Long term projects are a bit like kids. They require constant attention and their lifespan seems endless.
Right now I do constantly maintain three long term projects, and have one more that requires some attention every now and then.
The latter one already left the house, and though noone else can make changes to it, it requires very small adjustments from me. It is feature complete and mature and I am glad that it is so successful that a whole company runs on it.
May be they will replace it in the future, but for now it is an essential component that would result in a permanent shutdown of the company if it would be turned off. It's one of the more successful projects I developed.
Sadly, I don't earn a cent from it over the last 10 years since its inception. On the other hand, a small part of that company is mine, and that feels quite ok. So when the company is sold, I get my cut, probably more than I could earn from licensing the product.
But this comes at a risk, a long term risk I am willing to take.
And so is every project I develop right now, I have not earned a single cent from my projects since a few years. But honestly, this situation does not feel right.
I definitely want to change that. So this week a friend of mine and I built some smaller tools that target a new market, the Windows Store. And I hope that they bring some money into my pocket.
One of my other projects is BrainSharper, which I started last year is is also growing nicely and soon needs to make the transition from crawling to staying on its own feet. And that's when I want to charge money for it.
As said previously, I am quite enthusiastic about the Windows Store, primarily because it offers trial periods to the user. So my next goal is to bring a few new features to BrainSharper and sell a Windows RT version that is optimized for touch.
Another project I released recently to the iOS store for the iPad is LookHere! This is a nice program to take photos, connect them visually, and create a great looking PDF. It has a great potential for some businesses, but they probably need a lot of additional features. So we decided to release a free version upfront, just to have it in the store, and be able to tell people about it.
Then there is SharedSafe, a tool like Dropbox, but which synchronizes Files within your Email storage. I put in a lot of time in the development, but sadly don't see a market for it right now. My project partner is working at some new features that may make it compatible with some demands people might have. But I have doubts. For me SharedSafe is a mistake. The mistake of creating a product assuming that people will use it and - at the same time - putting a lot of wasted time into the development not seeing what the end result should look like. Not thinking clearly all the way through.
But it's a mistake I learned a lot from. Good things start small, everything else is just betting on luck. And there comes a time when betting on luck is a luxury you don't have anymore.