On Monday, quietly and without fuss, Feedly announced Pro Accounts. They didn’t make a fuss about it because they are not widely available yet, they were initially only offering 5,000 lifetime accounts at a cost of $99, the usual price will be $5 per month with an annual payment discount when it launches fully in the Autumn.
I grabbed one as fast as I could, not because of the discount but because it meant I could pay for a service that I have been enjoying for free – and could have continued to enjoy for free if I wanted. I can see the bemused expression on faces across the globe as the penny drops that I am paying good money for something that I could have for nothing.
There is a simple reason why I am prepared to do that – the cost of free is one that is far too high for me to contemplate paying.
You Cannot Rely on Free
The cost of free is terrifying. The current rise of Feedly illustrates one of the principle reasons behind my loathing of free. When you don’t pay for something, you have no control and it can be taken away from you at the drop of a hat – and you have no recourse.
Like many web workers I rely heavily on RSS feeds to keep me up to date with what is going on both for work and in my personal interests. I am a feed junkie and I could not do my job without them. The late lamented Google Reader was my first port of call every day, I relied on it, I loved it with a passion and suddenly it was snatched away from me by the ‘powers that be’ at Google and there was nothing I could do about it. I was devastated and not a little panicked. One of my main workflows depended on it. I had completely disregarded my own mantra about never relying on anything free and it was a real wake up call.
I experimented with a number of other feed aggregators and Feedly came out on top – but it was still a free service which made me itchy. There were other paid services out there but they didn’t fulfill my needs in the way that Feedly did so reluctantly I recreated my workflow with Feedly at the core and terror in my heart. Now that I can pay, I am at peace. I know it doesn’t guarantee anything in the long term but at least I am supporting the service that supports my business.
There’s Always A Price
There is a culture amongst Online Marketers, particularly the less reputable variety, that you should get as much as possible for free so that you can make money, something I have never understood. They all charge for their services and get mightily annoyed if someone bypasses payment for their products and services or demands them for free, yet they do not live by the same rules. It doesn’t seem to dawn on them that there is no such thing as free, there is always a price.
This reluctance to give worth and value leads providers to find other ways of making money to fund their service, some straightforwardly ask for donations, others use advertising or email marketing. Free games providers have it down to a fine art with ‘In App purchases’, but none of these are reliable.
I would rather pay up front, it’s less intrusive and allows me to build a relationship with the provider that we can both benefit from. It gives them a regular income so that they continue to provide and develop the service, and it gives me peace of mind that the service I rely on will still be there tomorrow. That’s a win-win scenario in my book.
If something is worth having it is worth paying for, especially if it is something you rely on. That is what makes the world of business work — online or off.