I always had in mind to make Mindwave a paid service from the start. But what should I charge for it, and why?
I try to keep things as simple as possible. Everyone should have the full experience, whether someone pays for the app, or don’t. It’s easy to understand for the user, and easy to build for me. I do not want to divide all functionalities in different plans, with different experiences (like: ‘start’, ‘advanced’ and ‘pro’). At least, not for now. Maybe never.
In general, Mindwave is going to be a paid service. I love the concept “your content, our software”. And I never want to make my users (data) my business model. So, the focus should be on paid Memberships. Everyone using Mindwave on a structural basis needs to have a paid account. Easy.
Mindwave users can invite friends, to give them access to specific private stories. And the last thing I want to do is create a (paying) threshold for these friends. They should be able to sign up for free and read that shared stories. Same case if someone wants to ‘follow’ a public journey. A free membership makes this possible.
At the same time, this also creates a big opportunity. Every free user is also a potential paid user. They need to upgrade as soon as they use it structurally. The only thing we needed to implement is a ‘free plan limit’: 40 logs, or 4 stories, equals the usage of +/- 30-days.
So, free memberships can be a great ‘growth engine’, once Mindwave really adds value and the users are extremely happy.
That brings me to pricing. What to charge for a membership, and how?
Starting with the payment provider. That was an easy one. I can’t remember even giving this a lot of thought. Stripe is the go-to provider for SaaS tools.
Secondly, let’s choose the payment options: Credit Card, Paypal, Ideal (Netherlands)? I started simple, credit cards first and add more options later, if we need to.
Then the price itself. I could have done a lot of research here. But I didn’t. I checked some competitors, checked some other related services and just decided to go for $9 a month. It’s in the top-10 most popular monthly prices of SaaS (Baremetrics). Plus, it’s one digit number and visually looks great next to the other two prices…
Because, next to the monthly fee, I introduced two other payment plans: Yearly and 5-Year. Yearly is probably going to be the most chosen payment period. And I’ve added the 5-Year Plan to address the long usage focus and possibility. We’re in it for the long run, and so should my users be. Plus, I made the long term plans most valuable. From a 36% discount for the $69 Yearly Plan, up to a 69% discount for the $199 5-Year Plan.
Dollars? Yes. I don’t want different currencies (and prices?) for different countries at this point. Let’s just start with one price and one currency. Plus, pricing in dollars (over euro’s) emphasizes the international character the most. So, yeah. Why not go for dollars.
I think most SaaS tools use a 7 or 14-day trial. This is probably proven to be the best way to convert new users into a paid membership? Dunno, but a 30-day trial really feels natural to me. Maybe it’s because, in general, it takes about 30 days to adopt a new habit. So the 30-day trial gives new users the opportunity to embrace journaling as a habit, and experience the power of Mindwave at the same time.
Still sounds like a fair deal to me. On the other side, I also know that if you pay for something you have more skin in the game.
Are people going to use Mindwave?
Then we have the biggest struggle of the past weeks. Why not focus on the biggest uncertainty now “are people going to use Mindwave”, and later on the second biggest uncertainty “are people going to pay for the value”?
I’m not a SaaS expert (yet) but having a signup flow, with a required credit card, when I’m about to launch a new product, doesn’t feel like a good strategy. I think it’s great to show how I’m going to monetize, even to have the ability to go for paid straight away. But what a threshold this is!
So, just before launching on ProductHunt, I decided to change the focus fully on to: “are people going to use Mindwave”.
Let users start for free, without a required credit card, and let them discover the possibilities of Mindwave. Focus on user feedback first, and improve the overall experience. If we add great value, then shift the focus on monetizing.
Free for part-time founders & makers
Idea: Why not make Mindwave free for part-time founders & makers? I want people to start logging their journey as early as possible. And I don’t want to discourage students and side-project enthusiasts with a paid tool. No, I want to encourage them!
So, It only took me 5 minutes to add “free for part-time founders and makers, anytime” to the Sign Up page. That’s the beauty of building something for yourself. I can just try and see what happens. Maybe it’s just a launching thing. Maybe I’ll keep it forever. Time will tell.