What are some business models or monetization options other than intrusive advertising for startups building a free product?


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The standard monetization procedure for free products these days seems to be to place ads everywhere. These ads often reduce the quality of the product for consumers. I'm looking for a more seamless approach to monetization, given that the product itself must remain free. Any suggestions?

Monetization

asked Mar 5 '14 at 04:11
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Daniel Que
21 points
  • Daniel could you provide a little more background on the type of business it is. Niche, etc. – Nishank Khanna 9 years ago
  • I meant for the question to be somewhat general. However, one specific business I have in mind is one which provides an online annotation tool for documents. It's specifically geared towards educators as a way to provide feedback to students. – Daniel Que 9 years ago

1 Answer


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There are lots of ways to monetize unobtrusively. It all depends on how you implement them:

  • Affiliate Marketing. Find relevant programs on an affiliate network like CJ or Linkshare.
  • eBooks. You could write your own or pick a good one from ClickBank.
  • Consulting. Many developers on GitHub go this route for their open source contributions.
  • Premium membership. Offer a few advanced features under premium pricing. This can be wrapped into a social feature like Reddit has done with Reddit Gold.
  • Sell physical products. Find some products that your audience would be interested in buying and have them drop shipped. T-shirts and shwag are another option. Check Doba for products that merchants dropship.
answered Mar 5 '14 at 04:32
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Nishank Khanna
4,265 points

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