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11 Comments

Do you have lifetime subscription for your product? Why, Why not?

When was the last time you had to pay just once for a service? Does a product needs to billed monthly just because it's a SaaS?

Remember the time not too long ago when we paid once for a software and we get to use it forever? Yeah the time when we used to own the software and not the other way around.

If we miss that as a consumer, How can we subject our customers to the same?

Not every SaaS product is Netflix, it need not be. When there's no complex licensing, two-sided market involved there's not much reason to make the customers pay monthly, annually other than to lock the customers in the platform.

Yes the cost of building the product, infrastructure, running the company changes with the economy but even then the product pricing doesn't change frequently. If it does the customer will leave for the competitor anyways monthly billing or not.

Startups which have to grow at any cost to produce MRR, ARR figures for that sweet VC money have no choice, Often that cost being the value delivered to the customer.

This is where indie hackers, solopreneurs and bootstrapping startups have advantage over those startups, We can generate immense value for our customers by pricing our SaaS products for the lifetime!

Starting with needgap, My products now offer lifetime subscription by default.

Do you have lifetime subscription for your product? Why, Why not?

  1. 3

    I've been thinking about a lifetime subscription, just testing things out now so my perspective is limited.

    For context: I've tried building an SEO SaaS app with little success, and have transitioned into building out coaching programs to teach founders and marketers how to build SEO strategies. As part of the program, participants get access to a private slack community and the software that we built.

    Initially I thought I would charge for continued access after the program ends, however I've realized there is more value in having people in the community and using our tool than the little that they would pay. So now we give folks lifetime access to our community and software.

    Slack and our software are both extremely cheap to run. Could I lose money if someone were on our platform for 50 years? Potentially, but I'm not too worried about it at the moment. Are they worth paying a continued subscription? Maybe in the future, but it's been pretty clear they are not now.

    Pricing is the most influential lever you have at your disposal. Raising pricing or changing how you price will affect how your product/service is perceived and can dramatically impact your user adoption. Always test and iterate. Take note of how this change affects your funnel, and if things do not work out, don't force it in favor of finding something that does work.

    1. 1

      I agree, It's hard to monetize a community platform without ads and so lifetime subscription is a great option since the running costs are predictable.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      1. 1

        No problem, best of luck with this!

  2. 2

    Some thoughts that came to my mind:

    Pro:

    • Guaranteed & Quick Cash
    • Appealing for a lot of potential customers with "subscription fatigue"

    Con:

    • No recurring revenue (you can't plan so well for the future)
    • If you eventually shut the project down at some point, some customers may want a partial refund.
    1. 1

      Great points.

      No recurring revenue (you can't plan so well for the future)

      I think that's philosophical, Can anyone plan well for the future? Being indie hackers we already have very high bus factor.

      If you eventually shut the project down at some point, some customers may want a partial refund.

      True, Also if the product/maker doesn't have credibility it would also seem like a cheap attempt to make a quick buck. I made my products lifetime subscription after a two year run because I myself started to limit my monthly subscriptions for the products I consume.

      I feel it's essential to communicate properly with our customers the reasoning behind our pricing strategy.

  3. 1

    The hardest thing to do in business is convince a customer to get their credit card out.

    If they've done this once and your product is continually driving value then I'm not sure why you wouldn't store that card and charge them on a recurring basis.

    1. 1

      I wouldn't want to pay monthly for something which I use twice every 3 months(Looking at you Adobe), So I don't want my customers to do so either. As you rightly said, getting them to pay is hard and not every service can billed just for usage alone so a lifetime subscription seems like a middle ground.

      1. 1

        I'd personally look for a business which doesn't target customers like yourself in that case!

        If you're looking to become a full-time Indie Hacker, the most reliable way of replacing your regular salary is with a regular monthly SaaS model. Once you have reached a certain level and churn is predictable, there is no daily stress of needing to get more sales – it's very much a zen business.

        I'm pretty anti-LTD's as once you have sold a lifetime subscription, that customer then becomes a liability to the business. There is no way to get further revenue from them, nor is there any incentive from the business to encourage usage or improve the platform – you're constantly on a treadmill of needing to find new customers. I'm a product guy at heart so hate that treadmill, I'd much rather invest my time in improving the product and ensuring it continually drives value to our customers so we grow our MRR and keep those customer happy, even if they do get a monthly bill.

        1. 1

          'lifetime subscription != license to not innovate', Product innovation is foundation for the sustainability of any business.

          An innovative product can continue to acquire new customers, In fact a pay once product is forced to innovate to survive where as a product which has the customers in the shackles of subscriptions can choose to not innovate.

          1. 1

            No. There is no incentive to innovate a product for the existing customers with a LTD. They've paid and from a balance sheet perspective are now a liability to the business – your interests simply are not aligned with that of existing customers, you actually make more money if the customer ceases to use the platform (no hosting/CS costs).

            Whereas with a recurring subscription, the opposite is true.

            You prove that point with the treadmill of needing to find new customers and you're right that sometimes that's through innovation, but more often is through sales.

        2. 1

          I love this response.

          "There is no way to get further revenue from them, nor is there any incentive from the business to encourage usage or improve the platform – you're constantly on a treadmill of needing to find new customers.".

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