Making money isn't the first thing you think of when you think of headless machines, headless software, and headless installation. In fact, it’s probably the last thing you think of.
Headless machines — such as servers — run software without a monitor, keyboard, or mouse. When you install software or access a headless machine, usually you'll have to connect through SSH, temporarily attach display devices, and so forth, depending on your set-up.
Our goal is to help developers, publishers, and advertisers make money from their work, even if you're a coder who's come up with a useful server-side utility or app that runs in a headless environment. It could be anything from a full-fledged Linux application to a script or library. Most people think there’s no opportunity for developers to make money in this niche, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. And there’s always a will to make money.
One of the best methods to making money from headless installation is catching the user before the installation process. It’s much less likely you’ll be able to generate revenue from advertising once the headless machine or software is up and running. And since most monetized installers aren't designed for these environments, you may have to focus on the distribution phase.
In other words, get people to pay for your content prior to installation. As a developer, you can generate revenue for this under-utilized market by distributing digital content and applications through distribution networks, pay-per install networks, and pay-per download networks.
Leveraging Your Assets
Granted, the headless installation and headless software market is pretty small. For small developers, it could even be called a developer-to-developer market. But, as mentioned, that's why there won't be too much competition. This can be a suitable environment for developers looking to get their feet wet with money, or for seasoned developers with assets they can leverage.
The first thing you need is a tool or software package that can work or be made to work in a headless environment. If you can leverage that package, or create a new one, then you can make money. Once you have an asset, you can begin monetizing it.
Monetizing During Distribution
All online monetization comes from advertising and sales. You either sell your own products or earn commissions by selling other people’s products. If your app is free, or you have content that people won’t dish out cash for, you can still make money through micro-payment systems such as pay-per-download (PPD) networks.
A PPD network works like this: you upload a file, users complete an action to gain access to your file, and you get paid. Your file — in this case, an application that can run on a headless machine — has value to the end user, which is the incentive that gets them to complete the action. Actions can include surveys, questionaires, quizzes, games, and so forth. Usually, these are advertisers or merchants, engaged in product promotion, market research, etc.
The user doesn’t pay you, but a third party merchant or advertiser does. Payments of cents or dollars may not seem like much, but, if you're a developer, you know how frustrating it can be to pursue your passion and not make any money at it. A few hundred downloads can bring in hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Monetizing During Headless Installation?
Though it's possible to monetize a headless installation by offering promotions or third-party apps during the installation process, it’s probably not going to generate any kind of return.
Most monetized installers, which are designed for mainstream users and their operating systems, offer apps that would be worthless on a headless machine. A Linux server or Windows server just wouldn't have use for many of the offers that users would be presented with. Users would certainly not take the time to switch machines in order to look up an advertiser’s product.
If you decide to go the PPD route, sign up for multiple PPD networks. This will give your digital content more exposure to more affiliates, and more opportunity for promotion.
Contact download site owners and ask them to host your content. As long as your asset has value, many of these webmasters will work with you to promote your content.
If you are able to bundle your content with monetized installers, then you can always give them a shot. Many monetized installation companies offer distribution solutions and large-scale networks that can help get your product in front of more people.
Whether you’re a company offering complete products for headless environments or a freelance coder trying to earn some extra cash, there’s bound to be a market you can tap into. Try to think outside the box, and if you need some more ideas, you can always read more about monetization on our blog.