May 16, 2018

Switching From Free To Paid Model Considerations

I'm developing a website and as part of my business model I'm thinking I want to make the site 100% free at first. Then, eventually, in no particular time frame, switch it to requiring a yearly paid membership.

My concern is scaring customers away once I flip from free to a paid model. So how do I release it in such a way where members know that it's free for now but will eventually change to a paid model?

During the time period when it's a free site I was thinking of saying it's in beta (putting the word "beta" below the logo and alluding to it on the home page). But I'm not sure that's the right term to use. Also the users of this site will be non-techy people so they may not know what beta-version means.


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    This is exactly what I have done on my project.

    It was launched in March 2016 and branded as a "beta", "try the beta for free".

    The tool being 100% free helped me have more than 20k registered users, with more than 2k being active users.

    By the end of the month I will move to a paid model (monthly/yearly subscription). At that time I will be able to say if it was a good idea to start as a free beta or not....

    If you are afraid the users won't understand the term "beta", maybe you can avoid it and say "Try it for free for 6 months". This way it seems clear to me that it will become paid in the future but it gives a pretty large timeframe where I can use it for free. After 6 months if you do not feel ready for the paid model, just send a mail to explain to the users that you extended their free trial period, they will be happy.

    1. 1

      Thank you. I was actually thinking that... six months free. Would give me enough time to build up an active user base.