Plenty of people put a lot of thought into creating new applications to sell, but most have problems translating that energy to looking where to start— which technology platform to choose. We’ve been successfully using the FileMaker platform for close to a decade, within four different market verticals we’ve been working on for our customers. For your next money making project or application we believe FileMaker can be the perfect solution for you, as it’s quick to develop and there’s so little the platform can’t do.
Assuming you’ve gone this far, and developed your application with the FileMaker platform, the following are some touchtones you can review to ensure your future sale. Initially your first major decision is to choose how you want to monetize your solution. A few possible ways to earn money using the FileMaker platform are:
Sell Your Technology as a FileMaker Template (Desktop, Web, or iOS)
One of the fastest ways to start selling using the platform, in this specific case you can sell your application or template as an unlocked solution with full access to the code. After you bundle the software with a licensed description, there isn’t much left to actively manage. We sell the Benroy Business App this way. Be sure to mention that FileMaker is sold separately.
Sell as a Locked Solution Bundled with FileMaker Software
This requires some additional effort on your part, related to working with Filemaker Inc. (FMI), as you will need approval and to sign a Solution Bundle Agreement (SBA). You will also be required to sell your solution locked (without access to code), and it will be bundled with FileMaker software. This means you will incur additional costs for the FileMaker software, which you can include in your own pricing to customers. FMI provides large discounts on SBA licenses, and we often help clients get through the approval process. The SBA path is meant specifically for selling FileMaker based solutions; we’ve gone through this process a number of times including with Benroy Business App. We offer our own services as a go-through to help clients save some money on administration costs.
Solution as a Service (SaaS)
With the latest version of FileMaker Server (or FM Cloud + AWS) and WebDirect it’s possible to easily develop a SaaS product. This avenue brings additional development involving user access and purchasing options. Adding user privileges, feature access based on payments, incorporating payments within FileMaker WebDirect and/or establishing secure redirects to external sites to collect payments are also considerations— we promise these tasks are doable, but requires additional time and effort. And you’ll need to include FileMaker license costs into your pricing model. SBA is a good way to confirm your technical fulfilment and save on FileMaker licenses.
Single User Access Runtime Application
FileMaker can produce a Runtime app that can be sold as a single user solution; this means no network or multiuser options will be available. This solution does not require FileMaker software, and has a few more technical limitations such as a lack of charts and similar analytics. While this option is currently on the FMI deprecated feature list, it’s still available for the time being and maybe the projected year. At the least, it should be considered as a way to test the market.
Sell as a Native iOS App, right through the Apple App Store
FileMaker Inc. did a fantastic job releasing the latest FileMaker iOS SDK for Xcode, allowing the use of the FileMaker database natively within iOS applications. This also replaces the user interface into iOS so everything you created on FileMaker appears within the iOS application.
You can also sell your app natively for Android on the Google Play store as well. Using LiveCode for FileMaker you can convert your FileMaker based application natively into an Android app, and submit it to the Google Play store.
Technical Requirements to Consider Before You Start Selling
- Make a strict feature list and implement it. Don’t over extend your feature list, which could inadvertently push back your release date.
- Do proper testing on your main features, it’s important to ensure that every listed app feature is tested and certified bug free.
- Establish a regular update process before the first public release. This is mandatory if your monetization solution isn’t SaaS based. Regardless it’s a smart choice to separate your development version from your production version.
- Create a modern and appealing user interface (UI) design. This is a requirement from FileMaker Inc. and user trends demand top notch app designs making sure they have an elegant and easy experience. Our honest opinion is that refusing to comply with the latest trends in UI and ease of use will lead to struggle with the sales and may stop FileMaker Inc. from approving your SBA solution.
- Consider a 14 Day Trial version of your solution, which can be download before purchase. While not necessary, this has shown to create trust for end-users and can help with sales.
Some Marketing Requirements to Consider
• Short (and Long) descriptions of each feature your solution has
• Beautiful and useful screenshots with example data
• Create an easily identifiable app icon
• Publishing everything into the lasted design trend websites
• FMI approved solutions should be added to the Made for FileMaker section of their website.
Marked Based Delivery Options Based on Monetization
Selling as a FileMaker template means you’ll need to create a separate website (or we can offer our own services and web site) for your solution. Partner access to our own site will allow you to track sales in addition to access to our CRM/Ticketing app. We also offer automated up-sale emails for your users downloading trial versions of software. Besides development, there may be some additional costs involved, so please contact us if you’re thinking of choosing this route.
Locked solutions that are bundled with FileMaker software are suggested to have their own separate branded website. You should make your solution purchasable there on that dedicated site, and depending on your brand positioning you can choose whether or not you want your solution added to the FileMaker website. Consider your customer service activity— who will do that and how will it be covered; live or remote, chat or email support.
SaaS solutions are inherently separated into their own websites. Additionally you can choose to create a public facing website that presents main features, pricing, and purchasing options. Once a user buys your solution, they will be redirected to the WebDirect version of your solution. We believe that live chat within the SaaS product is the best way to handle customer service in this case.
Single user Runtime apps can be sold in a similar way to locked bundled solutions; the caveat here is that your feature list will be much shorter due to the technical limitations of the solution.
If you choose to sell your solution as a native app via the Apple App Store or Google Play Store respectively, those marketplaces will require some additional actions that meet their own specific guidelines.
Monetization Options and Vertical Market Possibilities
You’ve just read an overview of pretty much all possible ways to create vertical marked solutions using the FileMaker platform— and making money by selling it. We don’t countFileMaker consulting and custom development as a vertical itself. We will continue to publish subsequent articles about that topic specifically… as well as going deeper into how each of these possibilities can be monetized.