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.
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 3Create 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.