Yet another interest I’ve had lately (both for work reasons and for … “professional development” reasons) is how to monetize web applications (or more specifically, community web sites). Way too many sites are developed with the “um, we’ll just use advertising” approach. Granted, that can work for some, but not for others. And there are many, many different approaches to advertising.
Yesterday, 37signals posted an article detailing three ways to make money with your software. Their three were:
- Subscription-supported (or single price)
Now, 37signals makes some great productivity web apps, so they prefer #2. Their business model allows for #2. When designing a site that relies greatly on community interaction, charging your community to help YOU isn’t always going to fly. You need your visitors just as badly (if not much more) than they probably need you.
Brian Oberkirch has published Beyond Adsense: A Business Model Checklist—a post that has become invaluable to me. He also presents three options, but expands on many approaches within each. His three are:
- Make Them Pay
- Because of, Not With
So, the first two are very similar, although Brian expands on more opportunities within each on his blog. But the third, “Because of, Not With”, took me a second to get. But what it boils down to is indirect revenues that occur because of your site.
For example, I’m working on a “community of practice” site. If that community grew to a certain size, perhaps a “meetup” or small conference could happen. That would be in this third category. Say the contributors to the site released a series of books together. That would be one more way.
So, yet again I am helped along my path of becoming a web-developer-marking-guy-and-god-knows-what-else by a couple bright minds sharing thoughts on EXACTLY what I need to research right now.