Earn a Living with Free Software

You're a Free Software developer/contributor and you would like to earn some money from your work. This page is for you. I have the same desire and you can benefit from my experience. Read on.

Solicit Donations

It's really easy to setup a paypal "Donate" button on your website. But having the button is not enough, you have to advertise the fact that you're seeking financial support. You must bring it regularly to the attention of your users without annoying them and without impeding the work that they are doing with your software.

Invite people to make a donation at the end of each announce for a new release of your software. Explain that more donations means more features in the next version (or any other benefit for the user that you can come up with).

Include a “Make a Donation” (or similar) menu entry somewhere in your application if applicable. It can just fire up the browser on your donation page.

Use Flattr

Flattr LogoFlattr is social micropayment system that you can setup to let your users make micro-donations with a single click whenever they appreciate something you are doing. Just include Flattr buttons on your website, blog posts, etc.

To foster usage of Flattr with Free Software I launched the Flattr Free and Open Source Software project. You can also benefit from it by registering yourself and/or your project, it's really easy:

  • Submit your free software project website and your blogs to Flattr.com and tag them with the keywords foss, open source, free software.
  • If you use Identi.ca, tag yourself with #flattrfoss and make sure to set your homepage to a website where you have integrated Flattr buttons.
  • If you use Delicious, bookmark your project website with a flattr-foss tag and/or bookmark your personal blog/website with a flattr-foss-people tag. Of course make sure to have Flattr buttons on the web pages tagged this way!
  • Suggest your project for the monthly Flattr recommendations newsletter that I run. You can leave a comment (with a short description of your project, explaining how awesome it is!) on the latest blog post.
  • Spread the word about the Flattr FOSS project. Put links on your websites, blog about it, tweet about it, etc.

Tell Your Users What They Can Do

All your users are not ready to make a donation, you should offer them alternative ways to support you. I already introduced Flattr but you can have other sources of income (affiliation, sales of goodies, etc.) and you need to make sure that your users are aware of the possibilities. The best way is to create a summary page listing all of them like I did with the “Support my Work” page for my own blog. Make this page easy to find and link to it from the “Contribute” page as well, it is a way to contribute to the project!

Keep Up with The New Possibilities

Stay on top of the latest opportunities to earn money while working on Free Software by subscribing to my dedicated newsletter. I'll inform you when I discover new ideas, when I try out new funding solutions, or when I have anything relevant to the topic to share.

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