Someone wants to help you take your users from free to paid

Posted on May 28, 2012 - 2:48 PM PST

Are you building a site or app that charges users? Need help?

I’m going to interview a few founders who are phenomenal at charging users and I want to ask them about your issues.

I’ll do it too.

I’m trying to figure out if I’m pushing the paid version of my site too much. So I’ll ask about that.

Want to participate?

In the comments, 1) tell your question or describe the issue you want help with, and 2) if you want me to mention your company, include its name or URL.

I’ll go first, so you can see what we’re looking for.

  • Andrew Warner


    When I interviewed Tim Sykes, he suggested that I mention my paid version within my interviews, but when I tried it, I felt like I was distracting from the guest. But maybe there’s another way to do it.

  • Andrew Warner

    I just recorded an interview with a founder who ran a marketplace, . I wish I asked him this. I’ll include it in my list.

    And thanks for being a member, Connie.

    Why haven’t you gone into the courses or interviews?

  • Andrew Warner

    At one point at B&R, I stopped asking myself if I was being too pushy. I kept cramming more ads into our sites. Nothing bad happened and revenue went up. Until it didn’t.

    Since then I keep asking myself that question.

  • Andrew Warner

    Good question. And it helps a lot that you included a link.

  • Andrew Warner

    Good question David!

  • Andrew Warner

    I really could do a better job of explaining what’s free & what’s premium. Good point.

    Free: new interviews and cheat sheets. Paid: courses and interview archive.

  • Andrew Warner

    Good question!

  • Andrew Warner

    What do you think of the Cheat Sheets as summaries?

  • Andrew Warner

    I’ve gotten that suggestion before, but I can’t bring myself to making everything Premium.

    I can see what you mean though. I was interviewed by a site that did something like that. Midway through the interview, the interviewer said something like, “Thank you to all the free viewers. We’ll continue the conversation in the membership side of my site now.” I thought it was pretty effective.

  • Andrew Warner

    Brian, thank you! I have to read this in an interview. I love it!

  • Andrew Warner

    Great questions. By the way, I miss getting together with you in person.

    For what it’s worth, my answers with Mixergy:

    1) Started just free. I had a lot of resistance and confusion when I charged.

    2) I ask about the upgrade when people want to watch an old interview or when they try to access a course. But it’s not clear enough, because you didn’t know I had a Premium Membership until that night in DuPont. So I’ll ask someone who’s better at this.

  • Andrew Warner

    Thanks, Philip!

  • Andrew Warner

    Good question.

  • Andrew Warner

    Thanks. I’m not sure anyone will give us a hard number like 1:5, but I’ll ask.

  • Andrew Warner

    Sounds like you’re asking me, so I’ll tell you that I wish I’d done it right away.

    Have it up. Don’t be upset when people complain, but hear them out. Then adjust how and what you make premium.

  • Andrew Warner

    By the way, how’s the new business?

  • Shane


    I have a virtual assistant business. It is based on monthly subscription per number of hours of support. We have trained staff overseas, we are price competitive and I have spent thousand of dollars on google Adwords, Facebook ads etc but despite the growth in outsourcing I am not seeing the conversions. It is costing me about $2k a month (loss) and that’s clearly not sustainable. I have a great team, they do god work but we’re not seeing the subscribers I need. I know the model works because my competitors do the same thing.

  • Ben Paul

    For what it’s worth, I would probably pay for a cheat sheet. I almost feel like their value is lessened when you offer them for free. And anyways, I think it’s reasonable for people to pay for a “shortcut” that makes things easier for them (i.e., they don’t need to listen to the whole interview if their goal is to cut to the chase).

  • Shane
  • Noah Fleming

    This is a great comment thread.
    I have thoughts for premium but need to come back to DC to discuss. Can’t believe I missed you!

    Ever come Detroit/Toronto way?

  • Noah Fleming

    These are great answers. Ben makes a solid point. Your listeners want to see you succeed. It’s your community.

  • Noah Fleming

    Also a great answer – one of the most important things is showing your premium members how to get more value out of what’s already here. It’s a very full closet.

  • Noah Fleming

    Paid needs further ways to engage and learn from the content already here, not necessarily more.

  • Ben Paul

    Seeing these 72 comments, I’m wondering if start-up founders would pay Mixergy to get their specific, personal issues answered by the kind of start-up all-stars you have connections to.

    People could type up their question and Mixergy would track down advice from those who are in a position to answer it.

    Kind of like the end of this interview,, where founders come to Eric Ries with their ailments and he heals them. Just a thought.

  • Noah Fleming

    Do you mean competing with info people will get for free on the net?
    Those people have no intention on paying. It’s not worth the effort trying to convert otherwise.

    As Gary Halbert used to sell “sell to the foxes, not the dogs”

  • Noah Fleming

    This is right on the money Andrew. It has a lot to do with setting the right customer expectations. The idea about moving the free line and giving away loads of free to build a paid business “eventually” is backwards. The free content should be the proving ground to support the value found in the paid content. 

  • Noah Fleming

    The tipping point is dumping the free version!

  • Noah Fleming

    Jeff – cool book. Can you offer a ‘just do it for them’ option? Can you offer consulting to ensure they are compliant?

  • Noah Fleming

    How have you segmented the 5 groups you’ve identified?

  • Noah Fleming

    What are the competitors sites?

  • Shane

    Competitors would be sites like, and

  • Jeff Northrop

    Unfortunately (fortunately) I have a full time job, so consulting isn’t something I want to get into, but that’s a clever idea.

    P.S. If you’re interested in a pre-release copy of the book, let me know. I’d be glad to send one along. You can contact me jeff at

  • Marcus Kuhn

    Posted a related question above. Would be very much interested in this too as we have to make a decision in that regard soon.

  • Carrie

    We have a membership site that helps holistic practitioners grow their practices. We offer video tutorials, interviews with professionals all across the US, and product they can reuse in their own practice. Membership is reasonable and we have people signed up for the “free” newsletter and gifts, but only a few takers on the paid membership. The site is


  • farez

    Adam’s journey above pretty much mirrors mine too. My problem now is to find time to go through the tonnes of amazing interviews on Mixergy Premium!
    One thing I’m still not clear about is what’s actually free and what’s premium because when I go on to the site the free stuff is just as good as the premium stuff, and there isn’t anything on the page to say what I’m about to watch is premium or free content. But it didn’t matter anyway because all I cared about was clicking in Play.

    The podcasts are great too as I use travel time to listen to them sometimes. But again, I’m not sure if what I’m listening to are free or premium content. 

    I’m a loyal fan, Andrew. And I’m addicted to Mixergy!


  • Andrew Warner

    Painful that we missed each other.

    How about a Skype call on Monday morning? How’s 10am?

  • Alain Lesage

    This is indeed an interesting experiment and, seeing all this participation, it obvioulsly work. Well done!

  • Fred Bliss

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m not quite ready to ask these questions since my subscription site is not quite up and running. I did have a thought for you though regarding Mixergy. What I think would be a great idea would be to offer 7-day passes to Mixergy.  Someone like me, I can’t afford a monthly recurring charge even though the value is clearly there.  I think you’re missing a lot of potential revenue in the segment like me that loves and values mixergy but maybe just isn’t quite ready to commit to $300/year.  Also, people that you can get your toe in the door with by having them get a 7-day taste of what mixergy premium is like will become low-hanging fruit for monthlies later.  It really gives you the best chance to convert them.  I’m not sure what your COA is on each current 12-month premium subscription, but I would be willing to bet it would go down once you put a 7-day plan up for sale.

  • Andrew Warner

    Are you free for a Skype call today? How’s 3pm Eastern?

    Looks like you didn’t see my response to your comment with a suggestion that we talk today @ 10am, so I thought I’d try another option.

    Andrew Warner <>


  • Noah Fleming

    Sorry man. Monday I’m always on full-blown daddy day care. I can do a call Thurs/Friday of this week.

  • Andrew Warner

    How’s 10am on Friday?

    By the way, that last comment was an accident. I meant to send it to you via email, but I guess I used the disqus email address instead of yours.

  • Noah Fleming

    10am EST Friday on Skype…. Coffee.

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