Interesting (free) business model

By Steve Outing

(Hmmm, I seem to have neglected this blog for quite a few days. Back to it…)

This afternoon I listened in on a webinar by, which develops free tools for anyone to use in creating web widgets. The company and its offerings are impressive. The widget-making tools are super-useful for publishers large and small — but especially the latter.

Something I find interesting is the company’s business model. It offers its widget-making tools and services entirely free. You might expect a company like this to offer some basic free functionality, but charge for upper-tier services. But as the webinar presenters explained when asked about Widgetbox’s business model, there’s a one-price-for-all plan: Free.

The company plans to make money with programs where developers who use Widgetbox to create their own widgets can optionally participate in programs where Widgetbox sells ads to accompany widgets, and shares the revenue 50/50 with the widget creator. If you don’t want to participate in those programs but plan to sell ads around your widget, as I understand it, that’s fine with Widgetbox and they’ll let you use their technology for free.

It’s a great deal for users, that’s for sure. I’ve included a screen shot of a little widget I created using Widgetbox for a comic-strip project I’m working on. It took literally a couple minutes to create it. (It’s just a screengrab because that site isn’t live yet.)

Earlier today I listened to NPR’s Talk of the Nation, where the topic was online business models, with an emphasis on how to make a business from free content and/or services. A more typical model, according to the panelists, is giving away 90-99% free, with paid premium content or services. That’s sometimes called a “fremium” model.

Widgetbox seems to have eschewed even that. I hope its model works, because it’s a win-win for everyone involved. Let’s just hope the company can make it work financially.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!