No-Code June 23, 2020

Isn't Zapier expensive?

Bilal @seattlehacker

Maybe I'm misunderstanding Zapier's task pricing but it seems very expensive.

The lowest cost plan of 20 dollars gvies you 750 tasks.

I can easily see a site even with modest traffic generating thousands of tasks which are essentially serverless calls.

In contrast lambda /gcfis free for the first 2 million or so calls...

Curious to hear what folks who build using Zapier feel about this.

  1. 6

    It's not just about the price value, but the value it provides you and your business.

    If you are worth, let's say, 25$/h and if you automate a task that will save you just 1 hour per week of your own time, that's 100$ per month that you now saved with the 20$ that zapier costs, and now you are free to do other important things with the time you saved.

    1. 1

      This. A lot of Indie Hackers forget about opportunity cost.

      Im a developer, so my calculation is a bit different, but I've found Zapier almost always worth the price.

      For me, I can make $100/hr working for clients. I could write and maintain my own custom code to do what Zapier does, but it'll take 10 hours upfront and 2 hours per year after that to maintain.

      My opportunity cost is $1200 for the first year plus, Zapier isn't just one automation. Every automation I build there is saving me $1200 per year. It has one of the best ROIs in the first year that I can think of.

      1. 3

        Could you give an example of something you’ve automated that has saved you 1200 per year?

        1. 1

          Sure.

          I run a site called CFP Land. It uses a bunch of zaps to scrape conferences, enhance the location data, clean up duplicates, and send the newsletter.

          Programming it myself (or hiring someone) would have easily run me $5k in time

          1. 2

            Awesome. I'd love to use zapier but over the years I've never come across a valid use case.

      2. 2

        Are there cases where Zapier didn't give you what you needed?

        I've wanted a Zapier for developers, where the integration part to get the data, but then passes it to a function for me to transform or shunt somewhere else.

        1. 2

          Check out Pipedream and n8n.io

          Zapier has webhooks and functions now, so you can integrate custom code, but it's not a great experience. They also don't have change tracking or a good way to handle testing environments.

          There's definitely still room for innovation in the space, but Zapier has a huge head start on integrations and name recognition.

          1. 1

            Have you used either pipedream or n8n.io? They both look interesting, though I'm unreasonably wary of running my jobs on a 3rd party, even though I'd be running the same thing on AWS. So n8n being something you can run yourself is encouraging--though I'm not exactly sure what their fair-code license means.

            I also didn't see anything on change tracking or testing. Is it just not in the documentation, or they just don't support it yet? Sometimes, I have lambda functions I forgot about running and old version, mystifying my output.

            1. 1

              I use pipedream. Moved from Zapier because of the costs. Amazing tool if you are a dev.

            2. 1

              I have not used them yet. They've been on my "to check out" list for a while, but Zapier's sort of got me hooked, haha.

              I don't think either of them offer version control or testing environments though.

  2. 3

    I think your mistake is seeing Zapier as a replacement for Lamda calls. It's not.

    I've been a paying customer - two accounts, one for each business - for years. For me, the value is flexibility in choosing a wide range of business tools that specialize in fixing a specific problem, and then wiring them together without having to hire a programmer to build/maintain custom integrations with their APIs.

    Compared to that, $50-100/month is a steal.

    1. 1

      What were you using Zapier to do?

      1. 3

        Lots of things:

        • Add and update new customer info (wherever they purchased, across several systems) into our email database (ConvertKit)
        • Building a totally custom Airtable CRM that aggregates info between several systems to show filterable and sortable latest status views
        • Posting new Instagram posts on a given hashtag into Slack
        • Saving starred Slack messages into a Google Spreadsheet
        • Setting up complex reminder systems after an event happens in one application (e.g. someone makes a Calendly reservation, we have a sequence of events that need to happen before AND after the calendar event)
        • We even built a physical mail notification system using Zapier, Airtable, and Postmark

        Thats just a few off the top of my head.

        At this point, my team knows that if they're doing something manual and repetitive to check with me and see if there's a quick way to automate it with Zapier!

        1. 1

          That's really interesting. For each, I can see a job-to-be-done.

          The convertkit one is "engage with customers after they buy". And the instagram one is "share with followers at the flick of a Slack channel".

          But I have no idea why you'd want to put starred slack messages into google spreadsheet. Is it because the Slack search is bad that you do that?

          Oh, and the Calendly reservation one, I'm guessing is because you have a flexible business process that involves both computers and humans in the loop, and you use Zapier to orchestrate it?

          1. 2

            In the case where we have the Slack->Spreadsheet set up, it's to save examples of success/wins in our student community so we can clean them up and get permission to use them in testimonials. So there's two things:

            1. a business need: putting data into a different application/workflow, and
            2. a technical problem: Slack's search is terrible and the history disappears
  3. 3

    I've seen it with Salesforce and to a lesser degree Zapier, but I don't think the actual cost is 'expensive'. Especially if one of those actions does something with a high ROI.

    What I think is expensive is you get good at Zapier, not building what you need ... 9/10 times that's great - you move fast. But when techdebt is just like real debt. If you're consistently 'borrowing' or using workarounds like Zapier, you are accumulating techdebt.

    There are two strategies to automation: 1) Make your business conform to the software. 2) Make software for the business.

    Too many people think you can make software conform to your business. It works, but it is techdebt.

  4. 3

    With Zapier, you're not just paying for a cloud hosting, you're paying for integrations that are already setup and can be configured in minutes.

    1. 1

      Did you ever run into issues with configuring the integration? Usually, I find for tools that save time most of the time, there can be a few use cases where it eats up a whole bunch of time.

      1. 2

        Oh for sure. Especially when the data had to be transformed before being passed on to the next service.
        But my biggest issue was 90% of the time when I had a need, Zapier either didn't support that service provider or didn't support that specific action I had in mind. That's one reason I decided to build an alternative (Browse AI)

        1. 1

          Oh cool. One of things I ran into recently was being able to monitor changes on the frontend. I'll check out Browse AI more deeply.

          1. 1

            Sounds good. Let me know what you think!

            1. 1

              What happened to browseAI? How come it went down?

              1. 1

                It’s never gone down according to the uptime monitoring service! Is it currently inaccessible for you?

                1. 1

                  weird, it's up now. Before, I got nothing when I visited earlier this morning, and I couldn't find it on duckduckgo.

                  1. 1

                    Yeah that's weird. Since our uptime monitoring service didn't detect it, it probably only lasted a few seconds.
                    I'm curious, are you using Browse AI? I'd love to know what you want to use it for. We're currently deciding on what features to prioritize in November and your input could help.

                    1. 1

                      hey @iamwil ! We just fixed that login issue! Sorry it took so long.
                      I'm upgrading your account for 6 months as a small thank you for reporting the issue 🙏

                    2. 1

                      No worries. I'll check it out again when you've fixed it. I'm using uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger. I also use Pihole, but it shouldn't be blocking Auth0, since I was able to login on FF once I turned off uBlock

                      The one I couldn't login with was Chrome, and I didn't have adblock on it.

                    3. 1

                      @iamwil I'm so sorry about that experience. I just created a ticket to fix this login bug asap. I'll let you know when it's fixed.

                      Also, THANK YOU for reporting this. I don't know how many others have come across this bug and didn't say anything. Probably a lot.

                      Can you tell me what your adblocker & first browser were so I can test with them?

                      We have error monitoring in place (Datadog), but it didn't notify us of this. I have to look into that too.

                      Re. having to use Chrome: That's temporary. We're going to release built-in automations (aka Templates) in a month or so and those can be setup and used on any browser (including mobile).

                      The browser extension, which is needed for recording custom automations, currently only supports Chrome but we will eventually make it compatible with Edge and Firefox too. That doesn't have a timeline yet.

                    4. 1

                      I think we reached the thread depth on IH. Hey there, some feedback on my experience with BrowseAI.

                      I was able to sign up to BrowseAI, but I wasn't able to login. Then I figured out that my adblocker was blocky Auth0. Once I got in, I saw that I need to use Chrome. I kinda wished I knew that before I signed in.

                      When I switch to Chrome, I had trouble signing in. I didn't have adblockers there, and there were no error messages, so I ended up giving up.

                      You should probably set up some error monitoring, like sentry, if people can't log in or sign up for whatever reason, since that's the gateway to your whole app.

                    5. 1

                      Interesting. I just signed up to your newsletter.
                      I'd love to know when you write a post on Browse AI and review it for you. My email is Ardy@Browse AI...
                      We're working on a few major features (including 1-Click Templates) and trying to release them by the end of October. That would be a good time to write about it.

                    6. 1

                      No, I'm not. At least not yet. I started a newsletter called automationcookbook.io where I post about automation stories people have around the web or people I've talked to. In every post, I sketch out or outline how to put the workflow together, and was looking at BrowserAI for one of the posts.

                      If you're interested, I'll let you know when I have the post up. Just lemme know or subscribe to the newsletter.

  5. 2

    I tried to use Zapier as a backend. I had a dream of maintaining a front-end only application. This worked really well for the MVP stage. I got spun up really quick, and was talking to a bunch of 3rd party tools instantly.

    Once we started getting users, I quickly blew through my 2,000 tasks so I bumped up to the 5,000 task plan and reached the limit on that as well. It was at this point I realized my "backend-less" dream was lofty and unrealistic. I then began working on an API, and deployed it via Azure.

    I still use Zapier, and find it very valuable. For example when a user signs-up we fire off a Zap that subscribes them to our email campaign, and puts them in our CRM. This provides me a lot of value, because I didn't have to write that code. This doesn't happen 1,000s of times a month(at least not yet 🤞), so 2,000 monthly tasks is plenty.

    However, I was previously firing Zaps on logins and other user actions. This was just not a good use for Zapier. Especially, considering half the time I was writing Javascript in the Zap.

    If you know how to code, I wouldn't use Zapier as a backend.

    If you don't know how to code, the $100-$700 is probably worth it if you don't have to hire a developer.

    I would not compare Lambda and Zapier, they are completely different products.

  6. 2

    What sets zapier apart is its ease of use. Otherwise, in my opinion, it is too expensive. For example currently if you want to use the facebook lead ads function and connect it to google sheets you have to have a premium subscription, i.e. the 50$ month subscription.
    In my opinion, there are many better and less expensive alternatives, but everything is in the "quantity" of automation that must be created.
    In my case paying $50 for single automation is too expensive.

    1. 1

      Hey Jamie,

      I am developing my own SaaS business around the use case that you described. Facebook Leads to Google Sheets plus many other integrations. My pricing will be somewhat similar to AWS i.e. based on usage. e.g. $1 for 1000 Requests. If you are interested then let me know, I will ping you whenever I launch with that feature.

      I am planning to launch this month (Giving final touches to product) with Google Sheets API and by next month with at least 2 integrations, Facebook Leads being one of them. It will be beta release so totally free until I will be satisfied with the product quality and reliability.

      Let's sync on how we can help each other out.

      Thanks,
      Gagan

      1. 2

        Sound Interesting, for sure we'll be in touch man! Drop a message when is all ready, thanks ;)

        1. 1

          Sure, I will be happy to do that.

  7. 1

    I'm wondering the same thing. I personally dislike Zapier because it is a recurring thing.

    I would be happy paying for a one time solution and being done with it. Zapier is too pricey.

    For some people, it makes total sense because they save a ton of time, but for others, especially people who are in developing countries, it is expensive.

  8. 1

    Your comparison is flawed.

    20 dollars gives you 750 tasks
    vs
    lambda /gcfis free for the first 2 million calls

    Is not the comparison.

    The real comparison is

    using a point and click interface to automate API calls, 20 dollars gives you 750 tasks
    vs.
    building your own API connections and programming your own API calls, lambda /gcfis free for the first 2 million calls

    Most people can't use lambda.

    Anyone can use Zapier.

  9. 1

    It really depends on what's more important to you: time, ease-of-use, money. I use Zapier in my business and I bought the "Starter" yearly plan (which comes to $5US less than paying for it month-to-month). It's an operational expense that is worth it, because as my business grows I'll need more integrations and it's cheaper (and more convenient) for me to buy a Zapier subscription than to hire a developer to build all these integrations from scratch. And there's also the ease of managing, changing, removing integrations as the tools I use change. I've made the determination that the time savings has far exceeded what I pay Zapier every month.

    1. 1

      What are you using Zapier for? I usually hate doing integrations, but hadn't really thought of using Zapier for in-house integrations. At best, I can see connecting 3rd party services for a business process, rather than a backend task. So I'm trying to see examples, since Zapier only really lists templates, not use cases.

      1. 1

        I have Zaps for automatically adding new customers (who purchase books from my online shop) to my email list, and I specify which tags to add to them depending on the product they buy. I have a Zap for creating a new meeting notes document (from a template) for consulting clients in a Google Drive folder as soon as they book a coaching call with me on Calendly, and I'm working on a Zap to remove subscribers from my list the moment they unsubscribe. I'm still in the process of building out workflows but I'm really happy with how it automates several tedious tasks.

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