myTooq launched to beta on March 16 of this year and since then the service has been completely free. We have not many changes in the months since our release, mainly due to my unexpected hospital visit in February, trying to manage a limited financial war chest and taking time to hire our own staff and transition some of our development away from being contracted out. We reached out to people using the system and responded to a few concerns or bugs that were reported, though I’m still surprised at how little help people have needed and how few bugs we have had reported, (a testament to the design and certainly to the work of Spieker Point who did the initial architecture and coding).
Since the beta launch, we have displayed prices on our home page so they were very easy to see. I hate visiting the site of a service and then having to hunt for how much it will cost me. Worse yet is when a site doesn’t list any pricing until you sign up and worse still is having to fill out a lengthy form, coughing up all kinds of info to receive a call from a sales guy with pricing (Yes, online payroll companies, I’m looking at you).
Now, while we have displayed this pricing from the start, the pricing model was designed at the same time I was working on the concept of Molloy, the product you currently see, and maybe use. It was a best guess of what users would need and was priced below almost every other option out there. Over the last five months, I have been able to see more information about how people are using the site, the volume of invoices that are being sent, etc and now have way more information than I had a year ago when I started running financial models trying to figure out if we could make it work.
I’m currently working on defining, refining and solidifying a new pricing model for the site that will come into play in September. This means running through the models again and getting feedback from a few users before I can announce the official pricing, but I should have an announcement by the end of this week. What I can tell you is that I think the pricing shown on our site right now is too complicated and that goes against everything I set out to create. The site is so simple our FAQs are hardly ever visited and so far the monthly fee for GetSatisfaction (the “Feedback” tab on the left) has cost about $40.00 for every time someone has left feedback or asked a question. Our pricing should reflect the rest of the site in its simplicity.
When I created the original pricing, I looked at the pricing for nearly 30 other sites and everybody had transaction, client, user, counts and then a variety of charges for custom logos, pdf invoices and other features. I followed along with that and wish I hadn’t. It’s like cell phone companies. You can’t compare them to each other because they all make it complicated and impossible to compare them to each other. Truth be told, at one time, I created a model much like cell phone companies use where you could choose a la cart services. This worked for us because a free user might pay us $2 a month for something like a custom logo upload, while for users it worked because you would only pay for the features you needed. The trouble with it and why I scrapped it came down to a huge increase in development costs and it was just way too confusing for the end user. I honestly think most people would have abandoned us after about twelve seconds of trying to figure out what features they wanted and getting frustrated.
I want to make our pricing simple and easy to understand. If you look at another invoicing solution and they have twenty different features and a big chart to look at, and you’re forced to upgrade for an extra $10 a month for a single feature, and another $8 a month for another feature, you’re going to look at us with a sense of relief. And if we can solve your problem and reduce the time you spend on your invoicing, you’ll become our customer. Our job is to simplify as much as we can and make sure you are always glad you chose us.
Now, I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag, but you can expect to see what I think is about the simplest model we can work with by the end of the week. It will be straight forward and easy to understand, no extra charges for some small feature, no nickel and diming, and only three tiers of service. There will still be a free service level and it will remain pretty basic. The two paid service levels will see almost all of the same features (maybe all the same features, I’m still working on things and future features are up in the air) and they will be reasonably priced. There will be a discount for those that choose an annual subscription and people with very high volumes can contact us for custom pricing.
Based on the usage of the site so far, there may be some users that will feel upset at the pricing change if they are bumped into a more expensive bracket. While I have planned to have some special promotions for our beta users anyways, I hope to ensure that without grandfathering our pricing structure (to minimize our costs in maintaining two pricing systems), we can work with anyone caught in a tight spot to provide service equal to the old pricing for a period of time. Because of this change and the effect it may have on some of our customers, I wanted to post with as much notice as I could so there is time to have a conversation about it and make sure things transition smoothly.
I will also point out that we will begin charging for the service in September, so existing users of the site will begin their free trial period as of September 1 and if they require or desire a subscription, charges would begin as of September 15. I plan to send promotional codes to existing users as a thanks for adopting us early.
Watch for the official announcement on Thursday, August 26, here, on Facebook and on Twitter.