[Journey/Case Study] New Software Download Business... Can it Succeed?

by brettb
12 replies
tl;dr: Goal: sell my software product online. Timeframes: short term - sell 1 copy in the first 2 weeks of release. Medium term - make $1000 a month. Long term - make enough passive income to retire.

Hi fellow warriors,

I've been away for a few years but I like this new part of the Warrior Forum. It reminds me of how The Keyword Academy inspired me and others to journal our online money making journeys (more on TKA later).

In this thread I'll document my attempts to get another software business going. I propose to sell the software through ClickBank (though this might change).

Everyone here seems to be blogging. Why? Software is still a great business to be in. Apps are great of course but I'm a desktop developer and it's here that I want to try and strike gold (again).

This year marks the 20th anniversary of my making money online journey. Can you believe it?

Here are my high (and lows):

1998 - write some software articles for a website after seeing a "Write for Us" link. Actually get sent a USD check, and it's for quite a good amount.

2002 - lost my software developer job in the dot com crash 1.0. So I spent my time out of work making a couple of shareware software tools for Windows PCs. The breakthrough was finding out that if I made software, I could hook it up to a site that took credit card orders.

2008 - peak of software business. My record weekly sales of $825 happened this year. Then the big financial crash happened as well as a shift in software development that made my tools more of less obsolete. Lessons learned: (1) sell a business after 7 years, (2) do not expect overnight success in any business.

2010 - started small ClickBank ebook business. Made a few sales but was never comfortable with doing stuff in the health niche.

2010 - Wrote some rubbish on a forum (not this one!) and one day I woke up and smelt the coffee - my threads were getting thousands of page views. Bang - I had my new niche! Expanded this into my own websites about the niche. Joined The Keyword Academy which inspired me to write 6000+ words a day for a year or two. Man, I really wanted those achievement badges! This propelled my Adsense earnings to well over $1000 a month.

2011 - Attacked by Penguins and Pandas. But unlike most other former members of The Keyword Academy I didn't lose everything(!).

2012 - Built a membership site in my niche. I made a bit of money. But my friend who started a similar membership site is now making over $5000 a month. His secret? Reach out to the influencers in the niche.

2013 - 2017 Tried to enter some new niches. Bombed with property, but got quite a bit of traffic in the SEO and make money online niche. It's hard to monetise though. Also tried an e-commerce store. Clothing is still a good niche but I have way too many eggs in way too many baskets!

2018 Quit my job and started teaching English overseas. This could also be a pretty good niche to blog about but at the end of the day I am a professional software developer so maybe I should be building apps for dollars not blogging for nickels!!!

If you learn anything from my story then this is it:

Invest your online profits.

I now make more money each month from my investments in stocks and property than I do online.

NEW PLAN

In 2014 I had an idea for a software tool. It started off being a download. I sold 1 copy (yay!).

Then it became a free software as a service website.

Now I'm going to make it a download again.

The good news is that by making it a website for a while I've got traffic and regular users, which will make it much easier to hit the ground running with my software. I also have a brand, as well as a mascot (which somebody drew for me on Fiverr).

I would say the biggest risk I face is Microsoft. Boy they've really screwed up Windows as a developer platform. I've got a 4K laptop and it's wonderful but so many apps don't work properly on it.

So I hope my software will actually install and work on other peoples' PCs!

MASSIVE ACTION

Well that's the plan, what am I going to do?

First I need to build the software. Actually it is 90% done. The difference between poor software developers and rich ones is that rich ones actually release their code.

I want to see if ClickBank will accept it. If they do then it's going to be pretty easy to get a tonne of affiliates. I did have affiliates for my old software. But it was so specialised that the only affiliates I attracted were the generic download sites.

Late last year I also started a mailing list and I have 100 or so subscribers. I've not made any money from them yet but I am starting to get some good engagement in terms of them emailing me with problems and ideas.

After that it's just waiting for sales and trying to sign up some big name websites to become affiliates.

I guess I could make a WSO as well.

How does this thread help you if you're not a software developer?

(i) Learn how to code. I went to university but I never studied IT. I am completely self taught at coding. I started with HTML, then JavaScript, then server-side stuff like PHP and SQL. You know that if you can code PHP then you can make cool little interactive bits on your blogs? Users love these and yet 99% of bloggers never do this.

(ii) If you have an idea then you can easily hire a coder.

I'll be using ClickBank so hopefully anything I learn about it can be used for other digital products. I still actually sell a few ebooks I promote (but didn't write myself). In fact one of the best products I promote as an affiliate has been removed from the MarketPlace. I should really make an alternative!

One thing I want this thread to focus on is how to lure in affiliates, preferably big household name ones. I don't think anyone on this forum will make $5000+ a month from their own website without affiliates.

So many ideas, so little time. Stay tuned for the next update...
#business #download #journey or case #software #study #succeed
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  • Profile picture of the author brettb
    Hmm, not much interest in my thread.

    It's s shame because software is a really decent niche. I made $100,000 from my last go at this niche. How many bloggers make this amount?

    I have to say that ClickBank is crying out for new software products in the MarketPlace. They have so much more value to the end user than yet another eBook. And they can be hugely profitable. Have you seen the Travel Frog mobile game yet? It made $2 million dollars. From one country alone. In just 14 days.

    Anyway, what have I been doing this week?

    A number of things:

    1. I am starting to put more effort into my mailing list. I now have 108 subscribers. I got an 18% open rate on my 3rd email. Is that good?
    2. I have started a YouTube Channel. I've started by doing screen recording. Today I got more adventurous and went outside to record some footage. I hate the sound of my own voice (don't most people?). But I cannot ignore the opportunity I have of living somewhere really interesting.
    3. I released my software. No sales yet but I think the struggle from free to paid product could be a tricky one.
    4. I am trying to find a good marketing angle for my software (a keyword research tool). While testing it I found a massive potential new niche. I guess it's entirely possible that my software might flop, but I could make $$$$$ in this rather weird and wonderful niche I've stumbled upon.
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    • Profile picture of the author DWolfe
      Originally Posted by brettb View Post


      1. I am starting to put more effort into my mailing list. I now have 108 subscribers. I got an 18% open rate on my 3rd email. Is that good?

      3. I released my software. No sales yet but I think the struggle from free to paid product could be a tricky one.
      .
      How long has the software been released ? You answered you hope to make a big sale in the first few weeks. Have you looked to selling the software elsewhere besides clickbank ?
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    • Profile picture of the author GordonJ
      Originally Posted by brettb View Post

      Hmm, not much interest in my thread.

      It's s shame because software is a really decent niche. I made $100,000 from my last go at this niche. How many bloggers make this amount?

      I have to say that ClickBank is crying out for new software products in the MarketPlace. They have so much more value to the end user than yet another eBook. And they can be hugely profitable. Have you seen the Travel Frog mobile game yet? It made $2 million dollars. From one country alone. In just 14 days.

      Anyway, what have I been doing this week?

      A number of things:

      1. I am starting to put more effort into my mailing list. I now have 108 subscribers. I got an 18% open rate on my 3rd email. Is that good?
      2. I have started a YouTube Channel. I've started by doing screen recording. Today I got more adventurous and went outside to record some footage. I hate the sound of my own voice (don't most people?). But I cannot ignore the opportunity I have of living somewhere really interesting.
      3. I released my software. No sales yet but I think the struggle from free to paid product could be a tricky one.
      4. I am trying to find a good marketing angle for my software (a keyword research tool). While testing it I found a massive potential new niche. I guess it's entirely possible that my software might flop, but I could make $$$$$ in this rather weird and wonderful niche I've stumbled upon.
      5 days ago you wrote:

      I want to see if ClickBank will accept it. If they do then it's going to be pretty easy to get a tonne of affiliates

      Did they accept it and is it for sale THERE? Since so much of your future journey is tied up with Clickbank and the
      "tonne of affiliates"
      you plan to get there, we're waiting on updates.

      It is great you shared, we hope you are successful, but it seems like you're offering advice on software, BEFORE you have demonstrated new results.

      So, do keep us posted, I'm sure your journey is interesting, but maybe a little less selling to us about the virtures of selling software, and just tell us what you have done in the direction of your goal.

      I can't see (but maybe I didn't read correctly) where you said Clickbank approved your software product, it just seems that would be the most important step to report.

      GordonJ
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  • Profile picture of the author brettb
    Yes ClickBank approved my software. However I did put it up on an existing account where I used to sell an eBook.

    I'm not sure if that is the best thing to do but it seems to work. ClickBank is another site where they've done very little to their site in the last decade.

    My fallback plan is to sell it on my existing software vendor account with Avangate. I actually sold one of my old products on there yesterday.

    I guess I should investigate JV options but since I don't have a PayPal account I don't know what my options here are.

    The new product is not in the ClickBank MarketPlace. It's my understanding it only goes in there if you have a sale every 60 days.

    As for sales...

    I had a mini success - my first sale!

    Unfortunately I then had a setback - a refund!!!

    I'm not sure what happened there, I've emailed the customer to see. But I suspect they were trying to get the software for free. Maybe this is why there aren't so many software products for sale on ClickBank...

    Ah the pain of having a real product instead of just a blog. This is actually why I switched from products to blogging in 2012.

    What else have I been doing this week?

    I made a YouTube Channel!

    It's been a lot of fun and it's great to be able to add a few walk through videos to my software site.

    I've started by doing screen capture recordings. Last night I got more adventurous and spliced in some real life footage using Shotcut.

    I doubt I'll get that many views in the software niche but as I get better at vlogging I will expand into other niches.

    I also tried putting some updates on Facebook but you know what? They unpublished my page. Wtf? Well I republished it but considering this is one of the biggest software companies in the world the post publishing system on pages is trash.

    Personally I think Facebook is dying. Where do I interact socially these days? On private WeChat groups - not on Facebook! I'm pinning my social hopes on YouTube and my own mailing list.

    I've also been cleaning up my website designs. See FindAForum for an example of what I've done. I've looked in my stats and anything that's not popular has been removed from the top menu. People in a hurry see the important stuff. Less important stuff goes down the bottom (e.g. contact us, affiliates, submit, stuff, write for us, about us blah blah).

    I've really gone back to basics. I've also added a "download this software" band at the top of the page of my sites. I think Warrior Forum does this sometimes. It's a but unsightly BUT it works.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Anthony
    the climate and market has considerably changed. I too have gone into programming but quickly realized desktop is not the future - not that you can't develop a desktop app but that app should not be desktop only or even primarily.

    Also to me click bank is the under belly of the software market and only a certain kind of person and software sells there.

    Mobile, tablet based and web apps will create more exposure and sales and Software as a service is a LOT less headache. I only have to maintain my app not support issues on so many different machines with so many problems.

    Anyway i am following your progress but didn't say much before because its not a path I believe leads to great long term success.
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    • Profile picture of the author Darrell Hagan
      Originally Posted by Mike Anthony View Post

      the climate and market has considerably changed. I too have gone into programming but quickly realized desktop is not the future - not that you can't develop a desktop app but that app should not be desktop only or even primarily.
      Not necessarily.

      There are still many things which cannot be easily accomplished on a mobile device using a touchscreen. Detailed photo processing comes to mind, along with other types of graphics such as logo designing, etc.

      Mobile apps are wonderful and it seems that there are multiple apps available for everything. So competition is fierce, many app niches (most actually) are saturated, and users are confused and usually just download or install the first app they see which might meet their needs.

      So a return to the desktop might not be such a bad thing
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  • Profile picture of the author brettb
    Yeah the software business seems done really which is a shame given the power of modern PCs but then I kind of realised it 4 years ago when I turned version 0.1 of the tool into a website.

    Also the keyword tools niche is extremely saturated. There are some extremely good tools out there, many of which are free.

    However I won't rule out a return to software if I spot a B2B niche again, like I did in 2002. I made $100,000 from that baby.

    The best thing to come of this is building a keyword tool nobody else uses lol. Just imagine all the keywords I now have access to that hardly anybody else knows about. I was researching a 33,100 volume niche yesterday that AnswerThePublic gives 0 keywords for!

    The other good thing is that I have something nice to show potential employers if I ever go back into full time software development.

    Well the software may have flopped but I have noticed that one type of website is just crushing it right now. So I'll roll out more of these.

    I feel a WSO coming on...
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  • Any updates on this?
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  • Profile picture of the author brettb
    Yes I have made a few sales. Nothing spectacular but the niche is fairly saturated these days.


    I have done better since I moved from ClickBank to JVZoo. The dime sale is very popular with users - I started off at an ultra low price.


    Also I'm really pleased that Stripe was easy to get up and running (I was banned from PayPal years ago). So this is a good option if you want to make a WSO without PayPal.


    Talking of WSO's I should probably make a WSO then I would get a lot more sales.


    I would have more sales but I have been working on several side projects. What I have noticed these days is that backlinks and domain authority are vital or you just will not rank - quality means nothing at all to Google. So I have been exploiting my site's rapidly growing domain authority to target some lucrative "difficult" keywords.
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  • Profile picture of the author DWolfe
    Any updates with this project or have you moved on to something else ?
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    • Profile picture of the author brettb
      Originally Posted by DWolfe View Post

      Any updates with this project or have you moved on to something else ?

      Update: yeah I've sold a few copies but haven't been actively working on this site for a few months now.


      I've been working on a couple of other projects.
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  • Profile picture of the author brettb
    Update: things are going pretty well. My sales are up and also my Google traffic is way, way, up. More on that later.


    Downloadable software is still popular after all.



    One thing that might have helped is that over the vacation I built a second product. I don't know if the product's that popular. HOWEVER, people freaking love bundles. It means they get two products for the price of one, and I felt more comfortable raising the price. I highly recommend you make bundles of whatever you're selling. Back in 2007 I added a site license bundle option for my old software business, and I sold plenty at $249.95 a go.



    As for the increased search traffic, I accomplished this by building more free tools on my site. One tool in particular has got really popular. It's now my most popular page after the home page.


    Oh, and incidentally I believe that Google is sending more visitors to home pages. Put more text on your home page, and you could reap the benefits...


    Well I hope this encourages you guys to do something about that Windows desktop app you've had an idea for.
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