*Note - I edited out the names of my applications I referenced for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t want anybody to think I’m being spammy. Second, I really don’t care for the search engines to suck these things up.
The first decent free and open source application I released was called [Product A], a free and open source invoicing system (now [Product B]). I was crazy excited that people became interested in [Product A] and began to use it - so I scrambled like mad to go out of my way to provide the best support I could because I got off on people using my software. Free support. For free software, mind you.
For the past 11 years or so, the work that pays the bills has revolved around providing various levels of support to various levels of people. I have become good at it. I enjoy it. No one can convince me that going above and beyond to provide excellent customer support is not the single most important asset to a company offering a product or a service. When I’m on the other side of the fence, I notice these things. I notice when somebody is just humming along, going through the motions with me because they have to, and I notice when somebody is happy with providing support and are great at doing it. It’s a huge difference, and it leaves a tremendously huge impression with me. It’s the same exact impression I want to leave with my customers (when I have them, hehe…)
Ok, so a little more to the point here… rewind back to [Product A] - I was excited people were using my free software so I was going out of my way to happily provide free support. Some issues arose and I had to rebrand everything, so at the same time I decided to start back at the ground level. I rewrote the entire app, rethought the overall strategy and figured out what my actual goals were, other than giving people free software.
Part of the new strategy for [Product B] involves leaving the mass of the free support for the free product to the community, and making “official” support a selling point for anybody who purchases the [Product B] “Pro” version when it’s ready. In terms of actual development and proper support, I’m a one man band here. I despise the fact that I am not providing the free support, yet I keep telling myself it’s going to be a selling point for people who want to throw their money at me when the “Pro” version is ready.
Is there anybody here who vehemently disagrees with this approach, or anybody who can attest to any actual value behind it?