Freeware Can Be Profitable, Apparently

I got an email from Rick Brewster the other day, fixing a spelling mistake on my website.  Rick noticed it after a link from my blog, which he apparently reads and comments on, although I haven’t noticed it before.  The reason this has a strangers passing in the night feel to it is that Rick wrote Paint.NET, a fairly powerful freeware image editing program which I am a major user of and contributed to, and so we have been unknowingly supporting each other’s businesses for months.  Funny how things work like that.

Anyhow, he has an interesting post on the economics of completely free-as-in-beer software.  Apparently, it is making him a fair bit of money, although is hesitant to disclose the exact figures.  And, hey, that is certainly his right.  If you’d like to see them, I suppose you could express encouragement in his comments.

As an amusing sidenote, he had some advice for me on what to do with my Bingo Card Creator profits:

 That’s pretty good supplementary income which can then be used to pay down debt, increase retirements savings, or for the monthly payment on a very nice BMW. C’mon Patrick. Go for the BMW.

1)  Did it already.  Bingo Card Creator paid off my last bit of student loans in December.  (I have an irrational hatred of debt and had paid essentially all of my surplus salary since graduation towards the loans.  This is part of the reason why I was so big on starting the business on a shoestring.)

2)  Doing it.  Saving is my favorite use of money.  What can I say, I’m a boring guy to shop with.

3)  I actually don’t have a driver’s license where I live.  If I did, while I’m sure the BMW is a nice automobile, I would get myself an itty-bitty used Japanese car for about $500, run it into the ground, and repeat.  Like I said, I have an irrational hatred of debt.  To the extent any of the Bingo Card Creator money gets spent rather than saved, I suppose you could say it helps pay for my plane tickets to visit my family and perhaps my new laptop.  (My first laptop ever, as a matter of fact.  Its a Japanese Dell, should be really useful for getting some work done on plane flights and, naturally, includes a better graphics card so if I fall off the MMORPG wagon I can do so in style.)

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2 Comments on “Freeware Can Be Profitable, Apparently”

  1. Well, I’ve got a chunk of student debt and a car loan to pay off still. But at 3.2% and 2.9% interest, respectively, it’s actually a better idea for me to *not* pay them off early (in fact, the student loan will drop by another percentage point in the next year). It makes more sense for me to put the extra money into a savings account at 4.5 – 5% per year, or to invest in mutual funds or stocks or something. Or to pay down that second mortgage as fast as I can, which is at 9+ % … :O (I only had a 5% down payment for my condo)

    As for the car … well, dang, that’s no fun 🙂 You can always drive the BMW E46 M3 in Forza 2!

  2. Freeware is profitable if your very popular. But most folks aren’t that popular.

    Of course, I think you could take a free program, and then market it like you do a typical ISV. But you need to be sure of your monetization strategy.

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