Wow – its been six months since we launched our Joomla SEO Club. Back then I promised that one day, when enough time had passed to provide reliable data, we would post a detailed overview of our experience. Today, is that day.
Last year when Joomla made the decision to encourage Joomla developers to move towards the GPL license we posted a lot about the topic. For those of you not up on the GPL, essentially it asks developers to move away from locking customers into products with licensing and encoding. Instead the aim is to make money from providing support, documentation and custom coding to the software’s users. In short, software as a service rather than software as a product.
Back then, I discussed the pros, cons and impact of a GPL business model. I also interviewed 5 people who were using the GPL: David Deutsch from AEC, Rob Clayburn from Fabrik, Andrew Eddie from the Joomla core team, Achim Fischer from Primezilla and Ryan Demmer from JCE. Those five people reflected my own thoughts. Between them they expressed enthusiasm, nervousness, optimism and pessimism. No-one had enough experience to know if it was possible for an individual developer or small webdesign team to pay the mortgage via a GPL business model.
About two months later, we decided to stop selling our Joomla SEO Book as a PDF download and change to a membership model where customers could also get consultation in our forum. We switched from selling a product to a service. Other SEO companies have made similar moves – SEOmoz before us, Aaron Wall and Brian Clark afterwards.
Thursday will be the six-month anniversary of our SEO Club. Did we make a wise decision?
Total Number of Members
Membership has grown at an steady pace. An organic growth rate is not to be sniffed at but nothing we’ve been able to do has created a significant growth spurt.
Plans Chosen by Registering People
- Free: 88%
- Basic ($37): 7.8%
- Medium ($99): 2.7%
- Advanced ($250): 1.5%
- Percent who renew: 68%
Total Number of Unique Visitors
Our daily visitor numbers continue to grow…
But the rate of growth really hasn’t changed compared to the 6 months before the club’s launch
Total Number of New Visitors
Theres been no change when it comes to unique vs. returning visitors:
Pages Per Visit
On average, visitors aren’t browsing any more of the site than they did before:
The Bad News
- Overall, 0.1% of unique visits turned into members.
- Averaging things out, it takes us a million unique visitors to produce 1000 members.
- Our experience has been that many people had been reading the blog for months before deciding to become members. A much larger presell is needed.
- I’m still a long way from being able to pay the mortgage via the club.
The Good News
- PayPal chargebacks dropped from around 3% to 0%. Not one single chargeback since we started the club.
- Aside from the chargebacks, informal evidence shows that our members are happier than the SEO book readers were. We get more people providing testimonials and more thank-you emails.
- More members come to us for additional work. With the SEO Book, very few readers contacted us about custom work.
- Our renewal rate is 68%. Quite a few of those who didn’t renew wrote thank-you letters to explain that the were leaving because they’ve got what they needed from the book.
Open to More Questions
With the exception of the data removed from the images above, consider this an open thread. I’d be happy to answer any questions at all about our move to a service club business model.
Equally, I’d love to hear from you if you have or a considering a similar change.