Make Early Users “Premium for Life”

This morning (or was it last night?), I was brainstorming about a project I’ve talked about here a lot—a community resource for cognitive engineers. I’m going to be integrating a wiki-based curriculum and a forum into a WordPress blog. Right now, I’m just trying to hook up the authentication so that one login is shared between all three.

One thing I’ve been thinking about is which features I’m implementing should be open to all users, which should be limited to registered users, and then which should be limited to (future hopeful) “premium” paying customers.

But you know what? Why bother thinking about that now? Just develop the tools. Make the best tools you can. It would be immensely stupid to then take away features users have been enjoying and label them with a “premium” tag. One rule you don’t want to break is taking away something that people have been getting for free. (Gabe Rivera of TechMeme sort of indirectly referred to this on the latest episode of the wonderful Marking Voices podcast).

So, how much could it possibly cost you to label these early adopters “Premium Members” for life? These are the folks that got you off the ground. They were chatting it up in the big empty room before you had enough users to justify charging. Instead of charging them and pissing them off (and risk losing your best advocates), essentially bring ‘em on. Premium for life. Don’t do premium for a year. Don’t do premium for the first three months. Premium for life. They helped you get to where you are.


  1. On April 5th, 2007 at 11:51 pm jennifer jones said:

    Thanks for listening to Marketing Voices and taking the time to comment. I agree that it will be hard for Gabe to take away something that is now free unless he makes it more robust and then charges for it. jennifer

  2. On April 6th, 2007 at 6:42 am Adam Darowski said:

    Right… and the situation above doesn’t really help Gabe. This works when you have, say, dozens or hundreds of users. TechMeme has a huge user base. If you go giving all those people freebies, there’s no point in charging.

    Flickr does this in an interesting way. People that have been with the service for a long time (before the Yahoo acquisition) have an “old skool” tag on their user avatar. It’s not a financial break, but it also gives the “I heard of ‘em first” cred to some of the early adopters that we all love so much.