Kefir, Kombucha, and a Fantastic Lady to Get it from in Melbourne

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in Anarchism / Voluntaryism, Australia, Business, Melbourne | Posted on 29-08-2014

Being in the market for some healthier foods, I happened across a Gumtree ad:

http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/camberwell/miscellaneous-goods/probiotic-starters-kombucha-water-kefir-milk-kefir-melb-p-u-/1038097067

Super-Simple-cropped-fran-1-898x431

Now, that’s likely to go stale, but you can still reach the lovely lady behind that here:

http://www.bbdfran.com/contact-bbdfran/

Or email her here:

bbdfran@gmail.com

She’s got a wonderful knowledge of kefir and kombucha, and I can’t help but gush at the level of customer service she offers. You will be hard pressed to find anyone offering what she does. I was quite stunned. Few people go that far. Companies? Very rarely.

If you are in Melbourne, and withing reasonable distance (Melbourne is about 100 km across), then look her up as she is a wonderful resource to purchase some kefir from.

She has a Facebook group for people that purchase from her, and it has a good amount of activity there with some great tips and information.

Now, that being said… with my background in software and business, I’d have to say that she’s got a really, really terrible business model. I don’t mean that as an insult though. To understand what I mean there, you need to know that the product she sells allows you to create your own kefir and kombucha virtually forever with no additional purchases necessary.

Gillette would roll in his grave at that.

But I suspect that Fran has different motivations than pure profit. I suspect that she is more motivated by a desire to help people and to see people increase their level of health.

Her level of dedication and honesty have earned a good deal of respect in my books.

If you’re in Melbourne, and if you are looking to increase your health, and if you appreciate stellar customer service, check out the links above. You’re looking for Fran.

Ryan

 

NSA Killing Business for Cloud Providers

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in Business, Money, Police State | Posted on 29-08-2013

Tags: , ,

It looks like the NSA PRISM scandal will cost businesses in the US between $22~35 billion over the next few years. Big surprise. Would you want to store your data with a company that has no choice but to bend over for the NSA?

http://www.businessinsider.com/prism-the-nsa-leaks-are-starting-to-hit-the-bottom-lines-of-tech-companies-2013-8?IR=T

A separate report this month by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, or ITIF, a Washington think tank, said US cloud providers stand to lose $22 billion to $35 billion over the next three years due to revelations about the so-called PRISM program.

I have one server in the US, and will be shutting it down. And it’s in large part because I simply have no faith in the US.

Consumers Are Not Job Creators

3

Posted by Cynic | Posted in Anarchism / Voluntaryism, Awake, Business, Money, Philosophy | Posted on 26-08-2013

It’s rather annoying to hear the worst nonsense constantly paraded around like some kind of eternal truth. That “consumers are job creators” is some of that drivel. It only takes a moment to understand why.

I, along with billions of other people, am a consumer. I want a time machine. So do a lot of those other consumers. Where’s my time machine? Here’s my money to create all the jobs in the time machine industry… I’m still waiting…

But that’s an extreme example. Take a simple commodity like fish. There’s a market out there for fish. But it is probably more accurate to say that “hunger” plays a larger role in creating the market for fish than the consumer does. Jobs are created by businesses that supply people with fish. The consumer can certainly choose not to eat fish, but they still need to eat. And if they do stop eating fish, it’s likely that the business that supplies fish to people will shift to supplying them with what they want to eat. But the jobs aren’t created by the consumer – the business is responsible.

To be certain, consumers play a pivotal role in maintaining jobs. If nobody buys a product or service, the business that provides it will soon find itself in deep trouble.

Consumers merely dictate certain demands. (Well, that’s not entirely true, but the topic of manufacturing markets only further illustrates that consumers do not create jobs.) Businesses create jobs and fill those demands.

How some people get this so backwards is entirely a mystery to me.

IP Porn – Hot Tech-On-Tech Action!

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in Business, Mobile, Philosophy, Software | Posted on 15-10-2012

Tags: , ,

The world of hot tech-on-tech pron is never ending. Our next bout of hot & saucy action comes (cums?) from Microsoft spewing on the backs of Google after fucking with Motorola…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/12/microsoft-google-motorola-android_n_1962383.html?utm_hp_ref=technology

The patent in question defines a method for a mobile device to obtain a map from one database, call up resource information such as the location of a hotel from a second database, and overlay the two sets of data.

So, let’s see… They want to join data from one query in another query from another database? That’s some pretty kinky shit! Wow. Like totally innovative and non-obvious… let’s pull out from one and stick it in another…

Maybe not as sexy as the Apple v. Samsung pronfest, but still pretty fucked up.

Cheers

Ryan

 

CNET and Installers: A Win-Win-Win-Win Scenario

2

Posted by Cynic | Posted in Business, Internet, Money, OpenCandy, Software | Posted on 09-12-2011

money grown on treesA while back Download.com (CNET) did some pretty shady stuff with installers. People screamed bloody murder, and CNET listened. They’re now in beta with the new version of their downloader/installer, and this is a very good thing. They’ve changed all the bad stuff (from what I can tell), and are now offering what looks like an excellent platform. (I’ve not done any indepth analysis of it, but on the surface, it looks good.)

But, as you can imagine, there are people that are still not happy with it. CNET is offering developers an opportunity to get paid for their work, and at the same time, they’re doing this in an open and voluntary way. This still seems unacceptable to some people who can’t get past the fact that the downloaders from CNET add in an advertising layer where they are shown an ad with an offer while their chosen software is downloading. They’ll surf web pages with trillions of ads and lots of tracking technology in them, but for some reason, if legitimate software comes with an ad, it’s evil. And allowing developers that opportunity to get paid for their work is somehow unacceptable.

Well… Let me quickly explain a bit about some important concerns that some people face…

The thing is that at the end of the day, people that develop software are people. People need to eat. Eating involves food. In order to get food, you need to have money to pay for it. In order to have money to pay for food to eat, you need to get some of that money stuff, which is normally called “getting paid”. In order to “get paid”, you need to work. If you’re one of those people that develops software, normally called a “developer”, you need “work” at “development” and get paid for that “development”.

I tried asking at the supermarket if they’d give me some food for free, but they said, “NO!” I was rather disappointed. After all, it seems like people expect me to work for free, so why shouldn’t I get other stuff for free?

Well, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right?

So I went to fill up my car at the gas station. At the counter, I asked if I could get the gas for free. Again, the fellow said, “NO!”

By this point I was starting to get disillusioned and depressed. But, not one to be detered, I forged bravely on!

Development can be very expensive as you need all kinds of tools. So I thought maybe I can get some tools for free! (You see, I’m always thinking in new and creative ways!)

So, yet again, I forged bravely on to the local computer store.

I grabbed a hard drive off the shelf and went up to the cash register. Again I asked if I could have it for free. Y’know what? She said, “NO!”

Well, maybe it’s time I short of shift focus for a bit. Instead, I decided to see if I could get something related with Intellectual Property for free. After all, what I do is basically that, so maybe that’s got something to do with it.

So I went to a store, picked up a DVD and went up to the checkout. Sigh… You know what’s coming… “NO!”

At that point it clicked! I need to go online!

Well, I emailed the iTunes store to see if I could get some movies for free. Sigh… They didn’t even respond… I took that for a “NO!”

Then I found VODO.net and finally got a movie for free!

You can imagine how profoundly disappointed I was when I realised just how hungry I was and that I couldn’t eat the movie that I’d downloaded. Man… Was my wife going to be pissed with me! No food on the table even after I’d managed to get something for free… ๐Ÿ˜›

Then, as if a light shone down from Heaven, I heard someone say, “Yo! Dude! I can help you put food on the table. Work with me and I’ll pay you.”

WOW! Finally! There was hope! The next week would look promising as I dreamed of my wife not beating me into unconsciousness! ๐Ÿ˜€ RAPTURE! JOY~! ๐Ÿ˜€

Ok… Silly stories aside… I think it’s great that there are alternative ways for developers to get paid for their work. And, at the end of the day, these methods cost end users nothing except a few seconds of their time and perhaps a click to close a window. This looks like a win-win-win-win scenario to me.

Developers win because they get paid.

Users win because they get good software.

CNET wins because they have a business model that is profitable and that helps people.

CNET advertisers win because they get access to end users and can present them with an offer.

Nobody is losing in this scenario. Everyone is winning.

So why must some people find offense in this? CNET has a way to encourage software development. This can only be good for end users. They have nothing to lose.

I think that it’s disingenuous, arrogant, self-centered, selfish, and disrespectful for users to expect developers to work for free. Nobody else seems to think it’s ok for them to be expected to work for free. (Musicians/artists face much the same problem as software developers.) Ethical methods that allow developers to get paid can only be a good thing. Begrudging these opportunities to developers is simply mean spirited and selfish.

I also think it’s great to have free software out there. Free as in freeware and free as in freedom. Both are good.

I also appreciate commercial software that I have to pay for. I shudder to think how much I’ve spent on software, but am very glad that I have as it has helped me immensely.

The CNET solution now seems to have entered back into the realm of sanity. They are now approaching the topic with respect, much in the same way that OpenCandy operates. This is the way to go. Treat people well.

Cheers,

Ryan

Creating Urgency for Sales with Infralution Licensing System

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in .NET, Business, C#, Databases, Money, Online Marketing, Software, Solutions to Problems, Super Simple | Posted on 15-09-2011

Tags: ,

I need to create a large number of “products” for Photo Resizer, but they’re really all just the same product with different prices. And not 2 or 3 prices, but more like 20 or 30 prices. Actually, I’ll likely end up creating more than 30, but that’s a detail.

It may seem strange to some people as to why I would do this. I’ve had people tell me to just set one price and be done with it. Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but it also shows a lack of understanding about how to sell software. Just because you’re a rock star coder, doesn’t mean you’re a rock star marketer.

So, what I’m going to cover now are some motivations and reasons for the problem, and how I’m solving it. There are of course other ways to create problems, and other ways to solve them too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Urgency and creating urgency
  • The Infralution Licensing System and License Tracker
  • The Code: Creating massive numbers of products for the License Tracker database

Urgency and Creating Urgency

When you’re selling, you sometimes need to create a sense of urgency for people to BUY NOW! Not later. Not tomorrow. NOW! Stores do with with 1-day sales, or “on sale until <date>”. The same sort of thing can be done for software. You just tell people that there’s a deal to be had RIGHT NOW, and that if they don’t buy your product RIGHT NOW, then they’re going to miss out.

What happens when you do this is that you effectively remove a barrier to purchase for the customer. They have 1 less reason to “not buy”, and 1 more reason to buy. The more things you can do like this, the better. Typical things include telling potential customers how your product will benefit them and make their lives better, or offer free shipping, or… You get the point.

The way in which I am creating urgency is with an initial steep discount for the product that decreases; that is, the price increases over the course of the trial period. e.g. Today it’s $5 and tomorrow it’s $6, and the day after that… So… BUY NOW and SAVE~! I’ve done it before, and it works.

The Infralution Licensing System and License Tracker

There are lots of ways to license your software, but the one I like is from Infralution. The Infralution Licensing System, or ILS, integrates with their IPN.NET product as well, so it gives me a way to license the software and collect money for it; those are 2 very different things and should not be confused.

ILS includes a program to help keep track of licenses and customers called License Tracker, which up until now I’ve never used. Since I’m looking to automate as much as possible at this stage, I’m moving things over to it now.

License Tracker stores data in a database; I’m using MS SQL Server for that. To add a new product, you simply open up a new form and enter all the data then click OK. Sounds simple enough? Well… Not when you want to add in a truck load of products; it is extremely tedious and painful. I don’t want to copy and paste 500 million times, and I don’t want to change my mind later on and end up copying and pasting another 500 million times.

Since License Tracker is a database-connected application, all data in it is just the data in MS SQL Server. This makes it easy to deal with your data because you can simply connect to the database and do whatever you feel like. As such, I wrote a utility to generate SQL for products, or rather, for product variants, though it could also be used to create top level primary products as well.

My simple “SQL Generator for the Infralution Licensing System License Tracker ” (that’s a mouthful) lets you enter data for a product and generate product variants very quickly. It even lets you increase product costs by a set increment, and lets you auto-increment IPN item numbers. Here’s a screenshot of it (click to zoom):

SQL Generator for the Infralution Licensing System License TrackerIt’s pretty basic, but it saves product information and settings automatically so that you don’t need to enter everything the next time.

You simply fill in the form and click the “Generate SQL” button. The SQL is then appended to the Generated SQL text box at the bottom of the form. You can automate part of it with the Automatic Increments settings, or quickly change the price manually and click the Generate SQL button again. It’s MUCH faster than copying and pasting for every field.

Now, you do need to know what you are doing, and the “Parent Product ID” needs to be the primary key for the product’s parent in SQL Server, so this isn’t a utility for just anyone to use. However, if you use the Infralution Licensing System and License Tracker, you’ll already be familiar with everything in there, and you won’t have any problems in using it.

Once you have your SQL, you can simply review it to see that it’s what you want and run it in MS SQL Server Management Studio, or whatever you use to execute SQL against MS SQL Server.

After you run your SQL, simply open up License Tracker and all your products will be there.

The Code: Creating Massive Numbers of Products for the License Tracker Database

To make things easier, I’m including the full source code for download here. Please note that I’ve chosen for it to be licensed under the WTFPL 2.0, so you have maximum freedom to “Do What The F*** You Want To”. If you don’t like that license, then feel free to send me lots of money and I’ll give you another license. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Download Source Code forย SQL Generator for the Infralution Licensing System License Tracker

The download includes all source code and a debug build that you can run immediately.

The code is commented extensively, so you can consider that the “documentation”. If you have any questions, which I rather doubt anyone will, you can post a reply here. (Also email me to let me know to respond. You can email me through the contact page at http://renegademinds.com.)

I hope that helps someone out.

Cheers,

Ryan

Where People Use Photo Resizer – Korea #1

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in Business, OpenCandy, Super Simple | Posted on 18-05-2011

Tags:

It looks like I have quite a few users in South Korea for Super Simple Photo Resizer.

Super Simple Photo Resizer, Apr 1st 2011 – May 17th 2011

1. Korea, Republic of
2. United States
3. India
4. Germany
5. Taiwan, Province of China
6. Indonesia
7. United Kingdom
8. Australia
9. Canada
10. Mexico
11. Other

Where people are using Photo Resizer

The big slice there represents the rest of the word, which is larger, but still, Korea and the US account for the top 2 with India very close behind the US. (Statistics and graphic are thanks to the OpenCandy control panel. It includes initiated and completed installations.)

I rather like that as I have a very special place in my heart for Korea. (I lived there for almost 14 years.)

I don’t think I should be too surprised though. Having lived in Korea for so long, I’ve adopted quite a few Korean attitudes, and, looking back at things, Photo Resizer really is a reflection of that. It is designed to get a job done, and to do it well, without bogging you down with meaningless details. So I can see why Korean users would be attracted to it. They’re some of the most tech-savvy people in the world, which only adds to my pleasant surprise at seeing them as my #1 users!

The only unfortunate thing is that revenue for South Korea is very low:

1. United States
2. Germany
3. United Kingdom
4. Australia
5. Spain
6. Netherlands
7. Canada
8. Switzerland
9. Korea, Republic of
10. France
11. Other

Photo Resizer revenue

As you can see, revenue from the US takes up a very large portion of total revenue, and well over 50%.

I suppose OpenCandy just needs some good Korean advertisers! ๐Ÿ™‚

Cheers,

Ryan

 

Why Developers Need to Squeeze Software for Ca$h

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in Business, Mobile, Money, OpenCandy, Software, Super Simple | Posted on 20-04-2011

Everybody talks about Google, Microsoft, Apple, Angry Birds, Twitter, Facebook, and a handful of other software companies and applications, but they are not representative of the majority of software companies or authors. And the amount of money they make isn’t representative either.

Few developers ever make the gobs of money that you see in TV shows or movies. That’s fantasy land. Sure, a lot of developers live comfortably, but there’s a difference between being that and being truly rich.

I came across this article, “Is one dollar enough?“, and the obvious answer to me is “NO!” The author talks about games, and how the price point is being squeezed down to a buck. She ends the article with:

It is sad to realize that someone wouldnโ€™t think twice about spending $2 โ€“ $5 on a quick snack, but they themselves cannot see spending over $1 on a game that will give them hours, or perhaps even days/weeks in entertainment.

She’s bang on. People will pay $5 or $6 for a coffee that otherwise should cost $2 (adjusted for inflation), or $3 on a candy bar (in Australia) which is little more than sugary poison, but they’ll balk at spending $1 for a software title or a piece of fruit!

Software licensing is a difficult business, and software revenue models are even harder. Here are a few quick questions off the top of my head that only scratch the surface of the licensing and revenue model questions:

  • Charge for machine licenses, individual users, or CPUs?
  • Use an activation count or phone home and keep track of installs?
  • Allow multiple or simultaneous use?
  • Monetize with ads? On web site? In the software? In the installer?
  • SaaS (Software as a Service) – Charge for ongoing use?
  • Charge a setup fee with ongoing maintenance?
  • Free to use, but charge for content?
  • Free but with charged premium features?
  • Basic, standard and pro licensing?
  • Nagware?
  • Shareware (try before you buy) or purchase before trying?
  • Distribution partners?
  • Exclusive distribution?
  • Which payment system(s)?
  • How about an affiliate program?
  • MLM affiliate or flat with referral fees?
  • LAMP, WAMP, WIMP or Microsoft stack? It affects a lot of other decisions…
  • C#, C++, Delphi, Objective-C, C, C# with Mono, Java? Again, it affects other decisions…
  • Start free then charge later?
  • Free upgrades? Paid minor versions?
  • Subscriptions for upgrade protection?
  • Paid support?
  • FOSS? Get paid for integration or consulting?
  • B2B or B2C?
  • Consumer or professional? Enterprise or SME?
  • Privacy issues? People will pay for information… (Dark side alert!)
  • Download protection fees?
  • Physical media?
  • Dongles?
  • Partial key verification?
  • Bits du Jour?
  • Give Away of the Day?
  • “App stores”? They’ll screw you for pricing and restrict your business model more than you could ever imagine…
  • Amazon? eBay? iTunes?
  • Retail? Tech Data? Ingram Micro? Better have deeeeeep pockets…
  • “Software site” or “sales letter”?
  • Put it out there and go for venture or angel capital?
  • Exit strategy?
  • Online, mobile or desktop? Or a mix of the 3?

GOOD GRIEF~! It goes on almost forever. And every one of those is important for your licensing or revenue model. Some will only limit your possibilities, while others are models in themselves.

And people often don’t even want to pay you $1?

There’s a very large disconnect between what people will pay for software and the amount of work that goes into a lot of it.

Slow down music with Guitar & Drum TrainerFor example, one of my software titles, Guitar & Drum Trainer, goes for $49.95. Now, considering how much some people use it, and just how valuable it is for their music, it’s easily worth 5x that much. But, when people look at software, they don’t see value in the same ways as when they look at physical objects. Tascam makes a hardware product that doesn’t do half as much, but sells for 3x the price.

So it seems to me that the $1 being enough is a symptom of the “software price disconnect” with consumers.

Gamers are an odd bunch though. They spend a lot of money from one hand, but grip tightly with the other. ย They’ll spend $X per month on a software subscription for game Y, but won’t spend a dime for game Z. Fickle? Unpredictable? I think that goes for the market at large – consumer behavior isn’t always predictable, and even the best research can lead you in the wrong direction. We’re talking about stochastic processes, so this is trivially true.

As a conjecture, spending on software seems in many places to follow a sort of herd mentality, where the more people that spend, the more people that spend. The MMORPG is a perfect example. Some MMORPGs have gone the “free to play” route with items being available for purchase, e.g. Cabal Online. (I used to work for ESTsoft.) Get players in with the promise of free play, gain the critical mass needed to make the game viable, and offer items for sale to a crowd fighting with itself for supremacy. Seems like a great model to me!

However, I think that there’s a bigger issue underlying a lot of the problems in the market. The Apples and Amazons out there. They are effectively destroying the market for anyone except themselves. Their pricing policies are a requirement to be included in their stores, but they also limit pricing for the software developers. It’s not a good thing. It is eliminating competition, and forcing developers into the role of “starving artist of our day”, as one commenter in the article above puts it.

Developers are forced into ad networks like I talked about in “Win an iPad 2 โ€“ A Mobile Ad“. I’m not so sure that I like that very much. It looks like a win-lose proposition.

So with prices being driven down by the market at large, and price gouging being encouraged by the big players who profit to the tune of 30% from each sale of a developer’s hard work, the sale of software is becoming increasingly unrealistic in many categories, like games. This makes it all the more important to use or come up with non-traditional revenue models that don’t rely so heavily on sales. Every avenue needs to be explored and assessed.

Again, developers need to squeeze out revenue wherever they can. This is not a good thing. We’ve seen where that road leads to, and we’re heading full on down the path to the dark side yet once again, apparently not having learned jack shit from the past. There are good options out there, but the “bad” options always seem to pay more. Sorting out the good ones from the bad ones is hard enough, let alone resisting the siren’s call.

One good area that I think we’re going to see more and more of is in content driven software. I would love to be able to offer GDT users the opportunity to purchase music directly in GDT along with GDT files with premade loops and EQ settings. That would be fantastic! However, it’s also unrealistic for me to expect to be able to become a music distributor. Still, the opportunities for larger developers with more muscle than me is out there.

For games, this takes the form of purchasing items, or purchasing additional levels or episodes. Few programs out there though, compared to games, really take advantage of this though.

For Super Simple, this could be offering users the opportunity to get professional prints of their photos through Photo Resizer (or a new title). Of course there would be a lot of work to do to get that done, but it *is* a possibility, and would genuinely offer users a solid value proposition. That sort of bleeds the idea of content with services though. i.e. Your content, our services.

The Super Simple revenue model isn’t complete yet. It has a few elements in there, but it’s very far from being what I envision as sustainable. However, it is setup to allow for the addition of different revenue models, and when I have things ready, I’ll work them in. For the moment, Super Simple leverages 3 areas:

  • Web site ads – AdSense
  • Download page ads – AfterDownload
  • Installer ad – OpenCandy

So far the clear winner in terms of revenue is OpenCandy. They’re like the invisible 800 lb gorilla. While people scramble to position their AdSense ads properly, and optimize colors, they could easily trump that revenue with OpenCandy and leave all the work up to OpenCandy. Heck… That’s their job! i.e. Get and vet good software titles as advertisers, then help developers make money while introducing users to new software during the installation process.

There’s still a good deal more to come for Super Simple, but all in good time. I’m working on the next release at the moment.

Well, I meandered around quite a bit there trying to cover some aspects of the business of software and some pressures on software that are pushing it towards non-traditional routes for revenue. At the end of the day though, I believe the important thing to say is that you made an honest dollar.

Cheers,

Ryan

 

Win an iPad 2 – A Mobile Ad

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in Business, Mobile, Money, Online Marketing | Posted on 20-04-2011

Here’s a screenshot from a game I have on my HTC Desire HD (click the images to zoom on them):

ipad 2 ad in Farm Tower

Note the ad that covers the play area.

Now, here’s what you click through to:

Controversial Legal Ad Android

Note the red bar for that shows the fold in the mobile browser. Also how much it costs to “enter the contest”.

Ouch. That’s a pretty dear price to pay for a “chance to win”.

Purchasing Artwork for Commercial Use Cheaply

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in Business, Money, Software, Super Simple, Web Sites | Posted on 10-04-2011

Tags: , ,

If you’re like me, your creative, visual design skills SUCK. Badly. But I can edit. And purchasing artwork for commercial use saves a lot of time. And, knowing where to purchase can save you a LOT of money.

Now, if I can be forgiven for being so bold, the design at the Super Simple web site is pretty good. The artwork is clean and well presented. Could it be better? Sure. Is it going to win any design contests? No. Is it well presented and attractive? Absolutely. And I did everything there… kind of…

With the exception of the main logo, which I did from scratch with the help of a tutorial, and the photographs on the site, everything else was edited or a composite. Excepting the logo, the pictures, and few others, everything else started with me purchasing some artwork for commercial use.

For example, the 100% free and clean badges:

Came from this vector:

If I remember properly, that cost me $1.00.

Similarly, I purchased this vector for $1.00:

And with it, I created these 2:

Vectors are the easiest things to work with, but it’s not always possible. I had a concept that I wanted to illustrate, and I could only do it with a raster images (JPEGs). That was tricky as I had to convert the bitmaps to high-quality vectors, then edit the vectors, then rasterize them again so that I could save them as PNG files with transparency.

Here’s the end product (it’s optimized for a dark background – the text at the top is white):

But it started like this with a 5,272 x 5,264 JPEG:

I bought that image at ShutterStock.com, and it cost me $50. I had to buy site credit, but for $50 I can download 5 pictures. So, it costs $50 or $10, depending on how you look at it. Either way, it’s a LOT more expensive than the others. But, Shutter Stock has a lot of good artwork, illustrations, and photos to choose from. And there are other more expensive sites out there as well.

Now, while I was looking for artwork, I happened across VectorStock.com where I bought most of the artwork for the Super Simple site, like the artwork for the 100% free and clean badges and the question mark. I found that the same vectors at Shutter Stock were $10.00 while Vector Stock sold them for $1.00. That’s a 10x higher price for the exact same vector art!

Here is can example:

A digital camera image at Shutter Stock that will cost $10.00:

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-21011917/stock-vector-vector-photography-icons-part.html

And $1.00 at Vector Stock:

http://www.vectorstock.com/royalty-free-vector/58604-photo-and-camera-vector

It’s the exact same artwork for $1.00!

There are many more examples as well.

However, you’re not going to find all the vector artwork from one site on the other site. Shutter Stock seems to have more, though I didn’t check very hard — that’s just a soft impression. However, the digital camera artwork that I decided to go with was only available at the Vector Stock site:

Which I have used in a few places:

And the Photo Resizer loading splash screen in the bootstrapper:

And that image cost me only $1.00!

There are a lot of images at Vector Stock that are $2 or $3 or $5, but that’s still cheaper than $10. And, instead of purchasing $50 in site credit, you can purchase only $20.

Now, there are places where you can get free vector artwork, but go and look at it. It’s NOT very good. It’s quick stuff that you might use in a school project, but very little of it is suitable for professional use. Look for the use of shading and gradients and detail. If you want good artwork, you really need to pay for it. Sure you can spend 3 days searching for something free, or you can spend $1 and be done in 10 minutes.

Anyways, for those that can do some basic editing, and want to have a better look, purchasing professional vector art can be a cheap way, especially if you buy at VectorStock.com.

I hope that helps out!

Cheers,

Ryan