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  1. #1
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    Sell a script or open source it?

    I am in kind of a pickle. I have spent much time on a current script I am about done with and don't know whether I should sell liscenses or whether I should let it be downloaded free.

    I like free software, but at the same time I have to make some sort of income. This would be a project that would take up alot of my time to continue developing and patching, so I generally would want to make some decent profit from it.

    On the other hand, I could 'give' it away, and just put ads on the site. The only problem I have with this, is that the people coming to the site are webbies themselves, and what interest will they have in clicking ads (afterall, they know what it is)? That and it would also have to become popular inorder to work out.

    I would try both, make the paid version with extra features, but then again someone could come along and create a plugin that does whatever the extra features do.

    FYI, this is a custom CMS/Forum package I am talking about, which has been coded to be completely extendable (and implements some nice Ajax throughout). It's completely SEF (even forums) and easily skinnable. I'm sure it would be easy to market (considering I could come up with some money).

    Anyone have any advice or suggestions?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict
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    My suggestion is to start by selling liscenses, once you have new version release previous versions under an open source license.

  3. #3
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    You need to get some people using the script first and foremost. Once you have a few successful implementations, it will be easier to charge for it. How are you doing as far as attracting real users that like your software?

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot phppoddotcom77's Avatar
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    I would put the script for free, get more happy customers and then sell the updates.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict ruby-lang's Avatar
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    Scripts like yours are frequently released under Creative Commons as Linkware.

    Does anyone have experience with this model?

  6. #6
    SitePoint Member 073165's Avatar
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    I suggest giving your 1.0 version for free but charge people to install and configure the script. Then develop a feature-rich version where people can upgrade. This way you gain friends by giving something away while having the chance to upsell them in the future.

    If nothing else, I'd much rather pay someone to install a script than to bother doing myself. Best of luck!
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  7. #7
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    There are a lot of well-supported, free options out there for CMS and forums. Does yours have what it takes to claim market share from them? Can it still do that if you charge where others don't?

    If the answer is "no", then you'll be doing a whole lot of work, getting no money, and not getting your script out there in the public eye.

    My suggestion would be to open-source the script, then charge for custom modules & skins, tech support, and customizations.
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast Grenland's Avatar
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    If your script is at least as good as the other free ones, and still easier to install, manage and easy to skin for most users. Then I think it will be possible to charge rather high fees for it.

    However, why don't let people try it out? A beta version, find out what they think of it compared to other systems, take suggestions etc. Don't rush a product if you're planning to charge for it in my opinion, that will only hurt you in the end.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bigalreturns's Avatar
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    A CMS/Forum script would have to be exceptionally good to move me away from the OS alternatives, which are pretty damn good in general.
    Unless your script really is this good, then I'd go with the free release. Possible revenue streams afterwards might include support, or even just a donate button on your site.
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  10. #10
    SitePoint Evangelist Fergal's Avatar
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    As has already been suggested, I like the idea of offering the service for free. This will help get your script out there and known. You can then start charging for additional services such as set up and installation, skinning, paid support / maintenance agreements, script hosting and copyright removal.

    You could also consider offering it on a free trial basis, with a required payment after a certain period of time. It might help to look at some other free scripts to get ideas as to how they make money from their scripts, directory scripts might be a good start.

    Make sure that anyone who gets the script for free has an obligation to maintain a link back to your site.

    Good luck with it and please send me a PM with a link to your site when you launch.
    Fergal Crawley (Previous Username: Proudirish.com)
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  11. #11
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Let us know what you decided to do. I'm sure success is possible under both scenarios.


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