Why I Decided to Charge for FeedDemon Again

By now, FeedDemon 4.0 is in the hands of thousands of customers, many of whom are disappointed to discover that it's no longer free (well, there is a free ad-supported version, but the full feature set is only available in the for-pay Pro version).

Explaining how this came to be requires some history, so bear with me here…

When FeedDemon became free back in 2008, I was still working for NewsGator, and the goal was to promote the NewsGator brand (especially the enterprise products) by getting consumer products like FeedDemon into the hands of as many people as possible.  I was among those who thought this was a good idea, and I'm sure it helped spread NewsGator's name.

But a year later it was decided that we still needed to generate revenue from FeedDemon, so we inserted non-intrusive ads which we hoped would earn a few dollars without pissing too many people off.  But of course, it did piss people off, especially those who purchased FeedDemon before it became free and were now faced with advertising (which is generally accepted on the web but not in desktop software).

Much to our surprise, there were also people who said they'd pay to get rid of the ads.  We hadn't planned for that, but it's hard to ignore customers demanding that they be able to pay you, so we scrambled to come out with a version that enabled purchasing a serial number to get rid of the ads.

Then just over a year ago, I was let go from NewsGator.  For the record, it was the right decision, and there are absolutely no bad feelings between myself and NewsGator.  They treated me very well while I was there, and I'm still friends with my co-workers.

But that left me in a tight spot: I had to pay the bills with whatever money FeedDemon generated, and as popular as FeedDemon is, it's not popular enough to bring in enough cash through ads alone.  And very few people were paying just to get rid of the ads (can you blame them?).

For a year I kept FeedDemon free, and I started work on FeedDemon 4.0 in the hopes I could find a way to keep it free yet still pay the bills.  But eventually it was clear that the only way to keep FeedDemon (and myself) going was to start charging for it again, and I figured the best way to do that was to come out with a free ad-supported Lite version with fewer features, along with a for-pay Pro version that had all the features and no ads.  That way there would still be a free version, which I knew had to exist, while at the same time there would be a way I could charge for a more feature-rich version.

Of course, I realize many of you aren't happy about this, and it's not just because you expect everything for free – more likely you're tired of the constant shift in FeedDemon's business model (believe me, I'm tired of it, too!).  I really am sorry for all the changes.  Honestly, in retrospect making FeedDemon free wasn't a great idea.  It would've been far better to have a free Lite version and a for-pay Pro version from the start and to have stuck with that model.

Given all these changes, I'm flattered that so many of you have stuck with FeedDemon over the years, and I thank you for it.  Despite the naysayers, I continue to believe that RSS has a bright future, and I plan to keep working on FeedDemon for a long time to come.

58 thoughts on “Why I Decided to Charge for FeedDemon Again

  1. Nick, you’ve made a very great piece of software. I bought it before Newsgator made it free, I paid to remove the ads, and last night I upgraded to pro. I really have no problem with paying again for each new whole number release.
    That said, you really should have the upgrade price listed on the download page where people can see it before committing to the lite version. I’d also like to see some clear terms to the serial number, which should also help you avoid backlash in the future. For example, lay out that the code will remain in effect until FeedDemon 5 is released. If you plan to keep the upgrade discount in the next version for sure, put it down in writing.
    If you can swing it with the current registration process, you should probably also set a certain time (6 months-1 year) after purchase where major upgrades would also be free. This would be a bit of insurance against getting stuck with an outdated version just after purchasing.

  2. Dear Sir:
    I am one user of feeddemon in china, as you may understand; my English is not good enough. So I will try to tell out my thought about the new version 4 in an easy and direct way.
    1: I like your software.
    2: I do not care the ads in the software.
    3: I am deadly to find the setting of “icons” in V4 which you have moved. In v3, it is in the tools>opinion>opinion>reading.
    4: it is almost impossible for me to update the V4 unless my problem is solved.
    5: I am so sorry to find once I install the v4, the entire cache file will be useless for V3, and this is no possible to make a rollback.
    6: I will keep on visit this page to check if you will be kind enough to provide a way to set my problem.
    Best wishes

  3. good work (thx!), small price, lite/pro is a good decision. I think nobody needs an excuse to get paid for his work :-)

  4. Hi Nick, I’ve just purchased the Pro version. I too bought the original – it’s been one of the most used pieces of software on my machine. I love the responsiveness that you provide to comments (I commented on the Windows+DownArrow issue only a couple of days ago, and now it’s fixed).
    I think I agree that in hindsight it would have been best to keep FeedDemon free and separate from NewsGator, but I can understand the desire to see market share grow, and the potential exposure that NewsGator would provide.
    In the end, discerning users will always be willing to pay a fair price for a great product. I’m more than happy to continue supporting you as an independent programmer :)

  5. Having just upgraded to FeedDemon 4 (lite), I noticed that Feedstation seems to have been uninstalled. If I recall correctly, Feedstation *was* part of FeedDemon 3 “lite” (i.e. the with-ads version), but now it would seem that if you want Feedstation installed as part of FD4, you must upgrade to Pro.
    While I have no hesitation in continuing to pay for FeedDemon and will upgrade to Pro in the near future, I do feel potential upgraders should be informed that upgrading to FD4 will *uninstall* Feedstation. If I am right, maybe this should be explained on the “what you should know” page (http://www.feeddemon.com/gopro/upgrade.asp?app=readme).
    Or have I got it wrong here?

  6. First of all: Thank you for being such a great developer. I’ve been a Homesite lover (still use it sometimes) a TopStyle promoter and of course loved FeedDemon right from the beginning. I purchased a serial number for V3 but didn’t really use it (i liked the ads!). Now, I have to use it (bought the upgrade) because I want the full feature set. But still wouldn’t mind the ads.
    And as Joerg pointed out: nobody needs an excuse to get paid for his work.
    I wish you and your family (including your dogs) all the best and if you ever come up with another software to make one’s live easier, I’ll be among the first to support you.

  7. Well Nick,
    the adverbs + software looks were the strenght of Feeddemon for me.
    As I said before, i use Feeddemon to quickly overview the news in a lot of areas,
    Since the default layout isn’t doing me good anymore in the lite version I’ll have to find another way.
    If I would use this program extensively, I would have bought already.

  8. I too have been through the cycle of paid – free – paid for FeedDemon, but since FeedDemon is one of the first pieces of software that I install on a PC, it is worth it. The policy of charging for major releases is common to most of the software I use and as long as the changes/improvements are sufficient to make the cost worthwhile I don’t usually object. A clearer upgrade policy for the future would be helpful, however.
    Keep up the developing. Perhaps you could integrate a Twitter client into FD!

  9. Lite features are good and enough! :) But don’t make them for pro in next releases :(

  10. I gladly paid my $9 upgrade from v3 when I installed the latest v4 , it is well worth the support.

  11. I’ve been a FeedDemon user for years, and have no problem paying for good software (which I did way back when). I think you hit the nail on the head – I’m not adverse to paying, I’m just frustrated by the constant change of business models.
    That said, this is the first I heard you’re now an indie developer. That makes me want to pay for your software even more.

  12. Nick,
    I have been using FeedDemon since it came out, through all of the ups and downs. Paying $20 for a high quality product that I use everyday, and supporting a fellow developer out on his own is never an issue.
    The only time I don’t use FeedDemon is on my iPad, where I user Reeder. Now, if FeedDemon were on the iPad….

  13. Nick,
    I do understand you would like to make money with FeedDemon and I am willing to pay for extra features (ads never bothered me …) but Feeddemon 4 Lite just comes with less features than FeedDdemon 3 and the Pro version just has this “My Stream” that I won’t be using because I have Seesmic for that.
    And as I live in Europe I won’t bother opening a PayPal account for 20$ …
    I am sorry but I will stick with Feeddemon 3 until it stops working and then switch to Google Reader …
    Don’t misunderstand me … You did a great job with Feeddemon but your new business model just does not fit my needs … :(
    Let me know if you change it again :)

  14. How is the 4th version a move to a better app.. NOT:
    1) Removed option to customize/remove “newspaper icons”!
    2) Removed several “newspaper styles” (“Outland” was great with certain types of feeds)
    3) Removed some of the “customize buttons for toolbar” (e.g. “styles” button), and repositioned at least one (“reports” button) stupidly without a “spacer/divider”.
    4) Totally botched new “Surfer” newspaper style:
    4.1) Can’t customize icons (see above)
    4.2) Vertical space taken in “headlines” mode:
    4.2.1) Long headers overflowing to next line (not good if using certain amount of feed items per page fitted all visible to the view without scrolling)
    4.2.2) Utterly STUPID “feed name” after the feed header EVEN when viewing just ONE FEED, not “folder”), makes virtually all feed items vertically bigger when text overflows to several “lines”.
    5) Still not possible to select “Full posts/Summaries/Headlines” and “Feed/Date/Title” PER FEED! I personally find it really stupid to have those options to act globally WITHOUT an _option_ to “lock” them per feed. It seems that customization is a no-no for the dev.
    6) Only 1 “newspaper style” in Lite version.
    7) And in general, overall “dumbing down” of the app with removing options to customize with virtually every version. Don’t force feed your ideas of how to use the app! (Yes, I know, choose another app… I might, and so could others)
    And this with a quick test.. could be more. It’s really stupid that one can’t see/test the “newspaper styles” in the PRO version without having a license. Nor test other “PRO” “features”. Selling stuff blindly? 30 day full testing is not a good possible customer service?!

  15. Great update, and I’m happy to pay for it. The only change in your business model that bothered me was when I couldn’t pay to remove the ads.

  16. Nick,
    A GIGANTOR congratulations! FeedDemon is a mighty fine piece of software. If I were sill a Windows user I’d happily pay for an upgrade to the new Pro version.
    I wish you all the best!

  17. Nick,
    I just upgraded to the Pro version – not because I need the features that much, but mostly because I want to support your great work!
    Being a SW dev myself, I can appreciate the amount of work and love you’ve put through the years in this product (I was a paying customer for V1 and V2, but skipped V3).
    I don’t want to hijack this thread, but may I suggest you consider adapting the interface for touch in a future release? I’ve bought recently a true Win7 tablet (an ExoPC actually) and love it. The 1st app I installed was FeedDemon. My guess is the changes needed are minimal (just making the feed icons a bit larger will go a long way here).
    Since Intel just announced 35 “partners” to ship Intel-based tablets, many of which are Windows-based, my request will become more relevant in the next few months.
    Thanks again for the great work!

  18. I dutifully paid the fee for version 3 not all that long ago, now I’m being held hostage with an ugly strip at the bottom of the program announcing the new program.
    How long are you going to leave that ugly strip there in an attempt to get people to upgrade? It breaks the good faith agreement present when we bought version 3. We bought the program expecting it to work. I understand that upgrades ought to be paid for, but making existing versions less useful? It’s little more than a transparent attempt to extract more money from us (for a program that doesn’t display posts as nicely as the previous version, and has no new features I need?).
    It’s a mistake to piss off your existing customer base like this. I don’t need the new features, paid for the ones I’m using, and would like to continue without being annoyed every time I open the program.
    Finally, for those considering switching to version 4, try it first — particularly how posts are presented — it’s not better, it’s worse in my opinion, and if you don’t use the MyStream thingie, you will be paying to make the program worse. Yes, the owner will make money — but at your expense.
    I’ll wait for a bit to see if you fix version 3 before alerting my readers to this.

  19. I can understand reasons for paying for upgrade, but it’s irritating to have constantly red square, about “A new version of FeedDemon is available…” in v3 FeedDemon.

  20. Hey Nick…
    unfortunately, the lite version misses the compact looks of a style like expando. it’s obvious you want to be paid for it .. so the adverbs doesn’t pay off ;-)… so if a programs looks better, maybe it will sell better ;-)

  21. We’ve found that there are always prospects willing to pay for products, exchanging value for value. Finding them is always challenging, so part of our prospecting is to piggyback by offering to private label the ‘free’ versions.

  22. I do not see this as “exchanging value for value”, to be honest. Payment for software that is not a personalized service is always a donation. I like Nick’s work and I want him to keep doing it, so I welcome an opportunity to contribute. However, were I to not really like the application, but were somehow forced to use it, I would have had no moral issue with downloading a cracked pro version.

  23. I have just paid for Feed Demon for the third time. That’s not a complaint, it’s a mark of respect for a programme I use every day, which remains streets ahead of the many free alternatives. I want you to make money out of FeedDemon for the purely selfish reason that I want it to keep going. Personally I prefer you to make my share of that money by my giving it to you directly than by being irritated by the adverts (and personally I would pay without hesitation for a feature-equivalent version, just to get rid of the ads, but I recognise that’s probably a minority view).
    The only risk I see in this is a risk of over-development, that you feel under any pressure to keep adding features because you feel you have obligations to people who have paid you or may be encouraged to pay you. Reading and managing RSS is fundamentally a simple thing, don’t be tempted into letting feature creep undermine that essential simplicity.

  24. > Honestly, in retrospect making FeedDemon free wasn’t a great idea.
    > It would’ve been far better to have a free Lite version and a for-pay Pro
    > version from the start and to have stuck with that model.
    I paid for two upgrades this week in support of the software. I was one of the people during the beta testing that raised a real alarm about paid ads in the bottom left hand corner. Now with the paid version, I can show the product to clients and help them understand the power of this great software. My clients will not put up with ads. Period!
    We always learn some from the past. In this case, as I said loud and clear during the beta testing, ads don’t work or sustain great software. Paying customers do.
    I hope everyone will continue to pay and support this software. It’s a solid piece of work and deserves our support.
    Thanks Nick, I appreciate the honesty of your post.

  25. FeedDemon 4 has messed up the display if you have Internet Explorer 6 installed. The icons on the left are rendered on top of the feed titles, making it difficult to read the new item title.
    Yes, I have Windows XP and IE6 installed. I don’t want to upgrade to IE7, IE8 or IE9 – since I use Firefox as my main browser, and since I believe IE7 and above is just bloatware and offers no real value for someone who uses Firefox as their main browser.
    Goodbye FeedDemon, it was nice while I still had you..
    Helen P Easley

  26. Just upgraded from the adfree v3 to pro.
    The price tag is really afordable and as Joerg alread said:
    I think nobody needs an excuse to get paid for his work
    Keep on developing this excellent piece of software – I use it daily

  27. @Helen P Easley “IE 7 and above is just bloatware and offers no real value” – is an absolutely incorrect statement.
    You are 3 kinds of insane not to upgrade to at least IE8 (and I would actually recommend IE9 beta – but turn off GPU rendering for the moment – it is as fast and light as Chrome and miles better than FF right now). If you don’t run the application, it’s not going to bog down your system, but upgrading will save you a whole lotta grief in the future if you continue to use a Windows platform
    By being stubborn and staying on IE6 – even though you don’t run it! – you are vulnerable to a whole host of exploits and viruses. Due to the way IE components integrate into the OS, JUST by being connected to the internet with an old unpatched version of IE6 on your machine you can be hit by certain malware.
    Additionally, there are a whole host of applications that rely on these same components, and eventually if you don’t upgrade a number of applications will stop working as developers stop writing for IE6.
    Remember IE6 is a 9.5 year old version, the most recent update was issued in 2008 – over 2.5 years ago.
    For the sake of everyone else on the internet who will have to deal with any infection you pick up because you refuse to upgrade, I implore you to either upgrade or stop using a Windows OS altogether – we’ll be a lot safer if you do.

  28. Im over it.. I payed when 2.0 came out– then i paid when 3.0 came out and now i have to pay again.. This is BS.. When i purchase my os from ms– updates come free.. Same should be applied here.. Having to rebuy the same program 2 and 3 times is crap..

  29. Good riddance to ignorant users like Helen who want to use IE6 – you don’t think the newer versions offer anything? How about safety, HTML5 and CSS support for starters?

  30. @Dave, as the others are pointing out, you did NOT receive a free upgrade to Vista from XP or to 7 from Vista or XP – what you DID receive free was Service Packs.

  31. I finally bought a license this morning, something I should have done a long time ago. I’ve been using FeedDemon every day for over a year and it’s the only RSS reader I’ve ever really *liked*. That’s well worth the $20 price tag. Keep up the good work!

  32. I dont mind paying but What in the world am I being charged tax for? All I am getting is a code to activate the pro account. This just makes no sense to me as to why you would charge tax on a item that isn’t even physical.

  33. @josh
    Because he lives in Tennessee and Tennessee has a lot of screwy sales tax laws to make up for their lack of a state income tax.

  34. Nick,
    i just bought the upgrade to 4Pro (I had a Pro License for 3 Pro, so it wasn’t that big a deal) and I tell you why: FeedDemon is, in my opinion, the perfect RSS-Reader and the only one, that can manage my 500+ Feeds. I love the Watches (i have 20+ running) and I’m looking forward to the speed improvements with the new SQLite Database. I’d buy it again, because it’s simply worth it.
    Great job.

  35. As a developer I know this struggle all to well! We love what we do, and the idea of charging for it just doesn’t seem right. In my opinion that’s the mark of someone who is more than just a programmer, but an artist, who is passionate about what they do!
    but hey, we all got bills to pay! so I’m behind you 100%. you make a great product that deserves to be recognized and compensated. I don’t even NEED the pro features, but I want to support its development.
    Ultimately, that is why people should pay for software. yes it has a distinct value, but even more so, its developers have more value, and they are the ones that should be supported!
    rock on!

  36. true but this is basically the same program.. Few new features but same basic program.. I have had to purchase this same program 3x– which shouldn’t have to be done.. The reason Nick upgrades the program is to attract new customers cause his rss reader does things others done– but he should not penalize current customers in the process.. If you purchase the pro model– you shouldnt have to repurchase it time and time again.. When malawarebytes come out with updates– no charges– same with other programs.. Look– i like this program– but i dont agree with having to purchase the same program time and time again.. Just like people downloading cracked versions isnt right– penalizing current customers isnt right either..

  37. @critter
    [upgrading will save you a whole lotta grief in the future if you continue to use a Windows platform]
    you mean? i should upgrade in order to in order to stay on / use XP?
    no effen’ way.

  38. @helen
    Then please stay off the internet for the good of us all. We don’t need your viruses.

  39. @Dave
    You mean you shouldn’t have to purchase Norton AntiVirus 1,2,3,4,2000,2001,2002,2003, etc – it’s same basic program – an anti-virus app, with the same basic features, but if you want the new version you have to pay for it.
    With almost all software on the market today ( and I know there are always exceptions) you purchase a license to use the version of the software that’s in the box. If you want a newer version down the road, you have to pay an upgrade fee, or even purchase the entire application again.
    Please also remember that there are two types of 3.0 users – people who use the application for free with ads, and people who purchased a license to get rid of the ads (which was only introduced because of great hue and cry from people demanding an option to get rid of ads and then who promptly started complaining about having to pay to get rid of ads). If you purchased an ad-free license you can upgrade to the Pro version of 4 at half-price – effectively getting your money back for the license purchase of 3.0 – how is that “penalizing current customers”?
    Your statement implies that you should only have to pay for 1 version of an application and then never have to pay for it ever again and the developer has to keep providing you with free upgrades forever. Does that sound reasonable?

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