Let’s Brainstorm a “free tier”

So I’m currently working on a directory website that’s going to be a search engine of sorts for patients to find therapists. I’m going to charge $25/mo for a therapist to to be listed.

Though, I also want a free tier but I’m not sure how to structure that plan. What perks would someone lose on a website like this to make it worth spending the $25 over the free plan?

I also, have to take into consideration that getting started out very few people will want to pay for something that doesn’t have many listings. So the free tier will probably evolve over time.

Let’s brainstorm some ideas so I know how to continue with my coding. :D

  1. 2

    The proven, analogous industry that you can look at to borrow ideas from is dating sites.

    Dating sites are simply directories, at the end of the day. Paid members (i.e. dudes) get all sorts of perks that help them reach their target customer (i.e. women) such as:

    • chat / messaging ability
    • ability to browse all profiles
    • priority listing placement
    • "pro member" or "verified member" badges
    • "see who viewed your profile"
    • "see who is around you"
    • etc

    once you have a directory site with a captive audience there are tons of ways to squeeze out revenue, it's one of the oldest business models on the internet.

    1. 1

      I like that analogy. That really opens up the possibilities.

  2. 2

    I'll recommend using the proven methods of review sites such as Capterra, TrustRadius, etc.

    For example, paid members have sponsored listings that floats to the top of their category, links aren't clickable if you aren't a paid member to gain link juice. Just a few.

    1. 1

      Great suggestions! I like the Link juice idea but I’m really digging the floating their profile to the top too.

  3. 2

    I'm a little confused. Are you charging both therapists and patients? Are you looking for free plans for both of them? Could you explain further?

    In general, I agree with @jborak. I like the 80/20 rule. That is, provide 80% of the value for free and the remaining 20% as premium content.

    1. 1

      I can understand the confusion. I’m only charging the therapists a listing fee. The patients (front end user) will be my focus of sorts. And the patient will be free. Think of it as a search engine for therapists. The therapists will be paying to be listed on my site so that patients can find them easier. The benefit to the therapist will be the visibility they gain and the free benefit to the patient will be the ability to find a therapist easier. I hope that clears up my intention.

  4. 2

    Just my two thoughts from experience. You need to provide real value to the customer on your free tier.

    Here is how i learned my lesson. My business provides application tunneling so that you can host a web site, application, web hook, etc.. on any network. It supports developer productivity, self-hosting, and a few other use-cases.

    My primary limit on all my plans is total monthly bandwidth but when I setup my free tier I disabled HTTPS. This was a bad move and way too antagonistic to anyone trying out my service. I got roasted for this once and learned my lesson, you need to give users that do not pay all the respect and almost all the features that paid subscribers do.

    For your business maybe consider providing a certain number of free leads to the therapists. Once a business is viewed X times they must convert into a paid user or be obscured in some way. The obscured way should be a preview that they can see so its tangible. They will see the value of their details being provided as a visitor would see and the obscured version of it.

    Each time they are viewed they should be given some kind of indication, like you've been viewed by N people in this area. Maybe geo-locate your users to show your customers the value of you're providing, especially if it's local.

    I'm picturing LinkedIn and how they obscure views when you're not a Premium member.

    Hope this helps, good luck.

    1. 1

      That’s some great stuff!! That helps tremendously.

  5. 1

    Hmm... the simplest way I can think of would be to make it free for everyone at the beginning. This is because your site is a 2-sided marketplace and you need to build the initial supply of therapists on it before it has any value at all.

    Then you can charge $25/month (or more) to be featured more prominently.

  6. 1

    This is a good question @evanmcpheron. I think there could be an opportunity to offer a free month for therapists when they initially sign up. This way, you can show them the value in their listing by hopefully helping them to land their first couple of clients on your site. After this, it will be a more natural inclination for them to want to pay the monthly recurring fee.

    This does depend on you being able to have a good batch of clients looking for therapists though. In the early stages, you might even need to manually pair a client up with a therapist on the back end. I think the main point though is to convey value in the form of clients for the therapist so it makes it a no brainer for them to subsequently pay the monthly recurring fee. If you think you can get them at least one or two clients over a 30 day trial period then I think that will show them the value in your platform. Hope this helps.

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