One day you write a cool software utility and decide to sell it on the Internet. Welcome to the club! We estimate that there are about 20000 active shareware companies at any given amount of time in the world. How to start? This article is covering the basic facets of selling shareware online.
Produce a Website.
Buy a domain name, create a web site, upload software screenshots and write program description, write something about it’s cool features and why do you consider it’s useful to people. If you should be a computer software engineer, try to make your description clear to an average Joe. It is always good to have full software “Help” section available on the developers website. Keep your website clean, the customer should understand that this page is about software that he could purchase online.
Build a trial license protection for your software
Usually whenever you finish writing your software utility it is just a freeware which means you can now run it once installed on his computer. Therefore you have to implement a trial limitation to your version. Two main forms of trial protection exist: time-limited and features- limited trial types. With a time trial protection potential customer installs a trial version, which may be feature limited version of the full software or time limited version or both.
Time trial protection is typically the most popular one. Which means that when a consumer installs the application he is able to utilize it “free of charge” for only so a number of days, typically 30. Some software developers targeting “impulse buyers” may set it lower, say 10 days, some products, usually that run daily on your PC may have time trial limit set to 60 as well as 90 days.
With a limited features trial protection you might limit certain top features of the application in a trial version. These might be important items of software functionality, say for a document converter you might limit a maximum size of the file to be converted or total number of files that might be converted at once. The user will still have the ability to utilize the software, however he’ll miss out the crucial functionality of the product and may buy it later since he urgently needs it.
How to protect your software? You may write sophisticated software protection algorithms yourself but why spend time to invent a wheel? There are lots of software protection packages available such as for instance Asprotect or Armadillo.
How to get money?
OK now you are ready with your product and the web site and you want to start selling your software. We estimate that over 95% of shareware products sold online are paid by credit cards. But here you are facing a problem that you cannot charge major bank cards (VISA, Mastercard, AMEX) unless you have a merchant account. You will find software registration companies that will do this for you. Digital River is just a leader in this area. They own and operate several software registration and charge card processing companies: Regnow, Shareit for PC, Swreg, eSellerate. There are also other independent companies such as for instance Plimus, Avangate (Romania), CleverBridge (Germany), SoftKey (Russia). Service charges that these companies collect vary depending on your product pricing, other functions that you might order from them. It is the greatest to check each software registration company in the above list to see if it suits your needs.
Marketing and advertising your software
This is a very broad topic however for shareware I’d identify few major forms of promoting your software.
Submit your product to shareware archives. For example Filesland.com is a computer software archive operated by our company. You will find over 1000 software archives. You may use automated submission tool such as for instance Robosoft This software utility allows to write a standardized software description and submit it automatically to about 1000 software archives all at once. Once your product is listed there you’ll immediately get first orders, people arrived at shareware archives