Thoughts behind Premium features

Here’s a question I’ve been wondering lately: what are your ideas and considerations between which features you include in the premium plans and at what price point?

At the core of Beeminder is the need to pledge money for your goals to make them sting. So I guess, every once in a while they will derail and have to pay you money, which makes you a profit.
Based on this, I would conclude that by making the core service more and more awesome, you would be able to attract and keep more users who make more goals, earning you more money.
However, this clashes with the premium plans that you introduced a while ago. The configurable retroratchet and changing of URLs would be features that would make the core of Beeminder more awesome to me. And by extension, features like these would probably make the user experience of the average Beeminder better (apart from making the average safety buffer, thereby increasing the chance to derail!), which would probably grow your business.
But now, we are forced to choose between an inferior Beeminder, leave, or pay a subscription to get access to the features we like and continue irregularly paying you anyway. I wonder if this would be the best course of action for Beeminder?

BTW, that’s not to say I’m principally against subscriptions, in general or on Beeminder. I think a good product deserves to be paid, even though I’m not always on one line with the price point the creators are setting. And for Beeminder, I can totally understand a subscription model for features that would decrease the profit from the core of Beeminder, like pledgeless goals or free short-circuiting, totally different things like a life coach. And maybe custom goals too, because the average user can beemind most goals with the standard options. But by combining these things with core features, it becomes less clear.

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I used to obsessively read beeminders blog (rather than work on my goals), and apparently they used to allow anybody to skip up to whatever level they wanted.

But the core problem with beeminders business model is that they need you to fail a certain number of times so that they can stay in business - of preventing you from failing. Make beeminder too good and they go out of business. Premium plans are a way around this, although I don’t feel like it is a very good compromise.

Part of me wished beeminder would go and get a good series A, then forget being profitable until they have acquired enough users to sustain on those who go the premium route.

I agree about premium vs non-premium features (see also my reply in a recent thread about retroratchet) but disagree about us needing to make you fail a certain number of times.

Rather, we think of it like this: If you’re the kind of person who’s going to get massive value out of Beeminder then you’re necessarily going to derail now and then, at least at lower amounts of money. If the graph itself were sufficient motivation and you never ever derailed then you clearly didn’t really need Beeminder in the first place. More on Beeminder’s seemingly perverse incentives on the blog.

PS: There’s a ton of discussion about premium plans still in the old Akratics Anonymous Google Group which you can find in the first few hits searching for “premium” there. I’ll reproduce my last thought from those threads here:

All ideas related to premium plans are going back on the shelf for now while we digest the latest feedback. So if we can pause all thoughts on that […]

Thanks again, everyone! Insanely helpful as always.
Danny and Bethany and Alice et al

Again, we’re finding Daniel, Sean, and Tom’s points persuasive. And in fact they’re mostly just urging us to stick to our original principles, as outlined in the “No Carrots For You” section of the announcement of premium plans. And I agree that #2 (“things that are confusing to newbees”) is too fuzzy.

but disagree about us needing to make you fail a certain number of times.

I may have formulated that in a bad way, but what I meant was that beeminder doesn’t make money from non-premium users who doesn’t fail (this should hopefully be obvious), regardless of what value they receive, so in order to stay in business beeminder requires that some people fail - which is currently partially done by not allowing non-premium users to set their goals initially at a high enough level that they believe they won’t derail.

Now issues with the core business model isn’t necessarily fatal, Google does very well despite their main income (adwords) competing directly with search, but they can certainly end up with some undesirable tradeofs.

To be fair 5 usd is apparently enough to prevent me from derailing, but I would prefer that if I ever end up with a goal that requires more than that I didn’t have to fail first.

The Beemium plan gets you that. Is it that it’s too pricey? But if that’s the case, why not just think of those initial derailments before you hit your motivation point as a fair fee for Beeminder’s service?