Monetization of the project: 8 + 4 ways to earn nothing

    WEBO SoftwareThis, apparently, is the third article ( first , second ) on the topic of building a software business in Russia “from scratch”. In the past, they asked me to talk about our monetization models - I tell you (the emphasis is on the models themselves, and not on building software sales channels in general.)

    In short, the choice of monetization model (in my personal strong belief) is individual for each project / business. And the model itself can and should change over time and the emergence of new trends / paradigms in the market.

    But all in order.

    Zero Approach: freeware

    If we take it chronologically, then our main product - WEBO Site SpeedUp - began as not only Open Source, but also a free solution ( Web Optimizer ). Over time, Open Source did not disappear, but paid editions of the product appeared. Why is that?

    It was a well-grounded decision. In April-May 2009, a small experiment was conducted to raise money for the creation of the first product interface. We collected (seemingly the right solution, which, of course, was not as convenient as we would like, but solved its tasks) 2,700 rubles (per month).

    If it seems to someone that this is not enough (for such a seemingly necessary product), then for comparison I will give figures on fees for books on client optimization(Of course, the fees weren’t promoted anywhere, but about 20-30 thousand people in total already downloaded books). About 700 rubles came for the first book, and 1200 for the second.

    As you well understand, no one will create a truly high-quality solution for the money. Therefore, in the summer of 2009, the final decision was made to choose other methods of monetization (no matter how sad it was for me as an adherent of free Open Source solutions).

    Monetization: donations .
    Effect: close to zero .

    First approach: subscription

    In autumn, a business plan was written by WEBO Software, in which it was planned to distribute the product by subscription, depending on the number of page views (in fact, in direct proportion to the benefits brought). That is, for example, up to 5,000 page views per month - for free, from 5,000 to 10,000 - 10 rubles per month, etc.

    Due to the technological complexity of implementing billing and supporting this scheme, it was almost immediately thrown aside (it is necessary to correctly calculate the number of site views, while ensuring maximum performance, which is somewhat contrary to each other), in addition, for the target users, the payment scheme for the product was completely not obvious: why does a neighbor pay 100 rubles for his site, while I pay almost the same - 500?

    This scheme was somewhat simplified, and an annual subscription (Premium version of the product) appeared at a price of 2,000 rubles ($ 100) per year. In principle, if you stretch for a year, then the amount is very small (167 rubles per month), and for most sites it pays for its costs.

    Monetization: annual subscription to the product (a-la antivirus).
    Effect: relatively good .

    One and a half approximation: product line

    But as it turned out, not everyone was willing to pay even that kind of money for the full version of the product. Therefore, almost immediately after the release of the Premium version, Lite appeared, which costs 500 rubles ($ 25) per year ( full comparison of versions ). It is much better than all similar solutions and is perfect for simple website acceleration (one that is now referred to as the base one).

    Monetization: product line (several versions with different functionality).
    Effect: good .

    Approximation Two: Product Installation and Setup

    Initially, the product itself was conceived as a rejection of any services to speed up the site. Those. the idea was "clicked a button - the site accelerated." In the process of implementing the idea, we were faced with a huge number of difficulties (starting from technological and ending with psychological ones, for example, I often encounter incredulous questions: how does it work, is it another charge from the air?). We managed to overcome most of them, but the final is still far away. There are a lot of ideas how to get to this very finale (taking into account the constant development of the web and its complexity, yes), and we will implement them before the end of this year.

    But with access to the sector of small and medium-sized businesses (when it is necessary to speed up enough visited or profitable sites), it turned out that not only are there almost no specialists to speed up sites. So nobody is ready to study solutions and investigate their functionality. It’s much easier to ask for a “reasonable amount” to “speed up the site” (and it’s not so important how it will be accelerated - a boxed product or services). As a result, we began to offer a line of services for installing / configuring the product, and from some point on technical support . This is not connected at all with the fact that we wanted to "cut the dough", no. In fact, the reason is that high-quality feedback rarely comes from users, and to explain each user personallyhow the product works (instead of improving it) we are not ready (and I don’t know any company that would not be engaged in this as part of promotions).

    Monetization: related services (installation / configuration / product support, related consulting).
    Effect: good .

    Approach Three: adware

    The idea of ​​adware (using a product for displaying ads) popped up 3 or 4 times in the last year. Since the product itself works on 2 fronts: the site itself and the admin interface, there were 2 options for advertising, but, firstly, the product speeds up the site (and any advertising slows it down). Secondly, it is often installed either where advertising is already full, or where its display is impossible (corporate sites or online stores). Therefore, the option of showing advertisements on the site itself is still on the sidelines (not the fact that nothing will come of it: we have not yet figured out how to do this as unobtrusively as possible).

    The second option: display ads in the administrative interface. There were several options, and we (really want to believe) felt for some thread. Now (in the latest and beta version of the product) the display of affiliate (affiliate) advertising of the product is implemented. Here I would highlight a couple of significant points:

    1. Advertising should be as targeted as possible. You can’t advertise shampoo in a technology web product. More precisely, it is possible, but the conversion from such advertising will be extremely low. Here we focus on the maximum “getting into the audience”. It’s good if you can advertise related services or products (as we are going to do, now the first swallow is launched with a site fault-tolerance check via
    2. Advertising in no case should interfere with the functioning of the product. Those. no pop-up banners, stretch marks and media ads most likely. Maximum, context and soft banners (i.e., the tasks are opposite: the advertisement should be noticeable, but not stand out).

    So far, we have no results in this area, but it is quite possible that such use of the product will allow at least some of the functions to be transferred to free mode.

    Monetization: contextual advertising in the product .
    Effect: not yet clear .

    Approach Four: Related Products

    Also, as part of the experiment, we are trying to distribute corporate T-shirts (soon, probably, we will also connect books). There are no results yet.

    Monetization: related products (mugs, t-shirts, books).
    Effect: not yet clear .

    Approach Five: SaaS

    We analyzed a lot of requests from users and current trends (including the emergence of services such as ) of software distribution and formed a concept (it has not yet been fully implemented, but when you install the latest beta version you can already "feel" it) SaaS -platforms for some functionality related to web performance and fault tolerance.

    In June, we plan to release this concept in the form of a flexible edition of the product, where users will have a balance (the design of this solution from the point of view of the legislation of the Russian Federation is a topic for a separate article :), which can be spent on optimizing product functions (for example, 1 ruble per day to use data: URI). Thus, we will solve two issues at once: with flexible charging / billing capabilities (not everyone needs the same sprites or HTML caching) and license renewal (as long as there is funds on the balance, they will be spent in proportion to the connected functionality).

    The start of open beta testing will be announced later, but now you can download the product and update it (System Status -> Update -> Show Beta Information) to the latest beta version.

    Monetization: subscription, SaaS, flexible billing .
    Effect: not yet clear .

    Here we returned to the subscription, but at a completely new round.

    Fifth and a half approximation: SaaS platform

    In addition, it is planned to publish an API for the development of its modules for the product / their integration with existing billing. It can be both services for optimizing performance (for example, image optimization), and checking services (for example, tapping the site). The potential here is great, but it is too early to speak about it more specifically. Wait :)

    What exactly will appear: simultaneously with the SaaS-edition we plan to launch WEBO CDN (across Russia) in partnership with NGENIX (but this is still a secret :).

    Either revenue sharing or reselling of goods or services will be used as a model (which is essentially a logical continuation of affiliate programs integrated as advertisements).

    Monetization:profit sharing, providing a platform / audience .
    Effect: not yet clear .

    Behind the scenes

    What are we still thinking about, but not yet very successful:

    1. Selling product documentation.
    2. Sale of additional “covers” (skins) / “chips” (virtual capabilities).
    3. Integration with social networks based on applications / games.
    4. Carrying out offline activities related to the product.

    A small summary

    There are a lot of monetization models. It is desirable, of course, to know all of them, but focus primarily on your audience in order to find your own way to build a high-quality solution in a reasonable amount of time. And the audience itself is usually “pushed” to the correct model. In general, good luck!

    PS we are now looking for a team of web technologist (Moscow / region / full time), details in private.

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