Practical Guide on Steps To Take
When starting out developing and selling software (or mobile and web services for that matter) it is important to focus on finishing and get started on selling some products. However, as your software business starts to grow, new problems and opportunities will arrise.
This blog post will highlight some of the things and decisions you can take to ensure your business will continue to operate and run smoothly.
Website Hosting and Traffic
If you start to experience problems with your webhost suddenly shutting down your website because you take too much traffic or CPU power, it may be time to change to a more professional web hosting provider. However, there is also another thing you can try which in addition will also help protect your website against denial of service attacks: Content Delivery Networks, CDN for short
Services like CloudFlare.com will cache your content on servers all over the world and deliver the content faster than any single webhost could. In effect it works much like Google who have built and use their own massive data centers. The advantage is that all that visitor requests are handled by the server closest to the user, thus not causing any or only minimal load on your webhost.
Instead of using a webhost, you can of also start hosting content on your own servers or through using a Virtual Private Server, a.k.a VPS, solution. At this point, two pouplar choices are either setting up a machine to act as a full blown webserver, e.g. with a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) or through products like BarracudaDrive by RealTimeLogic. The advantage of products like the latter is that they encompass functionality such as file, application and website hosting while using less memory. This is especially important when using e.g. budget VPS solutions that often come with bandwidth, memory and CPU restrictions.
Hint: If you host on your own server, make sure you have an internet connection with sufficient upload data transfer rate. Do also plan for fall back solutions incase your business relies on high uptime of your server.
Hint: You can still benefit from using a CDN service on top of your own hosting. Beyond saving you bandwidth and CPU usage, it will also hinder some hacking and denial of service attemps.
Software, Websites and Certificates
If you plan to sell products on your website (instead of using a 3rd party solution), you will need to have a certificate together with SSL encryption for your website. The alternative is to process sales through services like PayPal or resellers. (One advantage of resellers is that you will have less work with invoicing and accounting.) Remember that you can often negotiate better deals than what is publicly available; that is especially true if you can generate a lot of sales through the payment processor / reseller.
If you sell software products, it is imperative that you get a certificate and code sign your files. Doing so will lessen or eliminate warnings by operating systems (when users install and run software) and browsers (when users download software). As your business grows, this is one of the first things you should do to increase conversion rates
Hint: Certificates can be bought from multiple providers such as VeriSign and Comodo. For our Windows products, we use the latter bought through K Software since they offer discounts on code signing (and website SSL) certificates. Depending on the provider you choose, you may also be able to find that elsewhere.
Branding, Marketing and Conversions
- Branding is becoming an ever more important element in marketing. This means that focusing on quality and connecting with people who can influence other (e.g. notable bloggers in your niche) should be on your top priority.
- As search engine optimization and rankings become more and more unreliable, increasing conversion rates is vital. You can get started with that by conducting A-B tests of prices, screenshots etc. and studying bounce rates for pages in your website. It is worth noting that Google Analytics integrates well with Google Adwords allowing you to easily run tests on your ads and how they convert.