Anyone want to help me think about pricing?

I haven’t been here long. I hope this is the right sort of topic in the right place. If it isn’t, just tell me.

This seems like the kind of group that might be interested in helping me noodle around on pricing. And I wouldn’t mind a few more eyeballs and opinions right now.

So, background just in case you missed my intro post: I do screencasts for a living. I’ve run for ~4 years now, it’s been my primary source of income for most of those years, I have well over 2,000 paying subscribers, blah blah blah.

Once upon a time, I kicked off RubyTapas at a rate of $9/month, because everyone else in a similar business was also charging $9/mo.

Four years have passed. Almost all of those other business have either gone defunct, been swallowed by corporate behemoths, or raised prices.

I’ve still been selling total access to a library of over 400 videos, plus two new videos a week, for $9/mo.

This has become unrealistic. I realize it, everyone I talk to realizes it. Even customers tell me to charge more. But I’ve been hogtied by having my business harnessed to a hosted subscriptions service. They haven’t provided any easy way to raise prices, or even to have users migrate to other plans. And the user experience with them is so anemic that I’ve been nervous about asking for more money when i can’t deliver features people have been asking for for years.

Fast forward to last month. I discovered the world of WordPress paid membership plugins has matured mightily in the years since I first investigated it. I realized I could deliver everything I’d always wanted to deliver with a fraction of the effort I had assumed it would take. I spent an extremely hectic two weeks, creating and launching “RubyTapas 2.0” based on this new platform.

And there was much rejoicing.

This seemed like an opportune moment to update my pricing model. You can see what I arrived at here. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about it, though, because I’m already unhappy with it. I’ve received a little negative feedback, and frankly I agree with the feedback. For instance, the “progressive access to former seasons” thing is confusing and weird compared to other screencast subscriptions.

Mind you, it’s all selling. I’m just not happy with it.

Oh, and notably, despite my attempt to bracket the “featured” mid-level plan, most sales so far are going to either the top or bottom tiers. And more top than bottom. This seems to confirm my misgivings about the middle tier.

Some of the considerations that go into pricing:

  • I kinda want something for folks who really just want to keep paying the good 'ole $9/mo.
  • All access is one thing; all download access is something else entirely. Here’s a thing that used to happen on the regular: someone would sign up for $9, download the whole catalog, then quit. Sometimes they’d quit so fast their transaction didn’t have time to settle, and then they’d demand support(!). This wasn’t as big a deal when I just had a few dozen episodes, but once it got into the hundreds it became more of an issue. For this reason, I’m not comfortable with giving all-download access to monthly accounts.

Here’s the structure I’m thinking of moving to right now.


  • Peckish ($9/mo):
  • Access to current season only
  • Hungry ($12/mo):
  • Streaming access to all episodes.
  • Ravenous ($18/mo):
  • All of the above plus:
  • Access to the “Afterbar”: an eclectic series of exclusive longer-form content, e.g. interviews with people I find interesting, unscripted dives into topical technologies, behind the scenes stuff, peeks at early work that may turn into episodes, etc. Maybe also a Slack channel?
  • Some exclusive, curated deals on other learning resources, 'cuz I know people.
  • FEED ME (~$200/year)
  • All of the above, plus download access to all episodes.


  • Peckish ($9/mo):
  • Access to current season only
  • Hungry ($12/mo):
  • Streaming access to all episodes.
  • Ravenous ($~200/year):
  • All of the above plus:
  • Access to the “Afterbar”
  • Some exclusive, curated deals on other learning resources, 'cuz I know people.
  • All of the above, plus download access to all episodes.

As you can see, the big question I’m noodling on right now is whether to have a fourth, yearly-only tier; or whether to collapse that into the “Ravenous” tier and make Ravenous yearly-only.

But honestly the whole structure is up for critique.

Again, experience suggests I’ll make sales regardless. But I’m curious if people have gut-level reactions, considerations I hadn’t thought of, thoughts about aspects of the plans that might bite me in future, etc.

Many thanks in advance!

EDIT: I should note that one-shot purchases of groups of episodes are also part of the future plan. I’m just not quite there yet. I’m focusing on my subscription pricing before I move on to the one-time sales.


Oh and @patio11 I saw you were on here and since on Twitter you said I could ask you about stuff I’m gonna go ahead and ping you. I would luuuuuuuurve your thoughts :smiley:

Are you planning on grandfathering in old accounts and applying pricing to new accounts - or shifting everyone across to new accounts?

I’m not a big fan of the grandfathering idea. However, I plan on providing SOME kind of bonus to ease the transition.

Congrautlations on your decision to raise prices! You are providing lots of value here. Raising your prices is a great idea.

Your price tiers are too close together. If Peckish is $9, Hungry should be $19 or $24 and Ravenous should be $79 per month.

Don’t mix monthly and yearly pricing, but do consider offering yearly pricing on all plans

It’s a good idea to offer something like grandfathering to current customers, even if that just means keeping their price the same. If your current price is $9 and your new pricing scheme includes a $9 plan, you could just convert current customers to that new plan. Or give them X months at the Hungry plan at their current price, then move them to the Peckish plan.

Consider offering some kind of “Enterprise” plan like a per-seat deal for bigger companies/teams.

And good luck!!

Thanks for the feedback! Can I ask what it’s based on? Gut feel, or is there some research on this?

Thanks again!

It’s mostly gut feel, but here are the ideas it’s based on:

In general, a small portion of your users derive huge value from your service or value it extremely highly, so it makes sense to give them a chance to pay a lot more.

I read an article on pricing that suggested three different tiers, with prices going up by roughly 2.2x between tiers. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where, but it seemed reputable enough at the time…

My biggest reason: adding tiered pricing introduces a choice that your customer now needs to make. You need to make that choice as easy as possible, because when you ask customers to choose, it’s also an opportunity for them to choose nothing - ie. to walk away. So your options need to be very distinct from each other, otherwise your customer will waste time thinking “well, the $12 plan is only a little more expensive, but do I really need all that? hmmm. I’ll come back to it later when I’ve made up my mind” (you just lost this customer) instead of “I definitely need more than the lowest plan. $79 is way to much. $24, sold!”

These are just my opinions! I’m going to continue to adjust them as I learn more about their shortcomings. I hope that helps inform your process!

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Thanks for that clarification, this is definitely a customer thought process I can relate to. You’ve given me food for thought.

I would put “download all episodes” into a separate add-on product and priced it at a high one-time price.

Maybe at 50% of the 4 years x 12 month x $9 =~ $250. Better yet, allow to download each season separately, at ~$69 - I’d try one historical season and if it is good, I would download the rest.

How I see it, it doesn’t make sense to charge for download annually – I have already downloaded them all, why would I pay for that again next year? And new episodes I would stream.

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I like your 3-tier model, offered monthly, but if they want to pay yearly they can get a 20% discount or something.

BTW - congrats on your success! 18k/month is incredible, do you mind if I ask how you get your customers?

Why would you do that?

That is useful is you’re short on cash now. But with the income level we can estimate from the provided numbers, why lose 20%?

  1. If his average customer stays on for less than 10 months, it’s a revenue gain.

  2. If any customer buys yearly but then only uses partial year, ie quits after 1.5 years, it’s a revenue gain.

  3. Because it’s nice to offer a discount to people that invest in you.


The topic of this discussion was “how to increase the revenue”, not “how to reduce it”.

It’s pretty organic. I talk about it on my blog and Twitter but otherwise I don’t advertise.

I’m blessed with customers who are remarkably effusive in talking about the show. A lot of word-of-mouth, as far as I can tell.

On the second thought, it is a pretty interesting math.

If the cancellations are evenly distributed across the year, switching to the annual plan could collect extra NM6, where N is the average number of cancellations per year, and M is the average monthly plan.

Of course, this can be only true for the first year. Next year the cancellations will happen in one large burst before the renewal.

Even for the current year (the year when the switch to annual is implemented) things may go wrong, as some people who are on the fence if they should stay, would decide to cancel seeing the larger annual bill.

So, I wouldn’t make any sudden movements like that. :slight_smile: The plans structure looks like a more sure way to increase the revenue.

The main [non-abusive] use-case for downloads as part of a subscription is someone says “hm, I’m getting on a plane, I’m gonna stick some episodes on my laptop before I go”. Stuff like that.

Oh. I had a very different use-case in mind:

I’m a Java guy. Suppose I want to learn myself some Ruby. I watch a few episodes online and see it is helpful. My learning method is “dive in”, so at this point I’d download the entire previous year (or this year, if it is well past Jun) season and watch them all in one go.

And I wouldn’t care about $70-$100 price, because if I’m doing that it means I need it for work, meaning I’d cover these costs in one hour of actual work.

I was under impression that folks watch (stream) the episodes as they go out. What is the point then to download them in bulk to re-watch on a plane? Is there much of re-watch value?

What I’m trying to say is – how do you know they download it for unavailability, and not for burst of self-education?

After years of feedback, I know there are a lot of different ways people watch the videos.

Note, first, that RubyTapas is NOT a tutorial series. The episodes are eclectic, usually self-contained, and deal with intermediate to advanced stuff.

That said, some binge-watch as soon as they get an account. Terrible idea from a retention standpoint, but some folks do it.

Some just watch new episodes as they arrive, and pick and choose a few older ones that look interesting.

Some watch as part of team lunch & learn sessions.

Some wait for some downtime to catch up on a whole string of episodes that they missed.

And, as I said, some load it up for the plane, train, or internet-impaired region (believe it or not, some folks still live in areas where they only get decent internet at work).

So yeah, it varies.

OK, then I’m wrong. (Happens to me all the time!)

BTW finally watched one of your “freebies”. Them are fun! I enjoyed it, despite being a Java guy!

I believe you should put a free episode somewhere on the front page. It took me some time to find it, and I believe it is a good conversion booster.

Okay. I have a decent amount of feedback, in no particular order :slight_smile:

  1. Anchor your prices
    How to value price and/or anchor:
    How to value price venture backed clients who don’t make money:
    Easily calculate how much engineering hours are worth: (I made this).

  2. Provide options. Make the one you want them to choose somehow highlighted on the page. Many people recommend the goldilocks curve (alluded to in another comment). Also, make sure the value is very different in each tier. Do not simply provide “more of x.” You seem to be doing this well already.

  3. Charge mORE~!!! I think your lowest tier should be at least $19/mo. Remember that we value our time at $100+/hr, even the cheapest of us. So, if one of your videos saves an engineer 1 hour of time, it pays for itself. Your videos probably save people way more than that. That’s pretty good ROI.

  4. Consider sending a survey to your happiest subscribers, and ask them to vote on which features are the most valuable to them (e.g. each person has 10 votes to distribute across a list of features you’re trying to decide to bucket into tiers)

Was this at all helpful? Let me know :slight_smile:

PS You might be dropping some conversion with the pre-credit card page and credit card page, based on what it looks like:

cc Jonathan Stark & @brennandunn