Ideas to increase license sales


I have this side project Fort - File encryption which I’ve been doing mostly for fun for couple of years. Today, I’m fairly close to make living out of it. Any ideas how to increase the sales? Am I giving too much features in the free “Home Edition”? What about the website, does it look like professional enough?

Any other thoughts about the project?

You’re definitely giving a lot in free version. The only real additional feature is filename encryption.

Individual users don’t care about premium support, commercial use is an honor system and I wouldn’t make 4096 bit key files a premium feature (looking at it from user point of view, if less is not enough, then home edition is useless; if it is enough, then 4096 bit is useless; you’re sending a terrible message here).

I would collect statistics on usage i.e. how often free users use the app and how many files they encrypted.

If you have lots of active free users then the app provides value and you should switch to 30 day time limit (the limit would be for encrypting new files; obviously the app has to support already encrypted files forever).

Alternatively, you could have a limit on number of encrypted files (limit chosen based on usage statistics).

Other ideas:

  • also publish in Windows Store, for additional exposure
  • mac port (the UI looks rather simple so you could use Xamarin to write UI in C# and reuse your existing C# encryption library)

Also, even basics of SEO are missing.

In the long term, the largest number of visitors come from Google searches. I assume you want “windows file encryption” lead to your website.

You should:

  • change the domain name to
  • lacking that, your landing page should be and “/” should be a perm redirect to that
  • “windows file encryption” should be present in h1 tags

None of that will magically teleport your site to #1 of those searches, but it should improve things.

Read Google’s SEO starter (and implement those suggestions).

Content marketing is also missing.

Put as much content about encryption and files as you can think of.

Putting the manual as html (as opposed to PDF) is a no-brainer.

Your tool can encrypt onedirve, dropbox etc. files. For each service write a page like /encrypting-dropbox-files-on-windows.html which is a step-by-step tutorial on encrypting dropbox files with your tool, with screenshots.

Write a page for every file type. /encrypt-pdf-files-on-windows.html. /encrypt-png-files-on-windows.html Obviously every article plugs your program as a solution for encrypting those files.

Those are ideas from someone who knows nothing about this space. You’re an expert. Think about all the encryption related topics and write about them. Promote those writings in appropriate forums. For example, maybe a comparison of various encryption algorithms. Or a visual guide to encryption that you can promote on HN or some sub-reddit.

You have competitors. For every competitor Foo write /front-vs-foo-file-encryption-comparison.html where you describe how your stuff is better.

Look on quora, stack overflow etc. for encryption related questions. This is a good way to find inspiration for encryption-related content that you can write about.

And yes, the website could use a facelift. Lacking refined design skills myself my approach is to find great looking site close in structure to what I want and mimic it.

Add manual next/prev navigation to screenshots. Auto-flipping screenshots are infuriating.


Thank you. Really good points. I will definitely implement many of those suggestions. I’m actually waiting Microsoft now to proceed with the Windows Store submission.

Thanks again!

Congrats on the success so far.

To increase sales of a desktop app, you can:

  • increase the number of people coming to your site
  • increase the % of first-time visitors who download
  • increase the % of downloads that convert to sales
  • change the pricing

Choose one of these four and improve your current approach. Spend some months going through a cycle of measure and change.

Increase website visitors

This further breaks down to:

  • increase organic traffic (that is, google searches that lead people to your site)
  • increase referral traffic

There are other channels for traffic, but these are the two important ones for desktop software.

@kjk gave some good tips on increasing organic traffic via SEO and content marketing. Looking at your site, SEO is an obvious place to start.

Tip: If you haven’t already, use Google Search Console. It is a great starting point for improving your SEO.

Increase download rate

There is an art to making a web page that sells. Learn more about how to make a good “landing page”. Some basic tips I have after a cursory glance:

  • Your “above the fold” layout is messy. The eye is not naturally drawn anywhere
  • Add testimonials for social proof
  • Add an “About Us” section, put in your address (city and country at a minimum), add links in the footer to a privacy policy, terms & conditions, and your refund policy. These all give you an air of trustworthiness.
  • Get a “favicon”. The lack of one is a bad sign for some people.
  • Improve the general design. Even a $10 template would give your design a big improvement.

Increase the download-to-sale conversion rate

I haven’t looked downloaded your product so I have no concrete advice. A conventional approach is to offer a 30-day (or less) trial period after which the customer needs to upgrade. This works pretty well.

Don’t be afraid to make your software nag to upgrade.

Change the pricing

  • Consider promoting multiple sales per person via bulk discounts. I noticed that your FastSpring page has a quantity field. But nothing else seems to mention if you have quantity discounts. You could offer, for example, 5 licenses with a 20% discount.
  • Consider having more than one paid version. Say, professional for $99, and enterprise for $199. You don’t need to offer much extra for enterprise - “priority support” might be enough. This is called “price segmentation” - charging different prices to different people for fundamentally the same product. (You’ve experienced this when you’ve bought plane tickets, or when you’ve gone to the cinema on the “half-price Tuesday”)


Pick one of the four areas I’ve mentioned. Spend a couple of weeks learning everything you can about it. Then try to improve it.


I second @SteveMcLeod on adding some testimonials.

You basically have to convince people of 2 things:

  1. That they should encrypt their sensible files.
  2. To do so, that they should use Fort.

Your current quotes work towards goal #1. They’re generic, and talk about the benefits of encryption.
However, if I’m already convinced of that, I’m really wondering if I should trust Fort. I’m basically letting a software take holds of my most important files (why encrypting them if they were not?), so the benefits/risks ratio must be clearly positive. I need to see proof that you’re not a scammer, that other people already trust you, and that the software works flawlessly.

So, TL;DR: make anything you can to add a couple of genuine testimonials from users of yours. Note that they don’t have to be from paid users: just happy users.


There are actually testimonials in the bottom of the downloads page. Maybe I should move them to the landing page or something. They are genuine quotes from users, not paid ones.


Hi Niko. The website is pretty awful to be brutally honest, and I’m surprised you’re making sales at all.

There’s no emotion, no excitement, no reason why and you don’t cover any of the reasons why not.

The “sale” thing should be way more dramatic too. It’s easy to miss it in blue at the top of the screen.

Mmm. Where to even start with this?

On the flipside, I didn’t miss the blue “Buy” button. Stands out okay to me. The site itself isn’t that bad, either. It’s “cold” but that’s expected when it comes to a fortress and what the product does. Seems no-nonsense and to-the-point.