15 Websites and,or Services I’d Actually Pay For


15 Websites / Services I’d Actually Pay For Ryan lists fifteen websites/online services he would be willing to pay for, if they were not free. Worthy of note is the following in the list: The benefit of blogging with WP is so significant (SEO, functionality, flexibility) that it’s well worth paying for. I’d probably pay a $200 for an installation… which makes me realize how much I rely on the product.

This is an incredibly interesting line of thought and I am sure a lot of Web 2.0 companies/services would kill to have more user data and input on this. I strongly believe that revenue models and monetization techniques are the stuff that make or break a company in spite of the fantastic idea/concept that it might provide. In that spirit, here is my list of 12 things online (15 things were hard to find quickly) I am willing to pay for.

  • GMail: Without a doubt my one most used tools online. I returned to GMail a few years ago and cannot imagine my life without it. Add other services such as Google Reader and Google (outside of google search, without which I would be completely lost, at least for a few days) is indispensable to me.
  • WordPress: I would pay for it undoubtably, but I think the allure would be gone if I had to pay. Whenever I think WordPress, I think GPL and Open Source and I just cannot imagine the two apart.
  • Firefox: This was a tough one. I would pay for it, but look at #2. I would however, be willing to pay for the Web Developer Toolbar extension, the colorpicker extension and a few others that I use everyday.
  • Akismet: I do pay for Akismet. The service has caught 3,263,951 spam on this blog since I first installed it.
  • SlickDeals: I am an addict. If I had to pay to be a member, within reason, I would pay for it.
  • StatCounter: Their free service is great, but if they started charging for their basic service, the switching cost of years of accumulated data would force me to pay.
  • Techmeme: Nominal, yearly charges would be fine by me, especially if it removed those sponsored posts. I use it too often.
  • Skype: Again, nominal yearly charges would be acceptable for the basic PC to PC calling. I already keep my account topped off for when I call international phones once in a while.
  • Craigslist: If I had to pay a small fee for the listings, if the charge was only initiated for items that are sold (which I understand would be hard to monitor), I would pay for it. Craigslist is a much better place to buy and sell everyday used items than eBay and I have made better deals via Craigslist than any other online selling venue.
  • Woopra: I am getting addicted to the Woopra fever. As I have expressed in the past to JohnP, Elie and others, I would be willing to pay a reasonable fee for it.
  • Various WordPress Plugins: I have paid and have dontated to the developers of various WordPress plugins that I find extremely useful and which have become completely indispensable after I have installed them and used them. They include OIOPublisher, Ozh’s Who Sees Ads, Mark’s Subscribe to Comments etc.
  • Feedburner: Now another Google service but Feedburner reduces the traffic load from feed readers and I would have paid for the service if it were not free.

What would you be willing to pay for? If famous OSS programs were not OSS, would you pay for them? Does the cost of software make it less or more attractive (not the relative cost, but just the fact that it is not free)? Would you pay for Twitter? How about Flickr or Google Analytics? What if TechCrunch went to a registration model? Would it still be as popular? How much do you spend on personal online services every month today? Are online vendors sharing more of your wallet today than say, two years ago? Do you think this trend will continue to increase?

These are the kinds of things that keep me up at night.




  1. gestroud (11 comments.) says:

    Those are some good choices. I think the only online services I would be willing to pay for would be

    1. some WP plugins and themes
    4. Cinema (or some of the similar sites, like
    5. My web host :-D

  2. Mike (3 comments.) says:

    I would have to agree I would pay for WordPress and Firefox, I utilize them everyday from morning till night. Akismet has been completely helpful in keeping spam off my blog and I’m sure I would pay for it if needed. One thing I would add to the list for me would be BlogRovR, with it I have been able to expand my horizons when going across blogs and find more related content to what I’m reading.

  3. Dhruva Sagar (15 comments.) says:

    Hmm that’s an interesting thought…even I agree with your views, if some of these services become paid, I might just have to pay simply because I am so used to them…

  4. redwall_hp (40 comments.) says:

    Don’t give them any ideas! As much as I love WordPress, Firefox, GMail, FeedBurner, I’m not made of money.

    P.S. Note that Akismet isn’t *entirely* free. If you get too many comments in a month, they make you pay a subscription.

  5. Chris Korte (1 comments.) says:

    There is no “would pay for”. On nearly every side or freeware tool (even wp-plugins) you can find a donation button. And that’s where I go if I think it’s worth it. So it can be kept free for others who whatever have a reason not be able to pay.

  6. Kerry (12 comments.) says:

    The of course. I am so addicted to reading the posts from this feed on my WordPress Dashboard I would pay a nominal fee to keep them coming.

  7. Dian (1 comments.) says:

    @Chris Korte
    yup, there’s a donate button for that. if they put a price in it, i’m pretty sure there’ll be a significant drop on the user

  8. Pi (1 comments.) says:

    I’d be willing to pay for WordPress, having used it for several years now it is as much a part of my Internet presence as my computer.

  9. Grendel (1 comments.) says:

    Nobody pays for IE (at least not money), why then Firefox? The idea that products need to have a price > 0 is a rather antiquated point of view.

  10. Alun says:

    Flickr and I’m considering Picnik.

  11. Sally (2 comments.) says:

    Blimey! I hope these companies don’t read this and think we’ll want to pay for these things! I don’t know if I would have taken up with some of the above products if I’d had to pay…. I do pay with Skype anyway as they are my primary landline service (ie PC to landline) and if they were to start charging for PC to PC calls, they would rapidly loose me. Ditto for Gmail – I’d switch to the webmail host that comes with my own website since I’ve paid for that already. I don’t know if I would have moved to WordPress if I’d had to pay for it, particularly $200! All to often it seems you pay for software nowadays and then you have to pay for upgrades. With that history dogging most paid for software, I doubt I’d have ‘bought’ WordPress.
    I would pay for though… Especially if it was integrated with my TV so I could search up the histories of familiar looking actors as I watch a movie or TV show!

  12. Kim says:

    I have to agree with a few of the other commenters – don’t give them any ideas! While the services listed are fabulous, I seriously doubt that I would have used some of them if I had to pay for them. I also agree with Chris about making donations to projects that you feel are worthy.

    With regard to WordPress, I don’t feel it would have seen the phenomenal growth that it has if users had to pay for it. Just look at the backlash from MT users when they changed their licensing scheme a few years ago. That event pushed a lot of bloggers away from MT and over to other open-source programs like WordPress.

  13. Universal Indie Records (6 comments.) says:

    I already pay for Skype for the ability to call regular phones from it. The $3 a month is worth it’s weight in gold. Used in conjunction with my cordless Skype phone… it makes for a perfect business phone.

    Heck, If my computer didn’t have to be on to use it… I would get rid of Vonage.

  14. Universal Indie Records (6 comments.) says:

    “Nobody pays for IE (at least not money), why then Firefox? The idea that products need to have a price > 0 is a rather antiquated point of view.”

    Internet Explorer is horrible. If people HAD to pay for it I doubt anyone would! WHo would pay for a browser that doesn’t adhere to web standards? They HAVE to give it away!!!

  15. Carson (46 comments.) says:

    WordPress has served me well but I wouldn’t pay for it. I started out on but soon found it to be too restrictive. I moved to self-hosting for more flexibility and found that to have drawbacks. Though WP has thousands of plugins, finding one that does exactly what I want is often difficult. WP has become very large and complex because it is trying to satisfy millions of demanding people like me. This is the way of most popular software. I’m now writing my own CMS app because I don’t need 95 percent of what WP offers.

  16. 6000 (3 comments.) says:

    Don’t give them ideas!

  17. Arian A. Xhezairi (8 comments.) says:

    Logically, there’s no need to pay, for they’re giving it as a free product, but I’d say supporting them by a modest amount through donation will stimulate them to continue doing the best as they did until now. Hope they don’t disappoint us in the near nor far feature.

  18. Vincent (2 comments.) says:

    Great list! Been reading for awhile, and you prompted me to come out of lurking mode.

    I agree with Chris : when a service or product is offered for free, pay what you feel it’s worth through donations.

    Just a quick note regarding the WP GPL comment in the article. GPL does not necessarily mean no monetary cost. Under the GPL, if I’m not mistaken, a software developer can charge whatever he or she wants to distribute their work. You can charge for downloads if you want. The only thing you can’t do is re-release the software using a license that is GPL-incompatible.

    So. Although we’re used to associating F/OSS with free-of-charge, that’s not necessarily always the case.

    That said, if WP were not free of charge, I wouldn’t necessarily use it; that would put it in the running with TextPattern, MovableType, and other for-pay CMS/blogging software.

  19. Phil (1 comments.) says:

    Google Analytics: I’d pay (and Google Webmaster).

    Twitter, well I’d have to see how it evolves. Twitter has the potential to be a very powerful tool, but it has a lot to prove yet.

    Nice lists, reminded me about Woopra. Thanks!

  20. Tadd (89 comments.) says:

    Not to sound like a jerk, but if these services were required to be PAID for I honestly wouldn’t use them. As one user said, I’m not made of money. In fact … I don’t even HAVE money. If I had money, I’d happily make donations … but really if they if I had to pay for it, even my love, WordPress … then I never would bother trying it in the first place. Sorry … but I’m poor.

  21. Venu (1 comments.) says:

    Most of the items in your list are popular because they are free (there are few exceptions)

    If they were not, I am sure there are other free alternatives out there which match their features.

    From your list, I would probably pay only for Gmail :)
    Mint Analytics is the other app which I found worth paying for !

  22. Rodney (1 comments.) says:

    gmail, wordpress, firefox, akismet…in agreement there.

    I actually do pay for skype, but it’s still a great value.

    I haven’t gotten the woopra fever yet, although my first site has been approved. I’ve been a little worried about slowing down my website performance.

    Another one of Google’s services that I’d gladly pay for is their HELLO instant messenger, unfortunately they are shutting it down on May 15, 2008 :( Hopefully I can help change that:

  23. Ozh (88 comments.) says:

    I’d pay for Firebug. Actually, I wanted to donate, but couldn’t find how to do so :)

  24. Kathy says:

    $200 !! How about everyone paying $10, that would add up, but it wouldn’t be a substantial barrier.

  25. Wendy Piersall (1 comments.) says:

    I’d be willing to pay for Woopra too. Especially if it allowed me to be finally rid of Google Analytics. Just being able to get Google off of my site would be worth the price. ;)

  26. Avrila (8 comments.) says:

    WordPress wouldn’t be as good if it were for sale, because fewer people would try it, so the community effect wouldn’t have happened, which is a big part of why it’s as good as it is.

  27. nanio (3 comments.) says:

    Flickr for me too (I happily pay $25/year for a pro account). And

  28. Milorad says:

    What an absolutely ridiculous post, and really, utter lies too for the most part. Your most-used tools are free, and if anyone thinks they’d be your most-used tools today if they weren’t free, they’re an idiot.

    If you had to pay for these things, you’d have found something free to use – and then posted about how you might pay for THAT years after becoming accustomed to it.

    This post is so silly it makes my brain hurt. If any of those services you mentioned started charging – they’d absolutely murder their growth percentages, as new users don’t automatically approach a concept with years worth of love for it.

    Giving limited-time free deals is just as bad, because when you’re choosing something to use, you don’t want the threat of a price tag hanging over your head giving you a reason to find fault.

    I’d only ever pay for my blog if I were making money off it, and frankly with the amount of wordpress-related content on this site, you’d be writing for a VERY small audience if they charged for it.

    Wow, the sh*t that crosses people’s minds just makes me whince.

  29. Casey says:

    another cool web development tool add-on for Firefox is MeasureIt… which allows you to draw out a ruler of any size anywhere on the page, move it around and such… as a web designer/developer, I can’t live without this… it’s my favorite tool for working with those print designers (who can’t understand the difference between paper and the web) who have to have everything just so on the their pages!

  30. Elpie says:

    There’s a lot of great software I’ve used that I would not have even bothered trying if it had not been free. There’s even more that I’ve used and discarded, never to touch again. I wouldn’t pay money for WordPress – it costs me time and money just keeping up with the updates. There’s always a cost with free software, even if you don’t value your own time. I do pay for plugins that save me time. But I believe in the principle of “pay it forward”. It doesn’t cost money to tell developers they are doing a great job, or to help them identify bugs, or to pass on some of the knowledge gained over the years. If I have to pay for something up-front though, this puts the application on a completely different footing. A bug I have to spend hours working around in a free app is not something I would expect to spend time on it I had paid for it. As a customer, I expect quality code and support services. As a user of free software, I take what is offered and make the best of it, and pay it forward where I can.

  31. Cairnarvon (1 comments.) says:

    There’s nothing in the GPL that says you can’t charge for the software. It’s entirely possible for software to be free without also being gratis.

  32. Tom B says:

    My favorites list would be : WordPress, Skype and Firefox. I use them everyday. By the way, not everybody knows that skype is more than just a chat and calling program, it has plenty of interesting plugs too! Just go to “Do more” and find out.

  33. Top Rated (4 comments.) says:

    How about services I get for free, but would only pay for if they didn’t have a free version. Guess I’m just too cheap. Two I use that fall into those category, are Mozy for backups, and AVG for virus protection. Not sure if AVG counts as a web service, but I included it anyway.

  34. Dan Cristo (1 comments.) says:

    without doubt Google Analytics. The company I work for is actually moving away from WebTrends in favor of Google Analytics. That’s a savings of $50,000 a year! I enjoy Google Analytics over WebTrends for 2 main reasons – Speed and Format of reports.

  35. Igor (1 comments.) says:

    I do pay for flickr and I cant imagine life without gmail, but with programs like WP and Firefox, I would just move to something else… movable type and my browser of choice camino.
    Again I would pay for an instant messenger program, but having to pay for adium would just make me switch back to AIm or something.


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