Neil Macy

What Am I Actually Selling?

I have a premium tier in Running Track. But I added it later; I first built a lot of features, intending the app for personal use only. Then when I decided to release it, I spent some time figuring out a business model, before deciding on making the core features free, and charging for some extra ones. But which extra ones?

What am I actually selling?

I settled on two main categories:

  • Bonus features
  • Power user features

You can use the app perfectly well without ever paying for it. I want to make sure it stays like that. The core of the app, helping you understand stats about your running, is free to use.

And then there are extra niceties you can pay for, none of which I actually have yet. Things like widgets, custom app icons, custom colour schemes, a watch app, all fall into this category. They’ll enhance the app without being fundamental. I’m planning to add all of these features after the initial launch. Some of these I would make free, or partially free, as a way of making the app more fun for everyone.

Then there are features that most people won’t need, like exporting GPX files or editing PBs. But for the people who would use those features, they’re valuable enough to pay for.

I struggled for a while with one feature. Goals are really valuable for improving your running. But they’re not niceties, or a power user feature. They’d be great for everyone. This is where the pricing model comes in.

I think Goals are a really valuable feature to have. But not fundamental to the app. So I wanted to include them in the paid tier. But how do I convince people that they’re great if they can’t use them? Free trials.

I’m going to make the paid tier a subscription. (I don’t think this is controversial any more.) But every subscription is a commitment, and I want people to be comfortable making that commitment. I don’t want people to drop after a month or year. I don’t want refund requests. So a free trial seems a great way of letting people try the subscription out.

The Running Track Run Club

I’m calling my paid subscription the Running Track Run Club. Run clubs have a real world equivalent. I like the idea that you’re paying a membership fee, rather than a subscription. And I think it’s valuable to feel like you’re part of a club, a group of runners, even if you run alone. At the moment it’s just a name, but I want to try to honour this name with some additional features that I have planned. (But not another social feed!)

It’ll cost £0.99 a month, or £9.99 for a year, with a 1 week free trial, to make sure you like it before committing any money. Figuring out prices and trial periods is hard! But I think I’ve come up with reasonable answers.

The paywall screen in the app is one last challenge that I’ve had. How do you design a screen that encourages someone to sign up? I’ll write about that another time, although I’ll say now that I have definitely spent a lot more time on that than any other part of the code.

(One last thing I liked: I’ve called the code for the paywall “Turnstile”. Really getting that old school stadium feel. I love a good project code name.)

Published on 13 November 2022