A blog is usually a place where companies brag about their achievements, how awesome an organization is to work at, the cool new clients they launched, … Our plan is make this blog pretty much the same, but before we get there – we have to make an announcement first.
From now, there is no longer a free plan on DNS Spy.
Our original plan
When we launched, almost a year ago, we had the idea that we could offer a simple plan next to our paid plans, for monitoring DNS records. After all, the big ones like Cloudflare they do it, and it works for them – right?
- Free plan: 1 domain
- Standard: 25 domains
- Premium: 50 domains + unique features + option to purchase more domains in a “pack”
That pricing strategy actually worked fine for the first few months, but then a couple of interesting things happened.
A marketplace for “free services”
After a few months, DNS Spy got mentioned on several websites that focus on free services;
- ripienaar/free-for-dev: a massive, 16.000 star Github repo with free services
- free.com.tw: a populair Taiwanese site for promoting free services
At first this looked like great news: signups were booming, the user base was growing, we kept monitoring more domains. Hooray!
But these are, ultimately, worthless leads. The thing that drove them to us was the “free” part, not the actual concern about their DNS stack and the need for monitoring. It became clear to us that this group of users never had the intention of becoming a paying subscriber.
But it works for Cloudflare!
Yes, a free tier works for them. It actually works really well for them. But their setup is totally different.
The free tier at Cloudflare is a honeypot, a means of generating traffic and leverage over bandwidth providers and ISPs. It’s a testing ground for more dangerous features (like enabling TLS 1.3) that get rolled out to free users first, before the paying users get them. You know, after a few iterations for increased stability.
This isn’t an attack on Cloudflare, their business plan in this regard is absolutely brilliant. I wish we could do the same!
But a service like DNS Spy, whose sole purpose it is to monitor & report on DNS changes & misconfigurations, isn’t something you use every day. It’s a monitoring service. You can add a domain and forget about it 10 minutes later. If nothing goes wrong, you won’t hear from us. I bet that’s what a lot of the free users did; add a domain, fix some DNS misconfigurations we alerted, then never looked back.
Yet on our end, that domain was still monitored & checked every 5 minutes, we generated reports/logs/traffic/database queries/… That user, even though they forgot about us, still caused load. And we got nothing in return. Whereas other services could at least still get the honeypot value out of free users, we have no such thing.
That might be a failure of our imagination or marketing, to turn those users into paying users, but we failed doing so regardless.
From now, paid plans only
Our absolute goal is to keep DNS Spy a viable, sustainable business. We can’t do that if most of our server & human capacity goes to supporting free users.
We had a ratio of 3000:1 free/paid users. For every paying user, there were 3000 free users. The economics of that just doesn’t scale. We wish it did, but it didn’t.
Deciding to cancel the free plan wasn’t an easy task. Especially because we
have had a fair amount of users on that plan. We hope they’ll understand our decision and, if they value DNS monitoring as much as we do, they’ll convert to paying users. Each of those users have been informed about our plan and were offered a coupon code to get 50% off the price for the first 2 months.
We continue to look to the future and see a lot of opportunity for DNS Spy. Cancelling our free plan means we can further guarantee that our paying users can continue to use our services and we can sustain our business for years to come!
Update: a smaller plan is coming!
We’ve heard from many of you that there is a need for a small DNS monitoring plan, something for 5 domains, that isn’t 10$/month. It’s coming, expect an update in the next few days.
Thanks to all of you for this feedback!