What happened to free?
Pricing models are tough. Unfortunately, we are programmers / engineers, not marketing people (Mike has a marketing degree but we do not let him do any of that).
When we started we did not have a clue about how many people were even going to use the service. Also, we thought the inconvenience of only having a 5 minute session for free, plus having to wait in line, would be enough 'encouragement' for professionals to opt for the premium service.
Boy were we wrong.
Of the 17,637 users that have registered with our service, 708 have either purchased some credits or subscribed to the service - right at 4%. While the 5% paid number in a freemium model is a great percentage traditionally, it only works if you have thousands upon thousands of users (ie Flickr, etc) - it does not work in an industry such as the web design area with a focused audience where we see hundreds of users per day.
Originally, we felt that the credit model would be good because it was a feature that would let you buy the time you needed and nothing more. But as time has gone on we saw that most everyone ended up confused about it. We also have found that credits alone would not get us to a point of covering costs. Even now, our subscription base is funding the growth and development of the business - we decided this is the group we should focus on serving.
With our new subscription model we feel like we were covering our mistake of basing our model off of high traffic and it is a pricing model that everyone understands.
As we stand today we are covering most costs, but none of the 3 partners has taken a dollar in pay for the thousands of hours we have put into the business. We would like to change this at some point. The way to do this is to have a profitable business.
We are releasing our new platform and web site and along with it we are no longer offering free sessions. The decision was hard. Some people will be mad. We do not want to lose customers but in the end we would like to make enough money to support ourselves and to continue to grow the platform.
Ken, Mike and Tony