Talking tech since 2003

I recently got in touch with Nico Westerdale of BitsDuJour.com for our continuing interview/Q&A series.  I met Nico this past summer at Affiliate Summit East (2010) and was lucky enough to have dinner with him one night.  That’s when he introduced me to a website he runs which hosts awesome software deals (for both Mac and PC) and I thought this interview series would be a great opportunity to tell everyone about it.

So, let’s see what he has to say.

Can you tell us a bit about what BitsDuJour is?

BitsDuJour.com is a daily deals website for software. Every day we have both a Mac and a PC application, or a cross platform app, available at a huge discount often up to 90% off the regular price. We partner directly with Independent Software Vendors to get the best possible software that’s out there. We provide all the information you need to evaluate the software before you purchase, with license details and a download link. The really great thing about BitsDuJour is its community. You’re able to ask the Software Vendor any question you want about the software on our comment threads before you purchase and you should be able to get an answer in a very short time. You can also see what other users are saying about the software and really get a feel for how the product is supported, something that’s often impossible to do before you buy through a regular software website.

Do you ensure that the software you provide is spyware/adware free?  How important is it that you make sure all of the software you have deals for is from reputable vendors?

The software we feature runs the gamut from big name desktop apps to small independent utilities, but above all we try to provide excellent quality software that people really benefit from. Every piece of software we feature is vetted to make sure it does what it says, and we actually decline over half of our submissions; who wants yet another Registry Cleaner or MP3 Converter! We don’t tolerate any adware or spyware and we have a strict policy that any purchase through BitsDuJour gets you all the benefits you would have from a regular purchase including support and upgrade options. The purchases get routed through the vendor’s existing shopping carts; we don’t handle the actual sale. Our community provides us with a lot of suggestions for software and we have voting buttons so that we can gauge how much people really want to see an application featured. It’s amazing that even after four years of BitsDuJour we’re still discovering really great applications out there.

You recently started to offer Mac software deals in addition to your PC software deals, are you seeing more and more Mac users in your community?

Yes as of the first of January we started offering Mac deals alongside our PC deals and the Mac users are definitely growing. It’s been a long time coming, we’ve always wanted to add in Mac software to our roster and we’re really excited to be offering it. We completed a full redesign of our site at the end of last year, updating the look and feel and that’s allowed us the ability to fit in the Mac titles. When you come into BitsDuJour you can choose if you’d like to see Mac, PC or both. We know that Mac users and PC users sometimes don’t see eye-to-eye, so the ability to filter the site does give each their own community. As with any big change we’re still finessing the details but so far we haven’t seen any Mac vs. PC fist-fights yet!

I understand you have an affiliate program for Bits Du Jour, would you like to explain how it works and how someone can join it?

We do have an affiliate program and it’s very easy to get started, just click on ‘Affiliates’ on our bottom navigation. You’ll need to sign up for an account with us, but once you do you can use special affiliate links to post our deals on any site and you’ll get rewarded for any sale that you generate with 50% of the commission that we make on the sale. As we’re selling different pieces of software at different prices every day the amount that you’ll make will vary, but we have a report with all the details. You can post you affiliate links anywhere, but our best affiliates post on popular community websites that software fans frequent. We also have standard size ad units so if you’re running a technology website you can place in our ad units which automatically update with the freshest deals every day.

Do you ever offer software deals more than once?  Let’s say if someone were to miss a deal is there any possibility that it would be featured again in the future?

We do reschedule pieces of software as long as they’ve sold well and the vendor is interested in doing a repeat promotion. The length of time varies dramatically; sometimes you might have to wait a few months, sometimes much longer. In either case all our old deals have an “I Want This” button on them. By clicking that button you can get an email notification when we do reschedule the software. For all our real fans we recommend signing up for our daily email and you’ll get all the minty fresh deals in your inbox every day at midnight when they go live.

What’s your favorite piece of software for either Mac and/or PC?

Tough question Jeff! We’ve had over 2500 pieces of software submitted to us on BitsDuJour so I have a lot to choose from. I’m not going to go with any of the obvious choices here, and I’m not going to choose one of my own apps either, I’ve written a fair few myself way back before BitsDuJour. My pick is for Stylizer by Skybound, which is an excellent Visual CSS Editor. I’m a vehement proponent of hand-coding for all web development but this is the only CSS Editor that I’ve used that has both a gorgeous UI and kicks out flawless CSS, and it’s for both Mac and PC.

Have you ever had any major difficulty arranging a software deal for your site?  If so, can you talk about the experience?  Or are software makers mostly open to the idea?

Well as we partner directly with the software vendors, and not any middlemen our job is mostly one of getting everything organized, and sometimes that’s not an easy job! The majority of Software Vendors get the concept and it goes very well. We’re also very active in the software vendor space, we hang out in the newsgroups and you can find us at the conferences and I’ve given a few papers on software promotions. Software Developers are a particular breed, I think there’s a bit of a frontier spirit especially with developers who’ve built a one-man software business from nothing, so sometimes we’ll get developers opposed to the idea. The main difficulty is one of communication; there are a lot of details to arrange in a successful promotion so we’ve built a system that walks Software Vendors through the process.

To the same effect of the previous question, when you started BitsDuJour, how did you go about pitching the idea to software vendors?

Well our pitch is pretty simple, our deals just run for 24 hours so as a software vendor you’re not impacting your regular sales channels, and we only make money when the vendor makes money so it’s low-risk. The key point that we had to get across when we started is that software is a really unique product in that it has almost zero ‘per-unit’ manufacturing costs as there’s no physical product. By that I mean the work in creating software is mostly all done up front, but the actual ‘cost’ to a vendor of selling a piece of software is extremely low, you’re really only paying for technical support of your product. Once the penny drops then vendors can see that they can make excellent sales even when discounting by a huge amount.

Do you have any advice for people who are looking to grow a community (of any kind)?

Stick with it! The BitsDuJour community didn’t happen overnight, and we’re seeing this with our Mac deals that every community takes time to build. We also try to be very transparent about what we’re doing. We post regularly on our forum and encourage discussion of new features for the site. We’ve got some great feedback over the years from our regular users, we call them ‘Bitsters’, and that has translated into new site features.

Do you have any plans to expand BitsDuJour to include hardware and/or gadget deals?

We’ve always been rather proud that there’s nobody doing exactly what we’re doing at BitsDuJour. I know that there are a lot of hardware daily deals sites out there so we don’t want to dilute what we do, but hardware might be an interesting next step for us. We’ve got a lot of ideas for new and interesting ways to run promotions and we do like to try out experiments both in what we feature and in the nature of how the promotion is run. We’ve featured eBooks, Software as a Service (SaaS), web-apps and mobile apps in the past, to some good success. The software space is really huge and we think we’re still only at the beginning of what BitsDuJour can offer.


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