Why CoderNotes.io Is Changing

CoderNotes.io will be removing its free plan, where users can post unlimited public notes, sometime between now and July 15th, 2020. I wanted to write a short blog post explaining why this is happening, and give some insight into the project.

Phases of a Startup

Most startup founders get that the original product will likely need some tweaks to make it successful. But for regular users, it may feel like a shock to see a core piece of the product be removed entirely.

I've learned that developers are only a good customer for the product if they already take notes.

This is a massive learning, because originally I believed CoderNotes.io could convince people to take notes who didn't already. This doesn't seem to be the case, and it means that the market is much smaller, and made up of different people, than I originally believed.

A Freemium Pricing Strategy

The reason a business uses a "Freemium" model, where users can have a free account and convert to paid later, is as a marketing strategy.

This pricing model originally made sense for CoderNotes.io for two reasons:

  1. Every developer was a possible user of CoderNotes.io
  2. As users on free accounts posted free notes, it would increase the search ranking in Google.

Unfortunately, both of those hypotheses have been wrong. Only a subset of developers are a right fit for CoderNotes.io, and user's notes have mostly not ranked in Google.

There's also been a bigger problem with the free plan, which is an unintended side-effect of where the line was drawn between paid and free plans.

A free plan has unlimited notes, but those notes are public. For people who don't want to pay, and are comfortable with their notes being visible to everyone, they have no incentive to upgrade. They'll just post their note, even if it really should be a private note, as a public note.

That wasn't the intention of public notes. The goal of public notes was to release high-quality snippets out into the dev community, in order to make it easier for developers in the future to solve the problem when they came across it.

I don't blame the people using public notes this way at all - they are simply being frugal and cost-effective. I created an incentive that shouldn't have existed.

With all of these realizations coming at once, it's become clear that CoderNotes.io needs to either change direction, or cease to exist.

How CoderNotes.io is Changing

Here's how the change is going to look:

1. CoderNotes.io will be a paid-only product, with a 14-day free trial

Starting shortly, the free plan will be deprecated, and you will no longer be able to create new notes without a paid plan. If you already have a free account, you will still be able to log in and view all of your previous notes.

2. Creating a note will default to a private note, unless you manually make it public

The current default for a note is for it to be public, since that was the most popular note format. However, this is going to change in order to encourage people to only make notes public when they are high-enough quality to deserve it.

3. CoderNotes.io is changing its focus to become the best way to take programming notes

Over the next few days, you'll see a major change in how I talk about CoderNotes.io on the website and around the internet, as we focus on our best-fit customer: developers who already take programming notes and are looking for a better setup.

To the current free members:

I wrote this blog post for you, to hopefully offer some insight into why this change is happening. I am deeply grateful for your time spent on the platform and value you have provided to CoderNotes.io so far. If I could, I would continue to keep the Free plan. Unfortunately, CoderNotes.io doesn't yet pay it's own bills, so I need to be practical in finding ways to keep it going indefinitely. This pivot to a better market (and aligning the payment model) is what has to happen for CoderNotes.io to become successful.

If you're a free member and would like to upgrade to the paid plan, I'd like to offer you a discount. Please reach out to me: kevin@codernotes.io for 50% off an annual subscription.

Thanks again for supporting CoderNotes.io! It's been a crazy ride so far, and I'm excited to see what the future holds.

- Kevin C