Move from yearly subscription pricing to a single price for lifetime membership?

Hey NewsBlur folks, I’m asking you guys since it’s likely that if you’re reading ideas on our support forum, you probably have some interest in seeing NewsBlur succeed.

At this point, there are a few hundred premium users, all paying from $1 to $3 per month (mostly $1). It’s keeping the servers running, but not much more. My goal is to make enough to one day run NewsBlur full-time. In order to do that, I would either need to get a lot more premium customers or raise the price point. Would a $20 (maybe $18) price point for a lifetime subscription be a better idea than having recurring subscriptions? Note that I would not continue to have both subscriptions and the lifetime price. Switch to $18 and that’s it, although I’d continue to have tiered pricing that allows you to pay more if you like.

My other goal is to get NewsBlur in front of as many people as possible. I’m thinking this may help.

And just as a note, I would upgrade everybody from the yearly subscription to a lifetime subscription.


Totally different consumer mindset for a one time purchase than a subscription.

A) Yes, make the switch so you can do this full-time.
B) Wait until the iPhone app is, or is close to, a reality to enhance the value proposition.

That said, what about a kickstarter project to get the fundraising ball rolling? Discounted lifetime accounts, maybe some schwag, etc.

Logically, I have to agree with Martin’s point. I don’t see how this would in fact be more sustainable. . . or is your thought that sufficiently more people would bite at a one-time offer than would opt in to subscribe?

Why are you unwilling to continue the subscription model while also offering the one-time option to anyone who’d take it? Seems to me, that gives you the best of both worlds.

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I think too many price tiers is confusing. Also, having a single price may bring in more premiums. But this is coming from personal experience. I know I am much more likely to buy a web service that is a one-time fee rather than a less expensive recurring fee. And NewsBlur was built to suit my personal web reading tastes. So maybe payments should flow the same way.

I think waiting for the iPhone app is the way to go, since I might be able to charge separately for that. I’d love to make it free, but there are costs associated with running the additional bandwidth.

I think people would be more likely to pay for NewsBlur as a one time purchase. But I’m worried that then you’ll be forced to pursue new users instead of focusing on making NewsBlur more awesome.

(I’ll pay for whatever, just my two cents :slight_smile: )

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Lifetime membership and non-free (but cheap) iOS app.

Sidenote: the picture of your dog absolutely factored into my decision to pay $3/mo instead of $2/mo.


I’d say keep the subscription model, but make it simple. Subscription models make more sense over the long term.

Lifetime subscription means one thing only: you want money NOW and then close the shop. Keep $12 a year for now and get more subscribers, and the best way to do that - advertise. And the best way to advertise is FREE iPhone app. I emphasize “free” because that’s the way for people to try your stuff and see how good it is. Do not raise the price (best way to loose customers), get more of them. And when you put NewsBlur on AppleStore ask your subscribers to comment - the best ad ever is word of mouth. Good luck.


I for one would happily pay for the iPhone app separately. It’s just plain worth it.

I think the current model you’re offering works so I doubt lifetime memberships would add much beyond satisfying the few paying members you have today (not necessarily a bad thing but does it make sense?)

I think right now, if you were to focus your energy on getting some of the features that used to exist in the old version of Google Reader (eg. single-click sharing), you might get more bang for your buck, attracting power users who are unhappy with the changes on Google Reader.

IF, on the other hand, you decide to go down the route of lifetime pricing, you need to factor in how much it will cost you to maintain those users before you decided on the price to offer for a lifetime membership. Also, do meet with a lawyer over the idea as you need to establish terms and conditions in those cases. I was once involved with a startup that had a lifetime pricing plan: shortly after the company was acquired, the acquirer decided to end that product. Some lifetime customers sued because they had assumed it was their lifetime, not the lifetime of the app. True, the lawsuit was eventually quashed but it took a lot more lawyer hours than if they had had a user’s agreement upfront.

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Keep the annual scheme in your own (and our:-) interest!!!

Add tiers depending on the number of feeds for more dough.

I have ~250 feeds and would be willing to pay 24, even 36.

PS: I thought I clicked on 24pa yet was charged 12?

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Recently-subscribed premium user here. I would have preferred to have paid $20 for a lifetime subscription instead of $12 for a year, and I would be willing to pay probably up to $15 for a tablet version if there were a polished app available (Android, in my case.) Just a data point.

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I also think lifetime membership doesn’t make sense longterm. Like Tristan Louis says, with lifetime membership you won’t be able to support the service for long. I’m glad you saw it this way too in the end.

You’ll have to find ways to bring more subscribers, also optimize the application/servers to the bone so you can support more users with the same resources.

This is basically the same business model as phone apps, right? Those are generally less than $20, and you get a lifetime of upgrades.

No way would I ever pay monthly for an app like this, but I’d certainly pay a one-time fee.

Lot of people here talking about you losing money by asking for a one-time payment instead of a subscription, as if potential customers are somehow forced to do one or the other.

If people aren’t willing to pay on a yearly subscription for a piece of software, and you don’t give them any other option, then you’re losing their money.

perhaps it’s time to follow the Wikipedia/NPR model: once a year, guilt your readers to pay some money. Send them a totebag.

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OK, first off as @infinitary mentioned, I think there’s a bug in the subscribe process that downgrades you from $24 to $12. I had to go around again to get it to accept $24 - you might want to look at that.

Second, here’s my thoughts on the subscription model:

If you switch to a one off fee, you’d probably be best doing something similar to what did with their pricing - it basically creeps up as more people subscribe. That way it not only covers the increasing demand on the server, but it also encourages people to subscribe sooner, rather than later.

However, I’m in agreement with the majority here - I don’t think $12 (or even $20) is too much to pay for a service like this. Flickr charge $25 a year, and as a RSS junkie I get way more out of Newsblur than Flickr.

I’d also perhaps not charge for the iPhone app, but make being a premium member a requirement to use it? You could add subscription signups as an in app purchase too. That way people may be more willing to sign up (one click, their card is already on file). Especially if there’s an iPad app in Newsblur’s future - I can’t see anyone complaining that they have to be a premium member for their large screen Newsblur fix.

Apps like Instapaper haven’t been afraid to charge for their services, because they’re delivering a quality product. I would argue that Newsblur is exactly the same.


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I think one area you can look at for increasing the network effect of Newsblur users is adding 1-click sharing with a comment, which takes you to a newsblur page, with that comment attached.

So I’m reading a post on the Kindle Fire launch, I hit “Share on Twitter”, type in my tweet in a popup, then hit send, and the tweeted/emailed/Facebooked URL points you to a Newsblur page, not the original.

Not sure if it would work, but I think it’s worth an experiment.

The Humble Bundle makes an amazing amount of money while allowing you to pay absolutely *any* amount of money, including $0.01 , while offering extra features if you pay above average.

I think they’ve stumbled across an ingenious idea. Perhaps it’ll work for you too. Just need to make *two* levels of premium features: a smaller set enabled if you pay anything at all, but enable everything if the monthly payment is above average. The user should be able to change their monthly payment any time, too.

Among other things, true “pay what you want” is sure to generate quite a bit of publicity for you!

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One thing that I noticed about it was that I signed up at $1 solely because it was the only way to try the system with all of the features. After using it, I’d probably upgrade to the $2 or $3, but now that I’ve already paid it I don’t see a good way of changing the plan. Perhaps a way to pay just a single month for $3 then switch to a yearly plan later would help.

As for a lifetime membership, I always worry that services who do this will ultimately go away because they aren’t pulling in new subscribers, making my payment early on useless.

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