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Freemium is Back! But You’ll Need 50 Million Active Users for Freemium to Actually Work as a Business Model.




Freemium is back.

  • New Relic has gone back to adding Freemium, and saw 10x the sign-ups than before.
  • Zoom and Slack have built empires on top of Free and Freemium.
  • Calendly hit a $3B valuation and 60m in ARR almost all on top of freemium.
  • GoDaddy has crossed $4B in ARR!
  • Wix is now worth $15 Billion!

But having built a partly freemium service that hundreds of millions use …   I’ve learned one thing: almost everyone gets the math wrong in Freemium.

Freemium is great.  Freemium forces you to have better onboarding and a slicker, easier-to-use product.  Freemium is the way you and I like to try and often buy.  But 9 times out of 10 Freemium alone isn’t enough alone to power you to $100m+ ARR.  The problem?  There simply aren’t enough businesses in the entire country + Europe to get most products to a $100m freemium business in almost any business/SaaS/work segment.  Most products will need a higher blended ACV to get there.

Let’s do the math:

  • Assume you can get $10/mo per paid user (a good basic price for Freemium for SMBs).
  • To build a $100m business (i.e., get ready to go IPO), you’d need 1,000,000 paid seats to hit that.
  • Assume a 2% conversion rate, for simplicity’s sake.  You’d need 50,000,000 active users over time. Not pretend users.  Not users who registered and never came back.   Not even users that use you once a year.  50,000,000 active, passionate, engaged users using your business app, on their own, electively, with some regularity.  Enough not to churn.

In VSB or SMB business apps, you can get to one million paying customers — but you really, really need something broad-based to get there.  Intuit, Microsoft, Adobe, PayPal.  But there are not too many with 1,000,000 paid business customers, or 50m truly active users.  Hubspot sells to SMBs and just passed $1B in ARR.  But it got there with 100,000 paying customers, for example.  Dropbox is at $2B ARR now, but it needed 600,000,000 free users to get there.  The math there ties.

50m might be too high for some.  Maybe your conversion rate will be higher.  Wix has 154,000,000 users generating $1B in ARR.  So perhaps you can get to $100m ARR with 15m-20m users, with higher conversions than the above math.  Even so, it’s still a lot of users you’ll need:

So is freemium hopeless to build a $100,000,000+ business for most of us?  Absolutely not.  First, SMBs are flocking to SaaS more than ever.   And even if Freemium alone isn’t enough, it can be a critical part of getting there.  What it can do is create it, build it, and seed it.  This is the critical insight, and one to be flexible around.

For example, at Adobe Sign / EchoSign, never did purest Freemium (i.e., no human involvement ever) exceed 40% of our revenue, and as we passed the first $10,000,000 in ARR revenue, it declined a bit and never exceeded a third of our direct revenue, measured all on its own.  Today it’s a token amount of revenue for the product at nine figures in ARR.

Another great example is Box.  Box has grown to almost $1B in revenue, but it “tilted” from a mostly freemium product to an enterprise focus, with freemium today being about 9% of their revenue — although a key source of leads (see below).  Yes, 9% of their revenue is just about $100m.  But that took 15 years and still isn’t quite 10% of their total revenues.  Take a look at Box’s revenue distribution today here:

DropBox blew past $1B ARR on FreemiumBut even there, it slowed down after that, and it shows just how many millions of folks you need to be truly actively using your utility to make freemium scale to the nine-figure level.  In fact, DropBox has 600,000,000 registered users and 15,000,000+ paying users.  An exception that makes the rules.  And most importantly, much of DropBox’s growth to $1B ARR was really on the back of consumers, not businesses:

And look at our other examples above.  Slack added a big enterprise sales team.  Zoom always had a sales team, and is going more enterprise.  New Relic started freemium, then went enterprise to get bigger, and added freemium back later.  In the end, all of these are blended models.  Freemium has its place.  But it isn’t the source of 100% of revenue.  And they all have real, large, traditional SaaS sales teams.

As you can see here, at $1B ARR, 50% of Slack’s revenue comes from “large customers” at $100k+:

So freemium alone often has a mathematical ceiling in some categories and for many vendors.  But that doesn’t mean its value doesn’t scale.   Freemium always continues to build your brand. It exposes you to millions.  Which creates leads.  Highly qualified leads, many of whom may need to go to a salesperson, but have already used the product, love it, and are almost ready to buy.

This can end up being a free trial disguised as freemium.  That can be OK.

Pure, automated freemium — you put up a website, and the money automatically rolls in, once people hit the choke point, no salespeople — it’s wonderful.  It works.  But to get to an IPO, alone?  It can happen — but it’s still less common than tilting upmarket to get to higher ACVs.  More likely, you’ll need to build on top of it, and add more.

So just don’t fear adding a sales team, and driving up your ACV and value over time, if you start Freemium.  Many of the best have done just that.  It’s fine if Freemium alone isn’t enough.

(note: an updated SaaStr Classic post)

Published on February 18, 2021



Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services




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Make no mistake: running a website is hard.

There are so many areas to focus on, from content creation to admin, to maintaining a site via updates.

The good news is that WordPress maintenance services can take a load off users’ shoulders, keeping their sites up to date and allowing them to spend their time elsewhere.

These services offer support and can help with website downtime, theme modifications, site backups, and more.

I’ve put together a list of the best WordPress maintenance and management services to help you get started.

#1 – GoWP — The Best For Agencies

GoWP is an ideal WordPress maintenance service for agencies.

It positions itself as a white-label service, which allows an agency to layer its own branding and SOPs on top of the maintenance services GoWP provides as if those services are now part of the agency’s own back end. 

The white-label focus allows GoWP to create a dedicated mailbox using a domain, provide help and support to all requests to that email, and share a white-labeled dashboard with clients.

On top of that, you have WordPress plugin updates, security monitoring, and automatic site backups with 90 days of offsite storage.

Other powerful features of GoWP include:

  • Unlimited content edits
  • Dedicated account manager (premium)
  • Dedicated WordPress developer (premium)
  • Daily security scans and malware cleanup
  • White-label help desk

GoWP has four main tiers of pricing that come under the following sequential packages:

  • Maintenance / $29 monthly per site       
  • Content Edits / $79 monthly per site       
  • Page Builds / $1299 monthly per site      
  • Dedicated Developer / $2299 monthly per site

The second tier gives agencies access to a 24/7 team of experts, a support ticket dashboard, and Visual Validator WordPress updates.

The next tier jumps up in price but does provide you with a dedicated WordPress developer for it. Learn more at GoWP.

#2 – FixRunner — The Best For Tech Support

FixRunner is a great choice for dedicated tech support.

The service features monthly support time from two hours to four hours—this does depend on the plan you opt for—and additional help is available if you need it.

You’ll be able to use this support time to make all sorts of tweaks to a site, including full debugs, performance improvements, and more.

I was particularly impressed with FixRunner’s 30-day satisfaction guarantee that offers a full refund, no questions asked if you’re unhappy with the service.

FixRunner additionally offers:

  • Speed Optimization
  • WordPress core updates
  • Plug-in and theme updates
  • Uptime monitoring
  • Security scans

The service provides plans for both small websites and bigger, enterprise-level ones. There are three core plans available for smaller websites:

  • Premium / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $69 monthly
  • Rocket / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $99 monthly
  • Advance / Monthly, quarterly, or yearly / $179 monthly

For bigger websites or Enterprise-level business, we have the following:

  • Advance + / Monthly or quarterly / $300 monthly
  • Advance ++ / Monthly or quarterly / $500 monthly
  • Custom / Monthly or quarterly / Call for price

If you’re a smaller website, I think the Rocket package is a good starting point–it includes support for online shops, on-page SEO optimization, and a faster response time for sites, making it a notable offering all around.

#3 – WP Buffs — The Best For Site Security

WP Buffs is a top maintenance service for those that want full confidence in their site’s security.

When users purchase the service, they’ll be able to use the iThemes Security plugin—considered to be one of the best security plugins available.

The plugin exists to protect a site from nasty malware and spam, but it’s also useful for its cache feature that improves the loading speed of a site—something crucially important for good rankings.

Users also have the option to back up their entire site with WP Buffs and store it in the cloud for extra peace of mind.

Other key features of WP Buffs include the following:

  • 24/7 site edits
  • Speed optimization
  • Ongoing security
  • Weekly updates
  • Emergency 24/7 support

On the pricing front, WP Buffs offers multiple different plans. The four key ones are Maintain, Protect, Perform, and then a series of custom plans for those with advanced needs.

Itemized these are:

  • Maintain / Annual or monthly / $56 a month billed yearly
  • Protect / Annual or monthly / $123 a month billed yearly
  • Perform / Annual or monthly / $164 a month billed yearly
  • Custom / Annual or monthly / starts at $290 a month billed yearly

The iThemes Security Pro premium plugin is included from the second package onwards or the ‘Protect’ tier in this case. The third level of pricing, ‘Perform,’ includes four daily cloud backups, priority support, and complete malware removal.

#4 – Valet — The Best For Ecommerce Store Owners

Valet should be a top pick for those that run ecommerce stores.

It’s a comprehensive service that provides manual updates and includes uptime monitoring, security scanning, and full examinations of checkout workflows, all of which help ensure everything is running smoothly for your customers.

Some of the other highlights include:

  • Code checks
  • Reports and analysis
  • Remediation for website accessibility
  • Up to five hours of dedicated support per month

The first paid plan with Valet starts at $300 per month and includes two hours of support.

Ecommerce store owners should check out the professional plan that costs $750 a month but includes five hours of dedicated support every month.

The top tier plan with Valet is the ‘Elite Plan’ that offers over ten hours of support each month, and this is quite clearly catered towards large companies that have the extra funding available.

General consultations with Valet are available and cost $175 per month.

#5 – SiteCare — The Best For Performance Optimization

SiteCare is the best option on my list for site performance optimization. If you want a service that will optimize a site so it loads as quickly as possible, this is your top choice.

SiteCare gets to work by first looking at aspects of a site that could be causing it to slow down. This can be due to anything from poorly optimized images to faulty plugins or a web host’s quality.

Once that’s done, the service implements a series of best practices, removing the website’s weaknesses step by step until it’s responsive and efficient.

SiteCare offers the following to those that use the service:

  • Hack cleanups
  • Daily backups
  • Real-time monitoring
  • Theme and plugin updates
  • Mobile optimization

In terms of pricing, things are clear and simple. There are two key plans available: a basic plan and an advanced one.

The basic plan costs $79 a month and includes access to the essentials, such as daily backups, malware cleanup, and access to support.

The more advanced plan costs $299 a month, so quite a jump, but for that, you get access to custom development hours with a specialist and a few extras such as ecommerce support and Sucuri firewall.

#6 – The WP Butler — The Best For Custom Plans

Only want specific parts of a service? Well, The WP Butler is unique because it allows users to customize their service plan.

For example, maybe you’re just looking for caching and speed improvements but don’t require anything else.

Monthly services with The WP Butler include malware scans, daily or weekly backups, and plugin or theme updates.

The itemized one-off service includes everything from configuring HTTPS to a custom security inspection.

Additional features of The WP Butler include:

  • Weekly site reviews
  • Uptime monitoring
  • 30 minutes of development time on retainer
  • Emergency site restoration
  • Security plugin configuration

As there are quite a few options with The WP Butler, pricing varies significantly depending on what you need.

If the monthly packages are more suited to you, these come in the following tiers:

  • The Basics / $39 a month
  • The Solopreneur / $69 a month
  • The Small Business / $129 a month
  • The Company / $299 a month
  • The Enterprise / $599 a month

One-off services range from $100 to $250, and there’s even the option of a monthly retainer. With this, you pay for a set number of hours of development work each month. Lots to choose from here.

What I Looked at To Find the Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services

Before deciding which of these WordPress maintenance and management services to go for, it’s worth knowing how I chose them.

The first thing to mention is that there are two primary forms WordPress maintenance can take.

Generally speaking, there are WordPress maintenance services like the ones featured in this list, and there is “managed WordPress hosting.”

If a site is part of managed WordPress hosting, then there’s a good chance you won’t need maintenance service on top of that. Examples include WP Engine, Bluehost, SiteGround, and (not If you’re hosting your WordPress site with any of these, maintenance services may not be necessary for you. 

Since you’re reading this post, though, you’ve probably chosen to use a WordPress maintenance service outside of your hosting platform (or are hosting your site with a platform that doesn’t provide those services), so here are some of the features I looked at to pick out the best maintenance services. 

Security Monitoring

It goes without saying how important security is for a site in the internet age. With the increase in threats and cyberattacks, knowing someone has got your back can bring great comfort.

Most of the maintenance services on this list include top security monitoring as part of their monthly packages, although not every service will. Some, for example, might include this as an optional extra.

How essential this is depends on the size of a company, but in most cases, monitoring a site for threats and knowing what to do if attacked is key. A maintenance service removes a great deal of worry here, so I think it’s a vital area to consider.

Site Optimization

Site optimization is a broad term, but in the case of WordPress maintenance and management services, I’m mainly talking about making a site more responsive and quicker to load.

A slow website can lead to people leaving sites rapidly in today’s fast-paced world, not to mention that Google actively penalizes slower websites by pushing them down in the search results.

A WordPress maintenance service can optimize a site to load quickly, making it responsive and pleasurable to use. This is important for every single site on the internet.

Almost all of the WordPress maintenance services on this list include site optimization in some form, though the exact service carried out can vary.


A site that’s a victim of a cyberattack could find itself damaged and beyond repair—that’s where site backups come in. These allow users to restore a healthy and fully working version of said site.

In fact, it might not be a cyberattack, mistakes that delete files or whole databases can happen, sometimes inexplicably.

Having a maintenance service ready and waiting to install a healthy backup of a site if something goes wrong is beyond useful. It removes a lot of the stress from potentially losing everything.

Companies of most sizes will find this a vital feature, although site backups are easy enough to do if you’re an informed solopreneur—in the case of the latter, they might not need this particular service.


WordPress maintenance and management services can be crucially important to the right person. There’s a considerable amount of choice out there too, and knowing where to start can be difficult.

My list covers all of the key areas to consider:

  • GoWP — The Best For Agencies
  • FixRunner — The Best For Tech Support
  • WP Buffs — The Best For Site Security
  • Valet — The Best For Ecommerce Store Owners
  • WP Site Care — The Best For Performance Optimization
  • The WP Butler — The Best For Custom Plans

These are respectable choices, and thinking about exact needs can help make the decision process a little bit quicker.

There’s a lot to think about when running a site, from site backups to security and optimization.

WordPress maintenance services will allow the process to become more manageable, saving precious time for use elsewhere.

The post Best WordPress Maintenance and Management Services appeared first on Neil Patel.

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