e-Book Design Tips
rebrandable shareware


Rebrandable Shareware

If you know how to program (or can work with or hire a programmer) selling your own software at auctions or from your web site, could be an excellent way to make money.

One of the most popular ways to distribute software online is as "shareware", in which people can download a free (often feature-limited) version of the software and try before they buy.

If you do sell shareware, then as with most Internet businesses, one of the usual issues is how to get more traffic: and as usual, starting your own affiliate program could help.

But what happens if any of your affiliates want to distribute your trial version offline? (this could happen if one of your affiliates wants to give out CD-ROMs, etc.)

So, I had an idea for software/shareware authors who have an affiliate program.

The idea is to make a downloadable trial version of your product which can be rebranded by your affiliates to contain their affiliate ID.

That way an affiliate could host the download on their site (or give it out on CDs or Disks), and they'd still get credit for the sales. (So, of course you also need to give your affiliates permission to do this).

Here is the 10,000 foot overview for the user:
  1. You make a simple eBook around your program's setup program.

  2. The eBook could contain a brief introduction to the program, and perhaps some rebrandable text. (rebrandable text means text that distributors can alter to add their own information, for example, the name of their business).

  3. The eBook contents also include a copy of, and link to, YOUR setup program. When the user is ready to install they click this link.

  4. When the install link is clicked, the eBook saves the affiliate ID (which of course is also rebrandable) to the user's disk (in this example an INI file), then runs the setup program

  5. The trial vesion of your shareware program installs.

  6. In the program is a button or menu to register (pay for) your shareware.

  7. The shareware program needs to be modified ever so slightly, to read the affiliate ID out of the INI file (written to in step 4), and use this when linking to the payment website, which gives the user the password/key/etc. to unlock the full program.
Here is the detail of setting it up, using Activ E-Book Compiler:
  1. Use the compiler to make an eBook. The eBook needs to contain at least the main HTML page: index.html. Your setup EXE file should also be included in the eBook source folder when compiling.

  2. The index.html file runs the setup program using a specially coded link that is coded like this:
    • [={affid}] is the affiliate id (rebrandable, you need to enable building the Rebrander in Edit Output, and Add a Rebrandable variable called affid, remember that variable names are case sensitive).

    • yourprogram.ini is the name of the INI file to use to store the affiliate ID.

    • Affiliate and ID are the section of the INI file the affiliate ID is saved under.

    • yoursetup.exe is the name of your setup program.

  3. As mentioned previously, your shareware program needs to be altered ever so slightly to read back the affiliate ID from the INI file, and use it when linking to the payment site (so you can give your affiliate credit).

    Here is an example (in C, but this can be done in Visual Basic, Delphi, C++ or whatever to), of the code to open the order form:

And finally, is here how it works from the point of view of the affiliate:
  1. They download your eBook EXE. They also download your Rebrander EXE.

  2. They run the Rebrander.

  3. The Rebrander prompts them for their affiliate ID (as well as any other Rebrandable information that you have setup). It then customizes the the eBook EXE to include their affiliate ID

  4. The affiliate then distributes their customized version of the eBook EXE.

  5. Everything works as above, with the affiliate automatically getting credit for their affiliate sales of your product.


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