Here are four broad approaches to make money in software development today. Let me know if you find them useful.

1. Create and maintain bespoke software for vertical markets.

  • Conservative industries like banking, manufacturing and mining.
  • Rely on on specialised equipment (operating with specialised/archaic software) that must run reliably for decades.
  • Specialised skills and knowledge are needed for entry.
  • Can be highly profitable ongoingly; once you get in.
  • Disruptive changes are unlikely in the day-to-day work.

2. Build and sell high-volume, low-margin apps.

  • General throwaway entertainment apps that needs to appeal to enough people worldwide.
  • Specialist apps targeting specialised domains.
  • First to market on new platforms.
  • First to market with a unique approach (such as extreme simplicity.)
  • Spray and pray. Release lots of apps and see which ones stick.
  • Need to have enough variety of offerings and enough volume of attention on marketplaces.
  • Expecting a one-hit-wonder or overnight viral traction is unrealistic.

3. Give away free or cheap apps to attract new customers to a service business.

  • Create free software as value-added marketing, to funnel (some) users into a services engagement with the business.
  • Money is made from the services business.
  • Make the free software highly usable/desirable, specifically relevant and tied in closely with the service business.

4. Service to set up and tailor free/open source software.

  • Install, customise, configure and support open-source software for businesses and organisations.
  • Open source software have lots of functionality to cater to as wide an audience as possible.
  • Businesses and organisations often need only a small subset.
  • And they often need several different applications to work together.
  • Equivalent to Ikea furniture assembly and hacking service.

Image: Programming code via Shutterstock.