toolbar. Why not? Need to get downloads up to a fairly large number first though.  
* Content sales - This is where there's a lot of money, but haven't figured out how to do it yet.  
* CPU sharing - Not sure. Need to check into this more.  

We'll see how things go. I'll clock it up as a success if it helps put food on the table and pay the bills. tongue If it buys me a house, I'll clock it up as a super-success~! cheesy


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« Reply #22 on: February 14, 2011, 12:32:06 AM »

Looks like this thread is in danger of veering off into another pointless discussion on the definition of freeware vs freeware, and/or the relative merits of marketing, or even philosophical meanderings on open source (though I'd be interested to find out how you build a business based on freeware).

With respect to the definition of success it seems there is only one that matters, and that's yours.  At the end of the day it can be successful in any number of ways, but if they're not what you were hoping for then by your own measure it won't be successful. 

That's not to say it was a failure either, just that you're expectations, whatever they were, weren't met (though you could change your expectations and be instantly successful Grin)

Personally I feel that the only true measure of success would be building a user base - unfortunately pure downloads are meaningless as there's no guarantee they're getting used (I have several gig of app's that I have downloaded but never gotten around to trying or using embarassed).  Trouble here is that unless you're newfound userbase is enthusiastic and vocal, you're unlikely to ever hear about it

Likewise I'd be wary of using blog posts as a measure - so many seem to be nothing more than a rehash of someone else's post (of someone else's post, of someones else's post...) and are no guarantee of generating traffic, let alone 'success'.

I can't comment on the relative worth of 'marketing strategies' but it's clearly in your best interest to post about it somewhere that it's likely to get some credible exposure.  Having said that I'm firmly of the belief that word of mouth is the best advertising you can get, though getting this rolling without spamming people can be difficult ohmy.


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« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2011, 01:51:27 AM »

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though I'd be interested to find out how you build a business based on freeware

Through marketing but hey, it's just my own silly idea and I have no way of proving it one way or another. tongue

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With respect to the definition of success it seems there is only one that matters, and that's yours.  At the end of the day it can be successful in any number of ways, but if they're not what you were hoping for then by your own measure it won't be successful.

That's very Zen-like but I think ambitious materialistic users (and programmers) far outweigh Lao Tzu followers in tech forums.  embarassed

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I can't comment on the relative worth of 'marketing strategies' but it's clearly in your best interest to post about it somewhere that it's likely to get some credible exposure.  Having said that I'm firmly of the belief that word of mouth is the best advertising you can get, though getting this rolling without spamming people can be difficult

Well, that's the relative worth of marketing strategy. The smart developer who wants to sell their freeware as a business would definitely try contacting the major blogs and getting them to know your software.

Technically it's not spamming if you get other people to spam your software. It's not going to convert into dollar signs though but methinks if you don't end up with a community. Same problem with word of mouth. More mouths saying the Word and the Word becomes jumbled until the only word that's being spread is the Word of the freeware, not the necessity to donate. (See Christianity where it makes more sense to donate to the Pope than to feed the poor by convincing the Pope to sell the Vatican/rip-off from a joke made by Sarah Silverman)
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« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2011, 04:56:43 AM »

I start getting nervous whenever I start hearing people talk about freeware-as-marketing strategy, and "monetizing" freeware..

Most freeware and open source software is created and released because, first and foremost, the programmers want to share what they have created with others, and enjoy the act of sharing.  We need to remember that.

If you're not writing free software in order to make money.. well then all you have to do is provide some happiness to one person with your software and it has been a "success" worth celebrating.
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