7.0: Thoughts on New Pricing


Yes, I can see why that would be a major pain. If you did run with Flashman’s model, you could always discontinue annual billing. That might not be so bad? It would help your cashflow, and those who end up paying less or the same price overall (i.e. everyone with 3 or fewer sites) would have nothing to complain about.

Good point. So my feeling is, that group of customers paying $29 with only a few clients would be, to some extent, subsidising everyone else (both the high- and low-end users).

Thanks for sharing that Cory. That’s really interesting and a hard lesson the rest of us can possibly learn from in our own businesses. (I’m really just starting out in app development, having been a graphic/web designer for 20+ years, so I can learn from this myself.)

True, but it really depends on how you look at it. Acknowledging that there are no perfect analogies, your model of a user with X customer/sites could also be compared to a family with X people. I don’t know about Hulu and Comcast, but Spotify and Netflix do charge more for multiple users.

Anyway, it’s kind of a pointless exercise to debate comparisons to other companies with completely different services. It’s all about your service and what ends up being the best win-win pricing for both you and your customers.


No limitations, other than the number of websites? Does that mean the free plan will get white labeling?

I’ve said this before but I can’t sell Surreal CMS to clients without white labeling. I’m willing to pay $5 USD per site, provided I can white label Surreal CMS. If the free plan has white labeling then that might work until I have enough clients to justify spending $19 or $29.

If the free plan has no limits other than the number of sites. What’s stopping me from signing up under a different email address? I probably wouldn’t do that as by the time I have five paying clients, I should be able to easily justify spending $19 or $29 per month on Surreal CMS. However, you have to remember that not everyone will be stick to the rules and start paying after five websites.

Spotify doesn’t make much profit, if any at all. In fact, Spotify had $1 billion in debt at one stage (not sure if this is still the case). The reality is, Spotify has to pay artist per song played where as Netflix/Hulu only need to create the content or purchase the rights to a production once and then it’s pretty much easy profit.

I think @cory is trying to compare Surreal CMS with Cushy CMS in pricing. The free plan definitely works for Cushy CMS. I wonder how many of those 90,000 websites that Cushy CMS powers are actually paid customers. I dare say a lot of them are free users or paid accounts with lots of sites.

Annual pricing still works with the per site pricing model and is much more easier than tiered pricing for the customer.

You could offer $5 per site per month or $4 per site per month when paid yearly. If someone choose the yearly option and then decides to cancel, you could give them a credit or no money back as it was a prepaid service. I charge my clients yearly for web hosting, domains and other similar services. Since I would be reselling Surreal CMS, I would purchase a site per year and get it at the discount. When I am ready to add more sites, I can simply purchase another site.

Another idea might be to only offer annual discounts on the unlimited $29 plan. You would still have $5 per site per month but it wouldn’t qualify for the discount.

So in summary, I believe that offering three different pricing options would satisfy the requirements of everyone and would enable both Surreal CMS and it’s users to succeed.

Free plan
5 sites
Some limitations?

$5 per site/month
1 site
No limitations
White labeling

$29/month or discount if paid yearly.
Unlimited sites
No limitations
White labeling

If the free plan doesn’t have any limitations other than the number of sites and it has white labeling then count me in. The white labeling feature will probably help you stop duplicate accounts because the user will probably have their clients sign in using the same CNAME record as the first account. You would force all free users to use a CNAME record for this to be effective. I can go into details on how this might work if you would like to know.

I’d love to know your thoughts @cory and @Kal.


To clarify, I meant no limits on the number of sites, users, pages, etc. The free plan would need to have some feature limitations to encourage users to upgrade (white-label would be one of them).

Spotify has an unusually high cost of content licensing to account for. Despite this, they still became profitable with a flat price freemium model.

My profit margin per user is higher than Spotify’s because I don’t have such large overhead expenses. In terms of customer acquisition, this point enforces my theory that this model is easier to sell.

I fear that, at $5/site, we’re still not improving the barrier of entry. We’re actually making it worse once you hit three sites. Currently, you’ll pay only $10 for up to five sites. At $5/site, you’ll pay $5, then $10, then $15, then $20, then $25. And then once you hit six sites the price stays at $29? IMO this makes it harder to get off the ground, not easier — but I do see the good intention :slight_smile:

Maybe the best course of action is to simply test the waters, but offer discounted pricing for existing users who would be adversely affected. :thinking:

It’s hard to change things and still keep everyone happy :slight_smile:


A discount would help. Otherwise I better fast track the number of client websites I build between now and when 7.0 is released.

Per site pricing might not work for everyone but it would work for me as I calculate how much web hosting, CMS, Analytics and other services will cost per website and then I add my profit margin on.

Agreed. I guess the best way to find out if the pricing will work is to follow Nike’s motto.

Just do it


Oh Cory. :frowning: This new pricing scale would cause me move to another option. Right now, I have 5 sites and they go through my branded editor (which impresses the heck out of them). Not sure what the answer is, although I do understand the need for a price increase. But $39/mo for 5 sites for the white label is too steep for me. I’ve been with Surreal for a loooong time and absolutely love it and your terrific service!

Jeremy’s solution would work for me. We also have the same concern about white labeling only being offered at the highest tier:

White labeling the CMS is a rather big feature and is considered a deal breaker for me.

If clients know that I’m selling Surreal CMS to them when they could have it for free, then I would lose the ability to sell the software.

A startup web development business cannot justify spending $39 USD per month if they only have one or two client websites.

The solution?

I propose the following pricing for Surreal CMS.


  • One site only
  • Some feature restrictions
  • No white labeling
  • Ethical advertising
  • Attribution link in the footer to Surreal CMS
  • Slower page publishing
  • Limited support with a strong focus on community support

Pro: $12/mo

  • 5 sites included (additional sites $3)
  • All core features
  • White labeling
  • No ads or attribution
  • Support from Surreal CMS


@GetSet, $39 is in my opinion too much but thankfully Cory has changed his mind.

$29 is much more affordable and although I’d like it to be a little more affordable, I think it’s a big improvement on the $39 price tag.

$29 / 5 = $5.80 USD per site. If your charging your client $10 USD for Surreal CMS, your making $4.20.

I think $25 / month instead of $29 / month would be a good price as it would be $3 less than Cushy CMS (which I don’t think has seen an update in years) and it might just push Cushy CMS customers to make the switch. I am glad that Cory has reconsidered the initial price of $39 / month.

Also @cory it looks like some stuff on the forum is broken. The Surreal CMS font text in the navbar and some default letter avatars.


Looks like the last Discourse update broke the external avatar service. Seems to be fixed now.

What are you seeing with the Surreal CMS text? It’s an SVG and the text was converted to shapes so it doesn’t require a font to render. I can’t seem to find anything wrong with it.


I appreciate that, and I understand that $39 is too much for white-label. I was contemplating $29, but what I’m hearing in the forum and in private conversations is that white-labeling is paramount to getting clients on board. Holding it at a higher price would create another barrier of entry, which is what I’m trying to prevent. :man_facepalming:

One More Try

That said, I’m going to propose an even simpler option with just two plans:

  - 5 sites 😄
  - no white-labeling 🎨
  - no analytics dashboard 📊
  - no change notifications 📣
  - no prioritized publishing 🐢
  - no API access 🤖
  - NO advertisements of any kind 🚫
  - community support 💬

Pro: $19/mo
  - unlimited sites 🤩
  - prioritized publishing 🐇
  - all features unlocked 🚀
  - white-labeling 🎨
  - the same premium support you're used to 
    (less than 24 hours every day) 👨🏻‍💻

Essentially, we go back to having FREE and PRO plans, which worked well in the early years. Pricing stays fixed as you grow, which avoids the success penalty. Free users go to the forum for support, which means pro users will still get top notch help. The barrier of entry is reduced thanks to the free plan, and a $19 price point should be pretty comfortable for 5+ sites and pro features.

At this price point, Surreal CMS is $9/mo cheaper than CushyCMS and only $6/mo more than Simple CMS. (It’s also $6/mo cheaper than it was when it launched in 2008). I welcome users to try all three services and decide which offers the best value for the price.

This plan will appeal to everyone above the very first tier (1-5 sites), as they will see price reductions. Those in the first tier will be split between free and pro, so most of the pushback will be from this group. If you are a long-term user and you will face a hardship as a result of this change, we can talk about discounts to keep you afloat on an as-needed basis.

I’m not trying to alienate anyone or price users out of the service. I’m trying to strike a balance between making Surreal more attractive for potential customers, keeping existing customers happy, and keeping revenue somewhat consistent.

This wasn’t an issue in the early days, but we can make sure the value added in the pro plan is obvious. It will become even more obvious in subsequent releases as planned features roll out.

Free users will get support from the forum where the community can chime in. I’ll also assist as time permits. Pro users will continue to receive the same support as always. :muscle:

As a side effect, free users will make the forum more active, as most current users write in directly knowing they’ll get a faster response.


The SVG font looks different to the normal Surreal CMS logo’s font. I originally thought it was text and the browser was defaulting to a fallback font and that there might be some sort of issue with font loading.

Logo for Surreal CMS Community (different font to normal logo)

The old logo for Surreal CMS Community


Thank you Cory for changing the price again. This new price is much better and more justifiable.

It’s not the best price for under 5 sites that need pro features but much easier to bear that cost (compared to $29 / month or $39 / month) until more client websites are built.

I think this pricing will definitely bring CushyCMS customers to Surreal CMS. Just had a look at Simple CMS which was hard to find in search results. It appears they haven’t updated their website in awhile as they are still listing PageLime on their compare page.

Looking forward to this new update. Can’t wait to try it out.


That’s intentional. The forum is ahead of the website and the CMS for the new design :slight_smile:


Hey @jeremy, sorry for not replying earlier. I kind of got busy and haven’t been on here for a while. In any case, I think $5 per site would be a bit steep if you went down a pay-per-site route. I think you suggested $3 per site earlier, and I thought that was better. :slight_smile:

Anyway, it’s academic, since Cory clearly wants a much simpler pricing structure. I’ll reply to his post now…


@cory… Wow, so in other words, you’ve just dropped the proposed $39 plan altogether and added white label to the $19 plan (which remains unlimited). That’s more generous than most of the ideas we’ve all been proposing! :smiley:

Yep, and that just happens to include me at the moment—I’d be paying about twice as much as I do now. :slightly_frowning_face: I do still think some of our earlier suggestions would be fairer (as in you pay for what you use), but it’s hard to argue with the value of your $19 plan.

I think we can see just how important simplicity of pricing is to you Cory. And you can’t get much simpler than your latest proposal.

Any chance I can keep using the current version of Surreal until I’m ready to upgrade and pay the extra?? (I’m guessing not, but hey, I had to ask.)


The current version will remain online for a period of time to let users upgrade at their leisure. Historically, all major versions have had up to one year.

While I hope to see everyone upgrade much sooner than that, I understand that it takes time to update documentation and get users familiar with new things. Users will remain on their current plans until they choose to upgrade.

I’m still a couple weeks out for the beta, but the majority of what’s left is the marketing website and upgrade scripts. I’m still trying hard for a release this month, though!


I was thinking $5 per site max but I really like $19 plan much better now.


If you want some extra help, I’m available to tie up some loose ends. :slight_smile:


Thanks Cory. A year to upgrade sounds very reasonable.


I’m late to the game I know, but for what it’s worth I’d echo some of the concerns that you’ll be overwhelmed with non-paying customers who might not be worth your effort. That opinion aside, I think that we get very good value for your product and the proposed pricing is reasonable.

That said, I wonder if instead of unlimited / white label you might still consider Pro for X number of sites (including white label) and a higher level (Corporate?) for unlimited sites but at a higher cost?


I don’t disagree. This is a “back to our roots” thing, and I remember the freemium days. It’s pretty easy to identify users who appreciate the product (whether they’re paying or not) and I’m always happy to consider feedback from those who genuinely do.

We’ll see how folks do with the new pricing and go from there. The new plans have already been coded in Stripe and I’m working on the marketing site and upgrade scripts now. (Last week’s bout with the Flu didn’t help.)


I’ve made one [hopefully] final change to pricing for version 7.

  • Personal – Free for personal, educational, and non-profit websites (unlimited sites)
  • Business – $9/mo or $99/yr for commercial websites + analytics (unlimited sites)
  • Agency – $19/mo or $199/yr for white-label and other agency features (unlimited sites)

The $9 plan fills the gap that many users were worried about, and I think the new names make more sense than just “PRO”. Additional features are coming for both premium plans soon.

More details can be found on the pricing page.