It’s been an active couple of weeks at Impactstory. We’ve been thrilled at all the feedback we’ve received on our sustainability plan announcement, and we really appreciate the time many of you have put into sharing your thoughts with us.
Inspired by some of this feedback we’ve made some new plans. To continue furthering our vision of Impactstory as a professional-grade scholarly tool, in one month we’ll be adjusting the subscription price for new subscribers, and to go with it, launching an exciting to set of features. Read on!
Many have suggested we go back to a free or freemium model, or find someone to charge other than our core users. And though we understand the appeal of these approaches (they were actually our Plan A for a long time), we won’t be going down those paths in the foreseeable future. We’ve written about why elsewhere, as have some of our users and other folks around the web (Stefan’s post on the Paperpile blog was particularly good).
There was also a second set of suggestions, from folks who argued we should be charging more for Impactstory. Now that caught us by surprise.
To let you in on some of the background for why we chose our current price, we actually started with the idea of two bucks monthly. We knew the jump from free to subscription would sting, so we wanted to make it small. And we knew that we still have a ways to go before we deliver really compelling value for many users, so we wanted to ask for as little as we could. After a lot of discussion and some interviews, we eventually dared to push a bit higher, but drew the line at five dollars.
To hear that we might be undercharging was a bit of a shock. But when we examined the arguments for a higher price point, they made a lot of sense:
Your price establishes the perceived value of your product.
Your price only makes sense in relation to your market. Impactstory doesn’t have direct competitors, but we can look at the market for generally similar services. When we do, you see clusters around two price points: (1) free, like ResearchGate, Facebook, and so on, and (2) about $10/mo like GitHub or Spotify or Netflix. Crucially, there’s almost no one charging $5 monthly.
If we’re the cheapest thing people pay for, we’re establishing our value as the least important thing they pay for. That’s not the niche we’re shooting for.
And worse, people always assume you’re worth a bit less than you charge. So if our cost is “cheapest thing that’s not free,” then people assume our real value is: free. Nothing, no value.
This last point was particularly compelling when we read it, because it gets to the heart of why we’re charging in the first place: if we’re going to change researcher behavior and change the world, we have to establish ourselves as a professional-grade tool.
We can’t afford to be just something fun and cheap. And so we need to set a price that says that, loud and clear. It looks like we got that price a little wrong with our first shot, and so we we’re going to adjust it.
So we’re making a change
We’re raising our subscription price to $60/year or $10/month, effective September 15th (one month hence).
Anyone who subscribes between now and September 15 will lock in their subscription at $5/month. Everyone’s free trial will be extended till then, and new users will receive a 30 day trial. And of course the no-questions-asked waiver will still be available.
But there’s a second part of this, too. Because raising the price can’t be the whole plan.
We get that some have been hesitant to use Impactstory for free. Part of the issue is that altmetrics aren’t widely accepted yet. We also know that if we want to sell Impactstory as a professional-grade tool with practical value for cutting-edge researchers, we’re going to need some very significant upgrades to what Impactstory does. It’s got to be worth the high price. That’s the whole point.
And so we’re going to be worth it
That’s why September 15th will also mark the completion of a huge new set of Impactstory features, collectively code-named Five Meter. We’ll be rolling these out over the course of the next month. It’s going to be one of our biggest feature pushes ever, and it’s going to be awesome.
The Five Meter spec isn’t 100% decided yet, but it’ll include a new more customizable profile page, stats on your twitter account and blog, support for your own domain name, new badges, and more. Once these new features ship on September 15, our entire team is going to delete our professional webpages and online CVs, because at that point, Impactstory will be doing everything our webpages and online CVs do but better.
We think that’s something a lot of other researchers will want too, and want hard. And after a lot of conversation with the vanguard of web-native scientists–the folks we’re focused on right now–we’re convinced that’s an Impactstory they’ll gladly pay for. An Impactstory they’ll use, in earnest. And an Impactstory that’s way closer to transforming the way science is evaluated and shared.
All our best,
The Impactstory Team
P. S. Want to lock down that $45/year rate we talk about above? Login to your Impactstory profile, then head to Settings > Subscription. And if you aren’t already an Impactstory user but want to check out all the awesome new features we’ll be rolling out this month, sign up for a 30-day free trial now. Cheers!