Oh Ning It! The Cost of Free

April 27th, 2010 |

Ning, a community builder, is now phasing out their free version, leaving all the non-premium networks without a home. While relocating to another place may not be an issue for most people (small, non-serious niche sites), the ones who planned on making a business out of their site are pretty much left with two choices; build elsewhere or upgrade.

If you find yourself leaning towards the “build elsewhere” option, you might want to take this lesson into consideration: Even free has a price. While it’s a common sense lesson, I constantly run into people who forgo my advice to pay for something they can actually call their own, instead choosing to go the DIY route in search of free.

Free doesn't always equal freedom

I remember a client who wanted to purchase my domain name and services… only to reverse their decision and use a Ning site instead. After trying for a year, their attempt at branding the site not only failed (the brand name competed against my former brand), but they underestimated the complexity of the net in general. They thought upgrading to premium features would help. They did not understand what they were getting into, causing confusion to both the owners and the members. Oh, and they lost a lot of money in the process.

Are free web apps and sites are the devil? This isn’t always the case. I, myself, use free apps on a daily basis because I understand “the cost of free.” The cost I’m referring to can be expressed in a simple equation:

(Ease of use + Ability to grow) – Frustration with limits = The Cost of Free Read the rest of this entry »

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