You are a small software related company trying to make a go if it. You feel that you might be in over your head. You don’t know how to start or if your business is all that it should be. For 18-years now the Association of Shareware Professionals (ASP) has provided independent software developers, marketing services, enthusiasts, e-commerce services, and software download sites with all the tools and resources necessary to succeed.

Before going any further, let me give you a personal story. During the early ’90s I tried to make a go of it selling software. At the time I didn’t know of ASP, so I went about things on my own. I didn’t know anybody in the industry and I found the axiom, “If you built it, they will come,” to not apply to the independent software business. After trying for a few years, I had to give up and fold the business. I had to give up on my dream. That was a sad day and a lot of wasted years. In late 2002, I found out about ASP and the opportunity came up to start another software company. This time with the help of ASP, things are taking a much different course. Thanks to the many friends that I’ve made through ASP, I realize that I’m not alone. I have a village that is standing beside me and offering support or simply a kind word, when needed. No one ever put me down or told me that I couldn’t do it. In fact, I heard the opposite time and time again. Joining ASP and getting involved with the software community is one of the best things that I’ve ever done for myself. It’s even helped me gain credible references that can vouch for my work and other aspects that hiring managers want to know.

Unlike other organizations, ASP was founded with the principal of assisting small businesses succeed and become success stories. To that end ASP’s membership is more like a community or village than an organization, where each member contributes in their own way to the greater good, be it with development technical support, marketing assistance, legal advice, selling, or a host of other subjects. An important aspect of ASP is for the promotion of try-before-you-buy software as a valid form of software distribution in our global community. We also promote educating the stability, reliability, and security of shareware (try-before-you-buy software) to consumers and the creation of trusting relationships with customers.

Another one of our focuses is to contribute to our industry. This contribution comes in several ways. This industry communication comes from ASP members sharing what they’ve learned with their non-ASP member colleagues as well as our own press and educational programs that make information available to others in our industry.

ASP’s membership due of $100 per year pays for itself in no time with its wide range of membership benefits.

* Private Newsgroups – ASP has several private newsgroups each with its own focus. If you want people to review your website, or you want to discuss marketing strategies, then you need go no further than the marketing newsgroup, where you can talk with members from all around the world. Do you have a technical question? Visit our technical newsgroup. There are other groups, each specializing in a specific area.

* PAD Specification and Tool – ASP pioneered the PAD (Portable Application Description) Specification, which is a file that fully describes one or more software products. It helps authors provide product descriptions and specifications to online sources in a standard way, using a standard data format that will allow webmasters and program librarians to automate program listings.

* Free and Discounted Software – ASP members can get free and discounted software offers available only to ASP members.

* ASPects Magazine – Read our monthly printed newsletter, which contains a host of articles on various subjects, official communication from the Board of Directors, download site lists, discounts, editorials, and much more. Each year members receive a CD containing past issues.

* Book Reviews – Read reviews on business books posted by other members that cover every area of the software sphere from marketing and website design to advertising and development.

* Networking – Network with other members to create friendships, partnerships, and strategic alliances. Don’t stares from friends and family, who don’t know or understand what you’re trying to do. Tap into a worldwide community, where everyone understands you.

* Staying Current – The software industry is unlike any other industry in that our industry changes at a breathtaking pace. ASP changes wit the times and we strive to understand the current and new trends and disseminate this information out to our members.

* Future Projects – Even as I write this article, there are different committees within ASP that are working hard to bring new value to its members and the community. Like any of you, who have dealt with software, change is a constant companion. ASP today is different than ASP last year, and is different than ASP next year. Being a board member, I’m privy to watching these new programs unfold and being part of it.

* Moral Support – I couldn’t close off this list without mentioning one of the most important benefits of joining ASP, namely that of getting psychological and moral support. Being able to talk to other people about your feelings and frustrations and get helpful suggestions and advice is for me one of the bigger benefits. Since joining ASP and getting involved, I never feel that I’m alone.

Learn about Internet promotional opportunities that work, and which ones to avoid. Learn how members overcame bumps and unexpected results, when creating your promotional campaigns. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you are serious about your business and you want to sell your software as an independent developer. The ASP provides you all the tools and information you need to get started, grow, and sustain your business.

Having been on my own and having worked in industry, I want to make sure that shareware development is a profession that one can be proud; that one can join. ASP is filled with members, like me, who volunteer their time, energy, and resources to making sure that the dream of being your own boss stops being a dream and becomes reality.

Raising a fledging software business takes a village. Don’t go it alone. Use the expertise of people that have been there before you. Sign up today!

Visit http://www.aspshareware.org/join/join.asp or fill out the sign up form included and give it to an ASP representative today! Hint: Look for the round sticker with the ASP logo on our name badges at SIC, Shareware Industry Conference.


NOTE:

Published originally in July 2005 in the Association of Shareware Professionals publication.

BIONOTE:

Sarah M. Weinberger is the CEO at Butterflyvista Corporation and is the creator of Jobfish, the professional tool for the serious job seeker. She spends her day performing software development and marketing related tasks. She is also politically active and is the founder of Progressives Leading.

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