My new response to "why isn't your product free"

Hi all,

maybe you’ve come across this before, especially when your target audience are developers: The question (/criticism) “why isn’t this free / open source?”. After several years of being an indie dev and being faced with this time and again, I now wrote a blog post standing up for myself (and other entrepreneurs). Maybe you’ll find it useful too:

Dear Comrade


Wow, I really appreciate this last bit so much:

“…when you critique my product or offer alternatives, by all means do take into account that it’s paid. But don’t make it your only point. The world is too nuanced for that. I hope you will find things it does better than the alternatives. And whichever conclusion you come to, please let it exist. It’s just another option and may help somebody out there.”

I’ve really struggled with this subject, and you’ve really done a good job expressing a response.

With my app, I also hear this feedback occasionally. To make matters worse, I keep having this debate with myself.

I’m not sure why so many people feel that everything on the internet should be free, and I do realize that not everyone has the means to pay for things. Let’s face it, many of our apps are solving decidedly first world problems. But I’m still unsure why I keep having this debate within my own mind. Imposter syndrome, perhaps.

In my app’s case, there are two additional reasons why it can’t be free: 1) the price is a quality signal, 2) the fee helps ensure a more engaged participant because everyone has skin in the game.

I do also provide a number of free resources to help people who’d rather not pay.

You’ve inspired me to codify the reasons why my app isn’t free into not only a blog post, but also an FAQ question and as a saved reply template in HelpScout. All of which to make it easier to just give my response and move on with my day instead of reopening the debate each time it comes up.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing this!

My pleasure! Glad you like it :slight_smile:

Just ask them if they do their job for free.


Thanks for sharing :slight_smile: Bookmarked for later reference - I’ll sure use it :slight_smile:

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I created my own version which I use as a landing page:

Since yours is a SaaS service, you may also like this post (not by me): Don’t be a free user

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Nice article. It sure is a common sentiment. I wrote my own take on this question here:

Have we all written this article at some point? :grin:


I keep coming back to

I wrote this on my website

When reading your “Free salon software” page, I noticed in your page footer that you use Capterra. I’m curious about this so I’m going to start a new discussion topic where hopefully you’ll share your experience!

I remembered this thread because I just got my first “It refers to buy pro.” 1-star review on Google Play. The Play’s moderators rejected my removal request since the review doesn’t break their guidelines directly.

I really wanted to leave a passive-aggressive reply with a recommendation to not accept money for work but probably nothing can fix this kind of thinking, so whatever…

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I feel your pain @mherrmann, but getting snarky with developer-customers never pays off. I agree with @Andy - and leave it at that.

Makes sense?