* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

How to make some money with a freeware?

Hi guys,

I recently found out that one of my freeware has over 100,000 installs in last 12 months. It is a media player. So any suggestion how to make some profit out of it?

btw, is there any CLEAN pay per install software I can bundle with my freeware?

Thanks in advance.
Robert Lee Send private email
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Best way to make money from freeware is to put ads in it. If done in an elegant way then it can make you money without massively annoying users.
Martin Pilkington Send private email
Sunday, August 31, 2008
How about charging money for it?
I know a crazy idea...
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I suffered from this with my software

google ads doesn't work
donation doesn't work

At the end i made a Pro version after adding more features and enhancing the interface.

Sunday, August 31, 2008
What makes you think that there is any money to be made off those 100,000 people? Maybe they only use your software because it is absolutely free, and any attempt to harvest money from them would cause the user base to evaporate. Now I know that it is unlikely that your users don't value the product AT ALL, but they might value the product at such a low price that you can't reasonably collect it: if the user base will by cut in half by charging 10 cents, for example, how much can you really hope to collect?

It also seems to me that you are a little late to the game: if you don't already have some mechanism in place to, at least, collect some information about your users, then you can't even use these 100,000 people to do market research, much less push advertising out to them (which, incidentally, is also likely to cause the user base to evaporate).

As for the general question:

    1) provide a non-free product that appeals to the
        same users.

    2) collect user information and sell it to other
        interested parties. (WARNING: some people will
        consider this skeevy behavior)

    3) put advertising in your free software and collect
        the money from the advertisers. (WARNING: ibid)

    4) License the software to some other company that
        services the same users so they can bundle it
        with their product.
Jeffrey Dutky Send private email
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Offer a paid "deluxe" version.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Donations button, advertise, offer a paid version.

HOWEVER, the people who want your program want it because it's free.  These are people who don't pay for things because they know how to find it for free.

Why not tell everyone the free version will be gone in 90 days but the product will still be available for a nominal fee in the future.

It's OK to sell things.  There's nothing wrong with that.

It seems like there needs to be a self-help group to get over the fact that it's OK to charge for your software that you work hard to create and harder to support.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
It's a bit late in the game to be asking really, as there's 100,000 completely free copies already floating around.

Better luck next time - and if you feel bad, spare a thought for all those coders who would have, or even did, produce a better product but gave up on the idea because of people doing dumb stuff, like you just did.

Adam Send private email
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Agreed Adam!
Sunday, August 31, 2008
The market clearing price for media players is "free": Windows Media Center (free with your computer), iTunes (free, subsidized by a hardware/online infrastructure almost-monopoly), Winamp (free), etc.  The customers have been trained to expect free.  Additionally, my untutored guess is that they are probably overwhelmingly using your software to download music/videos they got for, you guessed it, free.

Its very difficult to make money directly from these people unless you figure out some way to get them to pay you money.  Advertising is similar, since the advertisers are well aware that they convert at rates approaching zero.

One of the nice things about uISVs is you get to pick your customers.  I suggest picking customers who pay money for software.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Sunday, August 31, 2008
1- Anyone try Google toolbar?  Apparently you can get paid if people install it along with your app.

2- There are examples of companies out there making money by giving away their service... e.g. Google search costs users nothing, Firefox is sponsored by Google for the Google search integration, etc.

However, Google search lends itself to advertising well because of its scale (easier to sell advertising in bulk; this is what blog networks do) and due to its precise targeting.
Glenn Chan Send private email
Sunday, August 31, 2008
This one is easy. Monetize it by building the company brand. "KungFu Player by MyCompanyTM". Build a related product under MyCompanyTM or something in the same domain and you'll have a huge, huge traffic draw without spending on AdWords or other advertisers! That's extremely valuable. Branding is everything! Leverage it.
Rensy Send private email
Monday, September 01, 2008
> 2- There are examples of companies out there making money by giving away their service... e.g. Google search costs users nothing,


Google's real service is AdWords. And Google's real customers are AdWords advertisers.

Search (like Adsense as well) is just a mechanism to get more (and better quality - i.e. more expensive) AdWord's clicks

> Firefox is sponsored by Google for the Google search integration, etc.

And so, as far as Google is concerned, is firefox and the Google toolbar (a mechanism to get more Adwords clicks).

(Continuing this line of reasoning, firefox's real service isn't a browser, and it's customers are the browser users -- it's real service is providing eyeballs, and it's customers are people buying them, like google).
S. Tanna
Monday, September 01, 2008
I can not find any info about how to bundle Google Toolbar and make some money out of it. Any one knows how?

I tried Alexa Toolbar, and gave up since it is considered as spy-ware by my Norton Anti-Virus.

How to get ads for my freeware? Most pay-per-click ads providers do not accept software as I know.
Robert Lee Send private email
Monday, September 01, 2008
Sorry, I don't know if the Google toolbar affiliate program is still available.  (Though it would explain why so much software tries to push it on you.)

I don't know if it's possible, but perhaps you can integrate your product with affiliate links (e.g. Amazon).  An example:

A really interesting way to advertise would be if the ads could be targeted based on what the user is playing.  (e.g. based on keywords in the media files.)  Though I would have no idea if that would work or not.

2- You might also look at what winamp, real media player, VLC, etc. etc. are doing.

I'd really have no idea as to what works.
Gl3nn Chan Send private email
Wednesday, September 03, 2008

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz