Breaking through your sales ceiling with Bits du Jour

by Roger Thomasson,
Editor, Bits du Jour

So, 6 months ago you released a game-changing, niche-filling, 22nd century application.  It’s bigger, better, and faster than even the closest competition.  Then why are sales so slow?  Why are inferior titles posting astronomical download counts while yours stagnates at a few dozen per week?

There’s no question as to your coding, design, and interface genius. But let’s face it, Marketing 101 wasn’t part of your Computer Science course track. So how the hell are you going to get the word out?  Answering that question is very likely why you come to  And answering that question is exactly why vendors come to Bits du Jour.  Oh yeah, that and to make a few bucks 😉

Bits du Jour, simply, is for Windows Software.  More specifically, we offer daily time-limited discounts on downloadable software. While these deals are available to anybody happening upon, our biggest asset is our 100,000+ customer mailing list.  Lovingly compiled over the last 4 years, this list is filled with software enthusiasts that buy on impulse, not necessarily to fill a particular need.  These are power-users and productivity-hounds, always on the prowl for the latest and greatest application to empower, simplify, and organize their lives.  No joke — we have one customer that has purchased more than 80 titles over the last couple of years!

If you aren’t particularly keen to discount your software via your product homepage, Bits du Jour offers a relatively “safe” way to experiment.  The bulk of our traffic comes via this mailing list, so you aren’t in any particular danger of cannibalizing your customer base.  At the end of the day, these are our customers visiting Bits exclusively for the discounts we broker. And there’s a good chance that these customers might not be exposed to your software otherwise.

One of the most common questions we get from vendors is, of course, “What kind of sales can I expect?”  Given the breadth, number, and variety of titles we offer, a generic sales average would be relatively meaningless for any one particular software vendor.  However, the number we usually quote is a multiple of 5x – 15x your existing daily sales.  Many titles sell less than this, and many sell far more, but it’s a reasonable gauge of what you can expect.  And to be sure, if the word gets out on the blogosphere, sales in the hundreds of units aren’t uncommon!

As it turns out, the Bits du Jour customer base seems to be a rough microcosm of the software industry in general.  Our customers buy more software than the average consumer, but what they choose to buy appears to correlate.  If title X sells twice as good as title Y via traditional channels, it’s likely that this trend will be somewhat reflected on Bits du Jour.  Similarly, if you develop and distribute several software titles, it’s likely that your best selling title will perform better than your 4th best-selling one.

But even if sales aren’t off the charts, you’ll still get cost-free exposure to over 100,000 highly-targeted potential customers.  More impressions, more downloads, more eyes looking at your product.  In addition, our active comment boards can provide valuable feedback and a direct connection to customers.  We’ve had more than one developer release a build mid-promotion based on a Bits du Jour customer comment.

As far as logistics are concerned, setting up a Bits du Jour promotion is simple.  Once we deem your software suitable and agree on a date, all we really need from you is purchase and download links, image links, and testimonials if you have them.  We have a team of freelancers that will prepare the witty, grammatical promo copy at no charge to you.  Our standard commission is 30%, taken after the discount and after any associated eCommerce fees.  — Roger Thomasson

If you have questions, feel free to contact me at

For more information, go here:

And if you’d like to go ahead and submit your title for us to review, go ahead and do it here:

Based out of Philadelphia, Roger Thomasson is currently the copy and submissions editor for Bits du Jour. He loves a win-win situation, perhaps even more than Buffalo Wings.

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Bob WalshBreaking through your sales ceiling with Bits du Jour

The MicroISV Digest

The MicroISV Digest for the week ending November 30th, 2009.

(With 2010 just one month away, I need your feedback on what – and whether – the MicroISV Digest should be. Please comment on this post what you’d like to see it cover more, less or differently. And apologies for missing last week – by the time I could get to it, it was Thanksgiving here in the US.)

(If you have an announcement of interest to your fellow microISV, indies or startups, please email me at with the word digest in the subject.)

News and Announcements

  • Martin Kleppmann, Go Test It, has announced his startup will be acquired by Red Gate Software: plenty of good lessons to learn there and congratulations Martin! (via email)
  • Radomir Mladenovic and his small team have launched LogDigger. LogDigger simplifies and accelerates the process of reporting bugs in a Web application, complete with usage history, form data, annotated screenshots and server logs. (via email)
  • Show #46, of the Startup Success Podcast features (by pure coincidence) an interview with Martin Kleppmann, founder of Go Test It. Martin offered a 30% discount to SSP listeners. You’ll find The Startup Success Podcast at iTunes.

Relevant Blog Posts, Podcasts, Videos and Articles


  • This week’s microISV Digest is sponsored by Focused action and discussion save you precious bootstrapping hours. Be Successful Faster with
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Bob WalshThe MicroISV Digest

Martin Kleppmann’s Go Test It makes the finish line.

About 2 hours ago Martin Kleppmann announced that Red Gate Software is acquiring his startup, Go Test It, for an undisclosed amount. Go Test It is an automated cross browser functional testing service. Here’s the details of the acquisition and Martin’s good-to-read reflection on it.

It’s always good to see someone in the startup/microISV world succeed; it’s even better when you can learn 12 Lessons from how they succeeded. (Skip down to Lesson #7 for the juicy part.)

I first got to know Martin in August when he sent me a very nice email regarding my latest book, this post that inadvertently included him in this image, and to briefly pitch his startup for my podcast. (Lesson 1: Reach out and Pitch Somebody Everyday.)

While Martin participated in’s private beta, I very much doubt that had anything to do with his well-earned success, but it certainly was something I noticed. (Lesson 2: Help others in the Startup Community.)

At the Business of Software Conference this month, Martin sought me out, (Lesson 3: Go to conferences to get known, use social tools to connect.), helping me locate another conferee, despite me being in a cranky mood thanks to a pinched back nerve (Lesson 4: When being helpful, their attitude is their problem, not a reflection of you.).

When I interviewed Martin for my podcast, (Lesson 5: Media exposure is good, no matter how small) he was interesting, helpful to people who listened to the podcast and came across as someone very committed to his startup (Lesson 6: Be yourself and be committed.).

Now, none of the above (or me for that matter) had any involvement with Martin’s happy Early Exit, but it goes to show Martin’s approach in general, I think. Let’s look at how he made Go Test It a worth acquiring:

  • Go Test It is definitely one of the nicest and most effective web sites for a startup I’ve seen this year. (Lesson 7: No one shops for ugly.)
  • Offer real value to your Market. Go Test It’s Firefox Recorder extension is really cool, as is the nuanced way results are delivered. Could some other programmer code the same – sure, if they had the right experience, thought about it deeply and spent a great deal of time getting it right.That’s Lesson 8: people are not buying your software. They’re buying the experience you’ve had, the deep thinking you’ve done and all of time you’ve spent finding and executing a good solution, and that happens to be in the form of software.
  • I’m sure that Martin working from Red Gate’s premises made it easy for Neil Davidson and Simon Galbraith to feel good about doing this deal. You might be tempted to think, “Oh, he got lucky that way.” Well, the co-founders of Red Gate are great guys, but they are running a [very successful] software business: they are not going to fork over money just because they know and presumably like Martin. (Lesson 9: You make your own luck.)
  • If your startup (not just your software) is going to be acquired, it’s got to be hard to reproduce. Sure, you probably know a lot about automated web testing – but just how long would it take to duplicate both the software and business and the reputation Martin has created? (Lesson 10: Valuable means hard to reproduce.)
  • Martin made a point to reassure his customers in some detail that he will be working on Go Test It at least until September 2010. (Lesson 11: Reassure your customers – they matter.) Of course, at some point Go Test It is going to be fully integrated into Red Gate’s line of services and software, so this isn’t for always and forever (Lesson 12: Every finish can be the start of something even better.)

Digital entrepreneurs create value as regularly as Moore’s Law works: I’m quite sure this is only the first finish line Martin will cross. Congratulations Martin, well done!

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Bob WalshMartin Kleppmann’s Go Test It makes the finish line.

Having a nice weekend off? Google’s moving your Customers.

While you were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, Google was changing how and even if customers will find your software. Since There Is No News(bloggers, reporters) Thanksgiving weekend, the firestorm will start officially Monday. Here’s how Google rocked your world by adding one little command to their results page for some users : + Show Options

blah blah blah - Google Search

When you click it, you get a left sidebar changing how people search with Google – and how much you’ll get found:

Props to Gizmodo for (I think) reporting it first, and how to turn it on, and how to turn it off.

These new search options have been exposed here and there but are showing up this weekend for random Goggle users (happened to me; how about you? Please comment.). Don’t be distracted by holiday media staff (read: interns) thinking the change in button color is the news or that these changes are somehow related to Google Wave: they’re not. And if you accept at face value this underwhelming PR response, you’ll miss something that is going to change how much money you make in 2010 selling software.

Having spent the day adopting these new options, they are too damn useful to ignore: I predict they are going to be the shortest Google beta in history, which means they are going to be your problem as a software vendor right quick.

  1. Any Time – that means your web content has to change. The game used to be that the older your site, the more quality inbound links, the closer to the top of Google’s results. Not no more, at least in our world. Old = Bad when it comes to what we sell. Why would care about software that isn’t in Google results in the Past Year? You don’t – and neither will your customers.
  2. Not Yet Visited. The first time a customer visits your site to judge your product will be the last time they visit your site. No second (have to include you when they search again) chances.
  3. Wonder Wheel. What Google takes away, Google gives back: The best tool available now for finding the all-important search/keyword terms. Darren Rouse’s take. Ignore the rest of this other guy’s videos, but he got “Google Wonder Wheel Keyword Research Tool Helps Discover Hidden Niches” right back in May:
  4. Page Preview – Users can and will filter you much faster. Once you turn on the Page Preview (it’s just as fast as Standard View), you’re not going to turn it off – it makes filtering out crap instantly easier. You see crap, you react – you don’t have to read it. And if your Hook isn’t top left (see next image; and you bet I’ve changed it in production), you are going to be GOL (Google out of luck.)
    startuptodo - Google Search

What this means for your sales.

  1. Assess the Damage. Check Google – do you have Options? Ask around – Twitter works well for this. I’m launching a Twitter hashmark here: #gotgoogopt.
  2. Think. What does your software business now look like to the overwhelming majority of your prospective customers? Better? Worse? Invisible?
  3. Skip the first four steps of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression) and get on with deciding what you are going to do about it.
  4. See step 3.
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Bob WalshHaving a nice weekend off? Google’s moving your Customers. Your Business. Your Questions.

By Fred Imparatta
Community Manager,

There are 450,000 people who take the plunge into small-business ownership every year. Chances are, they’ll need someone to help them answer their business questions. That’s where comes in. In, business owners (both big and small), can ask their business questions, which will be answered by our community of other business-owners, entrepreneurs, and business-people.

You’re in the software industry, a very competitive, but passionate sector. You already have StackOverflow to go and ask your programming questions, when you get stuck programming. But who, or where, do you turn for help when you get stuck running your software business? That’s where comes in. More and more programmers feel comfortable coming to to ask for help on the business side of their software ventures. We like to think this way: Programming Questions? You go to Business Questions? You go to Easy, isn’t it?

What if you are too busy coding and don’t have time to go to Not a problem. If you’re a Twitter user, just send your question to @askstartups. You’ll get an @reply within minutes, with a link that will take you to where you can finish asking their question. Also, they can send an email to, with their question on the subject and further information in the body of the email, and your question will be posted to

We’re growing daily, with new users coming to answer and ask hard-hitting business questions. That’s why we’ve created our Mod Team, with some of the best participants that have come to the site, asked thoughtful questions and given great answers. These great guys help us keep the site looking good, correcting questions and keeping them on topic. Maybe you recognize quite a few faces there, take a look.

We’re also bringing well-known hosts to answer questions from our community. For instance, we will have Gary Vaynerchuk on Monday, Nov 23rd coming to to answer your business questions.

To sum it up, as Joel Spolsky himself tweeted:  “Awesome customization of StackExchange:” is owned by Network, Inc. which is the parent company of another great site:

Take for a spin. Our goal is to answer your business question with useful answers, within minutes. Can we make it? Ask your own business question, and find out for yourself.

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Bob Your Business. Your Questions.

The MicroISV Digest

The MicroISV Digest for the week ending November 16th, 2009.

(If you have an announcement of interest to your fellow microISV, indies or startups, please email me at with the word digest in the subject.)

News and Announcements

  • Jacob Gorban, Apparent Software, has launched Cashculator – the Mac way to track your cash flow. Cashculator is a different kind of personal finance application – instead of focusing on the past and logging previous transactions, it focuses on future by forecasting your financial situation, helping you make better financial/business decisions. (via email)
  • Torsten Uhlmann, AGYNAMIX, is looking for feedback on his web site for Simidude, his great cross-platform network clipboard utility. (via BOS.)
  • Two Startup Success Podcasts to catch up with: Show #44, Cathy Tullysmith, Opscotch (and Tech eCards). Bob and Pat talk to Cathy Tullysmith, founder of Opscotch about her new startup to help companies manage a helpdesk. Opscotch is a pure SaaS system that’s incredibly easy to try, so if you are interested, go to and check it out.
    And then we have Show #45, Backing up your code, startup coworking in Seattle. Pat and Bob talk with Scott Wisniewski, founder of about his just about released backup software that works automatically to backup your Windows code and Mike Koss, founder of, a coworking facility in Seattle on what developers get out of going back into the office – but on their own terms. You’ll find The Startup Success Podcast at iTunes.

Relevant Blog Posts, Podcasts, Videos and Articles

  • Last week I was at the Business of Software Conference 2009 in San Francisco. I can tell you right now, if you run a software business you want to be at BofS2010. Period. Why? Well this post, and this post, this post, and this BOS thread will give you a tiny taste of what you missed this year.


  • This week’s microISV Digest is sponsored by Focused action and discussion save you precious bootstrapping hours. Be Successful Faster with
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Bob WalshThe MicroISV Digest

A new forum for startup questions: Answers OnStartups

By: Jason Cohen
Founder, Smart Bear Software
A Smart Bear

If you’re like me…

I hate that phrase. What if I’m not like you? What if I don’t want to be like you? What if I’m exactly like you but with a better haircut?

So forget whether you’re like me, but see if any of the following could be used to describe you:

  1. You run a startup.
  2. You’re a fan of StackOverflow.
  3. You like talking about, arguing about, learning about, and thinking about startups.
  4. You have useful things to say about startups but you have only 37 RSS subscribers and half of those are RSS directories and one of those is your Mom, and you’d like become just a little more famous waxing philosophical while also getting interesting new perspectives from other people.

In short: You want StackOverflow, for startups.

Well it’s here! It’s called Answers OnStartups, and it’s a Q&A site for any topic about startups and entrepreneurship, using the same technology as StackOverflow.

But wait, doesn’t this compete with our own Bob Walsh’s, what with the “community building” and all?

The fact that Bob has graciously hosted this guest-post proves it’s not a conflict, but let me give you a better reason: StartupToDo (besides having a lot more than just forums!) helps you with every operational detail of your startup. The encouragement to “critique other folks’ stuff” is direct and specific, and therefore invaluable.

Answers OnStartups is more general, but not less useful. Some recent questions include:

Answers OnStartups is the latest addition to Dharmesh Shah’s destination for startups. Once again, the idea isn’t “competition” with sites like 47hats! Your RSS reader has room for more than one feed, right?

I have the privilege of co-moderating Answers with Dharmesh, which basically means I get to correct typos and add tags to questions. Well OK, also so far I’ve maintained the #1 spot on the site (based on up- and down-votes from other members), but I’ve noticed Alex Papadimoulis (below) is gaining fast…

So who else is actually active on the site? Some folks you might know (linked to their user profiles, so you can see that they’re actually active):

Notice something? Everyone listed here — including Dharmesh and myself — are self-made technology geeks-turned-founders. This isn’t run by MBAs. This isn’t run by VPs of Big Title at Souless Corp. We’re coders who learned business through experience and necessity.

You know, like you. That’s why this is so awesome.

Of course the best part is meeting all the folks I didn’t know before who aren’t “famous” but have useful, interesting, new things to say.

Are you the next person I’m going to love meeting? Check out Answers and join this new, intelligent community of startup founders!

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Bob WalshA new forum for startup questions: Answers OnStartups

MicroISV Digest returns next week

Hi all – I’m attending the Business of Software Conference in San Francisco – meeting some great people and listening to speakers who are offering some really good ideas and advice I’ll be posting about here for the next month easily. But it’s pretty all consuming, so the MicroISV Digest will be back next week. The [blurry] photo is of Heidi Roizen – she’s an entrepreneur, corporate executive, corporate director and venture capitalist – and gave a killer presentation on what startups look like from the VC point of view.

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Bob WalshMicroISV Digest returns next week

A tale of disappointment, betrayal and ultimate vindication.

I was going to hold this for the next MicroISV Digest, but it’s too good to let sit. It’s an engrossing story of how one man on a nearly impossible quest, betrayed by feckless promises made by huge companies, fights through adversity, never giving up, and ultimately succeeds.

No, I’m not talking about the latest cookiecutter novel turned out by one of the mega-authors. I’m talking about Ash Maurya’s post today, “From Minimum Viable Product to Landing Pages.” If you’re a microISV you’re going to want to go to this post, print it, and start turning pages – because unlike the $9.99 potboiler novels, this read is going to show you how to make Honest-to-God Real Money.

[Speaking of real, will all the 13 year-old ankle-biting script-kiddies sending fawning emails to me to sponsor them in Microsoft BizSpark with fake names, throwaway email addresses and startup descriptions made by slapping techno mush buzzwords together in the hopes of scoring free software they can sell on eBay kindly cease and desist? I am Not Amused. Neither is Microsoft – which as you read this is tracking each and every one of you down with the remorselessness of The Terminator and will make you wish you’d done something safe instead – like eating lead paint chips. Thank you.]

With that off my chest I can return to the subject at hand – Ash’s excellent post detailing how he created – and tested, and iterated – a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) for his photo and video sharing application, CloudFire. Ash lays out each twist and turn as he evolved his UVP – and how when it came time to drive traffic through his a/b testing StumbleUpon, Facebook and Google AdWords completely failed to work.

I won’t spoil the ending by telling you how he found a way to realistically test his evolving UVP: you should go read his post. You will profit from it. And if you’re too busy to read it now, bookmark it in the folder in your browser labeled “how to do it right” – this one is a keeper.

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Bob WalshA tale of disappointment, betrayal and ultimate vindication.

The MicroISV Digest

The MicroISV Digest for the week ending November 2nd, 2009.

(If you have an announcement of interest to your fellow microISV, indies or startups, please email me at with the word digest in the subject.)

News and Announcements

  • Nick Koranda, MeMo, is looking for feedback on their redesigned web site for their text message reminder service. (via BOS.)
  • Dmitriy Gorbachev, Accio Intellectum LLC, is looking for feedback on their web site and their just-released product, IMAlerts for SharePoint. (via BOS.)
  • Show #43 of The Startup Success Podcast is up. Pat and Bob interview Renn Vara, co-founder of SNP Communications about the challenges and opportunities startup founders now face when it comes to dealing with the media and communicating their message. On iTunes.

Relevant Blog Posts, Podcasts, Videos and Articles

  • Nothing stands out this past week, but I’ve started reading Matthew Cornell’s “Where the !@#% did my day go?” ebook. While I was an early beta tester, I’m really impressed with how professional, useful and thought-provoking the finished ebook is. I plan to review it soon here, in the meantime


  • This week’s microISV Digest is sponsored by Focused action and discussion save you precious bootstrapping hours. Be Successful Faster with
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Bob WalshThe MicroISV Digest