WIP is now invite-only (and free*)

When I first started WIP about four years ago I never thought it would turn into what it is today. It was a just a Telegram chatgroup, free for anyone to join.

Pretty soon though, some very kind people (many still active members today!) asked if they could donate some $$$ to WIP in the hope to increase its viability. I formalized this under the "Patronage" model where a $150 payment would give you one year of additional perks like darkmode and a special badge on your profile.

WIP grew in popularity. Quickly so much so that the large influx of new people, primarily into the chat, would disrupt our nice calm community. That's when I decided to make this $150/year (or $20/mo) payment mandatory for all future signups*. The goal being to reduce the number of new members coming in, while also providing cash flow to support on-going development of the platform. (*any existing members retained their free access)

Fast forward a couple years later to 2022 and we still got this same membership model. Until today…

The paid membership model has served WIP well in the sense that we've attracted and continue to attract very talented, helpful, and interesting makers. I don't know any other community where the signal-to-noise ratio is this high. A lot of the people I now call friends I met through WIP. And I know this is true for many of you as well. Especially those who've been with WIP for a while.

Having said that, the quantity of new members coming is quite low and I think doesn't live up to WIP's potential. For reference we received only 3 signups last month.

With the recent developments of the website I think our community can host a lot more members and activity. Which ultimately would increase the value we'd all get from WIP. As long as we ensure we attract the right people, adding more members will increase the chance someone knows the answer to your question, the amount of feedback on your products, and the chance you'll meet a fellow maker at a local WIP meetup.

Then there's the revenue. Besides a community, WIP is also a business. There are on-going operational costs and I invest a significant amount of my time in WIP. But with an average MRR of $2,000 it sometimes feels more like a non-profit. It's still one of my favorite products to work on, because I love talking to members and helping you become more productive in any way possible. But at this revenue level, there's only so much time and resources I can afford to put in.

Okay, so why this post?

Well, I think it's time to try a new model.

I want to make clear that I 100% want to protect what we currently have. I don't want to open the floodgates. I don't want to let everybody in for the sake of growth.

But what I do want to do is to see if we can lower the barrier for new, talented and positive makers to join our community. By removing the paywall, and using an invite-only approach to ensure the community remains up to our standards.

We will continue to offer a paid membership as well with all the functionality and perks you're used to (and in the future hopefully more!). While the new free tier will have some restrictions to the number of projects you can have, etc.

Finding the right balance between the free and pro plans will take some time. But my hope is that the free plan will get people in the door, and the pro plan is what many ultimately graduate to in order to get the most out of WIP.

Having said all that, I consider this an experiment. It's impossible to predict if it will work and I might change everything back to how it was before. But we won't know unless we try it.

I want to thank everyone for sharing their feedback and I hope to continue to receive your feedback and suggestions as we move forward.