First for people who don't know, the exercises used to be sold between $12 to $20. I was doing few sales (enough to pay for hosting, not for the work put into building each exercise). I was at that point when I had to spend more and more time working on marketing and thinking of protecting the content (Watermarking, ...)... Bottom line is, I was focusing on things I don't enjoy doing instead of spending time on things I like (building awesome exercises).
I have been thinking of putting everything for free for a while, since my main goal was to get a lot of people to use my exercises, it wasn't to do big $$.
So I recently moved everything to free and I haven't regret it since:
- I'm more focused on what I like doing (building cool exercises);
- I get great feedbacks almost every day (emails, comments on reddit, twitter, ...);
- I'm more motivated and have more liberty;
- I made some good contacts (book publisher, technical people,...);
- The website visits have increased of more than 5000 % according to Google Analytics;
- I had scaling problems and start using Amazon S3;
However, the goal of PentesterLab is still to do a bit of money (at least to pay for hosting and some beers) and I'm slowly looking at ways to do that:
- the exercises available can only be used for non-commercial usage, few people already contacted me to use them to run training with a commercial licence.
- building a job board
I'm still undecided and I have plenty of time to work out the best solution(s). At the moment, I'm just enjoying all the great feedbacks and working on the next exercise.
Finally, thanks to everyone who bought the exercises before they became free, you kept me working on them and thanks to you everyone can now enjoy and learn :)