Overview Of Business Model
Everyone loves free shareware. The increase in Web sites offering free software downloads proves this. These sites allow up-and-coming software designers to display their programs to the public. They also allow established businesses to offer trial copies of their software. Usually these trial versions are limited either in their functionality or by the number of days you can use them. Since these sites offer free programs, they typically receive high volumes of traffic.
How do you generate revenue with this type of business? Since these sites receive such high volumes of traffic, you provide businesses with an excellent online advertising opportunity. You can sell banner advertisements on pages throughout your site. If you decide to launch a mailing list, you can also sell advertisements in the body of the mailing list message. Since your site will receive so many visitors, you will be able to generate maximum exposure for your advertisers’ products and services; thus you will be able to generate a tremendous amount of revenue for your business.
Knowledge of online advertising techniques is an asset to run this type of business. Since you will have to evaluate all of the software that you allow people to submit to your site, it is recommended that you have some knowledge of software design.
Cost To Start This Business
Initially you will have to pay for the development, design, and hosting of your Web site. You will have to purchase computer hardware, computer software, a scanner, and a printer. If you currently have some of these items, your initial start-up costs will be considerably lower. You should expect the cost for Web hosting to be considerably larger than that for a typical online business due to the high volumes of traffic that your site is going to receive and the space needed to store the various programs that your visitors will be able to download. You will also need high bandwidth because of all the files that will be downloaded. If you plan to set up a mailing list, you will also have to purchase mailing list software to help you organize and maintain it. It would probably be in your best interest to purchase comprehensive Web traffic analysis software to track where your Web site visitors are coming from. This information can be great for future marketing opportunities. Other costs that you will incur are related to the promotion of your Web site. Estimated cost is $10,000 to $50,000 to start.
Number Of Employees Needed To Start
The number of employees needed to run this type of business is one full-time individual and potentially one part-time employee. Initially you are going to be responsible for the mass promotion of your software download site through various online media. This is going to be a very time-consuming task, as a high volume of traffic is imperative to the success of this business.
This business has strong international potential. Since you are representing software developers from all over the world, your software download site will appeal to everyone.
Important Business Issues To Be Addressed
There are several things that you have to remember when launching a software download site. It is very important that you ensure that the server that you’re hosting your site on has high-speed access. If it takes a long time to download software from your site, visitors will be dissatisfied. This will also turn away potential advertisers from your Web site. This can be avoided if your host has a state-of-the-art server with lots of capacity and a high-speed connection.
To keep your software download site fresh, you should try to update your site on a regular basis. Consider having a What’s New page on your site. You could ask visitors if they would like to be notified via e-mail when you have made updates to your site. This would be a great way to generate repeat traffic to your site.
Advertisers are going to want to purchase ads on your site for one reason—exposure. This can’t happen unless your site receives high volumes of traffic. To ensure that this happens, you are going to have to do whatever you can to promote your business online and offline.
Online Marketing Techniques
- Launch a strategic banner advertising campaign on Web sites frequented by your target market. These sites should relate to software, programming, or technology in general.
- You could hold a weekly or monthly contest on your Web site for a free full version of a product offered by one of your regular program providers. The programmer or business donating the product could be your Featured Designer. You could ask people if they would like to be notified of the winner via e-mail. This e-mail will encourage them to return to your site to re-enter your contest, thus re-exposing them to your site.
- Develop a viral marketing strategy where people can “Tell a Friend about This Program” via your site. This will spread the word about your site.
- Develop as many links as possible from Web sites, directories, and metaindexes related to your target market. These sites should relate to software design, development, programming, or technology in general. There are also thousands of “free stuff” sites online. It would be very appropriate for your site to be listed on all of these sites.
- Develop a sponsored listings campaign to bid on appropriate keyword phrases with the popular search engines.
- You should develop a What’s New page for your site. Here you could feature the newest software uploaded to your site. You could ask people if they would like to be notified via e-mail when you update your What’s New page. This will encourage them to return to your site.
You could develop additional income for your site by selling software from your site or launching a referral business, where you receive a commission on all software sales resulting from a referral from your site. This would be a great way for you to earn additional income from this type of business.