That got me to thinking about the web stuff I pay for (hosting from dreamhost, several flickr accounts, several domain names I renew every year, DSL from Verizon, and a lifetime membership to LibraryThing I got pretty much the second I heard there was such a thing), why I pay for it, and what I’m not paying for now, but I’d be willing to pay for.
Why I pay for the stuff I do
I noticed she pays for a lot more sites than I do. I really pay for connectivity and running my own stuff. I’m probably paying more for hosting than I really need, but a combination of inertia (easier to renew existing arrangements than make new ones) and anxiety over not being able to do whatever I want (have multiple domain names, customize WordPress to my heart’s content) keep me from switching.
Generally speaking, I don’t pay for sites now — so I guess web 2.0 isn’t directly getting much of my money. (No, I don’t click on ads.) The worthy exception here is flickr. I love flickr and can’t imagine not having it. I’ve given gift memberships; I can see why people would need more than one pro account. For me, it hits the sweet spot in David Armano’s usefulness, utility, and ubiquity diagram.
What I’m not paying for
The two sites that I’m not paying for that I think also hit that sweet spot are twitter and del.icio.us. To put in in terms of Darmano’s 3 U’s, they serve (at least one!) purpose, they foster meaningful (to me) interaction, and they are effective across multiple touchpoints. Would I pay for them? Absolutely.
But I don’t see facebook getting my money, or LinkedIn. Yeah, I use them, but I don’t love them. When I think of the web, I don’t consider them vital. If they started charging for what they offer, I imagine people (meaning: my scrabulous friends and professional contacts) would leave for freely available alternatives. I’d rather use claimID as my resume replacement — or even the search box on Google, for that matter.
What about you?
What are you paying for on the web? Do you think about the usefulness, utility, or ubiquity of a service before you pony up? If you’ve switched from paying for hosting to relying entirely on platform accounts (wordpress.com, flickr, etc.) I’d love to hear about that, too.