Crowdfunding for open source software

I’ve been writing code since 2005, and I love it. I used to do it in my spare time, and I worked in what I’d call the call center circuit for most of my adult life so far. Since I was 16, until I was 23. I’d last at a call center no longer than 6 months, and then either would get fired or quit. I’ve been fired for some pretty silly reasons in the past.

But in 2012, about a year after I met my partner, I was working a dead end job at a call center. It was actually an at-home call center job, so I got to work at home. One night I was upstairs in the kitchen with Tanya, and I told her I wanted to quit my job. I could do websites for a living, I told her. I have that skill set. She was very supportive of the idea, and I told her I’d try to do that for a month, and in the worst case scenario, if I just didn’t get any work, I’d go back to working dead end jobs.

Surprisingly, that first month went great. And I had gotten a lot of work, and was happy with what I was doing. So I managed to continue doing it.

Since then I’ve learned a handful of programming languages, and have moved away from making websites, and now build server and desktop programs for clients. I still make the occasional website, but I feel it’s more on my terms now, in that I have the ability to turn down projects if they’re not what I want to do. This is freedom.

As many of you know, I’ve been working on Liri Vinyl. And I love to work on it. I just wish I had more time to do it. I’ve got a family now, and I’m working full time, so balancing that is hard enough sometimes, and then I also try to find time to work on Liri stuff. Right now it’s just the music player, but I’ve got all sorts of ideas for software, like Liri Mail, Liri Office, syncing programs, etc. Ideally, I’d hope I could work on Liri stuff full time, or even a reliable part time, (and cut my other sources of work down to part time). This is not an immediate goal, but rather a just a thought.

How do you get paid to develop open source software? Well, you could build a business model in which you could earn money from providing additional premium services. That would require for that software to already be built, though. You could look for private investors, or you could crowd fund the project on Indiegogo or Kickstarter.

I’ve seen open source projects prevail against all odds with crowdfunding. And I’ve also seen a lot of failures. I think the big thing that determines success or failure in such markets, is the level of ingenuity and innovation that the project has.

With proper funding we could develop faster. Personally, I could move to working full time on Liri apps, and services. Maybe hire on a few other people to make things go faster. With proper funding, a Liri syncing service would be feasible. A syncing program for all Liri apps (from the music, to browser stuff, etc.) would be highly convenient in the age of dual booting. The problem here would be the cost of the server cluster.

I’d love to have a full suite of Liri apps by the end of 2016, but the amount of time that it takes to develop them conflicts with the fact that I can’t dedicate 40 hours a week to the projects. Without crowdfunding, I’d still work on it as I currently am, and I really enjoy doing it. But with crowdfunding, I’d be able to make it my job.

So I’m looking for opinions on crowdfunding for an open source project. All discussion is greatly appreciated; criticism, feedback, ideas, etc.

Is crowdfunding a viable option?

[originally published at http://pointybracket.net/index.php/2016/01/08/crowdfunding-for-open-source-software/]

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