An indie magazine publication by Subsail

It's been over two years since the first customers signed up to Subsail. In that time I've talked with many publishers and seen the platform grow to host over $1.5m worth of magazine subscriptions, which is mind-blowing.

In the early days of a SaaS product, pricing can be tricky to figure out, as you have no customers, nor experience with how your product will be used.

Today I'm announcing an updated pricing model that better suits Subsail as a platform and its worth to magazine businesses.

The original pricing model

Subsail's pricing has stayed the same since launch, with simple tiered plans, which have been based on the number of new subscriptions publishers have in their accounts:

  • Mini: $29/month for up to 200 subscriptions
  • Regular: $59/month for up to 1,000 subscriptions
  • Super: $99/month for unlimited subscriptions

This was a good, safe bet to start with, and it has worked well. Overall, this pricing structure does great and affords new or smaller accounts a cheaper price compared to larger accounts with more subscribers.

But as no pricing can be perfect (especially as a stab in the dark before your product has launched), I've been busy working on a new pricing model.

Why change pricing?

Over the past year I've seen the size range of subscriber bases increase, as both small and larger publishers start managing their subscriptions in Subsail. This has highlighted some issues with the current subscription-based pricing.

Example A: a publisher who has over 200 subscriptions but only gains a few new sales each month pays $59, which can sometimes eclipse their monthly revenue.

Example B: a large publisher, who has two good months on the back of a new issue launch selling over $20,000 in subscriptions but still has fewer than 1,000 subscriptions total, pays the same: $59 a month.

It turns out that "How many subscriptions have you ever sold?" is not the best metric for monthly pricing plans. A better one is "How much revenue have you made this month?"

The new pricing model

During the past few months I've been looking at different usage-based models, looking at other SaaS products and playing in spreadsheets with live sales data from Subsail. I've now reached a pricing structure that works better, is more aligned with customers' sales and growth, yet keeps pricing similar in many cases to the current tiers. 🎉

$49/month + 1% of revenue

On a slower month, publishers would pay less for Subsail; on a really good month, they'd pay more. Pay for what you use. Makes sense.

(As an aside, I've considered including renewals into pricing—Subsail has generated $30,000 in renewals over the past three months. However, I want pricing to be as simple as possible so I'm only using sales as the basis for this new system.)

How does it compare?

For most publishers, pricing won't change much. If you do some quick maths, publishers who make $1,000 in subscription revenue a month will pay the same as the old Regular plan ($49 + $10 vs. $59 a month).

Publishers who sell less than $1,000 each month will save money. Publishers who sell more (say $10,000 in a month) will pay what I believe to be a fairer price ($149) for the opportunities and tools Subsail offers.

A new "Starter" plan

One of the things I enjoy from the current pricing is the Mini plan, which is like a little helping hand for new accounts (basically a 50% discount until you hit 200 sales).

Following this model, I will introduce a new "Starter" plan with a similar discount ($29/month + 1% revenue), which is valid until you hit 100 new subscriptions. Perfect to get started on Subsail. All accounts on the current Mini plan will keep their 200-subscription limit.

(Don't forget you can try Subsail without charge for your first 20 subscriptions.)

When does the new pricing come into effect?

For customers without a current paid plan, the new pricing will be introduced in three weeks, on 14th December.

All current paying customers will be migrated to the new plans on 18th January, 2019.

Any customers on the Mini plan will be moved to the Starter plan (and will keep their 200-subscription limit), and any customers on the old Regular and Super plans will be moved to the new Regular plan. This will happen automatically and there will be no disruption.


Changing pricing (even to similar fees) is not a small event. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch by email or Subsail's in-app chat.

unsplash-logoLUM3N