In the open


On August 1, exactly three years after launching our Casual plan, we'll no longer accept new Casual subscribers. Instead, we're going to focus on our Pro writers, improving our apps, and helping new WriteFreely communities start up and grow.

In this post I'll explain a bit more about why we're making the change and how exactly we'll provide another way forward.

As mentioned in the above blog post, when we launched Casual in 2016, we wanted to offer a core set of features at a very affordable price. Our hypothesis was that if the cost was low enough, as a user, paying for a useful and ad-free tool would be a no-brainer.

The Casual plan, by many measures, has been a success — just not as much as we would've liked to see. A few factors, I think, contributed. Our free plan is generous enough that most people used the platform for years without ever needing to upgrade. It also turned out that the moral obligation angle, asking payment for a user-funded service, wasn't quite enough. And through it all, there's the underestimated friction of pulling out a credit card in the first place.

While we could spend many more months tweaking things, limiting certain features, and increasingly nagging people to pay for, I think today we can provide a better way forward that doesn't compromise the simple platform we've built thus far, while keeping us sustainable as a business. Here's how we'll do that.

A Way Forward

I (Matt, btw) see a return to smaller communities as the future of the web. This thought has been bubbling underneath the surface for me since I joined a community called in 2014 — and really goes back even further, to 2011, when I started building an unknown platform called LunchTable. It's the reason joined the fediverse with ActivityPub support last year, and when we went open source, a “multi-user” config option was included in the first release.

Today marks a culmination of all of that progress and thought. Particularly, now that we're open source, anyone can create their own “” They can build a community that cares about privacy as much as we do (like this one) or start one about anything they want, as many have done. Our goals of more human connection, more creative expression are no longer constrained by our single service like they were in 2016 — now anyone can build these communities themselves on the same minimalist tool we've built. And that's what we want to encourage.

Going forward, will become more of a purely paid WriteFreely instance (more on this below). Our goal here is to ensure the long-term sustainability of our work, and to limit our userbase a bit, distributing more people across other WriteFreely instances — maybe even to one they start themselves.

As part of this, we'll continue evolving the “writing tool” side of this writing and publishing tool. Right now, for example, we're investing particularly in our desktop tools, from the command-line client we just updated to our Linux app.

Lastly, we'll continue making WriteFreely communities accessible to all, regardless of technical skill. We'll accomplish this with new services, from the business-oriented for Teams to the community-oriented

As for the Casual plan, as with all of our pricing changes, all existing users will keep their subscription at their current price unless they cancel or switch plans. At that point, after August 1, 2019, they won't be able to start or switch to a Casual subscription. (So now is a great time to get on Casual!)

New free users will also see some changes. Unregistered, anonymous users will be able to continue posting as much as they want — the same goes for existing free, registered users. But users who create an account on August 1 or later will see new limits, likely in the form of a maximum number of posts they're afforded. With those limits, we might also bring some Pro features into the free tier, to make it more of a true “trial.”

On a final note, we'll be looking to put together a group of trusted WriteFreely instances we can refer users to. We'd like to work with reliable admins interested in running long-term instances, and ultimately, build up a network of independent sites. If any of this interests you, let's talk!

And as always, we're happy to answer any questions or concerns about these changes over on the forum.

(P.S., if you like what we're doing and want to help us move forward, we're hiring!)

#WriteFreely #casual #changes #pricing

We plan on making a change to Casual and Pro accounts sometime in the next few days: reducing the number of blogs / identities included with your subscription, while giving you the chance to add more for a small fee. There are a few things driving this decision:

First, the generous number of blogs per account is a relic of the early days of our business model. Back in mid-2016, we didn't have all the Pro features we have today, or the large audience on Read, so we offered more blogs to make the plans worth their price. Today, however, writers enjoy a full-featured platform at (what many people say is) a reasonable price, so this isn't as necessary.

Besides that, many people request discounts on our subscriptions because they don't actually need all the blogs we offer. We used to give those discounts, but again as we've added features and become more useful to more people, that's come to make less sense.

Lastly, we've been considering increasing the price of our Casual subscription (out of necessity), but also looking for ways to avoid it. After all, its cost is meant to be accessible to as many people as possible, so more people can have access to our permanent, privacy-respecting home for their writing. We'd like to keep it that way, and this is how we'll do it:

Soon we'll be launching our marketplace, named Extend Along with the recently-launched Labs, we'll be offering new add-ons through this channel that help people customize the platform to fit their exact needs.

One of the first things that'll launch on the marketplace is the ability to purchase an additional blog. It'll be available for everyone — even if you're not a Casual or Pro subscriber — and will cost $12 per year, per blog. With this change, Casual accounts will come with 1 blog (instead of 3), and Pro accounts will come with 3 blogs (instead of 10).

As always, existing subscribers will keep their current blog allowance for as long as they hold a subscription. So if you'd like to get the current allowance at a great price, now is a great time to upgrade! Otherwise, you'll be able to add as many blogs to your account as you want sometime within the next few days — and again, help us ensure we're around for decades to come.

Have any feedback? Let us know what you think on the forum.

#pro #casual #changes #writeas

This month we revisited our pricing model and realized how much money we lose to processing fees each month on our $4 Pro plan. We found that 10.5% goes to our payment processor, Stripe, as opposed to only 3.5% when customers pay annually — a big difference in our revenue.

When we originally launched our annual Pro plan we wanted to keep the pricing straightforward, so we just multiplied the monthly price by 12 and called it a day. People didn't seem to mind, but still our monthly plan remains the most popular.

So beginning on Monday, March 5, we'll start passing on the savings we get when you subscribe to an annual Pro plan by permanently dropping the price to $40 per year. We hope it'll encourage more people to go yearly, helping us all save a bit of money.

For anyone currently on the $48 / year plan, you'll be able to switch to the $40 / year pricing when you want (we'll show a reminder in the app), and you'll see the savings the next time your subscription renews.

As always, let us know what you think of the new pricing!

#pricing #pro #changes