denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
Denise ([staff profile] denise) wrote in [site community profile] dw_biz2010-03-23 11:18 pm

Restocking the War Chest

As discussed in this week's [site community profile] dw_news announcement, the last three months of lowered income has done a lot to deplete our "war chest" -- the amount of money we keep in reserve to cover our future operating expenses. We'd already been running in the red from month to month, and the past few months have seen some additional expenses over and above the usual.

So, we're looking to run a DW fundraiser, once the credit card payment system is up and running again, to 'repay' the reserves that we've had to tap into over these past few months. It costs us around $10,000 a month for operating costs + what we pay ourselves (and we really don't pay ourselves much -- thank God for spouses with day jobs and the willingness to let us follow our dreams), and we've had some pretty big one-time expenses since the beginning of the year, including the tax bill being due. (We had money set aside for it, but let me just say, ouch.) With credit card payments, we were taking in about $6,000 a month, and we obviously hope that we can get out of the red, month-to-month, sometime soon!

In order to repay what we've had to raid the piggy bank for since the beginning of the year, our target goal is to raise $50,000 in the month of April. In order to repay the piggy bank and be able to support the kind of expansion, marketing, and improvements we'd like to do for the rest of the year, our pie-in-the-sky fundraising goal is $100,000 -- it's a bit of a stretch, but since we know a lot of paid accounts are set to expire on the one-year anniversary of open beta (5/1), we think it's totally doable if we hustle.

We haven't decided exactly what form that fundraiser might take, though, so we thought we'd put it up for discussion. Each of the plans we've been able to think of so far have pros and cons, and we'd like to make sure we hear everyone's thoughts before we make a decision.

One possibility is to sell another batch of seed (permanent) accounts. We said that we weren't going to do it again, since permanent account revenue is good in the short term but not so good (for you or for us) in the long term, but many people have asked us if seed accounts will ever be available for sale again, since they missed the first sale or weren't yet Dreamwidth members, and we think there'd be enough interest to support another sale. (Like the last time, seed accounts would sell for $200, and we would only place a limited number, probably 200-300, on sale.) We're really hesitant about doing that, though, because we told you guys that we weren't going to do it again except in dire emergency, and this isn't dire emergency -- we don't want to go back on what we said.

Another possibility is to do a paid account special sale -- along the lines of the December holiday promotion, where buying 6 months of time for someone else would give you 2 months for your own account, but not necessarily exactly that. (Details of what exactly the sale would consist of could be totally up for discussion.) The advantage of that would be that we wouldn't have to do something we said we wouldn't do (offering seed accounts for sale again), and we'd be able to design the sale to be as attractive as possible, to give people a chance to support Dreamwidth at any financial commitment level and get a bargain in the process. (We know that $200 is a lot to ask from people!) The disadvantage is that whatever promotion we come up with might be hard to distinguish from the changes to the paid account/credit system, which might make adopting the credit system more confusing, plus it might be hard to find an incentive that would encourage people to buy paid time credits.

A third possibility is to run some sort of unofficial Dreamwidth fundraiser, where individual people would offer up goods/services/what-have-you in exchange for DW credits, once we have the credit system going. The advantage of this would be that it might get people used to using the credit system, while the disadvantage would be the amount of overhead it would require -- it would have to be something unofficial, since we don't have the resources necessary to handle disputes or conflicts, and it might wind up with things going really wrong when people can't or don't deliver on what they promised. Also, this is the kind of model that's usually used on Dreamwidth and LiveJournal for charity fundraising, and Dreamwidth isn't a charity -- it might be weird, and we don't want to devalue the important charity fundraising work that people do.

So, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option (and there's nothing saying we can't do a mix of any/all of the above, as well as things we might not have thought of yet). We want to throw the question open to the floor, though, and see if people have perspectives and ideas that we haven't thought of:

* Which of the options do you prefer?
* Do you have any other ideas that might help us reach our sales goals?
* What kind of sale would inspire you to buy DW credit?

(One thing we're not looking for, for this post at least, is feedback on what kind of features and benefits would make paid accounts more appealing to you. We know there are a lot of things we can do there -- we've got a list of them scheduled for the rest of the year -- but they take more senior-developer time and effort than we have to schedule right now. Later on in the year, we'll revisit the question of paid account features and how we can improve them!)
azurelunatic: Azz and best friend grabbing each other's noses.  (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2010-03-24 04:31 am (UTC)(link)
Dreamwidth-related swag? It's going to take overhead to get Proper Swag sourced and sorted, but there are things such as a build-your-own-shirt, build-your-own-mousepad, build-your-own fabric, where there's minimal setup and still a reasonable-quality end product.

(For that, you'd of course want to be open about how much of the price goes to you and how much goes to the shop, so people who want to support but are undecided can choose whether they'd rather pay that much for an item and have whatever pittance go to you guys, or whether they'd rather get more paid time for somebody and have all the money go directly into the kitty.)

(I'm sure Gabe wants to be fed again, doesn't he.)
Edited 2010-03-24 04:36 (UTC)

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nextian: "dreamcult: 1. Dump LJ friends. 2. ??? 3. PROFIT!" (dreamcult)

[personal profile] nextian 2010-03-24 04:44 am (UTC)(link)
I would much, much rather the exchange sale (option two) than one or three. I would certainly buy a seed account if they became available, but I understand the desire to keep your promises, and honestly, I think that's more important; as to anything that looks like an actual fundraiser, not only is DW not a charity, but that makes you guys look like you can't make your overheads (which you totally can!) so ... not sure that makes sense.

I'd buy swag if it was sufficiently well designed. The DW swirl is small and tasteful enough that it'd look good as like the corner of a totebag.
scrollgirl: canadian dreamsheep (misc dreamwidth)

[personal profile] scrollgirl 2010-03-24 04:58 am (UTC)(link)
I agree! On all counts!

Also, your icon = A++++ :D

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coaldustcanary: Image of Inara from Serenity (Default)

[personal profile] coaldustcanary 2010-03-24 04:49 am (UTC)(link)
I know I don't have a paid account yet (I will within the next few months when my financial situation is a bit more stable) but I just want to throw in one vote to not do the third option. While DW is awesome, it isn't a charity, and I think using the model that's been largely charity-based might be a little sketchy, to be honest.

Maybe access to certain kinds of journal designs could be a special feature of buying paid time for you or someone else?

I second the request for swag. T-shirts. Stickers (of a size to put on laptops, car windows, etc). Tote bags.

[personal profile] piscinarii 2010-03-24 06:02 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh I like the journal designs idea.

And +1 again for the swag idea. T-shirts, stickers, car decals, magnets, mugs, mousepads, sew-on patches, iron-on patches, etc.

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jenett: the milky way emerging from silhouetted hills (Default)

[personal profile] jenett 2010-03-24 04:52 am (UTC)(link)
I'd totally buy a t-shirt in an interesting design (the Dreamwidth sheep would be a lovely one, if feasible).

Another thought: what about something that entitles people to some sort of special perk - I'm thinking of being in the initial beta test for new features or something of the kind, before they go live to everyone. (Though now I write this, I'm not sure that's technically feasible - but some kind of perk that isn't quite a direct account benefit that I hope someone will have a more brilliant idea for) It'd be a fun way to support the service without dealing with seed accounts.
azurelunatic: Azz and best friend grabbing each other's noses.  (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2010-03-24 05:30 am (UTC)(link)
Right now, I don't believe that things are set up to do beta on the regular site, but I believe being able to have a set of users on the main site who are set to be able to switch beta-mode off and on (similar or the same as the way the parent project does it) is planned for the future. So the capability is technically feasible, though I can't speak to whether the owners would think having paid entry into beta testing would be desirable.

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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)

[personal profile] branchandroot 2010-03-24 04:58 am (UTC)(link)
I also think DW swag would be a big winner.

On a related line, would virtual gifts involve too much dev-overhead? It seems like that's another way, especially if the fundraising aspect of it is foregrounded, to let people contribute a little money and get something out of it.

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majoline: picture of Majoline, mother of Bon Mucho in Loco Roco 2 (Default)

[personal profile] majoline 2010-03-24 05:03 am (UTC)(link)
I could get behind some sort of perk (depends on what it was, I guess) for idea #2. If you are doing swag, I'd really like stickers the most.
damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)

[personal profile] damned_colonial 2010-03-24 05:18 am (UTC)(link)
Agreed... I think stickers would be awesome. Also buttons and mugs (possibly travel mugs like the OTW ones?)

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emory: (Default)

[personal profile] emory 2010-03-24 05:21 am (UTC)(link)
Swag for sure. :D

I would love to buy a permanent account now that I can afford to at last, and would probably end up continuing to buy paid time on at least one other journal besides. But you guys's feelings about your promises are your feelings, and will determine the thing.

Personally, I wouldn't think that y'all doing a once-a-year-(or-two) very limited permanent account sale would get any "omg they went back on the promise to never everever sell permanent accounts again!" hoopla or anything like that. I think that most people would be surprised you'd promised that in the first place, and probably figure that maybe it had been a little unrealistic of a promise to make so absolute, and doesn't hurt anything to moderate a bit when the financial situation legitimately could use the help.

I see it this way: The lowered income has happened because you guys have been fighting so hard and not compromised at all the core promises that really, really matter. Reassessing and asking for opinions on an account sale policy and possibly revising it a bit, all in the open and because of need, is totally reasonable and cool.
hooloovoo: sunset, with clouds and hooloovoo written in blue at the bottom. (Default)

[personal profile] hooloovoo 2010-03-24 06:12 am (UTC)(link)
Yep. Exactly.

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charmian: a snowy owl (Default)

[personal profile] charmian 2010-03-24 05:23 am (UTC)(link)
I think a paid account sale/promotion might be a good idea? Perhaps more promotion/explanation of the paid account features to convince people to buy? To avoid confusion, perhaps the fundraiser might be held some time after the changes to the payment structure have had a chance to sink in?

I also second the idea to sell mugs/shirts/whatever merchandise.
trixieleitz: sepia-toned drawing of a woman in Jazz Age costume, relaxing with a glass of wine. Text: Trixie (Default)

[personal profile] trixieleitz 2010-03-24 05:25 am (UTC)(link)
My favourite idea of the three is a paid account promotion - I think that's most in line with the Dreamwidth vision :) How about offering x months Premium Paid features if you buy 2x (or 4x or 6x) months Paid? That would also be a way to promote the premium features for the future.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2010-03-24 11:11 am (UTC)(link)
this.

since you were so firm in the announcement that a seed account was a one time thing, it's better not to go back on that.

i think the idea of a paid account promotion is great, and maybe some other things that people who already have paid accounts could buy.

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eagle: Me at the Adobe in Yachats, Oregon (Default)

[personal profile] eagle 2010-03-24 05:51 am (UTC)(link)
I kind of hate to see you sell more permanent accounts because I agree with the logic that you stated originally, but of course as a permanent account holder I'm not really one to comment.

When you start, I'll be throwing money your way, however it is that I can. What I'd most like to do is help fund whatever you feel is most likely to help get you to the point where you can meet ongoing costs, or to directly support the things you're doing that make this place special. I would, for instance, be perfectly happy giving you a flat-out "support for having ethics" direct donation for making the hard and correct decision to change payment processors twice. Or sponsor your mentoring of new developers somehow.
emory: (Default)

[personal profile] emory 2010-03-24 06:10 am (UTC)(link)
Totally +1 on a "support for having ethics" direct donation. For now I just found a free user that I dug the entries of and who seemed like they could use a paid account, since I don't know if direct donations might make for sticky accounting or anything...

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florahart: dreamsheep with seattle mariners logo (mariner dreamsheep)

[personal profile] florahart 2010-03-24 06:20 am (UTC)(link)
I think I so much appreciate that you don't go back on what you've said that I would hate for you to do so shy of direness--that's a valuable kind of reputation and one you don't get to have again if you squander it, you know? So, I mean, in the long run, I would like to have a seed account, but the fact that I couldn't swing it right now isn't why I think that seems like a bad idea.

I will totally be buying more time, though my paid time may run out before the system gets all worked out (woe), and don't have any much better ideas than the buy for someone and get some for self thing, unless, hm. Maybe if you buy for a free user you get 2 months and if you buy an extension for a paid user you get one? or 2.5 and 2? Like, to try and get people who haven't had a chance to play with the paid things to get to see them? Though, that might be hard to explain and hard to administer.

I am with everyone else on the swag thing. Definitely.

I think that the whole credits thing is going to probably generate a lot of questions and take up support time no matter when you do it, so I kind of figure it won't matter if it gets a little more extra-confusey with a sale or whatever.
zarhooie: Sheep growing on a stalk with Kat and SupportHelp (_support)

[personal profile] zarhooie 2010-03-24 03:11 pm (UTC)(link)
As long as Support knows what is going on, we can inform users and help them get un-confused.

Dreamwidth Support is pretty robust and flexible. As long as the users aren't asking specific questions about their microcredits (how many do I have, did my payment go through), the non-NDA folks can do the majority of the troubleshooting.

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ninetydegrees: Drawing: a girl's pale face, with a yellow and green stripe over her right eye (believe)

[personal profile] ninetydegrees 2010-03-24 06:33 am (UTC)(link)
Yes to #2, no to #1. As for #3, I'm not against the idea of directly donating money to DW but not like this. Someone mentioned a tip jar on dw_news. I like this better. I would also buy virtual gifts.
yvi: Kaylee half-smiling, looking very pretty (Default)

[personal profile] yvi 2010-03-24 06:36 am (UTC)(link)
You know you are too much into development when the first thing you do after reading this is opening Bugzilla and looking what 'paiduser-enhancement' bugs there are.

That said, I would totally buy a DW shirt.

But I also think that something like "buy 6/12 months for yourself, get 2/6 months to apply to a community" might be interesting.
eagle: Me at the Adobe in Yachats, Oregon (Default)

[personal profile] eagle 2010-03-24 06:50 am (UTC)(link)
(I would also buy a DW shirt, although I'm not sure that's going to raise enough money after the expenses of the shirt creation.)

Oh, hey, the community thing triggers another idea for me. Can I use random gifts to sponsor a random community? Particularly one that's put itself into the mix for really wanting to use the paid features for something? For some reason, that feels way cooler and more fun to me than sponsoring a random user.

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tree: text: dreamwidth, in blue on a blue and green background ([else] dreamwidth sheep)

[personal profile] tree 2010-03-24 06:47 am (UTC)(link)
#2 definitely gets my vote. also, swag. also, swag-that-is-not-t-shirts. i am always compelled to buy t-shirts to commemorate various thing (i'm looking at you NaNoWriMo) that i then never wear.

i also liked the idea of having a design contest for the swag. not sure how feasible it is, but it'd be neat to have multiple options for 'winning' designs, a bit like what dreamhost did with its t-shirt design contest.

oh, oh, you could make [staff profile] denise and [staff profile] mark action figures! a little sheep with the dw logo on its belly! numbered bugzilla bugs!

okay now i really want a little plush bugzilla bug to hang out with my giant polio microbe. OTP.
noracharles: (Default)

[personal profile] noracharles 2010-03-24 08:28 am (UTC)(link)
Now I really want you to have a little plush bugzilla bug to hang out with your giant polio microbe :-D

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downtide: shore birds (Default)

[personal profile] downtide 2010-03-24 07:14 am (UTC)(link)
I would prefer some kind of offer on paid accounts. For instance, "buy x months, get y months free" or something like that.

I would not be able to buy a seed/permanent account (and would not do so anyway, unless re-naming of accounts became a possibility).
I have no idea what "DW Credit" is, or what it's for, so I wouldn't be able to say what would persuade me to buy it. It would be entirely based on usefulness.
Edited 2010-03-24 07:14 (UTC)

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ame: (Default)

[personal profile] ame 2010-03-24 07:29 am (UTC)(link)
Personally, I think something that might bring a little more money would be things like rename tokens, more icons (permanent or paid by monthly would be up for debate), little things like that that make people buy them a lot on IJ or LJ. Though, to make things fair with the renaming I think that renames shouldn't allow the person to forward anything of the old username to the new username so the username is free for others to use.
cesy: Unofficial Dreamwidth volunteer (Dreamwidth volunteer)

[personal profile] cesy 2010-03-24 07:35 am (UTC)(link)
Rename tokens are in the works, and should be here soon!
[staff profile] denise has previously explained that add-on icons won't happen, as they're the main thing that costs them money from the server side, so add-on icons without the paid account features don't make sense.

However, I'd support either having another level above Premium, or raising the cost of Premium, and having more icons for that.

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jumpuphigh: Dreamwidth Logo with the caption "Meeting New Friends" underneath. (Meetup)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2010-03-24 07:51 am (UTC)(link)
Throwing this idea out there:

There are so many cool DW icons out there and I've made a few icons myself but I'm not the best icon maker. What about selling icons? To some extent, it would have to be on the honor system since anyone could just grab and use if they were so inclined but my impression of this community is that most of us are honorable in that way.
foxfirefey: A wee rat holds a paw to its mouth. Oh, the shock! (thoughtful)

[personal profile] foxfirefey 2010-03-24 08:54 am (UTC)(link)
I think the problem is selling icons isn't because it relies on the honor system--if we did such a thing (NOT THAT WE SHOULD), I think it'd be pretty easy to have the icons we sell have hash values that are checked when somebody uploads an icon and not allow them to upload it unless they've bought it. Which doesn't prevent them from using it on, say, LiveJournal, but it could be prevented on DW itself.

The problem is that the main portions of the culture around the making and exchange of icons is a gift economy, and thus attaching and enforcing a monetary value to specific icons by DW would, to many people, feel very disrespectful and tone deaf.

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slashfairy: Head of a young man, by Raphael (Default)

[personal profile] slashfairy 2010-03-24 09:21 am (UTC)(link)
I would totally buy my girlfriend in Germany a seed account (she doesn't have a credit card or paypal, AND is [truly] an impoverished student, and this would be a GRAND boost for her) but I'm also willing to make a one-time donation of $20 (about all I have of pocket money at any given time) to the *general fund and dreamraising*.
queenbarwench: (Default)

[personal profile] queenbarwench 2010-03-24 09:29 am (UTC)(link)
I would love to make a contribution to FLOSS mentoring (mentioned elsewhere). If I could do that via v-gift, that would be very cool.

I also +1 the swag option, particularly if it's stuff I can [buy in/ have shipped to] the UK at a reasonable price.

sorchasilver: (Dreamwidth)

[personal profile] sorchasilver 2010-03-24 10:13 am (UTC)(link)
Not keen on the idea of a Seed Account sale unless things really are that bad. Even more definitely not in favour of co-opting the charity fund-raiser model, that seems really skeevy to me. I think option 2 is your best bet, and I might be willing to contribute to something like that, depending on the set-up. I don't have a paid account and I don't want one, but I have paid for paid account time for other users in the past, and if there was a good promotion I think that is probably the only way I'd be willing to contribute.
lanterne_rouee: i survived dreamwidth closed beta (dw survived closed beta)

[personal profile] lanterne_rouee 2010-03-24 10:17 am (UTC)(link)
#2 is best (and i don't like #1 or #3), maybe keeping the bonus amount of time offered relatively small though, so you aren't losing what you're raising on the back end.

or making it simply the same flat benefit no matter how much you spend - like everyone to purchase any amount of paid time in april gets an extra free # of time/credits. or maybe some sort of permanent designation on their profile, though access to an actual feature or more paid time is cooler and more appealing.

what you did when accounts first went on sale might be effective: sell at whatever the current rate is, and let it be known that after april, all the rates will be increasing a little. (so people will want to buy/top up before the end of april.) i know things are always well thought out around here though, and the current rates have probably been finely calibrated to be set at what they are. so, if it's unwise to raise them yet, forget that one.

another idea: temporarily put a moratorium on the free codesharing community, if that's even possible, for the month - as well as on generating free codes at all. then, there'd be greater incentive to purchase time to create new accounts, even if it's with the smallest entry amount possible. personally, i hate this idea though. :( for many reasons, but mostly that it's sad and counter-dw-culture and unfair to people who haven't even tried the site yet.

i really strongly prefer the ideas of promoting paid features and the ability to gift a free user/community, out of everything so far.

not as keen on products (even though it'd be cool to have them - especially stickers), simply because (a) it will cost money and (b) this is a short-term effort. so, maybe later for all of that. however, for designs (beyond the swirl, the d, and 'dreamwidth' in the official font), why not reproduce some of the dw icons collected on the wiki during closed beta (mostly the red and white ones) and some dreamsheep? if the people who created the icons don't mind. it'd be cool if you could pick which ones you wanted and on which items.

or maybe something like... you design one sticker (or small iron on patch or whatever) - something flat and small, that won't take up much space in your offices or cost much to mail. (unless you could find some sort of partner to automatically ship it out triggered by your own payment processing? i dunno if that exists.) send one to everyone who purchases paid time in april and only to those people. limited print run. when it's gone it's gone. you could do it again sometimes in the future though, if needed. key would be the exclusivity of the item. if there were future promotion periods, you could either reprint the same design or use a different one each time, creating a series of exclusive items. downside is all the people who can't purchase in a particular month, who'll be really sad to miss out on the only dw merchandise in existence. (probably including me, most of the time.) and that it's a little... mcdonald's flintstone glasses. lol

yeah. i'm not very capitalist, so this isn't really my area - as is probably clear by now - but if i think of anything else/better, i'll come back.
shanaqui: Castiel possessing Claire, from Supernatural. ((Castiel) Time to make a choice)

[personal profile] shanaqui 2010-03-24 10:54 am (UTC)(link)
I really hope they're not planning on raising the rates. Premium is expensive enough.

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chris: (power)

[personal profile] chris 2010-03-24 11:02 am (UTC)(link)
the kind of expansion, marketing, and improvements we'd like to do for the rest of the year

Is your problem really the need for a one-time cash injection, or the need for higher sustained incomes? Unless you have specific (server-related?) one-time purchases in mind, I fear that any sort of one-time cash injection now by getting users to advance their purchases is likely to give you short-term benefit but cause you to experience the problem again later, and thus you really need higher recurring incomes to get out of the red and get further and further into the black.

My suggestion is to be more aggressive with regard to getting people to switch to DW paid accounts from (or, at least, as well as) other journalling services, even taking point seven of your second most recent news posting in mind - and I do think this is possible rather than a contradiction in terms - then living or dying on the strength of service that you can offer. I've spoken against v-gifts in the past as blatant money-grubbing, but other people do seem to like them and (as far as I can tell) that's the way that a great many social media games and services seem to make their money, so they must be one of the ways forward - and, quite possibly, you could offer the same v-gift at a number of different price points for those who do want to overpay. Swag sounds good, though I wouldn't buy it personally.

Speaking as someone without a seed account, offering another seed account sale strikes me as pretty uncool bearing in mind what you've said, though it would strike me as funny to say now that "we're going to commit to having another seed account sale: 200 more accounts will go up for grabs for one day on our tenth anniversary, and none at all before then". At least people would have time to decide whether they want to commit, and then to save if they do.
Edited (changed "from" to "from (or, at least, as well as)", added initial quotation) 2010-03-24 11:20 (UTC)
mark: A photo of Mark kneeling on top of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines. It was a long hike. (Default)

[staff profile] mark 2010-03-24 03:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Short but relevant note: we are growing month to month and our income has been increasing month to month. We're not worried about the long-term sustainability of the site, it's the shorter term flexibility that having a 'big nest egg' gives us that we would like to have.

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[personal profile] zvi 2010-03-24 11:06 am (UTC)(link)
I wonder if some sort of ... bug bounty model would work? You know, if people said, I will give $X to DW upon the completion of bug Y? I know there are some bugs I would pay cash money to have someone work on, but I don't know if there's any dev slack to pick up, in the sense of people who would be developing if only something prodded them to get back in the game after they took a break. Also, if it would queer the dev culture to introduce a competitive moment. Also, it's a a weird time with it being GSOC time.

I'm mostly putting this idea out in the hopes that someone can refine it into something usable.
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)

[personal profile] cesy 2010-03-24 11:12 am (UTC)(link)
I tried this in the past - offered a paid account to a user of your choice if anyone fixed particular bugs. However, it didn't seem to produce much result, as generally the people who would be doing the coding weren't motivated by the offer. However, given this announcement, it might be worth trying again.

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shanaqui: Zoe and Wash from Firefly. Text: badasses. ((ZoeWash) Badass)

[personal profile] shanaqui 2010-03-24 11:16 am (UTC)(link)
The methods everyone else have mentioned of selling stuff like t-shirts, tote bags, etc, sound pretty good. If you get people to contribute nice designs that are Dreamwidth related but also nifty in themselves, people can buy them as gifts for non-DW users (which might make those non-DW users interested in checking out DW anyway) or whatever. Stuff with Dreamsheep on it would be cute.

I don't like the idea of you doing another seed account sale. You said you wouldn't, and in the long-term it doesn't help you, because then you have a bunch of accounts, owned by your most avid supporters who are most likely to spend money on DW, that won't ever necessarily bring in new money! It doesn't seem like a good way to work it.

Personally, the kind of sale that would probably poke me into doing it would be a slight reduction in price. Not much -- even $5 would be enough to make me go "oh, it's better to do it now than later". On the other hand, I'm pretty much planning to renew all my paid accounts anyway, if I have a valid way to pay you (like my mother's credit card *snerk* -- even at twenty years old, mothers continue being useful, it seems). $5 off each purchase would just sweeten the deal and possibly persuade me to buy batches of twelve months instead of six months, or something.

The thought of "limited edition" account levels drifted through my head briefly. Like, you need to do a promotion, so you make a cheaper kind of paid account available, with the features people most want out of paid accounts (more icons, polls, whatever you think is most attractive to paid users), that'll only be available for the time of the sale. So people who are a bit too broke to buy paid or paid premium accounts can still support Dreamwidth and get some features in reward, but you only have to support that account type for a finite length of time. I don't know how workable that is, but I can picture people just wanting to pay for icons and polls, or something -- or not caring about all the shiny features, just wanting to contribute a bit. You wouldn't have to add any new features, just strip down what you've already got.

I kinda wish DW had a tip jar, so that when I'm feeling impressed with you guys (which, let's face it, happens all the time), I can just give you whatever I have spare, even if it's only $5 -- a donation, not payment for a service. Every little helps?

Could also promote the "buy a random user a paid account" feature, so people who already have seed accounts/have already bought all the paid time they could ever need can help other people out.

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[personal profile] delight 2010-03-24 11:50 am (UTC)(link)
I would absolutely be all over the swag or the paid account exchange promotion if I weren't completely broke; I'm afraid of what happens when my account runs out in a month and I need to come up with $50! But once I do hae any spare funds at all, I'm absolutely going to renew my account, and would by Dreamwidth merch.

[personal profile] nextian has it right about the tote bag. And everyone who said it has it right about a seed account sale probably being a bad idea at least for PR reasons; if you can go against one promise, what's saying you won't go against others? Not that I'm saying that, but people who already spread around anti-DW sentiment would be given ammunition.

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