Designing A Business Model

With the impending release of the long awaited new site editing platform, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about the new pricing and business model that will come with it.

As such, I want to announce the details of the new pricing along with give my thought on how to architect a good business model.

Background

PageLines has been around in various forms since 2009, we started as an internet marketing consultancy  and have evolved into a company that creates professional WordPress tools, as well as a hub for web professionals of all kinds.

In these 7 years, we’ve had the opportunity to get some experience (read: make mistakes) regarding all types of things. One area we have had particular struggles with is regarding our pricing and business model.

Old Model: Paid Software

With PageLines’ first products, we started as a simple paid software download.  We did this because we were still learning the market and this was (and still is) the primary way that WordPress products are sold.

The problem in this approach comes down to the “pay once, get free updates and support forever” mindset that comes with it. Unfortunately,  support people and developers don’t tend to work definitely for a small one time payment. Hopefully, you can see the issue here.

Old Model: Paid Recurring Membership and Support

The next thing we tried was the standard recurring business model that most startups and WP companies use. In this we charged a monthly amount for ongoing updates, support, extensions, etc.. plus an upfront fee.

This model was also non-ideal for WordPress software.

The end result was something that was overly complicated, and didn’t line up with how PageLines was actually being used in the marketplace. There was an implicit disharmony between the product, market and business model.

Old Model: “App Store” Concept

Another revenue model we tried was something you might call the ‘app store’ model. In effect, selling individual extensions (sections, themes, etc… )

This model also sucked because regarding website design people really like to try things and experiment before they commit.  In the store model, people have to pull their wallet out each and every time they want to try something.

We found that often FUD (fear, uncertaintly, doubt) got in the way and people just opted not to use the store as much as we’d hoped.

The solutions and new business model

Going Free

As I’ve discussed in other blog posts, minimalism is key to success in business.

As such, we’ve decided to stop fighting the free software paradigm.

So the core Platform 5 system will be 100% free. This means it’s easy to try, use, and build a business on top of…

The Pro Product

Who We Are Making Software For…

The web tools market is very crowded these days. As such, we have had to be very specific about who we were creating for.

From the beginning, Platform 5 is designed for “pros who want to make pro websites faster.” People that want premium quality and service and are willing to pay a little for it.

If you’re on a budget, and want to spend your days debugging and frustrated, feel free to use any other of the 100s of frameworks out there.

As I said, we only want Pro customers and we want to charge enough so that we can insure each and every paying customer is super happy with their decision.

Pricing a High Quality Product

PageLines as a brand wants to be seen as a high quality product. Something people can be proud of using, since it reinforces their conviction to crafting something of high quality.

As such, our pro level product isn’t gonna necessarily be cheap or at a cut rate price. It’s gonna be premium, like the product and our conviction to it. 

Selling The Entire Pro Platform

We’ve opted to go with a single price to access the entire professional grade library of extensions.

Once you pay to activate your site, you get access to all the pro extensions we make (as well as the free ones). In addition, we plan on releasing new extensions rapidly to build out the value of this platform.

In the new extension engine, everything is one click away if you have pro enabled
In the new extension engine, everything is one click away if you have pro enabled

This makes everyone happy, there is something for people on a budget and those that want pro level extensions and support.

Depending on how many licenses you buy, pricing is between $49/site to $99/site per year.

  • What is Free:
    • Core PL5 software and free extensions
    • Ability to add your own extensions and customizations
    • Install extensions from 3rd parties (lots are coming!)
  • Pro Platform Activations
    • Includes all pro extensions plus new ones, updates, support, etc…
    • One click extension updates and installs
    • Sites are activated individually via API
    • Pricing
      • $99: 1 Pro Site Activation,
      • $399: 5 Pro Site Activations:
      • $699: 10 Pro Site Activations:
      • $999: 20 Pro Site Activations:
      • Etc…

Notes:

  • Guaranteed: As always, happiness with your purchase is 100% guaranteed or money back.
  • Local Included: Once you purchase a pro activation you can activate any local install of WP.
  • Adding Subs: You can buy multiple subscriptions and they are additive. (Buy one activation and then 5 and you’ll have a total of 6)
  • Better and Better: We plan on piling on tons of extensions to really cement the value of what we’re doing.
  • Handoff: Once sites are activated, you can  hand them off to another pro account and get your slot back.
  • If you cancel: Don’t worry,  your site will stay the same. You just won’t get new pro stuff or improvements, updates and support on your existing ones.

Grandfathering

If you are a prior customer and are on a personal, professional or developer recurring license, you will be grandfathered in at approximately 30% of the cost (great deal!)… Here’s how it adds up:

  • DMS Personal: 4 activations
  • DMS Professional: 8 activations
  • DMS Developer: 12 activations

Final Thoughts

We’re always learning, and I’m sure we’ll learn from the new model. Our goal is that this time, we have a business model that will fuel innovation and work long into the future.