Why I’m Making My Next App Completely Free… For A While

There’s a lot of factors to think about when deciding on a pricing model for an app. But, put basically, you want the price to be low enough for customers to pay it in exchange for your service, and you want it to be high enough for you to make a reasonable profit.

These past few weeks, while building my upcoming app Shelf, I’ve been really thinking about a pricing model that made sense. I’m building the app with frequent updates in mind. Version 1.0 is going to be super simple, with just the barebones idea of Shelf inside. You search for a book, add it to your collection, and write down thoughts for each book. Simple. It was also built as a side project during the last 3 or 4 weeks. However, despite being small, I have big plans for Shelf. Version 1.0 is simply a taste of what the app can grow to be. I’m building it this way because I really want users to be involved in the app’s development, instead of taking a huge amount of time guessing what works and what doesn’t

That being said, I’ve decided to make the app completely free, just for a while. I’m promising a bright future for the app, but we live in a world where tech giants give promises that they don’t deliver on. And I’m just one guy. If people can’t trust Facebook or Google, why should they trust me with what I’m saying? So, until the app has features that I can justify getting paid for, users won’t need to pay anything. When these features do become available though, then I’ll be able to keep the basic app free, while users would be able to pay a fee in exchange for the extra features offered by the app that they have grown to trust.

The keyword here is trust. It’s important to appreciate the value of trust. It’s one of the main reasons why users don’t pay upfront for apps anymore. Other than a few screenshots and some text, users don’t really know much about the app you’re making. They know what it offers, but they don’t know whether they will enjoy it. How does the app feel? What are its goals? What will this become? These are important questions that can’t really be answered without using a service for a while. That’s why trials and free versions work.

Give users a taste of your app/service. Let them love it and trust it. It’s worth it.

Check out Shelf here, and if you liked this post, click the little heart button below. It really helps.

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I try to make stuff.

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