With the popularity of computers, the idea to make money selling software online can sound like a great plan. If done right, it can be a good way to make money, especially if you are promoting something that people actually want and need.
But, actually being successful in this field is a bit more complex than it first appears. The large amount of competition means that you have to think long and hard about what you create or promote, to make sure you can be successful. In this post, we’re taking a look at some of the complexities involved in selling software and how to go about it effectively.
Selling Your Own Software
If you’re seriously considering selling software online, then one of the first things to consider is whether that software is your own or whether you are going to make the software.
Of the two approaches, making your own software is certainly the most challenging. For one thing, you need to have a decent idea of the programming involved. You also need to be able to create something that people are going to want to buy. Typically, that would mean building software that does something unique, is better than everything else out there or is cheaper.
It's doable, but not easy.
Even with all of the software currently on the market, there are still areas that haven’t been tapped into and problems that haven’t been solved. If you can figure out an idea that falls into these areas, then the potential for profit does exist.
Keep in mind though, it can take a considerable amount of time to develop software and may even cost you money, especially if you outsource some of the work. You could spend money and months or years putting a piece of software together, so be sure and do your research beforehand to see if there's a market for this product.
Now, you can reduce your workload by starting with something else, like using open source software or buying something similar and improving on it. However, if you do so, you have to pay close attention to the restrictions you face. Otherwise, you may put a lot of energy into creating something that you have no legal right to sell.
Another similar area to consider would be app development. Creating useful apps, or even just games can be very lucrative even with simple ideas. Back in 2009 the iPhone fart app was making $10,000 per day. Games are still the hottest sellers, but knocking out a few small niche apps could result is some very cool passive income over the next few years.
Selling Other People’s Software
Creating your own product is always tough and that’s especially true for software. The one plus side is that you make more per sale – eventually – as long as you didn't sink too much money into the development phase.
If you are selling software that somebody else has created, the equation changes considerably.
For one thing, with somebody else’s software, there is much less risk. You didn’t pay to develop the software, so you don’t lose much if people don’t buy it. Instead, you can simply switch to a different product if you find that the first piece of software doesn’t sell as well as you expected.
You can even sell more than one piece of software at the same time, including pieces from competing companies. That makes your chance of success much higher. Compare antivirus 1/2/3 and highlight their pros/cons. Boom. You make sales from all three companies and all you did was aggregate information.
You will also find that other people’s software already has a reputation. So, some people may have heard about what you’re trying to sell and they may already trust the company. That reputation means that you’re more likely to be able to sell software that already exists, rather than something you make yourself. Often times, people are just looking to make sure that they are not getting scammed, and that they are getting the correct product for their needs (and that it will meet their expectations).
So how do you get credit for sales? With affiliate links.
With affiliate marketing, you aren’t literally selling the product at all. Instead, you’re acting like a salesperson. So, you direct people to the software and promote it. You are the middleman with the information. Someone is looking for info online, your website has the info and links to the vendor's download page. When the buyer clicks your link, you get credit (the link contains your affiliate code and drops a cookie).
For example, you might do a review on the software showing people who well it works and what you can expect. You can do a written review, or a video review, or both. You can include screenshots, technical stats, and opinions. This is extremely helpful to consumers, as people are often looking for information about how a product works before they invest money into it.
Likewise, you may be able to convince people about software they haven’t even heard of. They may search for a product that has a lot of hype, but you feel isn't worth the money. You can then direct them to a better or cheaper product. For example, someone might want to edit images and think they need photoshop. But that's $20/month and really only the pros need it! For simple image editing, I'd recommend something like Pixelmator or SnagIt which is a one time fee and much easier to use.
And this is just one example. So, you could promote SnagIt via affiliate marketing and make a commission each time someone buys. In fact, you can promote anything that has an affiliate program. Even if your website is mostly about photo editing, you could also make money by recommedning related hardware.
Building Your Own Affiliate Website
Affiliate marketing is a very powerful tool. You don’t have to own your own products or create anything in order to make money, so it becomes fairly easy to scale up your profits. Informational articles you write will stay online forever, so a post that makes 2 sales per day could make you 2 sales a day for the rest of your life. That adds up!
Some people choose to do affiliate marketing just via forums or social media. So, they post recommendations along with their affiliate link wherever they possibly can. In the short-term, this might work but it isn’t a great long-term strategy. Very often, posting affiliate links in social areas will get you banned or at least ignored.
If you build your own website and do affiliate marketing through that, then you have a piece of internet real estate that you can grow over time. As you develop a site, you will create more content, which helps you to rank in search engines. Over time, you develop your own reputation through links and social shares This helps you to get more traffic and increase your likelihood of sales. You’re also creating a valuable resource, something that people may revisit time and time again.
When creating your own website, one of the most important areas is the topic, which we call a niche. So, if your niche was internet marketing, you might promote software (and/or other products) that help people to make money online. In contrast, if your niche was low carb cooking, you might promote software that helps people figure out how many carbs in a given meal and calculate carbs for the day.
Other good topics to look into would be antivirus software, home video monitoring systems, stock trading software, or bookkeeping software.
Basically, you tailor the specific software you’re promoting around what your audience is going to be interested in. There aren't a lot of people just looking for “software” in general, so you need to be specific to attract an audience. We are not recreating Cnet!
The one other thing to mention about affiliate marketing with your own website is that this field is pretty easy to get into. You don’t even have to invest a lot of money because the only absolutely necessary expenses are a domain name and hosting.
If you’re interested in starting your own affiliate website I do also recommend getting some training, especially early on. The best place to go for that is a site called Wealthy Affiliate. The training there is second-to-none and it is the perfect place to learn affiliate marketing and site building all at once.
They don't deal in sensational advertising like a lot of the “make money online” products do, and won't give you false promises. You're going to have to work to grow your site! But they do have a plan that works – I know because it worked for me. In fact, my first sales were in the software industry, and my site was about virtual private networks (good niche to get into by the way). So for a realistic look into how to make money online and and a step by step plan on how to make your first dollar, this is the place to be.