A few weeks ago a mail ended up in my spam box. It ended up sandwitched between one “Mr. Wiggly”-type spam and one “Hot Japanese girls are looking for you!”. Odd how my spam seems to come in complimentary themes. Anyhow, I fished it out because it had a business proposal which, on reflection, actually interested me. The email was a pretty good example of selling to someone you’ve never met before, incidentally, and if the writer gives me permission I’d gladly step through it with the reasons why it didn’t get the delete key.
Anyhow, here was the business proposition in a nutshell: “We run Bits du Jour, the woot of software, and we’d like to feature Bingo Card Creator as part of our back-to-school week”. Now, I’ll be perfectly honest, I had no clue what woot meant aside from something my roommate used to say after putting an AWP round through someone’s head in CounterStrike. Apparently woot is a website which essentially sells overstocked items. The catch is that they sell exactly one item at a time, for a 24 hour period, and the supply is sharply limited. So it creates basically a one-day “event” sort of sale… which repeats every day. As I write this the sale is $145 for a kick-booty video card (sold out, sorry!). And apparently they make piles and piles of money.
Bits du Jour takes the same basic structure and applies it to software, minus the scarcity angle. They feature one piece of software a day, sold at a deep discount (40% is their minimum), and sell as many copies as humanly possible. Or rather, they help the author sell copies — they rather strongly pitched that I wouldn’t have to change a thing about my existing shopping cart, which would have been a deal-breaker for me. In return for driving the traffic to you, they get a commission similar to an affiliate site’s. As I recall they said their standard was 30% but they’re not at full-scale operations yet (having only been open for a few months) and so were willing to go down to 20% for me. Doing the math, that means on a discounted $14.95 sale of Bingo Card Creator that would net them $2.99 (and me a hair above $11.50).
Now, frankly, I had no plans to do anything with affiliates. Here is the rationale: I have a $23.93 incentive to sell one marginal copy of my software ($24.95 – Paypal’s cut). Any given affiliate has, say, a $5 incentive. $5 doesn’t motivate someone to put any investment or thought into actually getting my software in front of people who need it: it just gets them to list my software on a spammy site with 100,000 other products competing for attention. And in return for this I get to deal with more hands in the pot and having to track affiliates, send out commissions, and what have you. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d much rather spend the affiliate’s commission on AdWords, where I have total control of the experience from beginning to end and only have to deal with myself.
I was about to write the same to Bits Du Jour but, well, that letter was darn persuasive. I would have to do very vanishingly little work (it turned out to take less than 10 minutes of my time to set up, all told — I created a new product on e-junkie, set up an affiliate system for it, and mailed her the proper link) and they said they would trust me to do the math on the affiliate stuff rather than having to go through any involved setup. It turns out the setup wasn’t too involved, but as I’ve mentioned previously in regards to customer service, nothing motivates people like the words “I trust you”. Particularly when its “I trust that we will have such a successful relationship that you will choose to pay me at the end of it”.
Am I expecting great things to come out of my day in the sun? Not exactly. As opposed to most of the products Bits du Jour sells (which seem to trend towards generic system utilities), I sell to a niche among niches. I don’t know what their traffic is like on any given day, but unless it includes hundreds of teachers or parents of elementary school children I don’t see myself making a gigantic amount of sales. (I’m personally betting on 2, which means about $23 for me and $6 to Bits du Jour — I actually mentioned that to them and they said they were happy to experiment). And, hey, its not going to cost me any sales I was going to make already or take more than ten minutes of my time.
I believe D-Day is September 8th. As usual, I’ll be sharing the results of the experiment. The kind folks at Bits du Jour said they would be perfectly happy with that, which is the sort of transparency that many Internet companies brag about but few actually achieve.