ChristianDeWolf.com Books · Software · Business
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Overcharging for loyalty: a classic scale

I just got done enhancing my eBook store to sell physical books alongside their digital counterparts, but I've got one more product I want to add: the Lifetime Membership.

I tried the membership model before, years ago, with the Precious Metals Reserve. The concept was, for just over $10, I would snail-mail you a hand-drawn comic, but there was a possibility you'd receive a real silver coin. I'm still kind of suprised it wasn't successful.

Anyway, now that I have more books published, I don't have to go the expensive precious metals route. The concept of this new one is as follows:

You give me $20, taxes in, and I give you access to all the eBooks I offer, in perpetuity. *

Detractors might say that it's not Monthly Recurring Revenue, or that it cashes out a customer's lifetime value immediately. While it's true that it's not a semi-reliable payment every month, like some sort of author-landlord/tenant relationship, it doesn't have to be the last thing the customer ever purchases. They can still buy physical books, or eBook gift packs for their friends, if they're so inclined.

Other detractors might do the math and say, even if you bought digital copies of both eBooks I have for sale, Ghostcrime and Snapback Volume 2 (I already give away Snapback Volume 1 for free on account creation), it'd still only cost five dollars, and that $20 is overcharging!

But you're paying for future output now, making an investment in the creative process. Plus, my thinking here is that by paying a premium, you'll value the purchase more. Maybe you'll keep checking back to see if I'm making good use of your generous contribution.

The alternative is the Patreon model — a smaller donation every month in exchange for a trickle of output. But I don't think it's a good fit for me. Anything small I produce, I make available to everybody, and the paid products are all major works I want to monetize to the fullest extent.

Luckily, all of my previously-mentioned detractors are hypothetical strawmen, so without anyone to stop me, I'm going to go ahead and implement Lifetime Memberships, and see if it works. It's not like I have anything else to do tonight.

Development-wise, it's another database table and some backend logic to grant products to lifetime members, plus a new page to advertise it and another cart upgrade. What can I say? I originally designed the cart to hold book-like products, not abstract concepts of loyalty.

Fuck it. It's done:

A membership in the cart

$19.99? What a deal!

So now I can push this on social media.

Now, with memberships

A button for the homepage.

Speaking of social media, I'm really terrible at using it to promote myself. In fact, it may be my biggest barrier to scaling this business. Luckily, it's purely psychological, so next I'm going to destroy whatever it is about myself that's holding me back. NEXT →

* Since publication, more has been added to the membership package, and this price has increased

Posted in: Scaling up


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Scaling in progress!

Come back soon to see how the next plan hatched.