Pricing is hard. Raising prices.

Main Thread April 25, 2019 • 3 min read

Pricing is hard. I recently listen to The "charge more" debate on Build your SaaS. It came at the perfect time as I have been considering increasing prices.

Over the years, there have been times I wanted to charge more for my own products and services. For example, I could have charged more for PocketBracket. This app was successful by most metrics, but not necessarily revenue.

It’s very difficult for something as competitive as the App Store to charge more. You are competing against FREE applications and clones offering the same functionality. So although most apps in the App Store are worth more than price, it is difficult to charge more.

One season we did try to raise the price to $1.99. While revenue was roughly the same, there weren’t as many users. At the end of the day having more users using and sharing the app was more valuable than revenue.

I adopted the same philosophy with Shift. When I first launched Shift in December 2015 I only charged $3. That same shift today cost $21. On the surface, that is a 600% price increase. Most would argue for the value Shift brings I could (and should) charge more. And I have, to an extent.

When new versions of Shift are released, I raise the prices for older versions 10%. It's not much in dollars, but I view it as a little incentive to stay current. One could consider it simply inflation. I actually don't charge more as the price for the latest Shift version has remained the same.

Shift battle with a similar issue. While there isn’t an explicit FREE competitor, there is an implicit one. Developers can upgrade their applications by hand. This, depending on the application, has a varying levels of involvement. I wouldn’t consider this FREE, but they do since they’re not spending physical money on the upgrade. Just their time. Which is a different story.

To remain competitive, and balance growing revenue with growing the user base, I have kept Shift prices low. Now though, with 15,000 Laravel applications upgraded, I feel I have proven the value of the service enough to charge more.

Shift will be raising its prices next Wednesday, May 1st. I normally increase prices slightly twice a year during the Laravel release cycle. But this will be a one-off.

The original goal of Shift was to make the upgrade process easier for developers. After 15,000 Laravel application upgrades, I feel that goal has been accomplished. This will always be a core goal of Shift, but now it is time for a new goal.

The new goal for Shift is a bit broader — help modernize your applications. While an aspect of the original goal, it brings a few additional focuses to the forefront. Namely running the latest version and leveraging framework features and common practices.

These are evident in the recent and popular Laravel Linter and Laravel Fixer. Also the new subscription services which allow you to constantly keep your applications upgraded.

To align with this new goal the prices for Shifts prior to the recent Laravel LTS version (5.5) will increase. This has always been done as an incentive to keep applications on a supported Laravel version. Currently that is only Laravel 5.5 and Laravel 5.8.

I do expect the next version of Laravel to be an LTS version. Or, ideally, LTS may be abandon. It’s no secret I believe LTS is a trap.

Of course this pricing increase is only a few dollars. Furthermore, I have seen a decrease in Shifts prior to Laravel 5.3. I noted this in my Laravel by the Numbers talk at Laracon 2018. So this increase is unlikely to affect many users.

All the same, we'll see if this price increase helps reach Shift's new goal with the secondary benefit of generating more revenue to feed this growing service.