Why am I paying a Subscription?
This is an update to the previous article written on January 17th, 2020
Most of what you will read below is from a post back in 2020, with some small edits. All of this was posted right before Covid and before all of the effects of it (price increases and a million other difficulties). I had originally planned on implementing the model in March of 2020, and I am sure many users have seen the annoying pop-up in the app. A lot of people migrated to the subscription model immediately. Thanks to those who did, I was able to keep things afloat with the app, but still at a substantial cost out of my own pocket. Because of Covid and everything happening, I never got around to implementing the final change to the app, which was to enforce the subscription model until recently. Unfortunately, it has been met with a lot of backlash from people but I choose to focus on the positives. For those who feel like the pricing is unreasonable, here are two images.
One is the revenue that app earns across both iPhone and Android:
The second one is my hosting bill:
As you can see, despite some very big efforts to reduce costs, I am still paying out of my own pocket to keep everything alive.
Despite all of this, there is some good news! The best news of all is that, over the last month, I have start working on a lot of bug fixes for both the iPhone and Android versions of the app, and I am bringing the next-generation version of Nail Polish Rack!!! The only way that this would be possible is through a subscription model.
That all being said, for those who are not interested in paying for the app, I totally understand and no hard feelings. The pricing model, however, will not be returned to what it was before.
Original Article (Jan 17th, 2020)
Contrary to what a lot of people think, most apps on the app store do not usually come from companies. They are made by people who are either doing it for exposure, or to gain experience, or to make money off of the app. Some, like myself, did it out of a personal need. My ex-wife, while we were still married, had 1,000 polishes and kept buying the same ones over and over so she asked me for an app. It worked well for her and one day someone recommended that I put it up on the play store. Even if we don't count my time (Because if we did it would be a complete loss) this app has never been a money maker. It sells a few copies here and there, but it also requires servers in order to host everything (lots of data and lots of images). As more and more users have joined and uploaded photos, the monthly cost of the services has gone up, while my sales are relatively steady. In the beginning, the hosting was $20-$30 a month and I was selling ~40-50 copies of the app a month, so all in all, I was making a grand total of $80-$120 per month. Given the hours of time that I put in, this was coming out to about $1.50/hour of work.
As 2018 came along, sales kind of started to come down a bit. I was still selling 8-10 copies a month, but my hosting was starting to climb to $100, $200 and now sometimes over $400 a month. Looking at January 2020, for example, I owed $167 in hosting as of today (note: Jan 17th, 2020) . As of today, I have made $10.28 in sales. I am pacing to owe $350 and earn $20, so the remaining $330 of the hosting fees will have to come out of my pocket. I work for a living, and I am now a single father of three kids and I have to support them, so it becomes not-so-easy dealing with a scenario where I am paying hundreds out of my own pocket to keep something up and running. I've been sinking money into this for a long time now and I have been continuing to do so because of a select number of really nice people who have been kind enough to reach out to me and tell me how helpful this app is. But at the end of the day, it is an unsustainable model. What happens when hosting becomes $1000 or more? Do I sell my home so I can continue paying to keep this app up? At what point is it no longer reasonable to spend that money on a sunk cost?
I decided that I was going to reach out to anyone who had ever submitted a bug or any type of request and I asked them which option they prefer:
Option 1 - Implementing a subscription model
In order to try and cover most of the hosting. I am optimistically thinking that if 25% of the paid users (of which there are a grand total of ~1500 over the past 5 years) paid $0.99 a month, that would be $260 a month after Google fees and everything, so in my best case, I will be paying only $100-150 out of pocket every month instead of what I am paying now. It's not the best option, but it's still better than leaving things as is.
Option 2 - Shutting everything down
Honestly, this is the best option for me personally. Spending $0 on hosting is like making money and not having to spend any time on the application which is more time I can spend with my kids.
After talking to a lot of users, all but one said the same thing - "I would gladly pay $1 a month for the app".
For those who do not feel like purchasing the subscription, there is an alternative application called Lacquergram, which looks really nice and seems to have a lot of features that are really nice, but a lot of things are public and with the application being developed and hosted in Russia, there is always a privacy concern. Their terms of service also stated, up until a few days ago, that they own the images and content on the app. This has been fixed now. They also have a premium feature for $1.99 per month but it does seem to offer a lot of good things that NPRack does not have.
Additionally, a few years ago, before Lacquergram ever existed, I was working on NailPolishRackNG (Next Generation) which actually had in it every single feature that Lacquergram has, but I had to abandon it because it was difficult to warrant all of that work for no return. The subscription fee is an attempt to try and get things back to the point where it would actually be feasible to invest the time in redeveloping the app and making it so much better than it is now.
Either way, something has to change and it cannot be left the way it is. I take a lot of pride in my work and I never settle when it comes to any project that has my name on it. This is one of the reasons that I have stubbornly kept everything running for so long and why I am going to make every effort to keep it running for as long as I can. It does not matter to me whether someone paid $3, or $1, or nothing...the fact that they logged into the app means I owe them the best I can offer and with things how they are now, offering my best is unfeasible and almost impossible.