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Help! My sales are down!

July 19th, 2011

Help! My sales are down!
That’s a feeling that probably every software author has every now and then.  Here’s a checklist for you, compiled from the advice from other authors and some ideas from me.

Don’t panic
It’s absolutely normal that there are some random days with bad sales. Sometimes even several days in a row. That just happens. (If it hasn’t happened to you, please contact me and tell me your secret.) Furthermore there can be other normal influences like the seasons, weekends, the weather, holidays, big sports or TV events.

Check your reputation
Some sites rate your website. You can verify that at:
www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/yourwebsite.com
www.siteadvisor.com/sites/yourwebsite.com
www.google.com/sidewiki/feeds/entries/domainpath/yourwebsite.com/full

You might also want to verify your payment processor’s website. Furthermore you should register at Google Webmaster Central (www.google.com/webmasters/) to allow Google to notify you in case of problems.

Check your website
Use the currently common browsers to visit your site. Does it look okay?

Check your downloads
Try to download your programs. Do the links still work? Are all programs code-signed and is the signature still valid? Are there any virus alerts? (Upload the exe to www.virustotal.com to check.) Do the programs work with the current Windows versions?

Check your logfiles
Are there new strange referrers? There might be a new crack or serial out for your software. Where does your traffic come from (regarding websites and regarding countries), now and a month ago? What changed?

Check the trends
If you have a long-term decline, check Google Trends (www.google.com/trends) to see if your search keywords are on a long-term decline, too. If you’re still selling Palm Pilot software, it might be a good idea to change to a fresh market.

Check your competitors
Do they have a new shiny website or great new features?

Check the cracks
Use Google to find a crack or serial for your product. (Note: Be very careful with these sites. Expect viruses and attacks.) You can use CrackTracker (www.cracktracker.net) to check the one-click-hosters.

Check for problems
Combine your product name with „forum“ or „problem“ and search the web for this phrase.

Check the ASP newsgroups
The ASP newsgroups are also a great place to ask for help with your products and websites. Don’t be shy, ask for help, the newsgroups are crowded with experienced software authors.

Anything else?
Got an idea to add? Go for it, post a comment!

Thomas Holz is the owner of ITSTH and the author of outlook tools to synchronize, remove duplicates and use boilerplate texts , writes in his devblog and has regular panic attacks when sales are down again for a few days…

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Selling on Amazon.com

June 21st, 2011

For most software developers, Amazon.com represents an untapped marketplace. Is your software sold there? Your software can be listed on Amazon, but most software developers do not know how to list a product there. This marketing channel is totally separate from your normal internet driven sales so it should not compete with your current sales.

Amazon.com only sells physical products. They do not sell software downloads. To sell a product on Amazon you need to have a physical version of that product. A physical product can be as simply as a CD in a case, or more likely, a CD or DVD in a standard DVD case, with a printed insert surround the DVD case. (You can print this insert on any inkjet or laser printer.)

Basic Amazon requirements include:

  • A physical product that will be shipped to a customer
  • A unique UPC or EAN bar code number for each product
  • A “sell-a-lot” developer contract with Amazon
  • Credit card and a bank account capable of receiving ACH deposits

Every product sold on Amazon needs a UPC code assigned to it. You can not make this UPC code number up, it must be an authentic code assigned by gs1.org, or another legal assignment agency like My Bar Code Store. GS1.org charges a yearly fee of at least $750 for a minimum of 100 UPC codes. Other firms like My Bar Code Store charge a one time fee of from $20 – $50 depending on the number of UPC codes you need. Unique UPC codes are required to list all products not currently found on Amazon.

Amazon charges a monthly fee of about $40 to host your merchant account. You must sign a contact for a minimum of 3 months. For software Amazon takes a 15% commission on the purchase price (not including shipping). From an economic point of view- if you can sell at least $50 of your software each month on Amazon, you will break even. If you sell more than $50 a month, the extra sales are extra income.

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