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.