Monetizing Open Source Projects (Part 1)

[quote]Monetization: Charging for something that used to be free or making money on goods or services that were previously unprofitable.[/quote]


Open source projects are crazy. I don’t mean crazy in an intellectual way, I just mean that they’re crazy in a business sense. There are many very popular open source projects out there in the world today, and most have absolutely no monetization at all. Why not?

If you don’t have any revenue sources for your open source project you are missing a huge opportunity to capture your traffic. Take a look at your traffic logs and look at how many people are coming to your site: do you have 100 per day, 500, 5000? And what are all of those visitors doing? They’re evaluating your project, downloading your software, looking for support, etc.. If your not even at least gathering information from the user let alone trying to literally monetize from them you are missing a great opportunity. After all, nothing in this world is free, right?

I think part of the reason that open source projects don’t monetize is partly due to pride. The project leaders might think that asking for money or requiring payment for services is somehow not cool or does not fit within the open source concept. Another reason I think that open source projects shy away from monetizing is for fear of backlash from their users. The general feeling is that if they somehow try to make money off of their free, open project that the users will grab pitchforks, light torches and come to break down the castle wall. My experience has shown this to be completely the opposite.

Monetizing your open source project not only improves the resilience of your project but it also shows that you have some business sense. Think about it, do you feel better using an open source project that has a revenue model and resources to help grow the project? Or would you rather invest your time and effort into a project that has no money, no possible revenue sources, no employees, and no resources to draw from to help build the project? I think you know the right answer that question!

So how do you monetize your open source project? Stay tuned for part 2 of our article where we discuss the details behind monetizing your open source project.