Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Publicity from this site/forum

I wonder if there is any way to quantify how much additional revenue is generated by the advertising that this site gives Fog Creek's products.

It seems like there are tons and tons of people visiting this site, and posting every day, and I wonder how much of it transfers to sales of the software.

Are there any other examples of products that became profitable by building an online community such as this?

How many copies do you think CityDesk sells?  I have no idea how big the market is for such software.

Roose
Friday, November 21, 2003

It did for me - 11 licences for FogBugz

ChrisO
Friday, November 21, 2003

"Are there any other examples of products that became profitable by building an online community such as this?"

Not that I can think of.  Yes, there are probably quite a few small companies that have generated most of their sales primarily from the strength of the online community they have created.  However, none of the ones that I am aware of have done it by creating a website and then writing and posting software development articles on it.

Typically, the employees of these small but successful companies spend a lot of time interacting with their customers.  Joel has done this to some extent, however, most of the posts on this particular forum don't pertain to the products that FogCreek sells.

If you are looking for some examples of strong online communities that have helped the company generate sales here are two that I know of: 

Battlefront.com - sells a unique and awesome WWII computer game called Combat Mission.

Online Support Forum:  http://www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ultimatebb.cgi

Indigorose.com - sells several commercial computer applications such as AutoPlay Media Studio.

Online Support Forum:  http://www.indigorose.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php

One Programmer's Opinion
Friday, November 21, 2003

ArsDigita did. At least for a while

Tapiwa
Friday, November 21, 2003

check out  http://philip.greenspun.com/panda/community for more on the power of communities, even in commercial environments.

Tapiwa
Friday, November 21, 2003

Yep, Joel did a very nice thing: he first *gave* to now *receive*. This remembers me of the cluetrain manifesto. Now he has more than $40,000 in sales per month due to such insights and lessons for the programming community.

Interesting note from a venture capitalist:

http://www.ventureblog.com/articles/indiv/2003/000010.html

Joel Goes Bigtime
By naval on March 5, 2003 05:42 PM | Print
Categories: Software

One of my favorite bloggers, Joel Spolsky (who I won't link to since we're still in stealth mode) sent out another great piece via email, this one on building communities through software. Somewhere near the end he dropped the bombshell that his mailing list has 18,000 people. Given that Joel is not a spammer, that his blog is tightly focused on software development, and that most people who post on his forums have intelligent things to say, I'm impressed. Joel has demonstrated the power of blogging for his business. By staying tightly focused, writing good original pieces, and having good instincts on design and community building, Joel has captured the email addresses and more importantly, trust, of 18,000 potential customers who will keep him in business for life.

Mauricio Macedo
Friday, November 21, 2003

Interesting, thanks for your comments.  I didn't realize there was such a big market for Fog Creek's software BTW...

Do you guys know of any online communities which help sales of women's products?  (e.g. clothes, make-up, jewelry)  I know there are lots of women's forums on the net (and women according to some outnumber men now), but I'm wondering if there are any that support commercial services.

Roose
Friday, November 21, 2003

Roose, I really recommend reading the first couple of chapter of Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing, the book by Philip Greenspun.

I think that it is a must read for anyone planning on building an online community. Plus, the book is available online for free.
http://philip.greenspun.com/panda/

Tapiwa
Friday, November 21, 2003

About women's communities, the best places to start looking would be the female magazine's websites.

There are a few. The one tha immediately springs to mind is iVillage. http://ivillage.com/

Tapiwa
Friday, November 21, 2003

I wonder why more people don't do this, since it appears so powerful?

Maybe it's because it's pretty hard to write something that a lot of people will actually want to read.  Not anyone could write the articles that Joel does.

I wonder how those sites like about.com are doing now?  Anyone actually read their stuff?

Roose
Friday, November 21, 2003

I think the 'community' dimension of a site is very important. It builds brand loyalty and introduces 'sticky content', so, OK, the brand is not important here, but the obvious point has to be you won't sell a thing if nobody comes.

Marx
Friday, November 21, 2003

I agree that Joel's built a successful blog with a fairly fanatical reader base.

What's always puzzled me though, is that the readership of the blog is so different than that of his core product.

I mean, we're all potential customers for FogBugz, but CityDesk?  It seems like the CityDesk market is completely different than the readers of this Forum.

The Voice of Rationality
Sunday, November 23, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home