Hi everyone. I've been going on these forums pretty regularly for the past few months. I've also been working hard on my first game I plan to release commercially. Although I'm only a month and a half into 'actual work' (i.e. not designing) I am already far ahead of my predicted schedule, probably due to my extreme devotion to this project. Although it will be a while before I am done my game and need to really start setting up a website, business, ect. I would really like to look at my options and how I should go about this ahead of time so there won't be any surprises. So I'd like to know what steps to undertake in establishing a shareware business, what common pitfalls I should avoid, and what routes there are. Now, my experience is fairly low compared to most of you, however I am a quick learner and aside from reading every article I can (including all of Steve's about twice) I have also been trying to pick up on the secrets of success from you guys aswell. I have some questions I'd like to ask so that I can get a better picture of what I should do to reduce frustration and avoid downfalls many of you experience. 1) Using portals? A month ago I didn't know what a portal was. Now it seems to be a very hard decision in my mind. I want long-term success over short-term, and it looks to me as if by using a portal you may increase your short-term revenue, however you will not build up the user base that will allow you to reach long-term success. I'm not exactly sure how portals work. Are they an exclusive agreement? Also, is there any findings that show you are more profitable from a portal? Seeing as the increase in revenue is offset by the huge cut that the portal takes from your sale. 2) What should I use to make my website. I have no web programming experience so I was wondering whether I should look into using a tool to construct my website. I don't know how well-known it is but a friend of mine used a tool called phpnuke to set up his website. As he isn't the greatest programmer, he managed to set up forums and a very pleasant looking website. I know those of you who have learned these languages would probably abhor, but I need to know if I should invest all the time to learn php right away, or use a tool to set up my website and eventually make it from my own code as I learn to set up a website and store faster. 3) Where should I get my server space? How much space is good? I suppose I could always increase my bandwidth if I am losing too much, however, I'm incredibly low on cash and paying for unused space is too inefficient until my business becomes a profitable endeavor. 4) What should I do to get my game noticed. I've looked at VGSmart for their promotional services, but what else can I do. Until I build a large enough fan base and get my name well-known I really will rely on these services to bring in customers. Seeing as it can take years to reach this status, I need some ways I can quickly make this business generate a positive cash flow. 5) How does filesize affect your downloads/sales. I'm seeing more and more games that are in the double digits for mb's. Do you see a drop off point where the downloads decline? 6) What sort of percentages should I expect? By percentages, I mean, what should my percent of downloads from website hits be? What should my conversion ratio's of downloads to buy's be. Of course I'll work my hardest to get them as high as possible, but I need to know what is average so I can detect what link in my sales chain may be weak. 7) Any other advice? Stuff you did wrong that caused frustration? Things to avoid buying? Must haves to buy? Services to use? Services not to use? Thanks. Any help in this matter is greatly appreciated.