In December 2008, when we introduced paid accounts at Wikidot, there was a lot of internal debate about the structure of paid plans, billing, payment processing, etc. We were having long negotiations with banks about card processing, which were very difficult because we were a new company, without any payment processing history, and we were often treated as high-risk business.
At the time, we decided to structure our plans with yearly payments only. It seemed much easier for us, and saved us headaches from monthly billing and invoicing. So right now, when you want to upgrade your account you need to pay for a full year up-front, and need to manually prolong your plan after each year.
Yearly payments, as we've learned, have serious disadvantages. They increased risk factor when we wanted to process credit cards directly, and a few banks turned away from the deal mainly because we were offering only long-term, up-front paid plans. If, for some reason Wikidot went out of business, let us say after 6 months, the bank would be left with customers claiming refunds. This was of course not the real case. But that is why we have to use 3-rd party payment processing now, like PayPal or MultiCards.
Many users suggested to us that we should switch to monthly payments. There would be no steep up-front payment, no long-term contract. The crucial point is that it is easier to pay $20 than $240 for a Pro+, and much easier to pay $5 than $50 for a Pro Lite. This, as I believe, would make our subscription plans much more affordable and accessible.
We will keep yearly payments only for Pro+, and only per individual request.
We have already started negotiations with payment providers to directly accept credit card payments. Probably this would take some time, so I cannot give you a precise timeline. Another benefit is that we will not have to forward our users to 3rd party websites anymore — we will just ask for credit card data, and complete the upgrade in a few steps.
In the following weeks we will also look at our plans and see if they can be simplified. If you have ideas and would like to share your opinion, please do!
Another thing that we will introduce later is an affiliate program so that existing users can recommend Wikidot and get credits which they can use to purchase Wikidot services or cash-out. Ideally, it would work both ways, for both the referred and referring person.
Any comments and suggestions are welcomed, as always!