How To Develop a Software Product
You must have at least one software application in your products portfolio.
1. It is easier to sell software than information.
2. You can make more money per sale.
3. It is easier to create a piece of software than to write an eBook.
4. Software sells itself because software actually delivers results whereas “information” gives “a way” to achieve results.
It’s really a no brainer.
Also… for people who like recurring revenue streams…
If you were selling a membership site based on content, you would need to create new content each month to keep it going. With software, you simply sell access to the software on a monthly basis. No additional work required if the software works properly.
20 users at $50 per month givesyou $1000 a month, recurring revenue.
You can get 20 customers in no time if you have a compelling offer and if you use free-trials followed up with a “lock in” offer.
$50 is on the low end of the pricing scale because software has a higher value than information.
(In other words, it should take no effort whatsoever to get at least 20 users at a minimum of $50 a month.)
Simply doing that will probably pay for two programmers… which will allow you to develop several valuable products that you can sell.
What kind of software can you develop?
I’m not talking about becoming the next Microsoft.
I am referring to one of two things:
- a niche software application (such as this or this)
- Or a data aggregator (like this or this or this.)
Small, easy to develop applications that have a specific place in niche markets.
Start with something that YOU need, and then make it available to other people who may also need it.
Look at what is already out there and compete with existing applications ifyou don’t have any ideas. You will make sales because people will alwayswant “the new thing”.
Let me give you a reference so we are on the same wave length.
SENuke sells for $167 a month.
I am pretty sure they have several hundred paying customers.This software more than pays for itself because it works.
The $167 price tag is an investment instead of a cost because you will make that back several times over when you use it.
Think about the previous sentence carefully because that is the key to framing your offer. It will make a massive difference in your results. It makes perfect sense for the customer to pay $167 a month if they will make that back several times over if you use it.
Let’s imagine that you develop something that is equally as useful (saves time, makes life easy, etc), and you only got 100 users. (Say you get one new user a day… you will have 100 users in a little over 3 months. No rush.)
Assume that your customers are willing to pay $167 a month… 100 x $167 a month gives you $16,700 PER month.
(Half of that, i.e. 50 customers would give you $8,350 a month, recurring revenue.)(in three months).
How do you get 100 paying customers?
- 4000 unique visitors see your offer. That is 25 keywords that each get 160 clicks per month. Or 10 keywords that each get 400 clicks per month.
- 25% of them sign up for a free trial and test your application.That gives you 1000 people trying the software.
- Each one them gets a lock in offer
- 10% of them respond to the lock in offer. That gives you 100 paying customers.
That is the front end. You still have the people who did not respond on your email list.
You can put them into an Auto Responder Sequence, or give them access to a members’area that shows them how to do something… but show them how easy it is when they use your software.
More exposures to your offer will give you more customers.
What can you do with that? You can pump more money into your software… make it better, get more programmers, develop more programs… or you can buy more traffic and ramp up sales.
Can you see the potential of selling software?
There is virtually no resistance to a recurring offer if you sell a solution thatintegrates into on-going operations.
Solutions like industry-specific data aggregators, management or billing software (example… for B&B’s, small hotels, small restaurants, etc), or stuff for the Internet Marketing market.
The internet marketing market would be the easiest to crack because people spend loads of money on applications that make their lives easier.
Stuff like newsletters or membership sites don’t have the same renewals as software that is integral to a business’s day to day work. (The average is 4.5 renewals for information products).
I’m putting data aggregators into the software category because they require php, asp, rails, etc on top of a database.
Data aggregators are websites that process vast amounts of information… such as numbers, names, other text values… and thenallow easy access to that information in one place.
This type of service sells itself in industries where people have to makedecisions based on data from several different sources. That is amouthful, so take a second and let it sink in.
This is my absolute FAVORITE thing to sell on the internet
CBEngine is a decent example of the type of data aggregators I’mtalking about, except I would target higher end markets.
The more exclusive the data and the more important the data is to the customer’s “process”, the more you can charge.
How difficult is it to have software developed?
It is easy! I’m going to show you how to do it in this post itself.
You don’t need to know anything about software or programming to develop killer software that people will buy. All you need is an idea, and the ability to articulate what it does in writing.
The only thing you need to “master” is the ability to describe EXACTLY what you want.
It would also be helpful if you could visualize HOW it would work… and even better if you can design an interface so your programmer has something to work from.… and communicate with programmers.
Your role will probably be similar to a building contractor. Building contractors manage the resources and ensure that work gets done in a certain order.
That is what you will be doing on your software project.
The main thing is to focus on keeping it functional at the beginning. You don’t want to overcomplicate it. The best applications are easy to use, effective and robust.
How long does it take to develop something that you can sell?
It can be done pretty quickly if you know exactly what you want.
The first step is to get a working prototype. Then you work on the prototype – add new features, change things around, improve certain processes, etc.
When you have completed that stage, you can test it, and then launch it.
To give you a reference – it took my friend in collaboration took weekend to build something that does more or less what SpeedPPC does. SpeedPPC lacked something that I wanted to try, so I built my own solution. It took me about 10 hours worth of coding – but I knew exactly what I was building.
You have to consider the time your programmer would normally take to design the logic of the software. He will have to figure out which functions it needs, he will have to design a database if the software needs it, and he may have to build an interface.
Once he has a blueprint for the software, he then has to code it.
Sometimes they can download code snippets (called libraries) and stitch them together – which saves a lot of time. See this example. Here’s another example.
Windows Desktop Applications
There are several technology choices, but I believe that .net is the best technology option from a marketer’s point of view
1. It will let you do literally anything you can think of. There are no limitations.
2. .NET programmers are a dime a dozen. You don’t have to look very far to find a good C# or VB.net programmer.
You can get a full time Filipino C# or VB.NET programmer for $300 to $400 a month.
They will put in 40 hours per week, 4 weeks per month.
3. But most importantly for a marketer who has NO programmingexperience… this is the fastest way to convert your idea into a prototype, and then into a working application (either desktop or web based app).
I will show you how later… but basically, you can download VisualStudio Express (free of charge!) and build the interface yourself in a few minutes.
Then simply hand it off to your programmer along with a short description of what you want it to do.
It is very easy. You drag and drop stuff like buttons, labels, text boxes, etc onto a form.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOWHOW TO PROGRAM!
It is like working with a regular Microsoft Office program such as Word orExcel… I promise that you will figure it out in ten minutes.
Once you have designed a basic interface, you can send it to the programmer along with the specs of what you want, and how you want the program to work and they will build the application for you.
It does not get any easier than this!
The big advantage of this approach is that the programmer will know exactly what you want. They can get straight to programming and will give you what you are looking for.
You can then make changes or improvements once you have a working prototype.
It is cool.
Some stuff you should know about dot net.
Dot net is not a language. It is a “framework” that interfaces with your computer. There are different dot net languages, so you will find programmers who know one or more of these languages. The code written in one of these languages talks to the framework, which then talks to your computer. So it does not matter if your programmers write the code in C#, Visual Basic or C++.Net. They all perform more or less the same. (Some people will tell you that C++ is faster than C#. And that C# is faster than VB.Net. I have not seen any difference in performance.)
In effect, code written in the different .net languages are interchangeable.
The good news is that Windows servers (when you see a page with a .asp or .aspx extension) also use the .net framework. So this means that your programmers will be able to convert a desktop app written in a .net language into a web app that runs on a windows server in a few hours.
Web Based Applications
A Web app is software that people can access through their browser, or on their mobile devices.
Normally, it is a set of web pages that interact with a database. It then processes the data and displays the results in your browser.
The mainstream technology choices are PHP & MySQL, .NET (asp.net), and then stuff like Rails and Python.
You should stick to php or .net because it is easier to find a programmer, code libraries, and documentation.
Those factors are a big deal.
The advantage of PHP is that it is completely free, it is fast, and there are millions of programmers.
PHP is by far the most popular choice. WordPress was developed in PHP.
The other major choice is .net, which I spoke about earlier in the context of desktop applications. ASP.NET is part of the .net family.
Whenever you see a web page with a .aspx or .asp extension, then it was either written in C# or VB.net. Code written in C# or VB.net for the web is almost identical to .net for desktop applications.
There is a 90% overlap…
What this means is that virtually any desktop application that was done in one of the .net languages, can be converted to web application in a few of hours, or a few days at most.
If you have web design skills (or if you have Dreamweaver), then you can build the shell of your web app. You build the interface (the web pages), and then use a screen capture program to capture the screen and make labels for the programmer.
What should you choose? Desktop app or Server based web app?
You are going to have to make a decision here. There are benefits anddisadvantages either way.
A web based application is a central application… which means that you can make changes in one place. Users don’t have to upgrade or download stuffto their computers. You can also control user access. So you can virtually eliminate piracy.
This is the best choice for data aggregators or if yourbusiness model is to rent access to your software.
The main disadvantage of a web based applications are performance issues.
This will happen if the code is less than optimal, or if you have too many users… in which case you have a good problem and you should celebrate by buying better hardware. More users mean that you have tons of customers and are making tons of cash. The solution is to get better equipment and hire better programmers to improve the software.
In many instances people prefer desktop applications because they generally work a lot faster.
The downside is to desktop programs is that it is a real major pain in the butt to make your software platform independent. Right out of the box, a .NET desktop application only works on Windows. So you won’t be able to serve customers who use Macs or Linux. The other big problem is piracy… stuff will get cracked in a few days if you target tech savvy customers.
Check the feasibility of the project before you start working on it.
You should do some investigative work before you start working on your project.
Is there a need for it?
Do keyword research, see what else is on the market and analyze those sites performance.
Can you see a potential angle for the site?
In my next post, I will cover “How to Build a Software Application: Step by Step Instructions”.
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P.S. On a side note, what if you don’t want to develop a software product? Well, you always got option. Know a market. Understand the audience. And solve there problems by communicating the right product.