You Won’t Get Paid If You Don’t Ask For Money

February 26, 2013

TeuxDeuxI’ve long been a fan of TeuxDeux, which its makers describe as a “a simple, designy, to-do app.” It’s a clean, effective way to keep track of the stuff I have to do — nice looking and just a bit more useful than a text file. That’s about all I need from a to-do list.

TeuxDeux users received notice recently of a “neux” version of the app. It’s faster. It has some fancy new features (finally, recurring tasks!). And the wildest new feature: A paltry fee.

Once the new version is fully rolled out, users will have to pay $3 per month with the option to enjoy a massive 33 percent discount price ($2 per month) if you prepay for a year.

And the users scrambled for the pitchforks and torches, right? Nope. In fact, quite the opposite.

 

 

And so on.

If you make something that people love, they’ll pay for it. But you have to ask first. It’s an important lesson, particularly for start-up types. Jumping from free to not-free is a hurdle many seem to fear.

Not Andrew Sullivan. The Daily Dish blogger announced earlier this year that he was leaving The Daily Beast to run a standalone website that would pass up selling ads in favor of selling unlimited-access subscriptions. He and his small team have done quite alright for themselves, having already earned more than $600,000.

Closer to home, my friend Garrick Van Buren frequently tries to teach people this (and many other lessons; read garrickvanburen.com). Several years ago, he built a great RSS reader called Cullect. He set a price, and I happily paid it. In return, I had access to a great tool I loved to use and prompt, happy support from a developer who honestly cared — because he knew I cared, too.

“Make something awesome and charge for it” is a gross oversimplification, a la South Park’s underpants gnomes (Phase 1: Collect underpants. Phase 2: ? Phase 3: Profit.) But the only thing harder, I’d imagine, than making something awesome enough to get paid for is making something awesome enough to get paid for and not getting paid for it.