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What does it mean when I say "successful freeware"?

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I agree that hearing about monetizing freeware is scary, but it seems to be happening all around us. One example may be Picasa. Free is the word Google is built around. They are best at the free+ads game.

Individuals can afford to give software away for free and receive no monetary compensation, but I believe all of us seek at least some kind of compensation and are happy when someone likes the software, recommends it, ...

On the other hand, any software has a live cycle. Coding the initial version is fun, adding new features that people request less so, writing documentation is usually boring, answering the same question N times (despite an answer being on the web) can be frustrating, updating for new OSes, solving compatibility issues is a chore. All that must be done to maximize the chances to be "successful" (whatever definition we agree on, but roughly more users = more success). If this is to be sustainable in a long run, some form of income is needed.

I made 6 freeware apps in the last 4 years. None of them is a financial success. Though 3 of the 6 apps brought at least a few bucks from donations. I also tried ads on the tools' web pages - this could be an alternative to donations if the typical users are not likely to send money. So far, I have resisted all the offers to include some kind of toolbar or adware in the installers.

From the limited experience I have, I believe it is possible, but extremely difficult to earn enough to pay for living by making freeware. One would have to carefully plan what kind of application to make, dedicate the right amount of time to it and make a lot of applications, because only some of them will "make it".

if it's freeware it's successful once it's finished and it works. :-))

I'm a bit pissed. I had a rough day.

I went into the grocery store and asked if I could get some groceries for free, and they said NO~!

Then I went to get my hair cut and asked about a freebie, and they said NO too~!

Well, not to be discouraged, I went to get my car fixed, and they quoted me a price that wasn't zero~!

Sigh... But I didn't give up.

I went to a restaurant and asked about free meals. Struck out there again... Things weren't looking good...

So by this time my car was getting low on gas. I drove into the gas station and checked to see what kind of free gas they had. They didn't have ANY free gas at all! NONE!


So on my way back home, I dropped in at JB HiFi to maybe pick up some new music or a DVD. And they didn't have anything for free either~!

Holy! Not 1 hit! Pure failure!

Well, being thoroughly depressed at this point, I figured I needed a massage to cheer me up. But when I asked for a freebie I got really strange looks, so I asked if I could try it out for 30 days and then if I liked it maybe then I could pay... Well, some big mountain of a guy threw me out on my face.

So I had to drop by the hospital, and I figured if somethings going to be free, this had to be. Nope. No luck. They wanted money too!

I'm getting discouraged... It seems like everybody expects to get paid for everything...

Except for software...

Just something to think about.

I made 6 freeware apps in the last 4 years. None of them is a financial success.
-vlastimil (February 14, 2011, 06:37 AM)
--- End quote ---

Does anybody else see the problem here?

There's a difference between freeware and software that's being given away for free but with an agenda or motive behind it.

That's why it's important to insist on the distinction. Otherwise, the end-user feels they're being set-up; and the programmer feels resentful and unappreciated.

If you really want to give something away for free, then just give it away.

If you hope or expect to get something back in return, then be precise and upfront about it. And also stop calling your program 'freeware.'

Interestingly, some software companies are starting to understand this. I was on one site a while ago that had a short Q&A on the product's landing page.  In answer to the question "Why are you giving this away for free?" They came right out and said it was being given away with the hopes that you'd find it so useful you'd be motivated to check out (and hopefully buy) the enhanced version, or one of their other fine products.

They also went on to say they understood that their freebie might be all you ever needed BUT if you decided not to purchase anything, could you at least help them improve the product by providing feedback in the form of bug reports or suggestions for new features.

Lastly, they asked that you tell others about them if you found their products useful either by telling friends or writing a review.

See the difference?

I walked away very much liking these people because they were refreshingly honest about why they were offering a no-charge version of their product in return for my consideration of making a purchase, providing them with my feedback and suggestions, and helping them with word of mouth advertising.

Notice how they actually asked for a lot more than just money, but still managed not to be offensive or appear manipulative?

Contrast that with the occasional self-righteous and slightly hurt tone some developers adopt to shame somebody into paying for something they were told was supposed to be free.

If you want to get paid - say so. And require it.

If you're offering something at no charge - say so. And be up front about why.

You'll discover people will respect you for that (and possibly go along with what you want) far more readily than they'll allow you to shame or otherwise coerce them into doing something.

It's a simple matter of being honest.

Always the best policy with yourself and others.  :)


I'm getting discouraged... It seems like everybody expects to get paid for everything...

Except for software...

-Renegade (February 14, 2011, 07:19 AM)
--- End quote ---

More like many people expect to have to pay for everything except software...

and music...

and movies...

and books...

and...pretty much anything that can be distributed electronically.


Do we detect a pattern here? :huh:


Note: I find it amusingly ironic that many people of my acquaintance, who code and bewail how often their work gets "appropriated", are among the most militant advocates of downloading the licensed creative works of others off torrent sites. Must be like what my three year old niece says: But That's Different!


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