Beeminder Forum

Should TaskRatchet charge a monthly subscription fee?

When I told people that I would be pausing the alpha, @cam replied saying that he’d be happy to pay monthly for the service. This got me thinking: Should TaskRatchet be a subscription service?

Consistent income is good for the business’ sustainability, of course, and would make it easier for me to put more of my time towards the project sooner. But what I’m more interested in is the idea that charging a monthly subscription might help to ensure people continue to use the service over time.

Beeminder’s feature set inherently encourages people to continue using the service—you commit once by creating a goal, and then, by default, it continues to keep you accountable until you deactivate it or manage to trigger the kill switch.

TaskRatchet, on the other hand, requires the user to continue committing every day, preferably multiple times a day. It feels like it would be very easy for people to just stop adding tasks. (The Beeminder equivalent is a do-less goal without presumptive pessimistic data, where the risk is the user is in danger of avoiding inputting data.)

The main downside to a subscription model, of course, is that it may prevent people from trying out the service who might otherwise become loyal users. A trial period could help with that, but I’m sure some people would be scared away even still.

Also, I know @dreev has mentioned previously how, if he started Beeminder from scratch again, he might forego the subscription part of the business, as it’s added a lot of development and support costs, so it may have been better to just double-down on their primary business model. I feel like a single-tier subscription with no feature gating would have a lot fewer of those issues, though.

What do you think? Would you pay monthly for a service like TaskRatchet? Does this just feel greedy, or like something that would, in the end, make the service more valuable to you?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. :slight_smile:

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I’d pay for a subscription and think it would work for this idea. I think paying much in subscription fees would make me more inclined to be conservative in my goal-setting, though (e.g. I’d be unlikely to put down the $20 I did for deciding on my next degree*) so I would personally be inclined to start with a fee that’s only large enough to ensure people keep paying attention and see how it goes. From my experience elsewhere, I’d say that $5 fees easily get ignored and subscriptions at that level frequently run for months or years without people really noticing, but $15+ fees rarely do.

*Which, if anyone is wondering, this successfully made me do. I haven’t actually enrolled yet because I need to make sure I can handle it finances-wise, but it has made me do all the work of figuring things out and setting up a savings schedule to make the thing possible. :slight_smile:

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So it sounds like you’re saying that a $15 / month fee might be the sweet spot that keeps people invested without being so much that people don’t want to go ahead and stake money on actual tasks?

Yep! Caveat that that’s my guess, based on anecdata from a somewhat different service. I would say $5 is too low, both in terms of undervaluing TaskRatchet and in terms of keeping people invested, but $15 is definitely the point [in my experience] where people start keeping an eye on the transaction!

The thing that bothers me is that I suspect that the pricing sweet spot, where the value of the service to the user is maximized, is going to be different for every user—broke college student vs flush software engineer, for example.

Crazy idea: What if the user was allowed to set their own monthly price, a little like HumbleBundle?

This seems really premature - I’d want to see how it works before I could decide whether I’d pay monthly.

How much manual stuff are you planning on doing? If it’s an app that’s totally automated and you’re just paying to enable it that’s different than a service…

You can’t just say that without telling us what it is!

:wink:

Yeah, I think a lot of people are likely to have that reaction—“I don’t want to agree to pay for something without knowing what it is or if it will work for me.” That’s very understandable.

Just to be quite up front, though, I am thinking of this as a “Software as a Service” product; that is, regardless of how automated it is, I’ll be providing a service by maintaining, (paying for) hosting, and continuing to develop the product.

In my mind, the question of how that service is paid for depends on what creates the most value for users. If a subscription service keeps people engaged with the service, resulting in them receiving more value, then I’m for it. Of course, if it just prevents people from signing up in the first place, I don’t want to do that.

The hard part is that there’s likely to be a little of both with a subscription model.

That made me think of, hmmm, something like:

“Because the nature of this service is to charge you when you fail to meet goals you’ve already set, you might find that you find it easy to forget about TaskRatchet and just not add any new goals. If you’d like to be reminded to come back, you can put your money where your mouth is by purchasing a subscription! Everyone’s motivation point differs, so please feel free to set the subscription to a price that provides the right amount of motivation for you to keep coming back. The [suggested? average?] price point is x.”

(Alternative idea that just struck me, this is not a seriously thought out fully fledged thing: no subscriptions, but encouraging people to set a commitment in the same way as any other… to use TaskRatchet to add new goals within the next month. If they do, no charge. If they don’t, charge!)

Well, I didn’t want to derail the thread too much, but the answer is an MSc in Mental Health Science, starting in February. I usually make sure to thank Habitica and Beeminder when I post about my academic successes, and TaskRatchet will have already earned that endorsement as well for the next go round! :smiley:

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Yeah, something like that could be really cool. The other advantage of doing it that way is that over time TaskRatchet would accumulate a dataset which would allow me to say things like “People who pay $x amount monthly create n number of tasks more than the average user and are y% more likely to complete their tasks,” which might be super neat to show people when they’re deciding how much to pay.

This is why Beeminder needs a TaskRatchet integration ASAP after the product is usable. :upside_down_face:

:grin:

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