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September 11, 2005


Ken Dyck

You might consider combining points 1 and 3 together into a single one: low barriers to usage. If you ask users to invest much time, money or thought into a service they aren't likely to stick around very long, an idea Joel Spolsky addresses nicely in Strategy Letter III: Let Me Go Back!


I don't think it has to be free. I just spent $30 on Shaun Inman's new Mint (website stats app) and wrote about it on sooz.com. $30 isn't a lot of money, but it's more than free.

Mint @ Technorati

Pete Cashmore

Actually, I think in most cases it *does* have to be free - at least the basic service does. But you can always charge for support or add-on services - just look at Skype; I chose Skype because it was free, but when I start making all my calls with Skype, I'll use it because it's there. If you charge from the outset, you'll never get the bottom-up growth you need.

The lack of a free service is certainly a barrier to using WhizSpark - I, and many hundreds of other readers, see your blog every day and yet I'll never use WhizSpark because I don't have an immediate use for it. But if it was free, I'd probably find uses I hadn't imagined. Before Google Maps came out, I certainly wouldn't have gone looking for mapping services, for instance. Sometimes your audience doesn't know what they want until you give it to them.

A free service with Adsense would probably work, but I don't think it's the "fix all" solution it's cracked up to be. Back in the boom, people presumed you could simply get eyeballs and monetize later with ads - but sometimes ads alone don't cut it, and they need to be combined with other revenue streams. On the other hand, setting up a web service is essentially free these days, so you might as well try out different models.

One last point - I use the Adblock extension for Firefox. I don't see any Google ads and I block out any image/script containing "banner", "doubleclick" etc. I'm not sure of the demographic that uses this extension, but I guess it's many early adopters. Either way, I feel that less experienced internet users tend to click more ads and hence generate more revenue, so any ad-based model has to ensure a good Pagerank.

pete caputa

Thanks for your thoughts, Sooz and Pete.

Noah Brier

Interesting post Pete, thanks.


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