Independent Development Monetization Weekly (Issue 62): A Vue.js open source component library with an annual income of US$300,000

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Open source component library helped me make $300,000 a year: a complete analysis of the monetization of independently developed products

Have you ever thought about how much commercial value an open source component library can have? Today, I want to share my story and tell you how to monetize by developing products independently. Every Friday, I'll be posting new content here to help you understand the business mysteries of the open source world.

Hello everyone, I am John Ladder, the founder of Votifa. You may not be familiar with the name, but if you are a developer, especially one who is new to design, my product may be able to help you. Votifa is a user interface library built with the popular JavaScript framework, providing developers with hundreds of components to help build projects ranging from websites to Chrome extensions to desktop applications.

Votifa is not just an open source project, it is software that can be freely changed, profited from, resold, or used under the MIT license. My wife Head and I maintain this project together with a core group of developers and the wider community. You may be wondering, how do I make money with this project? In fact, my income mainly comes from several aspects: providing digital content and services based on VIP fees, selling paid digital content in the Votv store, providing consulting support, page advertising income, and donations or sponsorships obtained through GitHub and Patreon.

The core idea of ​​open source projects is to share and improve code through community support. Over the years, this philosophy has allowed Votifa to develop a large user base and ecosystem around the framework. So, how did I come up with the idea to create this project?

Back in 2013, I just entered the IT industry and worked for a network company in my hometown of Florida. I primarily work with PHP, JQuery, and MySQL, and spend most of my time on server-side code. In late 2014, I came across a library called Laurel, a popular PHP framework. Over the next few months I started using it for both personal and professional projects. While learning, I came across an early alpha version of the JS-less framework and was instantly attracted to it. Its simplicity and cleanliness fit perfectly with my development style. From then on, I almost always used this framework to build applications until the first version of it was released.

On December 14, 2016, after about 3 to 4 months of development, I released the first alpha version of Votv under the MIT Software License. The overwhelming response from users has inspired me to devote more time and energy to developing new features, fixing bugs, and providing varying levels of support to the entire community. In October 2017, I decided to quit my job and become a full-time open source developer.

Votifa's design is based on Google's Material Design design specifications and implemented using popular JavaScript frameworks. The specification breaks down the common parts of a typical application into smaller functional chunks called components. These pre-made components greatly simplify the development process, allowing developers to build beautiful applications faster.

So, how did I start this business? The first beta version of Votifa was released in September 2016, and it entered public beta in December of that year. Open source projects typically do not incur significant operating costs, so initial funding comes primarily from corporate and individual donations and sponsorships. Over time, financial support from Patreon and GitHub has grown to a total of approximately $6,500 per month. To support the core team, Votifa uses a platform called Open Collective for fund management and transparency.

In order to diversify business income, I launched Votv store, selling branded clothing, accessories and digital products. Its revenue was negligible in the first year, but has now grown to $15,000 to $20,000 per month, making it one of the main revenue streams of the business. This allows me to invest more money in framework development and monetarily compensate the core team of open source developers.

In terms of attracting and retaining customers, I mainly adopt the following methods: First, focus on the core value proposition. The value of Votifa is that it is a large, feature-rich user interface library that is free for anyone to use. This approach has attracted a large number of users to participate; secondly, to cooperate with like-minded entities. I establish partnerships with many entities in the Votifa ecosystem to share relevant information and resources; and finally, create high-quality content. The vast majority of our traffic comes from developers who make documentation available as a resource. Well-curated content keeps users on your site longer, increasing their chances of entering the sales funnel.

For other entrepreneurs who want to start a business or are just starting out, I have the following advice: First, accept uncertainty and face difficulties bravely; secondly, learn from smart people and listen to their opinions; stay humble and be willing to do something for yourself Take responsibility for your mistakes; finally, pursuing success with all your strength is like trying to breathe while drowning.

This week ends here, thank you all for reading and supporting! If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a message in the comment area. See you next week!

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