Here’s something awesome…the Internet is still (mostly) free. Despite the sometimes mammoth costs of launching and maintaining a website, social media campaign, or interactive tool, the cost has remained about the same. In same cases, it’s actually become less expensive.
As the end user, just about everything is free, even though we know darn well that it’s not free to create. There are technical people, writers, designers, marketers, and everyone else…all working together to create stuff online. Some of it is supported by advertising and some of it is paid for by the target user.
So why would you pay for anything online? Well, I guess there are just some things worth paying for. Here are 11 things I’m willing to pay for (and maybe already do) on the web.
It’s worth noting that almost all of these are freemium services. That basically means that you get the core service for free. If you really like it, you can pay for an upgrade. Freemium is the ultimate in “try before you buy” solutions for brands to market themselves and their services.
Top 11 Things I’m Willing to Pay for Online
Amazingly, Google has continued to provide GMail for free. Same with Microsoft and Hotmail. Both of these services continue to improve to the point that they are literally indispensable in my life. If GMail required me to pay a modest fee to access my email, I’d have to pay. Hotmail is getting to be better and more useful, particularly the new SkyDrive features that integrate Microsoft Office functionality.
2. Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime offers amazing services for Prime. Seriously great value. Free shipping, previews of books, and a streaming movies as a bonus.
3. Subscriptions for print & digital.
I already subscribe to a few print magazines that give you free digital copies for the iPad. This is a wonderful marketing value add that makes me feel good about paying my annual subscription. If there were more offers like this, I’d subscribe to more print magazines with a digital bonus download.
Dropbox is free and so are some of these other online storage services. But I always feel a little weird about dropping stuff in there, since I don’t know who has access to my data. I’m already paying for website hosting, so I think I’d pay for a little extra space and security. Plus, I don’t want 10 Gb. I want 10 Tb. I want to back up all of my hard drives and have plenty of space to expand.
5. Microsoft Office.
Yes, I know, Google Docs is free and awesome. I totally agree. I also like Zoho as well. But nothing quite replaces my long-standing commitment to Microsoft Office. I pay for the software and would also pay for full web access and storage. They are giving you some of this with SkyDrive, but I want full featured access to the entire Office Suite, including the applications like Access. I use a Mac and I want to have access to all of the tools I have at work on my PC. The Mac/PC wars are over. Just give me software I want and I will pay for it.
6. Templates & code.
I’ve paid for templates and code in the past and I will pay for them again. Sometimes you want to build something, but you just don’t have the time to develop all of the code yourself. I want to get to the fun stuff, like developing the marketing and content strategy. A solid WordPress template is worth paying for, since it let’s you get down to the business of creating content.
7. Life search.
Find my iPod is a great little service by Apple. Google is doing a better job of integrating indoor maps into Google Maps. Now…I want a life search. I want someone to create a service that let’s me find everything in my life. I don’t just mean my car keys and iPod. I mean when I forget where I parked the car at the mall. I want GPS for my life and I want it to be automatic. Skip the advertising and marketing stuff. Just help me make one giant Evernote notebook for my offline life without heavy, awkward key rings and dongles that I have to attach to everything.
8. Open WiFi.
Know what really sucks? When you are in range of working WiFi and you can’t log in to check your email. My iPad is WiFi only, which only draws attention to the fact that there’s this magical signal just sitting there waiting to be utilized. Imagine how much simpler life would be if there was more open WiFi. I’d pay for a reliable connection to WiFi, so I can save minutes on my wireless plan. Oh, and the WiFi needs to be secure.
I don’t know why, maybe it’s out of habit, but I continue to pay for Flickr. Lots of space, great social network for photographers. However, if they don’t start to improve the analytics package and mobile access, I’m done.
NetFlix had a bad 2010, but they continue to offer a nice selection of movies and TV shows. They still have too many interesting movies and shows for DVD subscribers, but that will probably start to change as well. One month of NetFlix streaming is still less than half the cost of a regular movie ticket.
Apple and Amazon make it easy to buy songs online. The price on iTunes has moved up a little from .99 cents to $1.29 in some cases, but that’s still a pretty good value. No plastic or other wasted packaging. It moves seamlessly to my iPod. And none of the messy guilt associated with downloading pirated files.
So there it is. I have and will continue to pay for certain services online. If the price is matched appropriately to the service, then I’ll take out the credit card and pay.
What services and products are you willing to pay for online?