Question

Do you have any temporary software subscriptions where you only subscribe when you need the software?

The downside of subscriptions is that you have to pay to keep using the software.

The upside ideally is that you could pay for software for a month or so for a single project then unsubscribe until you need the software again.

But in real life, have you and your team subscribed to software for limited times for specific needs, or do you find yourself subscribing to software and paying for the long term? What software do you use on a more time-limited basis?

Share
sonix15's avatar
5 months ago

Yes, quite a few. It has it's downsides, sometimes I miss cancelling. But then at least when I'm not using it, I can cancel. Some on top of my head are -
1. Smartmockups (brilliant tool to get mockups - can't recommend enough),
2. FlatIcon and Freepik (to get images and icons - again, both are amazing and so worth paying for) and
3. Abode Illustrator (for doing occasional quick editing when changes are so small and quick that I don't want to bother contacting design team).

7 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @sonix15 )
5 months ago

A mockup tool would fit the idea of subscribing temporarily perfect, as mockups are needed most at the start of a new idea but not necessarily throughout it.

Illustrator is one I'll end up subscribing to temporarily sometimes if my CS6 copy ever stops working.

3 points
sonix15's avatar
@sonix15 (replying to @maguay )
5 months ago

Absolutely - we keep needing mockups for new features or for launching a revised version of something. It comes really handy! Love the flexibility.

3 points
davy_kestens's avatar
5 months ago

I tend to use adobe photoshop only about three times a year. They switched to a subscription model, so I restart and cancel the subscription every time I want to use it.

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @davy_kestens )
5 months ago

Interesting! So you pay the month-by-month price on Photoshop stand-alone each month you need it?

1 point
davy_kestens's avatar
@davy_kestens (replying to @maguay )
5 months ago

yess

2 points
imaginedesigner's avatar
4 months ago

Just a suggestion. Visit https://www.photopea.com/

1 point
maguay's avatar
5 months ago

To add one service I often use extra temporarily, DigitalOcean is something I'll often use for a few hours or days, then turn off. I use DigitalOcean to host my blog so have a steady $5/month bill from them already. But when I need to test a new web app or perhaps just try out a recent version of WordPress or Ghost for a tutorial, I'll spin up a new DigitalOcean image for a few hours then destroy it when I'm done. It ends up costing cents to test stuff, with less trouble than making a local virtual machine.

4 points
asdjhklasdhflk's avatar
5 months ago

Absolutely - particularly for research based projects I'll subscribe and then unsubscribe as soon as I have my answer. Some ways to counteract this may be to have a pricing model for batch results or adhoc results. Clearbit as an example has a tool by which you can upload a company or person list and get back details on each record for $0.10 per record.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @asdjhklasdhflk )
5 months ago

Ah great example on Clearbit. Love seeing more unique pricing models that aren't pure $x/month subscriptions.

1 point
amajob's avatar
5 months ago

Yes, especially SEO software for keyword/competitor research which tends to be pretty expensive and it is never enough to use only one tool. Most often I use Kwfinder.com but you can easily prepare yourself in advance with free tools like Ubersuggest from Neil Patel. Then I pay for one month from the paid tool (it is more expensive if you don't buy 12 months upfront) but for low-end or side projects I don't need more than two months per year so I end up paying a lot less in the end.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @amajob )
5 months ago

That's a great example. I'm pretty sure Ahrefs charges $7 for their trial to ensure people pay something for short term projects, or otherwise some of this level of use case would come under trial usage.

1 point
amitgnyc's avatar
5 months ago

Balsamiq - There are times when I used it a lot and then I don't use it for months.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @amitgnyc )
5 months ago

Ah neat. Mostly using it to mockup new ideas?

1 point
amitgnyc's avatar
@amitgnyc (replying to @maguay )
5 months ago

For wireframing new ideas when I don't want the audience to be biased by a particular design.

2 points
drsh0's avatar
5 months ago

I do I this for slides.com - sub when I need private decks and export tools and then unsub when I'm inactive. I really like their model and flexibility. I do wish I could have it long term but I can't justify it yet.

3 points
cpauwels's avatar
5 months ago

I tend to only use lambdatest (browser testing) once in a while when releasing a new version of our website. So I subscribe for their special non-recurring one month plan at 10$ for 2 hours of testing. All other plans offer unlimited testing, but I love that I can just buy something I need occasionally without having a recurring subscription.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @cpauwels )
5 months ago

That's great they have hourly testing!

1 point
NaveenDewda's avatar
5 months ago

We end up using the product for a period of time and then cancel the subscription when our goal is achieved. For ex., we used RocketReach for finding few emails for a reach-out and then canceled the subscription when done. We’ll do the same if the need arises again in the future.

2 points
shankarganesh's avatar
4 months ago

I have a Revue subscription for my personal newsletter (it's here, if you'd like to read it).

I don't send out a newsletter every month. So, I pay and cancel in the months when I actually do send out a newsletter.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @shankarganesh )
4 months ago

Interesting. Do they maintain your subscribe list when you cancel?

1 point
shankarganesh's avatar
@shankarganesh (replying to @maguay )
4 months ago

Yes, they do :)

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @shankarganesh )
4 months ago

That's super cool—a Netflix-style way of making it easy to unsubscribe but also to come back and start again where you left off.

1 point
shankarganesh's avatar
@shankarganesh (replying to @maguay )
4 months ago

Yes, indeed. I was actually thinking - it'd be a nice business model if they let me pay a fee every time I send out a newsletter. That's precisely what I'm doing, but with a workaround.

But I guess it may not work for many of their users who do send out regular newsletters.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @shankarganesh )
4 months ago

Some email apps do have that—Mailchimp has a somewhat hidden "Pay as you go" plan where you pay credits per number of emails you want to send. But yeah, I honestly would love to see per-usage pricing on more SaaS. That would open up a lot of business tools to more prosumer/startup use cases.

1 point
shankarganesh's avatar
@shankarganesh (replying to @maguay )
4 months ago

That's cool - didn't know MailChimp had something like that :)

1 point
rstocker99's avatar
5 months ago

Yes, Litmus’s email testing product. We only use them when we are making a new template and need to test the new template in various email clients. We reactivate our account. Test the template and once we’ve worked out the kinks we cancel. If we aren’t making a new template they don't add enough value for us to keep paying them every month. Some product’s have a value metric that doesn’t fit well with recurring billing.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @rstocker99 )
5 months ago

Great call, that's a perfect fit for paying for a task as part of a project, not forever.

1 point
AndrewPenry's avatar
5 months ago

We use Inspectlet at the beginning of each (fashion) season, which is when we push out major UX changes to our website. We don't really have enough personnel to review recordings year round, but we do find it useful to do right after UX changes to see how users interact.

1 point
minarad's avatar
5 months ago

Definitely something we do. The challenge of course is remembering to cancel at the end of the month... We don't want to cancel part way because we may need it multiple times through the course of the month.

The primary times we've done this are to supplement Intercom which is massively lacking in batch options and insights, despite being obscenely expensive. We are switching over to Zendesk, but unfortunately, takes time and eng to do so not as fast as we would have liked.

3 tools that we've used for this:
Insycle - best way to perform batch actions (e.g. remove tags for people who meet all these filters)
Prodsight - one time exports to get sentiment analysis and data
Intercom export - pretty much what it sounds like -> conversation export which Intercom also does really badly.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @minarad )
5 months ago

Yup, trick is remembering to cancel stuff before it gets billed again. Whenever I start a subscription, I add a task to my to-do list for 360 days later to reconsider the subscription to give myself a chance to cancel before it renews, if I'm not getting enough value from it.

So Intercom's built-in export tools aren't good enough to actually export all your data?

1 point
NBNite's avatar
4 months ago

Beautiful.ai is a presentation design tool that I've opted in to for quick spurts when in need of a presentation designed :)
Originally, the platform was actually free (only paid for premium features) but I imagine theie revenue numbers weren't there so they changed their pricing model. Because I only need the service every few months, opting in for those projects makes the most sense.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @NBNite )
4 months ago

Ah clever, presentation tools would be a perfect fit there. Prezi is one I used for a single presentation once—the trial was likely enough for that, but a single month would fit well if I used it again.

How well does Beautiful.ai do at automatically adapting slides as you add/change content? Looks super interesting!

1 point
NBNite's avatar
@NBNite (replying to @maguay )
4 months ago

How well does Beautiful.ai do at automatically adapting slides as you add/change content?
- funny enough, that's one of the platforms best functions. The tools strength is its ability to take the content you input and display it cleanly within their pre-designed slide templates (which have grown significantly in the last year). The downside though, is that if you're looking to arrange slide content in a manner that the template isn't built for, it can be super frustrating to be confined by these limits.
They did recently release an update that allows you to export the final presentation to PPT and edit it there - haven't tried it but if it works well, it's an awesome feature-add.
For the average, non-design user, it will give your presentations a level of polish you likely wouldn't have otherwise.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @NBNite )
4 months ago

That's neat to hear, I'll have to give it a try.

My favorite presentation app at the moment is Deckset, which turns Markdown text into slides for a similar simplified design process, though it doesn't do much to customize the designs to fit the data as much as just scaling text and images to fit everything in.

2 points
NBNite's avatar
@NBNite (replying to @maguay )
4 months ago

Let me know if you do try beautiful and what you think!

1 point
pendolino's avatar
4 months ago

This is why I try to subscribe monthly (or even shorter) to everything and I find it annoying that vendors will do their utmost to conceal the short option to the point that I even have to email them to find out where the option is (or even if they have it listed since sometimes you have to ask). Brilliant.org is a recent example of this.

That reminds me: I think someone mentioned there was an app/service (oh the irony) that manages your recurring subscription? I'm thinking this could now be useful. Similar to the recent tool I read about that aggregates/combines your streaming media services.

What I really like, though, is subscribing through Apple whenever possible since they make it super easy to cancel subscriptions as well as summarise what you're using. They even remind you when you delete an app that there was a subscription attached.

1 point
How do you automate follow-up emails?

I've got a funny use-case for a client I'm volunteering on. They're dealing with some legacy folks who work in Excel. Every week they send out an email to a series of people with an Excel sheet at...

The community for power users.