Software tools and plugins are very influential products in the JVZoo marketplace. Software provides the customer with a simple process for completing a task. Software can also be used to drive traffic to a website, build pages, or even write emails. There are a wide variety ways in which software products can be created. Two popular methods that we see vendors frequently developing and selling on JVZoo are SaaS and WordPress Plugins.
A software as a service (SaaS) is an increasingly popular method for distributing software and retaining customer loyalty. A SaaS model requires the software producer to host the software and allow the customers to access its benefits on his site. Although this means that the SaaS must have a powerful server, there are A LOT of benefits to this model. One is that the customer does not have to download anything, they log in to your website whenever they want to use the service. Another benefit is that you can charge a monthly fee for access and if the customer stops paying, then their access is revoked. This helps decrease attrition because they don’t want to lose what they’ve already done and they don’t want to have to pay for the restoration. Software as a service is a great business model.
WordPress plugins can be the easiest form of software to bring to the market. A plugin is a piece of code that augments the performance of a WordPress-based website. WordPress is one of the biggest website building platforms on the internet so finding developers is pretty easy. Plugins can be used for any function like building pages, driving traffic, tracking visitors and adding all kinds of creative functionality to a website. A customer purchases your software plugin and downloads it to their computer as a ZIP file. They then upload the file to their site and activate it. Many vendors implement a licensing system for security to ensure that their ZIP files are not easily shared.
Licensing can be a great money maker in itself. Not security licensing but rather, commercial vs. private use licensing. Once you’ve created your software, you’ll have to consider what types of licenses you’ll grant with it.
PERSONAL/COMMERCIAL: At a minimum, you’ll want to give a ‘personal/commercial’ use license — one that allows the customer to use it on his or her website where business is conducted.
UNLIMITED SITES: You may also consider whether your customer is likely to need more than one copy of your software as is typical for marketers with multiple websites. An ‘unlimited’ sites license is often a popular choice.
DEVELOPER LICENSE: Finally, consider whether your customer may have clients whose sites may receive the software. The type of license you’ll want to grant is usually called a ‘developer’s license’ or ‘agency license’.
As a vendor, the key to deciding what type of software you’ll develop is to first determine which business model is best for you. SaaS is much better for a recurring billing model while plugin development is much better for launches and lead generation. When it comes to long-term profitability, it’s always best to ascertain your business goals and then reverse engineer a plan to hit them rather than just coming up with a product idea and hope that a business comes from it.
SOFTWARE SALES FUNNELS CAN BE VERY LUCRATIVE
The very nature of software allows you to make sales offers that are significantly different than that which we typically see inside info product funnels. Licensing, additional features, templates, set up services, and even technical support can all be hashed out for different price points. Anything that would speed up the process for the user, or makes the software easier for them to use becomes a potential profit for the seller. Even set up fees, and advanced yearly technical support can be services that you charge money for. Let’s explore a few of considerations.
Multi-tiered licensing is a very fast and easy add-on item that you can develop a profit stream with. Tacking on an additional license offer to a piece of software doesn’t involve any extra development or costs, it doesn’t even involve selling another product or another feature. You are literally just selling them more permission. For example, you could give the rights to use your WordPress plugin on one site that’s owned by the customer as part of the front end offer. Then on the upsell, offer the customer an unlimited sites license.
You can also offer a Developer’s or Agency license which could grant the customer permission to use your software on a client’s website. By the way, this “license” I’m talking about here doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could just be an email that you send them telling them they now have special permissions. The license to use the product is really just their receipt number. Some developers actually insert code into the software that limits the number of times it can be deployed. That can be a method of enforcing the license permissions if you want to do it that way.
Additional or advanced features could also add more products to your software sales funnel. The standard features could be part of the front end offer. A few premium features could be added as an upsell or perhaps as a second payment choice on the front end offer. Of course, don’t make the premium features mandatory to make the software work as advertised. The premium features should just add additional functionality to the software.
PRO-TIP: If your software utilizes templates to create the desired output, then additional template packs may be a great upsell.
Another offer that you can make in the funnel is training. And by training, I don’t mean instructions on how to operate the software — that’s a given. DO NOT EVER FORCE PEOPLE TO PAY YOU FOR INSTRUCTIONS TO USE YOUR SOFTWARE. That’s not cool.
Consider creating a course for advanced users. Perhaps you can teach the customers a marketing method and provide the software as the main tool to implement the method. Or maybe you can sell the training as the front end offer and making the software available as an upsell. Think of these additional offers as accessories to the main product.
Software and plugins have some really cool upsell opportunities when it comes to your funnel. You can simply offer different licenses at different price points without changing your software at all. You can also add extra features and specialized training to go with your software. There are a lot of options that can be pretty easy to implement.
HIRING AND MANAGING A PROGRAMMER TO DEVELOP YOUR SOFTWARE
There are a few things to consider when hiring a programmer. You’ll want to interview a few and determine who’s a good fit for your projects. You’ll also want to discuss the project milestones. You’ll probably need your programmer occasionally even after your software has been created for updates, so here are a few things to consider when hiring a programmer…
#1 There are many websites dedicated to outsourcing programming work. You’ll want to use your Google-fu and look into each before committing resources to one. You may also want to ask for recommendations in the JVZoo Group. Programmers are fairly easy to find and generally affordable, depending on skill and experience.
#2 Milestones are very important when dealing with programmers. A milestone is a point in the project that indicates how complete the project is. Many times marketers will pay the programmer according to the milestone achieved. This gives the programmer an incentive to take action on the project and the marketer assurances that work is progressing.
#3 Your software may need to be updated after the launch. This is especially true for WordPress plugins — an update in WordPress may render your plugin useless. So consider keeping your programmer around to do some updates. You may want to offer a share of the profits from the launch so the programmer has some skin in the game.
PRO-TIP: A 5% profit share is a good starting point for your programmer to keep the software updated. JVZoo makes it possible for you to create a “Joint Venture Contract” so that everyone gets paid easily and accurately.
It’s not hard to find a programmer and start building the software tool you’ve been picturing in your head. There are lots of freelance websites on the web where you can interview people. You’ll want to be careful who you hire though, interview them, actually talk to them on skype and ask them questions if possible. Sometimes the “programmers” you meet on freelance websites are really just “middlemen” that will charge you money and then outsource the job. You’ll want to make sure that you can communicate effectively with the programmer too because you may hire someone whose first language is not English. Remember to set clear expectations with achievement milestones for your programmer.
DEVELOPING SOFTWARE FROM SOURCE CODE VERSUS STARTING FROM SCRATCH
There are various places on the internet where you may be able to license or even outright purchase open source code. Private Label Rights (PLR) software can be an awesome but it is not without its share of potential problems. Sometimes the software code is available for licensing because it’s fallen out of date. Or perhaps another software has completely replaced it or made obsolete. In any case, software licensing can still be a viable start point for you. It doesn’t have to be ignored.
Some code is open source, meaning that it is freely usable and can be edited by anyone. However, it’s important for you to consider that just because you can SEE the code in some software tools does not mean that it’s open source. You can NOT just copy someone else’s code and then hire a programmer to change it for you. Open source code is usually created for that very purpose, OSC is often used by programmers to fill in certain segments of a script in an effort to save time rather than writing it all from scratch.
It’s important that you hire a programmer that is familiar with the code required to build your specific software tool.
Generally speaking, “most” of the online tools you’ll be considering to build are created with PHP. PHP is a general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited to server-side web development, in which case PHP generally runs on a web server. Any PHP code can work in conjunction with MySQL to create a software “script”. MySQL is a relational database management system based on SQL – Structured Query Language. The application is used for a wide range of purposes, including data warehousing, e-commerce, and logging applications. The most common use for MySQL, however, is for the purpose of a web database.
There are also desktop software options that you may want to consider. Desktop software runs right on your machine instead of on your server. The customer will have to purchase it and run it on their computer. These types of software require an entirely different set of coding languages. There is Adobe Flash, ActionScript and optionally Apache Flex. C and also C++ is a general-purpose programming language. Without getting into any more techy jargon, just know that there are a wide array of programming languages for various purposes. It’s prudent of you to do a little research before you hire a programmer so that you can have an idea of what your software will require.
THE PERILS OF DEVELOPING A PLATFORM DEPENDENT SOFTWARE PRODUCT
Creating a software tool that enhances or somehow leverages an existing platform is a great way get started. Websites like Facebook, Amazon and many others actually encourage and assist the developer to create software that “connects” and utilizes its features. This is done through what is referred to as an API. An application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Basically, an API specifies how software components should interact. Additionally, APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.
Choosing the main platform, like WordPress, and then building plugins that are used exclusively on WordPress sites gives you a lot of focus. You can learn the strengths and weaknesses of WordPress and custom tailor your software to the platform. But this also means that whatever WordPress does with its code, your software as to work with. And that means you’ve got to update your product every time. Although the focus on one platform has its advantages, you will want to consider the potential risks associated with a ‘platform dependent’ software.
Once you start developing your software to interact with a specific platform, like Google for example, then you’re running the risk of being ‘locked in’ to that platform for as long as your product exists. If your software ranks videos on Google, then you’ll need to look into Google’s algorithm and any technical features of Google to optimize your software. This is fine until your customers ask if they can use your software on Bing or Yahoo. Then you have to change your software if you want to make those sales.
After creating your software that relies on another platform, any changes that platform makes require you to update your software most of the time. A classic example is updates to WordPress. WordPress updates have been known to cause plugins to stop working effectively or even begin clashing with other plugins. (HENCE: You should keep your programmer around after your launch for support.) This issue is the most common, but the easiest to keep up with.
Sometimes the platform will just quit. From time to time, the big company you’re building your software to operate with may go completely out of business. Or their management could decide not to work with “the little guy” anymore. Or they are reliant upon other companies’ software and services. One example is Google Chrome’s deprecation of Flash. One popular video playing service, whose video player depended upon Flash, had to switch over to HTML when Chrome users began experiencing issues playing Flash-based videos.
PRO-TIP: Browsers and devices can also compromise your software. In addition to the main platform you may be using, you’ll want to make sure your software isn’t affected by changes and updates in browsers and different devices. Be sure to ask a few friends to check out your software and report their experiences with their browser/device combinations.
There are a few potential perils to avoid when developing your own software. You’ll want to consider all the risks and potential directions that your software may encounter as you build it upon a particular platform. Once you’ve committed to a platform like WordPress, you’ll need to keep up with WordPress’s changelog, forums, and even direction as a company. The key is to find a platform you can live with for the duration of your product.
HOW TO PROPERLY POSITION YOUR SOFTWARE SO THAT IT SELLS
If you’re used to building and selling information products, know that selling software is a completely different animal. People who are looking for software are really just looking a tool, a solution to a problem. As a result, your sales pitch will focus on the benefits of having your software. If you adjust your sales copy according to the psychology of the buyer, then you’ll be selling like hotcakes.
Lead your sales copy with necessity. Remember that you’re selling them a tool and tools are purchased because of a greater goal. Most people don’t buy hammers because they love pounding nails; they buy hammers to help them build their privacy fences or cabinets and they happen to need to drive a few nails to do that. Your software is the hammer they need to build their business, or at least take care of a few business chores.
Consider leading your sales messages (the copy and the video) with your product. Grab your prospect’s attention by including the biggest benefit of your software right in the headline. Selling software is more about identifying the problem and showing PROOF of your solution. You could even start your sales video with a 60 demonstration of the product in action. This way your prospects know immediately that the product is for them. Afterall, they’re looking for a tool, not your life’s story.
You’ll want the prospects to picture themselves using the product in order to get them to buy it. This may often depend on their familiarity with similar or competing tools. So you’ll first want to consider whether your tool improves an existing process or concept better or if it’s a brand new, revolutionary idea. If it’s brand new, then you’ll want to help them understand that they need your tool and why. However, if you’re just building a better mousetrap so to speak, then you should explain the VALUE of your improved mousetrap.
Selling your software requires a different approach than selling information products. Your sales pitch will be more focused on the tool and what it does, rather than telling a rapport building story. You may want to lead your video with a short demo of the tool in action. You’ll also want to consider whether your prospects have an innate understanding of what your product does for them or if you will have to convince them that they need your product. Remember that BENEFITS is what sells the product, not features.