Archive for November 2nd, 2010

You See What’s Happened Here, Right?

Askimet is a fantastic little service that helps block and prevent spam on blog comments. It’s been around for years with millions of happy users.

Up until now, it was offered for free. But as with most businesses, especially one that provides such a great, convenient, easy to use service, Askimet recently decided to start charging.

And people are up in arms.

Gee, go figure. Why on earth would a… um…. business charge for its services?

This attitude completely baffles me. In one comment I read, the person thought it was “outrageous.”

Come on, people. Why on earth do you expect a business to keep giving away their stuff for free? Do you honestly think the world revolves around you and that they were put on this earth to subsidize your life and your business without compensation of any kind? Oh brother.

It’s so hypocritical… you expect people to pay you for your services and products, but as soon as someone else does the same thing, what they want to charge is “outrageous?”

That kind of hypocrisy keeps you out of alignment with integrity. It’s also a form of poverty mentality. People who are successful (or want to be) don’t whine about nickels and dimes, and they certainly don’t expect others to work for free.

At $5 a month for a single site license, there’s nothing outrageous about it at all. It’s quite reasonable, in fact. If you have 10 sites,  it goes up to $80 a month. Still very reasonable if you ask me considering the problems it prevents from spam and all the lost hours it saves us in dealing with those issues.

They have additional multi-site licenses in increments of 25, 50 and 100 on up. Sure, if you have that many sites, it can get spendy. But just because you have a million sites doesn’t mean they should be giving their service away for free.

More important, though, is the business lesson here. You see what’s happened, don’t you?

Askimet has trained its customers to devalue the service and expect it for free. For years they have spoiled people by providing a valuable service for absolutely nothing. And like spoiled little babies, these people are outraged now that Askimet has the audacity to actually expect to be paid.

This is a common tactic of technology companies. Give the product away for free in beta to build a large user base. Let the users identify the kinks so you can work them out. Then, once you have a really fantastic product with a huge customer base of people who can’t live without it, start charging for it. But as you can see from the uproar, there is a huge drawback to that strategy.

I think they should have been charging right from the start. Then they wouldn’t have to deal with this ugly “free” expectation they themselves have created. You can do yourself a favor by learning from their lesson.

But they are playing a commodity numbers game that you as a service provider can’t match.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free.”

This is exactly what’s going on here and you want to avoid that in your business. If what you have to offer is worthwhile and of value, then it’s valuable and worthwhile enough to charge for right from the get go.

Don’t give away freebies and discounts in the hopes that it will get you more work. All that does it attract freebie seekers and train clients to disrespect you and devalue what you have to offer.

If you train them to expect it for free or cheap, you’ll have one helluva time getting them out of that mindset once you realize you can’t make a living on “free” and “cheap.”