Why you shouldn't give away your shareware for free, > Lynn Fredricks lynn at paradigmasoft.com

Richard Gaskin ambassador at fourthworld.com
Tue Dec 5 12:37:03 EST 2006

Lynn Fredricks wrote:
>> <http://www.thinkmac.co.uk/blog/2006/11/why-you-shouldnt-give-away-
>> your.html>
>> Roughly paraphrased as:
>> Hey buddy, can we give away 5,000 copies of your app for free?
>> What? Why on Earth would I want to create an extra 5,000 
>> potential customer support issues for no money, and piss off 
>> all my paying customers?
> You can find my reply to this here: 
> http://forums.runrev.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=1707

For the convenience of those of you on this list who are on this list, 
I've taken the liberty of cross-posting Lynn's excellent reply in this 
venue where the thread began.

Lynn's comments are worthwhile, and well qualified.  It seems the bottom 
line is to avoid dogma:  there is no single best "yes" or "no" answer to 
the question of whether to give away software for free. Like so many 
other things in life, it's not so much what you do as how you do it.

  Richard Gaskin
  Managing Editor, revJournal
  Rev tips, tutorials and more: http://www.revJournal.com



Ian Wood pointed out a this blog entry that slams the notion of product 
giveaways as a marketing action. Ive already replied to the blog itself 
but I think it warrants further discussion here.

Free giveaways can work wonders for you, they can:

1. Increase upsell opportunity. Once you get users using your product 
and it provides significant value - keep adding value and you have 
yourself a paying customer.

2. Validation. If your user base remains a fraction of the a small group 
of early adopters, you will not get enough traction in the software 
industry media to get additional coverage. A lot of primary influencers 
in the software industry do no signficant research other than reading a 
few magazines.

3. Custom Work. If your company also offers services, you can gain the 
per sale validation (as under #2 above) as well as offers for 
customer/service work.

Validation is the key here - its necessary to move out of being a 
weekend warrior shareware developer to a company if that is your goal. 
I've seen a great many excellent 1.0 releases that languish and are 
quickly eclipsed (if its a viable market, competition will come about 
quickly) by any competitor that is serious about product marketing.

There is nothing wrong with giveaways but they have to be executed well 
in order to get good results. For example, if you purchase Beginning 
Programming for Dummies 4th Edition you can get a free, non-transferable 
copy of Runtime Revolution 2.2.1. This has had almost zero impact on 
user support (if managed right) and its creating creative investment on 
the part of new users that in turn results in a very high conversion 
rate in upgrades later.

You can also find this reply on: 
Best regards,

Lynn Fredricks
Worldwide Business Operations
Runtime Revolution, Ltd

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