I started using a website called Draftin.com as an alternative to Google Docs and MS Word for most of my writing. It has some nice features that the others don’t have and overall I find it quite useful. However, this isn’t about draftin but rather it’s about their business model (or what I understand of their business model).
This service has no cost and no advertising and no limitations. However, they do ask for a small donation (not mandatory) to help keep their service running and allow them to keep adding new features. There is a link on the page to donate (either a monthly or yearly donation) and no pressure to do so.
A couple of days after I started using the system, I received an email from the owner asking if I had any questions or needed any help. I did have a question and he responded right away.
Today there was a very polite message when I logged in reminding me that I could donate to help keep their services running (and also reminding me that they were there to answer any questions). In no way did I feel pressured nor did I feel they were being intrusive.
Because I like the service a great deal and because I like their responsiveness and their model I went ahead and paid (there might be a couple of small things I get as a “paid user” but that wasn’t the reason for paying at all).
If they took the other approach and tried charging me from the start I most likely would not have signed up (why pay for some unknown service when there are plenty of alternatives out there?) but because they made everything easy and were helpful it seemed like a no brainer to pay.
I have no idea what percentage of people end up paying but it’s an interesting business model when an additional user adds very little to the costs.
Just another way to look at things.
Have a great day!