Announcing Beeminder Premium Plans: Bee Lite, Plan Bee, Beemium, and Beekeeper

Friday, April 12, 2013
By dreeves

a woman in a gold/yellow dress exclaiming 'tada'

[Prescript: Yes, we paid someone $270 because this post was late (see blog.beeminder.com/blogdog). We think it was worth it and hope you’ll agree!]

UPDATE 2014-07-17: This post now reflects the current prices. When it was published the prices were: Bee Lite $5/mo, Plan Bee $10/mo, Beemium $25/mo, Beekeeper $200/mo.

We’ve been improving Beeminder at a brisk pace lately. First, just as you can reduce the amount you have pledged on a goal, you can now get rid of a goal altogether. Press the Archive button in the goal’s settings and a timer will appear, counting down until the goal disappears in a week. That also means no more need for “temporary test goals”, so those are gone. Phew!

We also added a limit to the number of new goals you can create without adding a pledge. We call those pledgeless goals Freebees. Creating a goal with no pledge isn’t really in the spirit of Beeminder, it’s just needed so people can get acclimated. So you can now create seven such pledgeless goals (don’t worry, long-time users, we grandfathered your existing goals). If you don’t want to be limited in that way, that brings us to our big announcement…

Premium Plans!

“Some people are so hardcore and self-aware that they can predict that they’ll shrug off those $5 and $10 pledges.”

Believe it or not, Beeminder is profitable just with our crazy revenue model of collecting people’s pledges when they derail. Users pretty much invariably feel that those payments work out to a fair fee for the service Beeminder provides. Namely, keeping you in line. And, the pledges progress along an exponential schedule that tends to make people who need Beeminder more (and thus get more value out of beeminding) pay us more. It’s beautifully win-win. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people are so hardcore, not to mention self-aware, that they can confidently predict that when the chips are down they’ll shrug off those $5 and $10 pledges. They want to be immediately bound by more meaningful amounts. A few months ago we introduced the ability to pay us directly — half the current amount pledged — to jump to the next pledge level. In theory that solves the problem but it’s a painful thing to do. So we now have a less painful option: the ability to jump to any pledge level you want if you pay a subscription fee for Beeminder.

Yes, amusingly, we have premium plans both for people who don’t want to pledge money on goals and for people who want to pledge more money on goals. [1] But wait, there’s more! We also have premium plans for power users and for those who want actual lifecoaching, centered around their Beeminder goals.

If you’re tired of all this build-up, feel free to jump below for the bottom line. Otherwise, here’s the scoop on the current offerings, Free, Bee Lite, Plan Bee, Beemium, and Beekeeper

Free Plan ($0/month)

Just to re-emphasize, you don’t need no stinkin’ premium plan to experience the full awesomeness of Beeminder. We’ve always said that Beeminder is entirely free if you never fall off your yellow brick roads and we intend to keep it that way.

Bee Lite ($8/month)

Fitness tips. We’re proud of our collection of hundreds of fitness tips that we add to the bot reply emails. Some are dirt simple suggestions or pointers to Lifehacker articles, some are pointers to our own blog posts, some are pointers to handy xkcds, and some are mini blog posts not published anywhere else. They’re inserted randomly so you’ll tend to see repeats before you see them all. In fact, you’ll probably never actually see them all.

Custom goals. The main attraction of Bee Lite, though, is being able to tweak the crap out of your goal settings. You probably only want this if you’re a power user (the plan was almost named “Powers That Bee” but that was rejected). Even for power users it’s rare to need to do these things, but here’s what you get:

  1. Exponential roads, which can be handy for weight loss if you want to, say, lose half a percent of your bodyweight per week. It’s not too onerous to approximate this by periodically dialing your road, but it’s a cool feature in some circumstances. We use it on some of our meta roads though those tend to be retrofitted, i.e., we’re not truly beeminding most of those things. UPDATE: Clearing Up Confusion About Exponential Roads
  2. Choose how multiple datapoints on each day are aggregated. For weight loss we default to the minimum and for Do More goals it’s the sum. But with custom goals you could choose the mean or the max or the first or the last. We’d be happy to throw in any other function, like median, if anyone had a use for it. UPDATE: Someone did and we obliged.
  3. Choose whether to plot all the datapoints or just the aggregated one.
  4. Choose whether to enable the fancy odometer setting.
  5. Change other settings like which is the good side of the road, though changes like that can easily break your graph.
  6. We’re currently debating on Akratics Anonymous whether custom road width should be exposed as a setting for custom goals. UPDATE: We bowed to the pressure! This is now live.

UPDATE: Configurable Retroratchet. When you hit retroratchet you can choose how much safety buffer you want to be left with, including making it an emergency day Right Now.

Plan Bee ($16/month)

Each plan subsumes all the previous plans so Plan Bee also gets you fitness tips and custom goals. The main feature of Plan Bee is unlimited Freebees.

Freebees are goals that don’t have a pledge attached to them. If you derail you still have to pledge (not pay) to unfreeze. Normally Freebees are limited to seven to close the loophole where you create a new goal each time you derail so you don’t have to ever pledge. Like “weight”, “weight2”, “june-weight”, “for-real-this-time”, etc. It’s not in the spirit of Beeminder but if you’re willing to pay us $10/month then knock yourself out.

UPDATE: Enough people misunderstood “unlimited freebees” that we decided to make it more in line with what you’d expect if you only read “unlimited freebees”. Namely, if you have Plan Bee (or higher) you still have to add a pledge after derailing, but you can immediately (subject to the akrasia horizon) drop it back down to $0. Normally you can’t drop your pledge amount below $5 once a pledge is added.

Beemium ($32/month)

Fitness tips, custom goals, unlimited freebees, and…

Free short-circuiting. Now we’re getting elite. Free short-circuiting means you can immediately jump to a motivating pledge level, without paying at each jump. [UPDATE: There’s no longer such a thing as paying directly for each jump. Beemium is now the only game in town if you want to short-circuit the pledge schedule.] We’re very impressed with people who have value for this — we’re not sure we do ourselves! Beemium subscribers are highly akratic and have the foresight to know what will motivate them. We’re highly akratic, no question there, but we’re always a bit delusional about it. “Maybe this time $5 will be enough to keep me on track!” We’re pretty enamored with our exponential pledge schedule but some of our most hardcore users can save money by paying for Beemium so they can jump straight to commitment contracts that they know will keep them on track indefinitely.

Real-time support. Since Beemium is so super elite we’re also letting those folks hang out in our developer chat room where you can ask us questions and often get an immediate response. Danny, Bethany, and Andy are usually there all day every day. We’re on Pacific time, though that doesn’t always mean much for some of us.

Beekeeper ($256/month)

Fitness tips, custom goals, unlimited freebees, free short-circuiting, real-time support, and…

Here’s where it gets really interesting. The Beekeeper program, first introduced in our anniversary post, is still highly experimental but we have a few life coaches on board to partner with. We’re going to figure this out as we go, but if you think that in principle you’d pay $200/month to have someone personally holding you accountable to your goals, helping you keep your roads dialed in, entering data for you, calling you to make sure you’re staying on track, and deciding what things to beemind in the first place, then by all means, sign up. As with all the plans, we’ll give you a full refund if you’re not thrilled with what you’re paying for.

UPDATE: Beekeeper is now in full swing.

 

But wait, there’s more! All premium users also get priority email support. We have a long list of potential premium features so the above will change, though we’ll try to keep each plan at least as good as what we’ve just described. But there are also some things about the plans that we want to commit to…

No Carrots For You

Seriously, we are all about the stick. We do not intend to hold important features as dangling carrots. Premium plans are still an experiment but we’re committed to keeping the non-premium Beeminder a highly functional tool for maximizing the awesomeness of humans prone to procrastination and other forms of akrasia. In fact, the only things that we’re going to charge for are:

  1. Features that directly thwart our revenue model, i.e., unlimited freebees and free short-circuiting (or in the future: choosing the beneficiary of your commitment contract [1])
  2. Things that may confuse newbees (we’re not sure yet whether customizable retroratcheting and auto-ratcheting fall in this category)
  3. Goodies that are incidental to the process of beeminding, like fitness tips
  4. Things that cost us money to provide (we may make the SMS bot a premium feature for this reason)

Auto-Canceling Subscriptions

UPDATE: We were so enamored with our auto-canceling subscriptions that we turned this section into its own blog post. The short version is that if you stop using Beeminder, we automatically stop charging you for your premium plan!

Exquisitely Fair Pre-Pay Discounts

UPDATE: Same with our super nerdy discount slider, which you can also get a taste of in the sampler below.

Beeminder Premium Sampler

The above is just to re-cap the plans (and demonstrate our Exquisitely Fair Slider, as we call it). The features shown in brackets are currently live but rather experimental. Again, if we change them we’ll try to replace them with things that are at least as good. So if you’re sold, head to beeminder.com/premium!

 

Image credit: Altered By The Sea

Footnotes

[1] Choosing the beneficiary of your commitment contract would be very sensible as a premium feature. It’s surely due to selection bias but our existing users generally feel it works out fine for all involved that Beeminder is the beneficiary, as utterly twisted as that sounds to outsiders. We discuss the seeming perversity as well as the behaviorial economics of different choices of beneficiary in previous posts.

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  • fortibus

    I wanted to hate this, because I abhor subscriptions. However, I can’t because you’ve implemented it in a remarkable way.

    The auto-cancelling feature and payment adjustment slider are ideas that fundamentally respect the consumer, rather than trap and manipulate them into paying more than they wanted. As you’ve said, subscriptions are “especially pernicious for sufferers of akrasia”, and most businesses rely on this.

    Thank you again for the great service.

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Aw! Thank you! It’s true, we’re exceedingly proud of this. (So did you subscribe? :))

  • fortibus

    I plan on it :)

    One clarification: the auto-cancelling is only on the same schedule as the payments, correct? So if I pay yearly, the auto-cancelling isn’t going to check if I stop half-way through, right?

    Also, an observation: rounding seems to make the “Bee Lite” costs a little funky.

    1 month: $5/m
    2 months: $5/m
    3 months: $5/m
    4 months: $4.75/m
    5 months: $4.8/m
    6 months: $4.66/m

    With these costs, i’ll assume you’ll have very few 2, 3, and 5 month plans.

  • fortibus

    One more thing — I’m having trouble using your formula in footnote #5. I just used the standard NPV formula and came up with the same result (with all cash flows as negative).

    For the lifetime cost, however, i’m coming up with a different result. Using the formula for perpetuities is easier than just putting a high number in the NPV formula in this case.

    $5 (initial cost) + $5 (monthly) / .03 (monthly discount rate) = $172 (PV of perpetuity)

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Exactly right. The rationale for the discount is that you’re committing to a longer period of time. We do the auto-canceling based on the last month no matter what payment period you chose though. So if you pre-pay for a year we won’t charge you for another year unless you’re actually active when it’s time for the next charge.

    Good point about the rounding, but that’s how the math works out so what can ya do?

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Hmm, a $3 discrepancy! But I think $169 is right, especially because that’s what it converges to if you put in something like a million months in the finite version.

    Ah, I figured out why: we’re using continuous compounding and your formula assumes monthly compounding. As you can see, the difference is minimal. I just think continuous compounding is more mathematically elegant. :)

  • fortibus

    Gotcha, that makes sense. Thanks for indulging me :)

  • http://blog.runbikeco.de/ Henrik Wist

    Thanks for that long blog post, totally worth it. And rest assured, I will re-invest a part of the blogdog pledge for a subscription!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001013224907 Liora Hess

    I’m really glad to read of these features. You are addressing the things that weren’t working for me in Beeminder. Thanks so much!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001013224907 Liora Hess

    p.s. I note that in the squares at the bottom of the article, Plan Bee’s ability to automatically trim safety buffer is mentioned whereas it’s not mentioned in the description within the article. You might want to edit it to be reflected there as well. This was the selling point that had me going with the $10 plan as opposed to the $5.

    Also, I may have missed this somewhere, but let’s say I want to try this out for a month. So I do so, without any discount, on a month-to-month basis. Then before the month is up, I decide this is really working for me, and I’d like to commit to a longer period — pay a year up front for the discount. Is it possible to switch up to paying for a year at that point?

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Thanks so much for the careful reading, Liora! (Not to mention all your feedback which helped us decide on this in the first place.) The automatic trimming of safety buffer is still a bit experimental — we plan to devote an upcoming blog post to that and retroratcheting in general. Note this at the end of the post: “The features shown in brackets are currently live but rather experimental. Again, if we change them we’ll try to replace them with things that are at least as good.” By “change them” we mean possibly make them part of the “free” plan — we do definitely want autoratcheting — in which case we’d add other premium features.

    As for whether you can try it for a month and then jump to yearly, absolutely! We try to always do the fairest possible thing in those cases (let us know if anything is at all suprising (in a bad way)). In the case of paying monthly and switching to yearly we just start the yearly version when the current month you paid for runs out.

    (And of course there’s this part: “You can even have refunds; we’re happy to guarantee that you’ll be happy with any money you spend on premium plans. “)

  • http://www.facebook.com/william.r.saunders William R Saunders

    A couple of feature ideas, after reading this article:
    1. I like the idea of being able to get support and feedback on goals, but $200 per month feels a bit expensive (maybe I’ll use it when I have a goal that achieving would bring significantly more than $200). Maybe another option that would be less expensive to deliver would be some way to connect Beeminder users who are willing to help each other out and hold each other accountable?
    2. Thinking about the idea of setting a charity is a beneficiary and the previous article where it was suggested that this might reduce motivation, as giving to a charity is a good thing, I had the idea that it might be more motivating if you give money to charity only when you succeeded on your goal for a period of time. It would help create a bit more of a sense of purpose (now you are just achieving the goal for yourself, you’re achieving the goal so you can support your designated charity). There are probably a few different ways that this can be worked out financially, for example give money up front that will only go to the charity if you are successful according to some definition, or give someone who goes off the rails and pays a penalty to beeminder an opportunity to redirect some of that money to their designated charity if they have a sufficiently long streak of good behavior, or something else. I think this is the sort of thing that would motivate me a little more, at least.

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Thanks so much for this feedback and ideas! Quick note on the crazy $200/month Beekeeper plan: the idea there is to be full-on lifecoaching — a bit more about that at http://blog.beeminder.com/one#beekeeper — but I agree that finding Beeminder buddies could be a nice alternative. That would be a great thing to bring up on the Akratics Anonymous list: http://blog.beeminder.com/akratics

  • Andreas

    For $6767, I get a coach for the rest of my life, with “unlimited attention” and “anything [I] can imagine”? If I live another 50 years, that comes out to about $11 per month. Obviously, you don’t literally mean “unlimited” and “anything”, but even taking that into account, I wonder whether you might not regret that offer, or be tempted to weasel out at some point.

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Ha, yeah, and someone else pointed out the disconcerting similarity to this debacle: http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/05/lifetime-airline-passes

    But isn’t the worst case for us — and more than fair to the person who signed up for lifetime Beekeeper — to refund the full $6767 if we needed to discontinue the program?

    So far it’s moot (100% of our Beekeepees — a nonzero number! — pay monthly) but if someone did plop down thousands of dollars for this I’m thinking we could reward their courage with a free month, return their entire payment, and then ask them to sign up monthly if they thought it was worth $200/month. So far I’m feeling like $200/month is actually a steal. :) (For real, some of you hardcore people who read our blog comments might really like it!)

  • Andreas

    Sounds fair.

    It would be great if you could get one of the “Beekeepees” to write about their experience.

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  • Django Zeaman

    Hmm, I am enjoying the service so far (been using it for 3 weeks) and I’d like to pay y’all something, but none of these plans offer me anything I would want/need.

    Oh well, I’ll just keep telling my friends about it. :)

  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    We’ll take that deal! :) One thing we’ve been thinking lately, since we need to be more ruthless about keeping the interface from feeling overwhelming for newbees, is that maybe retroratchet (getting rid of excess safety buffer) should be a premium-only feature. We’d love more feedback on that.

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  • http://beeminder.com Daniel Reeves

    Now that the Beekeeper program is in full swing — new blog post: http://blog.beeminder.com/beekeeper — and someone actually asked about the lifetime option, I should probably clarify…

    Mainly we don’t seriously expect anyone to have that much faith in us as to plop down over $6k for lifetime beekeeping. But if anyone does, I’m now thinking the fair thing to do is to go ahead and accept the money but if we ever have to discontinue the program we refund the amount that makes it still have been more cost efficient than if they’d prepaid for the entire tenure of the program but no further.

    In short, there exists a fair way to resolve it and we’ll do that. If you really are certain that you want to be beekept for as long as beekeeping is a thing, and if you have $7k sitting around, then lifetime will indeed be the most cost-efficient option. (I’m hereby guaranteeing that, regardless of how long we have the Beekeeper program.)