Here is my view of the transaction that happens between any shareware site and a shareware author. What I bring to the table: I give you software for free, and this lets you attract visitors to your pages, not necessarily in the search for my software but in the search for an aggregator of lots of software. What you bring to the table: you help any of those folks who need bingo card creators find me.
Here’s what a lot of software sites seem to think the deal is: I pay them for listing. They then, possibly, direct people to me. And if anyone purchases my software after downloading there, then I pay them a cut.
Funny, given that there are hundreds upon hundreds of download sites on the net, and I have no efficient method of evaluating quality of traffic I’ll get, this does not strike me as a good proposition. I would much rather spend the $20~$100 you guys want on Google ads, where I have 100% control of my advertising and can guarantee that I’ll get X number of downloads for my dollar. I’m similarly unlikely to link to anybody who asks for it: while I sympathize with your desire to get a higher PageRank there are too many of you and all I need is for one of you to go “bad neighborhood” to screw my business royally. I see most of you understand this, as the overwhelming majority of you (even the ones with paid registration) refuse to give a standard link to author pages.
Download.com and Tucows are sort of special cases: they have traffic which is just too high to ignore. I’ve been on Download.com for about 3 weeks. They’ve tracked over 100 downloads, which is roughly 50% of what I’ve given out myself over the same interval. In another 2 weeks or so they’ll finally get through processing my submission for 1.03, after which those downloads should start to see much more frequent conversions (although I rather suspect one of my last 2 sales came from them, since that person came to my site the first time through the trial download). (Tucows says they’ll have my application processed at some point in 2007. Thanks fellas. I love you, too. After seeing what it takes to get a decent rating on your site I think I’ll pass in favor of producing a quality product.)
In any event, free is free. My site is now available at 89 places more than it was this morning. Here’s my promise to the RoboSoft author: if I get 4+ sales which originated at those sites in next 30 days, you get your $100 and a hand-written thank-you note.