Day 21: Sponsored Downloads

Day 21: Sponsored Downloads

Sponsor Today’s product-of-the-day is geared again to commerce, and came from a review of my website hosting statistics. I used to use a Mint Analytics plugin called Download Counter, which showed me how many files were being downloaded. It was only a few weeks ago that I realized that it was kind of useless in telling me anything useful. The new download counter gives me a breakdown by file, so I can now see at-a-glance which downloads are the most popular. The top 3:

I’m not including the popularity of the product-of-the-day downloads in my review, because these are special cases. My data doesn’t go back further than three weeks, but historically total downloads have been in excess of 20,000 downloads. That’s quite a bit of data flowing out of my server. You might think that I get a lot of feedback from all the free forms, or that there are a lot of sales of the Amazon product, but that isn’t the case. Perhaps it isn’t unreasonable to subsidize the costs of providing free downloads with sponsorship.

So that’s today’s product: FORM SPONSORSHIP. If you’re interested in the details, keep reading.

Thoughts on Ads and Sponsorship

I recently put AdSense, Google’s ubiquitous advertising placement service, back on a couple of pages. One of them is the Excel Gantt Chart page; I don’t mind advertising Excel solutions and project management software there. However, I’ve kept it off the site in general because it didn’t generate a lot of money (at most, about $200/month) in exchange for cluttering my every-day viewing experience. I also didn’t like the randomness of the ads, so I just removed them.

That was several years ago, and as I become more serious about supporting myself “for realsies” with an Internet-related job, the advertising dollar again beckons! However, I don’t want it to cheapen anyone’s experience, and it’s important to maintain the chain of trust, so here are the rules I’m thinking:

  • Public Radio-style Sponsorship Messages – Rather than place any advertising, I’d like organizations to sponsor a form, perhaps for a month.
  • I’d make sure it’s a good match for the audience for that particular form or form set, and not in poor taste.
  • I’d craft the brief text message myself, with the sponsor’s input, to give it a personal touch.
  • I’d provide a short link, using a URL shortener that I just installed on This looks more trustworthy than some random link, and takes less space than a full-blown URL. It also provides us with analytics: who clicked on it, from where, how many times.
  • As for COST, it would probably be at least $150/month to make the vetting of sponsors, copywriting, analytics setup, and editing/reupload of the free forms worthwhile to me in terms of time. If there are multiple interested parties in a particular form set, then it would be a bidding situation that I would work out.

Most importantly:

  • I won’t accept certain types of sponsorships. No ebooks/associate/guru/affiliate marketing. No directly competing products. You must offer a service/product that is tangible and/or solution-oriented. You need to have your web act together: a good landing page is a minimum. I know, I know…I’m being very picky. I’ll handle each individual request on a case-by-case basis, and there’s a good chance we can figure something out. Just ask!

Here’s a mockup, giving you an idea of what I’m thinking. The top example (A) uses the black and white Fast Book Organizer and is in the upper right of the page, while (B) is from the Concrete Goals Tracker and is in the extreme bottom-right of the page.

Sponsorship Messages You can download the example PDFs to contemplate yourself:

Value Proposition

Is $150/month to reach a highly-engaged, solution-seeking target audience worthwhile to a sponsor? I have no idea, but I suspect there’s an ideal match somewhere out there.

I will need to figure out how to package up the forms and create a list for potential sponsors to browse, with corresponding analytics to show reach and number of estimated impressions. Here’s some off-the-cuff thoughts:

  • For a form like the free version of the Emergent Task Planner, there’s at least two packages: The US package and the International Package. There are also international versions for specific languages. Users of the ETP will be looking at this form intensely dozens of times a day for at least 3 days, with many of them adopting the form as part of their routine for 2 weeks or more. They will see the sponsorship message dozens of times per week as part of their daily workflow; the right message—say, for a productivity-enhancing software suite or seller or fine office stationery—might eventually get a curious link hit. Certainly, they are getting repeated exposures of your name, increasing familiarization, and acquiring reputation by being associated with a fine free productivity form that references them personally. When they eventually try the link, we’re tracking it so we know if the form resulted in any conversions.
  • The Task Progress Tracker, by comparison, seems to appeal more to project managers who appreciate process and hierarchy. If you’re a company that also loves process clarity and can stand-up to comparison with the TPT, then this could be a good match. The TPT as a form is not as popular as the ETP or the Calendar, but its users tend to be discerning and competence-seek people. People who are likely to be influencers, I might hazard.


p>Does this sound interesting to you or your company? Contact me me and let me know. Because this is a new experiment and I am still figuring out all the moving pieces, I’m thinking of $100 for an initial trial for the major forms listed on the top of the productivity tools page, for two sponsors running March 1 to March 31. We’ll share our data and experiences throughout the test.

Groundhog Day Resolution Posts for 2014

I am challenging myself to create a new product every day for the month of February 2013. The Challenge Page lists all the products in one place. Check it out!


  1. Federico Figueredo 11 years ago

    Very interesting idea, I’m super excited to hear about how it turns up. Furthermore it would appear to provide similar opportunities as other products who offer an ad supported free version and an adless paid one.

    Having said that… for some reason I’m a bit iffy on the call to action. I had to scroll up because I thought you had’t provided a specific link or form for companies to cotact you with (result: yeah, there’s the contact link, I know.)

    I’m not suggesting you make a full sale page yourself (though eventually that might be useful) but maybe do something about the visual hierarchy of the link?

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 11 years ago

    Federico: You’re absolutely right! I’m focusing this month on just MAKING the products. The marketing / call to action, I realized some time ago, is an entirely different set of tasks! It would be too much for me to try to get a polished product+marketing+sales experience in a single day.

    On March 3rd, I’ll probably declare the next 30 days to be all about just making it easier for people to find what they need.

  3. Stephen P Smith 11 years ago

    This is a very good idea, I absolutely love it! (I also love the Gilmore Girls reference…my Lovely Bride watches DVDs of that show constantly)

    If I may, I’d recommend putting “Sponsor this form and get exposure” contact info on the pages that get high traffic & have the Google Ads as a way of 1) letting people know about the option and 2) helping potential sponsors find out what it’s all about in your non-typical sales fashion.

    Good luck with this!