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15 Websites / Services I'd Actually Pay For

One measure of a service’s utility and stickiness is its ability to charge for usage. Consequently, I regularly find myself asking, “Is this important enough to me that I’d pay for it?”

Here are some of the services / sites where that answer is yes… And what I’d be willing to pay: Gmail: I’d pay to keep my Gmail account more because the switching cost is high than because of the functionality. That switching cost is painful enough that I’d spend $75 to prevent it. I will likely end up paying for increased storage too.

Google Maps: Love Google Maps for my Blackberry. Telenav is $9.99 / mo and offers greater functionality – I’d likely pay $10 to download Google Maps or some nominal monthly fee. If Google Maps added navigational directions, I would pay $10 / month. The benefit of blogging with WP is so significant (SEO, functionality, flexibility) that it’s well worth paying for. I’d probably pay a $200 for an installation… which makes me realize how much I rely on the product.

Google Analytics: If Google analytics weren’t free, I would unhappily pay a monthly fee to install it ($10) because, despite my disdain for the interface and lack of real-time metrics, it really is a necessity.

Google Analytics w/ Real Time Data: I would certainly pay extra for real-time Google Analytics.

Slimstat: Slimstat is a free Wordpress plugin that delivers real-time analytics. I would pay $40 to install it.

Slimstat “Premium”: … And I’d pay a lot more if Slimstat offered a model with unlimited data capturing / storage (the basic one shows the last ‘n’ records). I would pay $100 / domain.

Mint Analytics: I gladly paid $40 to install Mint on my domains. Great data and great interface.

Craigslist: I would pay for premium listings on Craigslist (if they introduced some sort of featured ads format) and I’ve paid the jobs listing fees before (many times).

Amazon Prime: I spend enough on Amazon that they gave me Amazon Prime for free when it first launched. Considering that I buy my groceries, toiletries, electronics, dog food, etc on it – I’d pay for Prime if Amazon forced me to.

iStockPhoto Premium: I love iStockPhoto – but it’s a pain to purchase credits. I’d pay for a premium account that enables power-usage. MLB is the only major sport that has truly adopted the web and their radio and video streaming is fantastic. I already pay for the service (estimates: $14.99 for radio broadcast of all games,$99-$179 for video)

Podcasts / On-demand Radio: There are certain podcasts and radio shows that I would pay to be able to download in entirety. For instance, I love The Thundering Herd on ESPN Radio but it streams too early on the west coast for me to catch it – and the Podcast only captures 30 minutes of the broadcast. I would pay $5-$10 a month to listen to it on-demand, in its entirety (price depends on whether or not ads are in the broadcast). The same can be said for Tony Bruno and JT the Brick.

eLance: I love eLance. Use it all the time. They choose to charge the service provider – but if they reversed it, I would pay on a per-listing basis. The price depends on the project, but a nominal amount ($5?).

ESPN360: It’s the only way that I can catch Duke games without leaving work at 3pm pst... I’d pay either per game or per month ($5-10) for the service. I’d pay a whole lot more if they could include MLB, NFL and NBA (would start to challenge my Comcast bill).

5 Up, 5 Down - Loving FriendFeed, Bebo, Podcasts, WordPad and Amazon

What I'm Loving: FriendFeed: Brilliantly simple and effective.

Bebo: started using it for Widgetbox purposes, but I have been very impressed by the quality of the site and their new open platform (which I actually prefer to Facebook's). I actually think that Bebo takes the best of Facebook and the best of MySpace - not too clean and not too dirt. Also - rumors just broke that Bebo was acquired for $1b)

iTunes Podcasts: Can't stand the interface (and I'll continue to complain to my Apple friends until it's updated)... but I am addicted to podcasts and rarely listen to music these days.

Notepad and WordPad: I find myself doing my writing and note-taking in notepad and wordpad. It's light-weight and simple... much the same reason I use GTalk. And the more I work with html files and ftp, the more troublesome MS Word becomes.

Amazon: If you know me well, you know I love Amazon (easily my favorite website). This past week I've bought: rechargable batteries, dog toys, dog food, cereal, razors and more on Amazon. They all arrived in 24 hours and cost less than buying them at Safeway.

What I'm Not Loving:

Google Analytics: Why can't I receive real-time updates? I'd be willing to pay for that... And why not at least timestamp the last update?!

Yelp: I thought it was just me, but other friends noted similar behaviors - I'm starting to sense that the quality of reviews is dropping rather significantly... troubling trend if true.

Netflix: Feels like it hasn't been updated in ages. The finding experience was once cutting edge but now utterly useless. Try finding upcoming titles within a specific genre (ie Blu Ray) - I dare you.

SideStep: Not a direct comment on SideStep because I love the UI / UE... but as more lower-cost airlines refuse to integreate with the aggregators (Jetblue, Southwest, etc), I find sites like SideStep less useful.

Elance: I love Elance - but I am not loving their new site design. Great example of a redesign that is so radically different that it shocks users accustomized to the old design. This may be a better site design, but it is so inconsistent that I find the site unusable!

Hiring Moves Web 2.0 (Through Facebook, Blogs and Classifieds)

This might not come as a surprise since networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are becoming popular, effective ways to make business introductions and even hires. But a couple posts on some of my favorite blogs demonstrate that web 2.0 hiring has become precisely that. A few examples:

* Fred Wilson wrote a post saying "We are Looking for an Analyst" and is only accepting "links to your web presence"... fascinating. No resume. No email. No cover letter.

Fred and his firm are saying that your understanding of the web should be evident from your web activity - and that's all they need to know to get started. I would argue that's a great filter for the business they are in.

And if you look at the Union Square Ventures post, nearly 100 people have loaded up their web links (LinkedIn and blog urls are most prevalent). The most interesting submission was a candidate linking to a google search for his own name!

One question about this tactic though - those candidates have all made their interest public... which is problematic for their current jobs / employers and actually exposes their contact information to other companies (not bad for the candidate, but bad for Union Square right?)

* Josh Kopelman wrote a fascinating post about using Facebook Ads to connect with interested candidates for his various start-ups (updated study here). While the ads were more of a field study on Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook's advertising system - the responses indeed indicate that this was a successful endeavor.

By the way, if you've never advertised on Facebook, spend $20 to promote something off-Facebook - it's a fascinating experience compared to AdWords, Y! and MSN...

* Finally, I posted recently about beRecruited hiring bloggers through Craigslist, Kijiji, and LinkedIn... and how those compare to hiring work through sites like Elance. While my efforts are less savvy (or interesting) than Fred's or Josh's - they have been quite fruitful (albeit quite time consuming).

Hiring Bloggers - Where to Look (Oh yeah, We're Hiring a SportsWrap Editor!)

Over the course of beRecruited's growth, we've relied heavily on organic growth and grass-roots marketing. Similarly, we've used Elance, Craigslist, and Kijiji to outsource smaller projects... and, while each is time consuming, it's been effective for us on a project-by-project basis. Now we are hiring a full time beRecruited SportsWrap editor and a few bloggers and, while promoting the open role, I was quite disappointed to find that Valleywag's job board has closed! We had advertised on Valleywag previously and found it *far* more successful than any other medium. Not only were the leads plentiful... they were qualified! There are few locations to reach potential bloggers who are truly web savvy, get SEO, love sports, etc - but Valleywag worked.


LinkedIn works decently. Kijiji and Craigslist generate leads - but are time intensive (and Craigslist is expensive). Elance is better for projects and developments (rather than ongoing employment). TechCrunch, GigaOM, etc seem better for senior-level jobs than for recruiting writers.

Of course if you have any contacts or ideas - please pass my way!