Poll

What do you think of the "contribution system" idea for new features?

I love it - I'd pay outright for features I need immediately, even if it is expensive, and would contribute to others I'd like to see.
4 (10.8%)
I like it - I'd be willing to contribute a reasonable amount to have the features I want implemented more quickly.
19 (51.4%)
I like it but I don't really need new features so probably won't be contributing.
8 (21.6%)
I like it but I can't afford to contribute for new features I want.  Therefore, I'd rather see a voting system or something free.
6 (16.2%)
I feel I should not have to pay to get the features I want.  Therefore, I'd rather see a voting system or something free.
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 37

Voting closed: December 08, 2005, 03:04:27 am

Author Topic: "Contribution System" for new features?  (Read 23869 times)

DW

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« on: December 08, 2005, 03:04:27 am »
Greetings ListMail Owners!

I'm seeking input from ListMail clients on this issue - your vote would be very much appreciated!

I think that there are well over 100 suggestions for the program at this point.  While I plan on implementing many features over the coming weeks and months, dozens will certainly remain and more are sure to come.

A number of my clients have recently requested custom rush features and I have provided the service at very reasonable rates.  The experience has forced me to re-evaluate accepting these jobs, however.  I am concerned that doing them causes those who don't contribute to be without the often very simple to implement features they desire and need.

I am also concerned that due to my over-generous nature I often end up giving too good a deal.  When a feature is much harder or time consuming than expected I sometimes feel undercompensated or that my time would have been better spent working on other things.  It's true - I need to stay focused on the big picture and implement what's most important for ALL ListMail users - that means the small but useful features no-one's willing to pay for, too!  At the same time I must continue working on marketing, the new web site and, above all, turning enough of a profit from LMP and other internet marketing ventures to continue my efforts working at home.

One solution I've come up with is a contribution system for new features.  I could set a price based on how difficult I feel a feature is to implement and you, my loyal happy customers, could contribute partial payments or buy features outright.  Once a feature is completely paid for I would get started immediately in an effort to have it in the next update.

The 'prices' for each feature would probably be much higher, double or triple what I've currently been charging for rush features.  As a result, me being rushed will become infrequent and I can continue to work stress-free, calm and, most important of all, collected and overly-thoughtful as I usually am.  When I am rushed, such as when a difficult feature is completely paid, I will feel good and keep my momentum because I will know that I have been compensated generously.

I would, of course, continue to work toward implementing features on a regular basis regardless of contributions.  For example, if no features are completely paid for I might implement the one that is the closest to completion percentage-wise, no matter the difficulty.

Please let me know what you think about this idea by casting your vote or replying to this post.  I really appreciate your feedback!

Regards,

DW
Dean Wiebe
ListMailPRO Author & Developer - Help | Support | Hosting

steve4

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Difficult to adjudicate on.
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2005, 04:24:40 am »
Hi Dean I voted that I don't really need new features so probably wouldn't contribute but would like to add that your superb service and commitment should not go unrewarded, lets face it people can't survive without an income. I would be happy to pay you a yearly subscription fee of $30 or so to ensure you had a guaranteed income or something to pay you for your dedication to our cause.

Maybe you could divide us into a couple of groups and those of us that don't request the new features which you should quote on seperately should contribute something for the general work and updates you provide. I am pretty computer illiterate as you may have guessed and appreciate the marketing potential of your product so I would like to contribute and have the little things done like the updates you have done for me.

I am not sure of what others think or even if you have enough subscribers to make a yearly contribution of $30 viable as an income stream but that's my two bobs worth anyway.

DW

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2005, 04:57:31 am »
Hi Steve,

Thanks for your excellent and kind feedback!  Indeed, I will soon be implementing just that (for new clients), a yearly ~$30 subscription fee for forum support and updates of the program.  I will give current owners the option of joining onto the new system and will likely offer incentives for those who won't go quietly. :P I agree that the contribution system should be separate from this.

I plan to redo and expand the support system to include more options, such as a reasonably priced upgrade service, custom server optimization work, and a much better interface for managing server access information during installations, migrations and other support.  I am also considering 'dedicated support' for a monthly fee (~$20?), where I would respond directly to questions and have server information ready at hand so I can respond and fix issues quickly and effectively.

I think when I get it all done I will be in fine shape. :-)  It's in the works!

Thanks for your vote and again for your kind comments!
DW
Dean Wiebe
ListMailPRO Author & Developer - Help | Support | Hosting

charles2

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We have to keep you in business...but most of all..
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2005, 05:14:44 am »
Your product needs to blow away your competing market.  some add=ons could be...configurable surveys, then a way to put the users first name in a sales page or html newsletters.

Theres already products out there....but since your product collects the names and makes list....these addtions would increase the bottom line for the end users.

Just a thought

Charles

al

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2005, 05:27:30 am »
Thank you for keeping me (us) posted on newer developments.  I look forward to more freqent updates.  Al Hanzal (David Hanzal's father)

DW

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2005, 05:27:52 am »
Charles,

I absolutely agree.  ListMail needs more kick-butt marketing features ASAP!  I don't expect it to take me long to get the new site and support finished and be back on task - I'm working very quickly.

Your idea for configurable surveys sounds interesting and may not be one I've heard before.  If you would start a new thread in this forum we might discuss the details of such a feature.

You should be able to easily put the first name of a user in any HTML message with a First Name message code.  If you use a message code of the type "Link to HTML" as your text message a user browsing that link will see a  personalized web page.  I see the limitation in that this cannot be used with text-only messages.  Perhaps a message code or link tracking option would be best for this.  I will add it to the suggestion list, but it would also be great if you could post this, too, as a new topic in this forum so I don't miss it.

Thanks for your response!
Dean Wiebe
ListMailPRO Author & Developer - Help | Support | Hosting

Decka

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A vote on what features to Add
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2005, 05:49:13 am »
Dean Hi,

Seeing your comments about the list of 100 things you want to add, why not get your users to vote on at least some of the more important ones. That will give you a better idea of what the majority of us want.

As for charging for support and updates I realize that you need an income but I have also been using the product long enough to know that the product was originally offered with free lifetime support and updates.

DW

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2005, 05:58:47 am »
Decka,

Thanks for your response!  I will consider acting on your excellent suggestion.  Such a poll would help me see what, in general, needs the most attention - very useful information, indeed!

Please read carefully:
Quote from: "DW"
I will soon be implementing just that (for new clients), a yearly ~$30 subscription fee for forum support and updates of the program.  I will give current owners the option of joining onto the new system and will likely offer incentives for those who won't go quietly. :P

I do not intend to go back on my word to my existing clients!  You will have the choice of joining the new system or keeping your "unlimited forum support and updates" status.

Best regards,
DW
Dean Wiebe
ListMailPRO Author & Developer - Help | Support | Hosting

AlanT

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2005, 06:40:11 am »
Just to add my voice to the mix - this last year has seen the addition of a new centralized site and a shopping cart to my business.  In this experience, I've learned to appreciate the option to pay for additional features to a piece of software, either on a feature by feature basis as you're suggesting here, or for major updates to the software.

Personally, I think that it would be easier to manage the sale of updates rather than the collection of contributions towards new features.  Trying to get a group of users motivated to donate towards the development of a new feature (that may be months away from implementation) seems like it would be an uphill climb.

Related to that, a subscription to updates is a little non-standard, although I have heard of it being done.  Personally, I prefer the system where minor updates are free, and major updates have a small purchase cost (such as 20% of full cost).  $40 for a major update to ListMailPro is definitely reasonable in my book.  (Also, I really wouldn't mind if the 'upgrade policy' got changed, but you didn't hear that from me.  :wink: )

Just for reference, my wife Linda has 2 pieces of software that are critical to her business (music).  The companies put out major updates once a year and she always buys the upgrade, even without checking to see if there are any new features she needs.  For these, upgrades cost about 40% of the cost of the full package.

I will also voice my opinion that I believe forum access should remain free to all users.  Perhaps a paid support option separate from the forum could be the buffer to controlling your time, but users should have access to other users without additional cost.

As you know, ListMailPro is one of the most important pieces of software that any online business needs to be profitable.  I really appreciate the stability and reliability of the software.  It's one of the few applications I don't have to worry about whether it will work right or not.

I also appreciate your continued development of new features, and your committment to your customers.  I wish all software developers were like you.

Thanks.
- Alan

We all have the Power.
All we need are the Keys.
http://www.PowerKeysPub.com

steve3

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Upgrades
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2005, 06:40:22 am »
I totally accept that Dean needs support, and he should probably sell new subscriptions only on the basis that they pay a small annual subs.
the problem is that old hands have been given free updates for life (not a good plan Dean!) so we need to find otherways to support Dean.

Only way out of that would be to launch a new version, with new terms and conditions inclusing an optional subscription for updates, and make our the super-duper version with a higher price.  Developments could be costed, and not rolled out until enough members contributed.   Trouble is some mean gits would NEVER contribute (anyone want 2 spare copies of ListMail!!)

I would be very happy to make a contribution to development I needed, but less happy to support stuff I didn't need!!

How about using Deans Hosting - that might help him a bit.

Hope that helps.  Keep up the good work and sorry I have been too snowed under to get back to you Dean!

Steve P

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2005, 07:39:32 am »
I'm not sure how the contribution system is supposed to work. Ask people if they want to support a feature, have them donate to it, and then everyone gets it when it is done? I think that would be difficult to manage and you'd have too many "chefs in the kitchen" trying to lead development.

You'll also have those who will never contribute but will gain the full advantage of the new feature without paying a dime. They'll probably also want to have their say on development even though they aren't paying. This scenario plays out in the open source community all the time. The real contributors will feel taken advantage of.

Here are my 2 cents on a couple of issues...

I'd definitely pay for extra features that I need or want. I'd like to see a sort of plug-in or module system. i.e. buy base ListMail then buy the plugins for features you need or want. It would have to be very easy to add/remove plugins from your installation.

Forum support should remain free for everyone. This way we can help each other out. Dean would need to withdraw from helping with certain issues in the forum and force people to pay for support when the forum doesn't provide answers.

I've seen successful subscription type systems where you pay $xx per year for bug fixes and support. I think a small fee for new customers would be reasonable for the time/talent/experience needed to maintain a quality, bug-free product. (I'm not just saying that because I'm an exempt current customer. Even it I was a new customer I wouldn't complain about this because I think it is fair.)

Pavel

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2005, 07:45:17 am »
I think Dean as a great programmer needs a great marketer, who can take ListMail promotions to the new level as well as promote new services on the back-end, up-sell with other complementary products and earn recurring income from 3rd party services even without charging a fee for the forum.
Pavel Lenshin
NeoProfit Circle

terriz

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2005, 09:12:43 am »
I use another piece of software that is priced as follows:
$140 for the basic package. Includes 6 months of upgrades
$30-$40 each for plugins -- these are usually to interfacte toa specific system; hence the more complex your overall system, the more your investment
$40 for 6 additional months of upgrades. You can let this lapse, and just pay $40 when you see an upgrade you want.

Another option: Those who agree to pay for upgrades, get to vote on the priority list  :wink:  Others could continue to get their free upgrades, but they'd have no input into feature development.

Terri Z
www.Solo-E.com

mr.trevor

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2005, 10:41:33 am »
Hi all,
For my reasons following, please feel free to completely disregard these thoughts..!
I am probably unusual in as much as I do not use ListMail commercially..! I purchased it mainly for the free lifetime support & upgrades offered and for my own education of installing and using software of this type. I considered that if I ever needed the capabilities of a mailing system in the future for some commercial use then by purchasing at the time I would 'lock in' my 'lifetime support and upgrades' I was happy to contribute and help towards the development work at the time.
 
I have since found that ListMail far exceeds any expectations that I may have had and that the facilities included are somewhat awesome already.

I have no personal 'needs' for additional features and so I would not expect to have any importance placed on any views that I may have of things that 'might be nice'. I have made suggestions in the past but these have been with a wish to offer any help, assistance or ideas that I can to others.

I feel that where someone has a commercial need for some additional facility, that it is financially of benefit to themselves and their business to 'bribe' Dean for his priority time in developing it. If there are a number of others that would benefit (in time or money) from this particular feature being developed first, then they could also contribute. All current users (and future subscribing new users) should have the benefit of these new features when developed as this will keep ListMail up-to-date and competitive (or better) than other systems.

In line with these thoughts, anyone who wishes to direct development directly for their specific needs should shoulder the additional cost of directing Dean's time. However, this should not mean that Dean does not include the results in his product to enhance ListMail in the future.

Using supply and demand principles, maybe for a specific function users could 'pledge' what they would pay for their specific need, and when the total pledged satisfies the cost of Deans exclusive time then Dean collects payment and starts their work.

As I am ecstatic about ListMail currently and have no particular requirements that would save me time or money, then I would not expect anyone to take any particular notice of these comments.  :wink:

Best regards,
... oh   and a very Happy Christmas to you all.
TrevorW

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"Contribution System" for new features?
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2005, 06:09:06 am »
Two cents from a very loyal, very long-term user of LMP. Some very great comments and suggestions so far on this topic, so here's my take as well. I work closely with a great guy who writes the code and manages my company's web site. He also hosts and writes several other companies sites, and has recently run into the same issue you have. His "shopping engine" started a year ago as a one-size-fits-all, and as he added awesome functionality, everyone would get to take advantage of it. Now, certain clients (myself included) want certain things faster than others, and don't care much about some of the features other companies may want. Now, in this case, you'd be giving the new stuff to ALL, but the bigger problem is, if another customer pays more than I would for something, OR if their project runs long, I lose out because nothing else is getting done in that time.

I am perfectly willing to pay more money than my originally agreed upon price IF I ask specifically for something, but as a past loyal customer, I also expect "regular updates and feature additions" that I may not even have ever considered. If the people who would choose to pay extra for faster implementation of specific features could support you hiring some help or justify working more hours, I'm all for it; and I'd probably even cough up some bucks for a couple features myself every now and then. *BUT* - I very firmly believe your primary focus should be spent on trying to determine what makes your product better for the masses. And that's true for multiple reasons.
1) If the product meets the needs of the masses, you sell more copies to NEW customers just because it's that much better a program
2) You lose less existing customers to other applications
3) You're not constantly torn as to what direction to be going in

I say the key should be focusing on the majority, and as time allows, make some money on the side... but not the other way around.