Justin Tadlock toyed with a donation model on Theme Hybrid, that did not go well. His (already very affordable) Theme Hybrid memberships went down to a quarter of the previous rate of signups.
This is what he says he learned:
There are two important takeaways from this experience:
- People are less willing to donate.
- People are more willing to pay.
The former group seems to be shrinking while the latter group is growing. As someone who needs to make enough money to put food on the table, I don’t have much of an issue with that.
However, as someone who likes the idea of being able to share knowledge and cool-stuff with others, I’m a bit saddened.
It is certainly interesting how it does seem people are more willing to pay for something, rather than donate. That insinuates that it’s purely a psychological thing, not a willingness to pay. But overwhelmingly, even if someone sees value, they won’t pay if they don’t have to. I can see how that makes Justin sad, from the standpoint of wanting to be able to give stuff away, but still sustain a living.