When I started developing MyTLog.tk it was not my intention to make a product out of it. I was a weekend project to scratch my own itch and as I spent time working on it, it revealed to could have been more useful than I initially planned.
If I had stopped on the features for members only (primarily keeping the progress towards the DTM), there was no way I could have possibly justified charging for usage. But when I started adding all the features that make it very useful for club operations and management, it felt right to set a minimal fee for usage.
Here are 3 reasons why there is a monthly fee:
- Greater Perceived Value
Free is so ubiquitous almost in every industry that in most cases, the perceived value of free is very low. $3 per month is low enough to be a affordable for any club. From my experience, most online services that are free sell advertising. I have a few other online services I created and they are 100% free, but supported by advertising.
To be honest, unless you have a significant traffic (a few thousands a day), you will not be able to cover your costs of keeping a free service online. And the more traffic your service gets, the higher it costs to maintain the service.
- Development & Maintenance Costs
I spend on average 4 hours per week working on MyTLog.tk. At the rate of $65 per hour, that is about $260 per week in spending for development. Hosting costs are currently less than $10 per month. It would be great when I am able to generate revenue from the application to cover those expenses.
It only makes sense to generate revenue from a good product you offer to the marketplace. I am building a great product. 😀 At $3 per club monthly, when there are 200 paying clubs in a couple of years, the monthly revenue will be around $1,300.00 ($1,500.00 – $200.00). $200 is the cost of credit card payment processing fees. I used the http://standtomake.com/ service to get the estimate.
- Quality Customer Service & Job Creation
True, there are lots of free products that provide legendary customer service. But for a side project that I am turning into a business, in order to provide customer service of a very good quality, there needs to be a reward. Ultimately I want to be able to create jobs through my entrepreneurial ventures.
Last time I checked, there is no sustainable business model with employees that does not generate a revenue. You could mention a lot of start-ups that don’t have a revenue, but they are backed by investors who will at some point in time ask for revenues to get their moneys back. Like I read in the book Rework by Jason Fried of Barcamp (formerly 37 Signals), a start-up that does not start with a good product that generates revenue is a gamble (paraphrased).
Toastmasters International is a not-for-profit organization, and they do not endorse or support any product that is not free for membership, even if the product is very useful and helpful. It is my hope that in the future there will be a marketplace accessible through the Toastmasters International website where people like me display services like MyTLog.tk.
But that a conversation for a different day.