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DiSpy
10 Apr 2007, 15:51
Hi,

I run a relatively large board (over 20k users), that has been around for a very long time. It always used to run on phpBB and we counted on ads and donations to help cover server costs (2 dedicated high-end servers... one for web, one for sql and attachments).

Just recently I was given the advice to switch over to vB. I had always run phpBB for the sole reason that I was friends with a couple of people involved, and never bothered looking at other software. However, on one look at features, a demo, and a peek at a friends' admin account, I was hooked. Went right out the next day and purchased my license. :D

Now i'm working in my dev account and trying to set everything up for my users. My staff and I have decided to move completely away from the "please this... please that..." (click ads, make a donation, etc) model, into a solely subscription based model.

Staff wants 2 different levels of subscriptions... one is a cheap $1/month account where users get "more" (more limits, more access, etc), and one is a higher priced subscription where users get "privileges" (their own sub-domain, pop email account, etc).

What I need you guys to advise on is setting up these subscription plans in the admin panel.

Firstly, for each type of account do I give users 4 payment options... like $1 "one-time, per month", $1 "recurring every month", and $12 "one-time, for a year", $12 "recurring every year" ?!? How did you guys set up yours? Is less options better? Are recurring payments better than one-time payments?

Secondly, I have the capabilities to accept paypal and/or authorize.net. What's your experiences with each? How do I handle the fees? In other words... if a user is paying me $1 a month, and paypal (business) wants 2.9% + $0.30 USD (per translaction). How do you guys have your board subscriptions set up?? Should I up it to $1.40/month to cover fees? That doesn't seem right (and will make my staff and users un-happy... they REALLY liked the idea of a "...for Just $1, you can get all this..." type model)!!

Thank you for the help, and please advise me...

clarkstoncracke
10 Apr 2007, 17:13
I also run an adfree website, and subscriptions pay for roughly 50% of the 700 a month server bill.

Hearing feedback from my users, people are scared when they see recurring charges. I also charge $1.00 per month per user, but I do it at a yearly deal. 12 bucks per year. Their rewards are 20,000 pm's, the ability to delete their own threads in certain forums, and access to a subscriber forum.

Users know they are not really getting much for their 12 bucks, but hey, its 12 bucks and it is nice to see "customers" paying because they enjoy the forum. But if you get 1000 people subscribing, you can break even or make a couple bucks.

I gave subscribers a small icon under their avatar to signify that they were a subscriber. I think some people donate just to have that icon. You can see it here: (random thread)
http://www.greatlakes4x4.com/showthread.php?t=38075

I started my forum for the reason of ALL OTHER FORUMS dealing with offroad vehicles are so covered in ads, that they are just about unreadable. My "business plan" seems to be working perfect. I don't care if I lose a couple bucks a month, or make a couple bucks a month, its nice to be able to read a forum with .2 second page loads in an ad-free environment.

Now that we are in the days of unlimited mail boxes from google and yahoo, is it really necessary to offer up an email address? I can't think of any people I know who would pay for an email address.

I use paypal for all transactions, including my online store. Its easy to use, and since I do a once a year subscriber model, I only pay the transaction fee once per year.

Hope this helps

DiSpy
10 Apr 2007, 21:20
Thank you for the advice. I like the idea of subscribers getting a special image in thier postbit, I will definitly implement that.

I guess only offering a $12/yr option is better than $1/month, even tho paypal still takes a percentage, it's less that way.



I don't care if I lose a couple bucks a month, or make a couple bucks a month, its nice to be able to read a forum with .2 second page loads in an ad-free environment.Exactly our thinking... and your site really does load fast!


Now that we are in the days of unlimited mail boxes from google and yahoo, is it really necessary to offer up an email address? I can't think of any people I know who would pay for an email address.The idea basically was to give some users more "credibility" by giving them webpages on our site (<username>.users.ourdomain.tld) and a <username>@ourdomain.tld. Traders and such like that idea alot. It keeps thier forum transactions seperate and gives them a place to keep thier lists and info. In addition to the pop/hosting we are going to offer a few other things on that level as well. I can see how it wouldn't work for all communities, but in our case it might (worth a shot anyway). I fully expect that we will sell alot more $1/month level ones than these higher level ones, but the option is there.

Again thank you for advising me...
Anyone else?