When Surreal CMS first launched 10 years ago, it started as a freemium service with a pro option. Pricing looked like this:
Free: - 3 sites free Pro: - $25/mo for unlimited sites
When 5.0 was released, we moved to a premium-only plan based on the number of sites. This is the current pricing plan we have right now:
Free trial then... 1-5 sites: $10/mo 6-10 sites: $20/mo 11-25 sites: $30/mo ...
At the time, there were a number of freemium competitors on the market and we wanted to stand out by providing the best service possible with the best support possible. I think we achieved that.
Since then we’ve acquired our biggest competitor, PageLime, and the rest seem to have completely stopped developing and, in some cases, supporting their service despite having paying customers.
To this day, none of the competitors in our class offer < 24 hour response times nor feature parity with Surreal. I’m very proud of this, but we’ve left a big hole in the market for this type of CMS.
Why Go Back To Freemium?
As static websites gain in popularity, I see an opportunity to introduce a lot of new users to Surreal.
Over a year ago, I completely stopped advertising Surreal CMS on AdWords and all other platforms. Every single signup since then has been organic (direct traffic, referrals from blogs, word of mouth, etc.).
I’ve become disenchanted by the idea of tracking users and invading their privacy just to shove an advertisement down their throat. It’s unethical, unwanted, and expensive.
I want users who want to use my service — not users I’ve paid and “stalked” to signup.
That said, freemium is an excellent way to encourage growth organically:
- At a high level, free users means more users and more brand awareness.
- Hobbyists, non-profits, and other low-budget users will be able to use the service (more brand awareness).
- Users who would have otherwise never tried the service will be more willing to try it and, if it’s a good fit, there’s a good chance they’ll upgrade.
- Users will be able to explore the service freely at their leisure without pressure to make financial decisions before their trial ends.
All in all, the goal is to let more users who want this type of service through the door. Some will decide to upgrade, others won’t. Ultimately, having more people familiar with the platform is a really good thing for you and for Surreal.
Of course, more non-paying users means the cost of support goes up on our end. This can be offset with a good knowledge base and a vibrant community forum. Regardless of what happens, I promise to continue supporting premium users with the same amazing support they’ve always received.
I hate buzzwords, but content marketing is a great way to introduce new users to a service. Along with the upcoming launch, I’ll be rolling out a new blog full of helpful info and tutorials. Everything from web design tips to how you can do awesome things with Surreal CMS.
These will be thorough tutorials with high-quality content, images, and even videos. I hope to see a lot of organic traffic on the blog from web designers and enthusiasts who have never heard of Surreal CMS before
Thoughts on New Pricing
Nothing is set in stone yet and your feedback is strongly encouraged! That said, what do you think of a pricing structure that looks like this?
Free: - unlimited sites - some feature restrictions - use edit.surrealcms.com (for brand recognition) - ethical advertisements (i.e. non-tracking, privacy friendly, only in the dashboard) Pro: $19/mo - unlimited sites - all features - no ads White-label: $39/mo - unlimited sites - all features - no ads - your own branding, subdomain, etc.
Please try to be objective with your responses. A change like this will mean some users pay more, some pay less, and some will be able to downgrade to a free plan.
And again, this isn’t set in stone. I’m just trying to feel things out and determine the best cost for value!