Lifetime Subscriptions?

My mail isn’t all whining like last week’s post — far from it. I publish more of the whines because they’re so …well… entertaining! But Paul in Texas really liked last week’s issue. He wrote:

“Damned fine issue Randy. I found it covered many topics and interests — more than others have. Worth the subscription for this issue alone. I LOVE Jumbo Jokes — even if they are aimed at me because if you cannot laugh at yourself there is something wrong with ya’. Thanks for sharing your time and effort with me and bringing a smile to my face at least once a week (sometimes all week as I remember the issue). PS: What is the cost of a lifetime subscription???”

A High Price to Pay

Well, Paul, the cost of a lifetime subscription is: failure.

A lot of publications have offered really long-term (sometimes lifetime) subs to get some cash in — and that mortgages their future. When the money runs out, and it usually does because they don’t buy an annuity with the cash they got, they find they don’t have the cash flow to stay in business, even though they have a good publication with a good circulation.

I don’t want to fall into that trap, so I’ve always resisted those really-long-term subscriptions. You can come close, though, by signing up for an auto-renewing recurring subscription.

Rather than asking for lifetime subscriptions, I just ask that you renew when the normal time comes, and keep telling your friends so maybe they’ll replace those who can’t (or don’t want to) renew. That keeps the cash flow even, and keeps me in business. True is coming up on 15 years old, and I’d like to run for 15 more. So stick with me, and I’ll stick with you.

(See info on Premium upgrades, including the auto-renewal options.)

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To really support This is True, you’re invited to sign up for a subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:

One Year Upgrade

(More upgrade options here.)

Q: Why would I want to pay more than the minimum rate?

A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online: this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.


10 Comments on “Lifetime Subscriptions?

  1. I suspect that if you sold a lifetime membership for $10Mill US, you might not get many takers, but it would take very few to keep you going.

    Just a thought.

    (Related in a *twisted* sort of way – the joke with the punchline about “we have established what you are, my dear, we are just negotiating the price”. :^)

    Heh! Yes, I know that joke. But heck: I’ll do up to 100 lifetime subscriptions at $100,000 each — a total of $10 million. Hurry before they’re all sold out! 🙂 -rc

  2. Even though a lifetime subscription would be nice, I have to agree with you, Randy. I enjoy these weekly publications to not want to see you go away. Besides, where else can you get an ad-free weekly publication for $24 a year? You can’t even get a paper subscription for $24 a year, and those include ads. Okay, newspapers are published daily, but you get the idea. (It’s even better with the two year price.)

  3. Never thought much about the downside of the long-term subscriptions, though I always wondered. Biggest problem I can see is the relatively small price that would have a hard time keeping up with inflation even if the seller didn’t blow the money in the short term.

  4. Gotta hand it to you, that’s some pretty insightful thinking. I’ve always hated those incredible cut-rate subscriptions to get new customers because, well, they’re only available to new customers, not existing ones. Seems kinda like a slap in the face for being loyal, doesn’t it? Here I am, spending my money faithfully on a product, and someone else is offered a large reward because he HASN’T been spending his money on it. And as a business owner, there were many times when low cash flow tempted me to offer cut-rate offers to new customers. But I didn’t want to lose my loyal customers. It’s hard, and I gotta give you credit if you can resist the urge to compromise like that.

    I have offered deals before — like 50 free GOOHF cards — but I think every time I’ve done it, I’ve allowed renewing subscribers to have the deal too. It seems only fair, for the exact reasons you state. -rc

  5. Lifetime subs are killers, I know because one of the first companies I worked for, Simulations Publications, Inc., made that mistake. They went out of business only a few years later, despite having a great magazine and a great customer base.

    Don’t give in to temptation, you are quite right.

  6. I remember when Ray Owens of offered *lifetime* subscriptions and, as a long time paid member I was tempted to ‘bite’ to help him out. I didn’t, I maintained my annual membership to a ‘premium’ version to do my part. Within a year or so, it shut down and those who ponied up big time, well, the joke was on them.

  7. I remember seeing *lifetime* subscription rates in my dad’s old Playboys many, many years ago. If memory serves, it was $400, which in 1975 was a lot of money. It is still today.

    Wonder how many lifers there are today, and if Playboy still has that offer.

    They send me the magazine because I sometimes write for them (how’s that for a perk of being a writer?!), and I’ve not seen that offer in many, many years. -rc

  8. Because his post script immediately followed his reference to laughing during the week as he remembered something from reading the issue earlier in the week, I figured he was referring to the fact that he will be able to take some of those stories with him throughout his life. And how much value is there in that?

    Thanks for all you do!

  9. Lifetime subscriptions at $100,000??? According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, assuming a 50 yr lifespan (about the average to be expected, since most subscribers are somewhere near the middle of their total lifespans), that comes out to an inflation rate of about 16,000 percent. Do you know something about the “stimulus” bill currently winding through congress that the rest of us don’t?

    I’ve learned a lot out of Washington lately. Talk “trillion” and suddenly $800 billion seems like a good deal. Bandit in New Mexico suggested a $10 million price tag for a lifetime subscription, so I countered with a significant discount — just $100,000! When can I expect your cashier’s check in the mail? -rc

  10. I would like to offer the topic of lifetime software upgrades.

    I find much understanding in your article. But respectfully, what I have discovered is that the companies that offer valuable software are able to sustain themselves. Sometimes, they come up with new product lines or inventive marketing, but word of mouth spreads in a community such as this. I have also discovered that new companies may offer such a bargain, but later revert back to a shorter upgrade policy lasting a year or two once they become larger and more popular. But with the exception of one, they still honor their previous agreements and this makes for a great company.

    Take for instance, Slysoft, Alcohol 120%,and DVDfab. Three companies that once offered their lifetime upgrade policy as default but now has changed to two year upgrades. They still honor their old customers agreements of lifetime upgrades and they still offer lifetime upgrades. Only the customer must purchase the extra option (well worth it) and a great marketing strategy.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible to make it work, I’m saying that I’ve seen many, many companies fail not despite such a strategy, but because of the strategy. Based on my experience, it would be foolish for me to follow suit. And I don’t think I’m foolish! -rc


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