Our Philosophy Behind Using CRELoaded, Joomla, and CMSMadeSimple

We use free Open Source systems. We don’t do so to be cheap, but merely as a way of producing affordable solutions.

I know that my clients will not be able to afford or justify a yearly subscription fee, and most cannot afford software fees at all unless they are just for a few necessary add-ons. They already have to pay ongoing fees for maintenance, to keep the site software updated. One more fee on top of that is a deal breaker for them, and I know that it will be for others also.

By becoming “just another commercial cart”, I believe that CRELoaded will lose a huge portion of their user base. That, in turn, will reduce the viral nature of a good Open Source project. Joomla, and CMSMadeSimple, which are the other two major software systems that we build site solutions around, do not have any indication of going commercial, though they do have some commercial enhancements.

There are other projects, still free, which have been nipping at the heels of CRE for a long time, and which have made significant progress in the last six months. Our company will be testing those, and adopting the most flexible solution. We have no choice with the market we serve. I’ll report on what we find when we make a choice, and I’ll start testing the two most promising ones today, in between working on a Joomla template.

Our clients give back a great deal over the long term. But they use freely available Open Source software as a means of getting a foot in the door, until they have the means to give back. In the mean time, they are donating time and service, volunteering to move good projects forward, and giving in other ways while they do not have money to give. They are people worth helping, and we keep our own service prices low by building site solutions using Open Source software.

Our company gives back also – we support and assist with several Open Source projects, offering documentation assistance, usability help, and promoting them. We aren’t parasites who are just complaining about the loss of a free tool. We’ve invested in every system we’ve used, and provide training, tips, and encourage their use with both clients, and colleagues. Each system we use has a section in our Trade Association pages, where we are assembling resources and tools for them.

We are not the only company out there that promotes Open Source software, nor which contributes to it. When an Open Source project moves from a freely usable business model, to a commercial business model, they lose a large portion of their user base, and an equally large portion of their contributor base. Active members drop from the help forums, abandon the Wiki, and contributing developers wander away to more promising projects. After all, why should they contribute freely to a project for which someone else makes money but they do not? And why should they develop paid contributions when the likelihood of sales are much lower?

I faced the same issue with Front Porch Folks. I could develop it around a free membership model, a paid membership model, or a combination with free and Premium memberships. Before I made the final decision, I took a poll of the membership. Even though the free model meant ads in places that reduced the value of their membership, most members voted for an ad based revenue model. We had to think creatively to make that work within the structure of that site. But it was worth it, because the support of the members is very strong. They know now that we listen to them, and that we’ll be responsive to their requests. Most of the new members that come in are doing so from promotions that the members are initiating. They know we have to make money from it to keep it going, and they don’t mind that. They just want the most open community possible for networking, and that happens best by keeping it free. The same holds true of Open Source – indeed, that is the power in it.

It is also not wise to load every kind of revenue generation into a project. If you are going to charge for the service, then don’t plague the users with ads at every turn. They already paid for it, and built-in ads that are not a genuine service to the user should be left off.

There is no perfect solution to it all, it is going to be hard any way you do it. But I believe that in this current economy of high competition, and plentiful freebies, that some businesses and products will simply be stronger, and healthier, and be able to earn more, if they remain with a free option.

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are the perceptions of the writer, and should not be interpreted or quoted as fact without corroborrating evidence.


Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.