Obsurvey was transformed to a paid service Feb 27th 2013. Because the service was growing too large as a free service, and I was facing large hosting bills if it continued to be free. Existing users were given free access until April 1st 2013.
Today obsurvey has 109 paying customers. Fourteen of those are on a $96/Year plan. I had to create a annual plan in a hurry, because people were asking for it. The remaining 95 are on a $8/Month plan.
All in all I consider this a success. Getting twelve upgrades on a single day, has been an exhilarating experience. Hey! They are really paying and they continue to come!
Getting paying customers has revived my drive for improving obsurvey. Since it was made a paid service, I have done a lot of improvements. Implemented features that people have been asking for, and I did a quite big data-transformation and performance optimization - that has obsurvey running faster than ever. I'm having fun with obsurvey again!
One thing that has surprised me is that with over a thousand likes on the obsurvey facebook page, I was expecting a lot of people to unlike obsurvey when it turned paid. This hasn't happened. In fact since converting to a paid service, the number of likes has continued to increase.
I did see some numbers fall. Right before converting to a paid service, obsurvey was getting 2,000 signups a month. This number has dropped to 800 signups for a trial a month. The number of survey responses has dropped from 200,000 a month to 80,000 a month.
I personally consider 800 signups for trials a month, with a $0 marketing budget and no time spend on marketing at all, quite good.
What now?I do not intend to focus on conversion rates, optimizing payment tiers, marketing, SEO, partnerships or anything like that. I will instead be focusing on one thing and one thing only. The thing that made obsurvey grow in the first place: Building an even better survey application. Here are my personal reasons why:
- Building a great product is fun!
- Marketing sucks the life out of me, and I'm really bad at it.
- I can't get enough of performance optimizing obsurvey.
- I've tried, but never even been able to muster enough interest in SEO, to even grasph the basics.
- I love the excitement of building a feature, and testing it on real people on usertesting.com. The feeling of having build something awesome, that users are going to love, can't be beaten.
- I have limited time to spend, might as spend it on something I'm good at and love to do - things that make me a better developer.
And also, when everyone is doing one thing, I usually try to do something different. This is not primary source of income - I can afford to experiment. That's also why obsurvey has no free plan, has no payment tiers and the annual plan has no discount. Obsurvey does not become less valuable, because you pay for longer periods.
Having a small userbase, allows me to spend more time on innovation, when the userbase gets large, change comes slower. You spend more time on support, and you get the dreaded: "But what are the users going to say"-fear of change. I've seen first hand how damaging this fear can be at large SaaS companies. I intend to take full advantage of my small size.
So I'm not saying obsurvey is never going to get some work done on SEO, marketing, partnerships or payment tiers. I'm just not going to be the one doing it. If obsurvey can grow into a bigger business just by focusing on building an even better survey application, I will eventually pay someone to do that work. If not, I have a nice extra income, and a few very happy users, that I can build a close relationship with. That's enough for me.