Yesterday’s final shutdown of Quibi caused me to think about the fact that sometimes, success is not simply a matter of the will: deciding to push forward and your ability to do so consistently. Success also requires the right product at the right time.[Read more…]
The Open Source software movement has come a long way in the last couple of decades and it has been exciting to have been a part of it. Unfortunately, as open source has grown, and along with it the expansion of the freemium marketing model, there has also been growth in the number of people that use and benefit from free open source software but do not pay for it.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with free open source software and freemium marketing. In fact, free is the 21st Century business model. I strongly support it. Not only that, but my business and livelihood depend on it.
What I hope to get across is why it is important for you to financially support the developers of this kind of software.
Consider the following quote from Pippin Williamson, regarding price increases of premium add-ons for the free (and popular) plugin Easy Digital Downloads:
It is absolutely crazy that we’re more accustomed as a society to pay $5 for a latte from Starbucks, which we will consume in a matter of minutes, than we are to pay $12-$20 per month for platforms that allow us to operate our businesses. We are accustomed to paying $80-$100 per year for subscriptions to Netflix and Hulu but we react with revulsion and disgust when a company asks for $150 per year to provide software that businesses literally rely on to bring in their own revenue. In the United States (where the customer above lives), we’re used to paying $50-$100 per month for cable TV subscriptions, but we expect software to be provided for so much less.Pippin Williamson, Reflections on a Price Increase
The Freemium business model is nothing new; it has been around for decades. With the expansion of the Internet and the Open Source software movement, it has become an ever more popular way to build a business.
In terms of Open Source, the Freemium model means that there is something available to you for free but you pay to receive more features or more support. Generally, the part that is available free is not limited in time, but may be limited in scope.
This model is popular in the WordPress plugin ecosystem. Many plugins are available completely free, but through their paid offerings you receive more features or additional support. Often these features are available as “add-ons” or “extensions” – essentially plugins for the plugin. This is the model I employ for my WordPress membership plugin WP-Members through the site rocketgeek.com.
So What? Why Is This Important?
Go back and read the quote from Pippin Williamson above. Let it sink in.
When you use the free open source version of a plugin, keep in mind that 80-90% of users will never pay for using it. The project will be supported by the 10-20% that do. This is the 80-20 rule.
When you operate a revenue generating business and use a piece of software that is a freemium offering, you should be a paid supporter of that project. After all, your revenue is being supported by this tool.
Developers rely on revenue from a small percentage of users to provide the tool you are using. Without financial support, that plugin will disappear. When it does, your ability to use it to support your own business will dry up, too.
Consider that a popular plugin for WordPress can require thousands of hours of development along with thousands of hours of support. This can be overwhelming for a company to support, let alone a single developer. Yet there are single developer shops out there doing it.
Plugin Project Sustainability
Let me ask you this. How long do you think a plugin project will continue if it takes 20-30 hours per week to support it yet there is no financial support (and that is a very, very conservative number of hours)?
The answer is, “not very long.” It is unsustainable for anyone to put the kind of time into a professional project that has minimal return on investment. What may start off as a labor of passion will eventually dry up and go away with no financial support.
The WordPress.org repository lists 57,760 plugins as of the time I am writing this. Thousands of those are abandoned projects. Have you ever seen a plugin page that indicates the plugin has not been updated in 2 years or more?
Often the project never received any traction and no one was really using it. However, I see projects all the time that had momentum and a user base and then eventually died. Why? It ceased to be financially sustainable, and so the developer abandoned it.
How Can You Help?
Make sure if you are relying on plugins with a business behind them that you financially support the project. This should be the case regardless of whether you actually use the support or not. If you’re using the tool and want to see it remain available, support the project.
Unless you work for yourself, by yourself, and your only customer is you, at some point you are going to be having a meeting. After many years working for top producing companies, I have learned how to run an effective meeting.
Well run meetings are critical to productivity and success. Additionally, poorly run meetings hurt team morale and wastes time. In her book “Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to Run Meetings that are Effective, Focused, and Produce Results,” Leigh Espy says:
So let’s key in on three simple things you can do right away to make your meetings better, more effective, and more productive. These principles are true for both live in-person meetings as well as virtual meetings.
Is the Meeting Necessary?
Having meetings for the sake of meeting is useless and breeds negativity among the team. Have a purpose for the meeting and be clear about it.
I have worked in teams where a leader would call a meeting that really seemed pointless, other than for the sake of hearing themselves talk. This is truly ineffective.
If you are a leader and you call a meeting, have a point. Members of your team are pulled away from actual productivity, so make sure there’s a reason for the meeting.
Are You Prepared?
The best thing you can do to run an effective meeting is to prepare. If it’s your meeting, send out an agenda so others can come to the meeting prepared.
Nothing kills productivity like going down rabbit trails that don’t have anything to do with the meeting’s purpose.
Keep your agenda on point. A wide variety of topics will muddy the water and waste time. Keep things simple and task oriented.
If the meeting is someone else’s and they did not send an agenda, ask if there is one. Don’t be surly about it, but definitely ask and let them know you’d like to come to the meeting prepared (and then do so!). Maybe by being a productive participant, you can help a team leader stay on point and on task for a more effective meeting.
When the meeting is run by a superior or someone else, the behavior of others isn’t your concern. But you certainly can control yourself. And if the meeting is run by someone else, offer this as a suggestion:
It’s distracting to whomever is speaking when people are constantly looking at their mobile device. You don’t know if they are texting, emailing, or actually paying attention and taking notes.
Let me just say that there should be a recognizable difference between a “group work session” and a “meeting.” A work session obviously would include devices since people are actively working. But the purpose of a “meeting” is to discuss business, get everyone on the same page, and hopefully do it all in an efficient manner.
If it’s your own meeting, insist on meeting attentiveness. When you keep meetings brief and on-topic, you shouldn’t get push-back in this area because the fact that you are able to keep it brief is obvious, and the reason you can keep it brief is that everyone is focused.
If it’s not your meeting, offer suggestions. If a superior wants you to be using some tablet application for scheduling action items during their meetings, obviously you are not going to avoid this. Use your best judgement here.
How to Run an Effective Meeting
These principles will help you stay on task and on target. They hold true for the current era where a lot of meetings are being held through online channels like Google Meet or Zoom (with the obvious exception of leaving your laptop out of it).
Keeping things on point is probably even more important in an online meeting because the participants are more easily distracted.
If you stick to these rules for your own meetings, or you try to encourage them for others, you’ll find that your meetings are more effective and more productive – and quite possibly take less time.
For more productivity ideas, see: