Friday, February 13, 2009

Shareware Sales - a Reality Check

I'd like to share with you all my surprise at how wealthy I've become after my foray into shareware marketing.  In reality, however, the response has been less than wonderful and I can only report that my financial situation hasn't improved at all!  I was certainly excited and hopeful when I released my products for sale, but I don't think my expectations were naive or unrealistic.  After several months and a disappointing number of sales, I'm a little discouraged and perplexed.  

There have been many hundreds of downloads of the trial versions which implies that my products fill an existing need in the market.  Also, although feedback has been infrequent, it's invariably been extremely positive and very encouraging.  I am still confident that my products are well designed, realistically priced and useful.  I use my products on a daily basis as I continue with project and support work and find them invaluable.  Surely I am not so biased or unusual that others can't see the benefits too?  I can only scratch my head and wonder where I'm going wrong.  

Some possibilities are that:
  • There is a reluctance to make payments via PayPal, despite the fact that a PayPal account isn't required in order to use their payment facilities.
  • The instructions for setting up the first of my products - Project Monitor - are not clear enough and prospective customers are scared off.
  • My familiarity with the products has blinded me to difficulties experienced by first-time users.
  • Competing products are light years ahead of my own. 
Not wishing to give up, I have taken a long hard look at the wording used within the applications and have made an effort to simplify text used within them, recognising that English is not always the first language of my customers.  Where Project Monitor is concerned, I have also aimed for greater consistency in my instructions, replacing all instances of words like "relationships" and "associations", with the word "links".  Hopefully, changes as simple as these will assist new users to find their way around the applications and improve their understanding of the process involved in initial setup.

With a huge reliance on user feedback, I've also added a "Send feedback" link to my web site's product pages.  If I receive positive responses, it will reinforce my belief in the products.  If the feedback is negative, I will at least be in a position to evaluate the criticism and act on it.  Only time will tell whether people are prepared to make the effort to provide such comments.


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