Product Advertisement

Today I am reading a trade journal for managers in my field. There were a lot of interesting technical articles this month. Only one ad caught my eye in the whole magazine. It was for a software product that might be something we are looking for. But their ad turned me off. They had the prominent name of their software package on display. However it was the 2008 version.

Now I do not know whether their 2008 version is sufficient or not. But it is 2009 now. Why are they calling attention to the fact that this is last year's software? Heck. Microsoft is talking about Visual Studio 2010. I guess Microsoft is not completely guilt free in this department, as they sell Office 2007. Microsoft has my business for other reasons (they are the defacto standard).

This product I saw in the magazine may cost a lot of money. The demo which is given away for free might blow my mind. However they will not even get a chance to win me as a customer. Sure their latest offering may be the 2008 version. But do they have to call attention to that? I wonder what they were thinking.

Wolfram Alpha

I have been seeing a lot of buzz about something called Wolfram Alpha. At first I tried to ignore it. However I could not help myself. I decided to check it out. Some people have been saying that it is a Google replacement. Ok. It is supposed to understand the web with some sort of artificial intelligence.

Let's put the darn thing to the test. I asked it, "Who is the hottest chick in the world?" All I got back was a computation time out error. At least the site confessed that it did not know what to do with my question. Damn.

I did a test with Google and Ask Jeeves. These both brought me to a site which asks you to rank the hottest chick in the world. That's more on topic. It did not answer my question. But it showed Lucy Lu as the first choice for you to check.

Is Wolfram Alpha the next big thing? No chance. Given the simple test I gave it, my initial feeling is that it is a failure. Good luck to the people behind it anyway. You are going to need it.

Free Versus Paid

I am a programmer at heart. And I would like to make money using that skill. So I should write some programs and sell them, right? That is easier said than done. Sure I know how to make my programs do what I want them to do. This is my expertise. But how do I get other people to pay for them? That is the question.

At first I thought I would test the waters by giving my software away for free. Even then I had some problems getting a massive amount of users. How then could I get any subset of them to pay for my product? Perhaps I am targeting too small of a niche to get customers. However perhaps I am having a problem with my marketing in general. I am not a marketer. I am a programmer. Today I thought I would muse about the practice of giving away product to develop paying customers in the future.

Unfortunately I have read that once you give away your product, it is hard to convert to charging customers. It would have been better if I had initially hinted that the product would not always be free. For example, I could have said that the beta release of my product was free. The real task here is to be in sync with your customer. You need excellent communication with them. That way they do not get surprised and skip out on the paid version of your programs.

It is not inherently evil to charge money for your software. At least I do not believe it is so. That’s why I pay for software that I use. For example, even though the price is somewhat high, I buy Microsoft product like Office and Visual Studio. They solve a need of mine. Microsoft is the expert on marketing tactics. Maybe I can learn something from them.

Affiliate Networks

I really like reading Website magazine. Not only do they concentrate on web technologies, you get some other viewpoints like the business side and Search Engine Optimization. There was this one article in this month’s issue that peaked my interest. It was on high paying network affiliate programs.

There is a very low barrier to entry in getting money from affiliates. You can just throw a web site together and put some affiliate ads on it. And there is a potential for a big payoff it you get lucky. The article did not cover the big gorilla affiliates such as Google and Amazon. It also did not talk about conceptual networks (e.g. Price Per Click or MLM programs).

The article cited “” for top tier affiliate networks. Here is what I found interesting. I had never heard of the top 4 networks on the list. Do you know about ClickBooth, OurFreeStuff, Copeac, or XY7? I sure don’t.

There were at least some networks on the Top 50 list that I had at least heard of. These included FriendFinder and LinkShare. It might be time to look further into the offerings they have to make me money.


I am not selling any of the software I have written so far. The products I have created were tests of applications that I gave away for free. I first thought I would determine all the things needed to create and release products first. I also used this to gauge how minimal marketing methods would reach an audience. However I eventually planned to write software that could be sold to customers.

Traditionally there is a science to the pricing of software products. Conventional wisdom states that you set pricing based on concrete factors such as competitor pricing, costs to manufacture, and customer needs. However I read a bold article on ways to think about pricing that are out of the box.

This novel approach to pricing advised you to not price based on what other people are charging. Instead you should choose an astronomical price. That way you can find out what the maximum your customer is willing to pay. I have tried this approach with several customers for some work. This normally resulted in the customer rejecting the price. And they used their negotiating expertise to find out how low I would go for pricing.

Some of this pricing applied to custom work for a specific customer. My problem is how to price a software title that I will mass distribute and sell. It still might be prudent to set the price point very high. That means I will have less customers to support. It also might set the precedent that my software is very valuable.