Are Lifetime Deals Worth It? I Don’t Think So.


Well, it’s yes and no. There are two sides to this table and we should look at both of them.

Lifetime deals for end-users are often a great bargain. Pay once, use forever.

Sounds great right? At first glance, yes.

Because let’s admit it, life turned into a subscription, and gone were the days when you paid one-time fees to get your software.

In this blog post, I am explaining my personal POV and why I am against them, when they actually make sense, and how it affects my trust/dependencies.

Lots of startups or indie entrepreneurs bootstrapping their way to fame offer lifetime deals to attract customers. 

Places like Appsumo or new launches on ProductHunt are filled with them.

Why I Am Against Lifetime Deals (usually)

So, this might be an unpopular opinion, but I am not a fan. As an entrepreneur and consumer myself, I see both sides of the table.

You can’t forget that most end-users are not entrepreneurs but all entrepreneurs are consumers.

Let me explain more in detail.

Fear Of Abandoning

When founders offer LTDs, they might see a spike in revenue. But that is usually short-lived. If the creator does not attract enough customers over time, he/she might lose interest in the future development of the product. 

Which can lead to abandoning the product completely.

I have seen this time and time again. I often buy LTDs to test drive new applications or interesting tools to add to my stack, but they rarely survive long enough to extract maximum value as a consumer.

No sales can lead to no motivation and before you know it, the product hits a snag and rock bottom.

Indie Entrepreneurs Are Fickle

Over the years, I met great people and even greater indie creators. But the majority has one thing in common: They are fickle. They love to hop from one product onto another making them serial entrepreneurs for no good reason.

I don’t trust them, in the sense that they might wake up and start another project, which can lead to neglecting the one you paid for.

I like entrepreneurs who are focused on one, or maybe two businesses at the same time but show solid and slow growth.

Diminishing Returns (for the creator)

Most creators slap a price at random on their product, without thinking about the diminishing returns it causes.

Customers require attention. They need help with queries and you need to spend time with your customer base to keep them happy.

Most founders don’t think about:

  • Average lifecycle per customer
  • Retention cost
  • Time spent per customer on average every month (support tickets, live chat etc)

As a rule, I would only pay for an LTD if the cost is 18-36 months the normal subscription cost.

For example, if they were to offer it as a subscription and it costs you $1, then I am okay paying $18-$36 once.

At least that would be a clear signal for me that they thought about it.

But last but not least:

No Insurance On Future Development

The one, and if not the biggest reason I don’t like lifetime deals is there is no guarantee whatsoever that the product will be developed in the future.

Whilst there is no guarantee, it’s at least (for me) more reassuring that the money I spend on a subscription will be used for building a better product.

Imagine that Netflix was a one-time payment. That would mean they will go bankrupt within the year. Because they require capital for renting the intercontinental licensing rights per country per movie and would not be able to pay for servers, employees, and office buildings.

Imagine companies like Slack or Zoom were a one-time payment. That would mean:

  • Product development would come to a standstill
  • It affects the job market, as there is just not enough cash flow on a monthly basis to pay every employee their salary

See where this is leading?

Most of my productivity stack is premium, and I am happy to pay for them every month. Simply because those platforms require my money to make a better product.

I eliminate indie products or immature products. Not because I don’t like them but because of the risk of abandonment.

My subscription keeps other people employed, which leads to a better economical state overall around the world.

However, there are some exceptions.

When Lifetime Deals Make Sense

There are scenarios where I do believe it makes sense and whether I decide to try/buy the product or service.

Those reasons are:

  • When the founder or company clearly states that they move into a subscription model in the short-term future
  • When the purpose offering the deal is tied to obtaining financial runway for future development
  • When the offering is limited to a certain amount of customers, rather than infinite
  • If you are a mature company like IceDrive or Internxt that offer both at the same time
  • When I see a clear roadmap of the product. Even though that’s no guarantee it will happen, I can make a better educated guess

When You’re An End User

Be careful what you buy. And do your due dilligence. It’s rare you can rely on  a product that only offers lifetime deals. 

I understand that life is expensive but see it also from the other side. Would you work for nothing or peanuts? 

Free apps or one-time payments are risky if you want to see a product evolve for years to come.

Subscriptions fund the development and secure survival of the business you are potentially using in your own business or daily life. 

It’s not the first time that products vanish overnight, especially by startup entrepreneurs offering LTDs with no motivation anymore after the honeymoon phase.

If the product you are using is so critical, don’t you want it to succeed with enough cash flow so you can depend on it?

Just let it sink in sometimes before you buy and think about the potential consequences. And don’t forget that your subscription often means a better economy all-around, which helps the world progress.


About Me

I am Jiang Ming or Jay, I write passionately about niche blogging, starting a business, WFH, and productivity, with a pinch of marketing and side hustle tips.

All content is based on my views and/or my own experiences. Some of the links might have an affiliate link which I earn a small commission from, which I prefer over stuffing my blog with ads.

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