Think before choosing freemium for your startup

Launched in 2010, AppFog finally gives up on freemium business model.

Over the past few months, a subset of free users have engaged in abusive actions that has negatively affected the stability and uptime for all users.

We have taken numerous steps and dedicated resources toward addressing abuse, but have come to the realization that larger changes are needed to bring AppFog back to the level of reliability our customers have every right to expect…

New customers will no longer have the option to sign up for a free plan. We will offer a trial starting very soon.

It’s nice to start by offering free accounts (even if limited), hoping that this will get you more and more users for your product, but look at the downsides.

I hear a lot this advice: “Go freemium, look at what DropBox did and it worked”. I did offer free accounts in the beginning and dropping the free accounts was a good decision for me.

1. Attracting the wrong user

In my startup, over 80% of the resources used by the free users were from Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia) with a conversion rate to paying user close to zero.

If they do decide to pay, they will be a pain and they will have a small lifetime value. A lot of them will ask for discounts and even if you give them, they still might decide not to pay. This will also mess up your projections, thinking that you have many users and that you are growing steady, but after a while seeing a lot of cancellations.

2. Wrong feedback

The free users will not only use your server resources, but also your support time, asking many questions and having all kinds of requests.

Now if you think this is feedback, you are wrong. Don’t look for feedback from the people that won’t pay for your product, because they like to talk, they like to make you work, but in the end they will still not pay and you spend quite a lot of your time working on features that would drive your product in the wrong direction.

Also, you should not give discounts easily. I have a lot of discounts requests, but

3. Undervalue your product

If you start by offering your product for free, they will want to continue to use it for free because “hey, you can afford a small free account just for me”.

Marketing on discount websites is wrong again. I offered the product for almost free (discount + fee = zero revenue) and at the end of their discounted period, 95% cancelled. And just so you know, I had a really low churn-rate with the other users.

When to choose freemium?

There are a lot of cases when freemium work, see Dropbox or Bufferapp. Depending on your product and the resources consumed it can work for you.

You can chose freemium easier if you got a big investment and you are not pressured to go on positive operational profit very fast.

Do you have use freemium model or trial based for your startup?



Getting fewer visitors to your website is a good thing

fewer visitors to your website


For the last 2 years, I watched how the traffic of my startup grow. After I had managed to get more and more visitors to my website, I started paying more attention to conversions.

The effort to increase my website conversion from 2% to 3% (that’s about 30% increase) is lower than increasing your traffic by 30%, not to mention you improve the quality of your website when you optimize it, you make it clearer to the visitors.

Having good numbers in Google Analytics is not everything though. What good is a visitor that registers, but he doesn’t know that he will eventually have to pay for your product? “On the web you can find everything for free, right?”
So I did also a few tests directing my register now button to the Pricing Page. The conversion numbers from visitor to registered user dropped yes, but the conversion from users to premium users grew significantly.

On the free tools page, 80% of the visitors didn’t even think about converting (based on geographical analysis and conversions), but they were using the tools heavily. Keep this in mind when you offer free tools. Even if the tools are free for them, they are not for me: I pay 3rd party services for some data, server power etc.

Focus on getting quality traffic

You may often find that promoting heavily in social media or posting everywhere can get your website bounce rate really high (high = bad), so measuring channels just on visits or conversion rate is not really enough.

Look at the effort spent on each channel. From some channel it’s easier to get 1000 people to visit your website, but only 5 to register and from some another channel you may work the same to get 100 people to visit your websit,e but 20 to register.
Where should you focus your marketing efforts?

Once I’ve hit my product market fit, I started going where my targeted user were. This showed in a decrease in traffic, but a lot higher quality visitors (bounce rate improved by 20% and average visit duration by 40%).


[Freelance] Remote PHP Developers for Monitor Backlinks

Looking for some very good PHP developers to work remotely for Monitor Backlinks.

Skills required:

  • PHP/MySQL (a lot of proven experience)
  • HTML/CSS (medium)
  • GitHub is a plus
  • PHPUnit testing is a plus
  • Experience building scripts using different API’s
  • Anything extra that can help us! (just show it in the CV)
  • Initiative! (you see a bug, have a great suggestion? DO IT!)

You will be given small projects that will help improve Monitor Backlinks. You will be responsible of your piece of code.

If you are interested send your CV and describe your experience (and tell me your hourly rate) at contact [at] monitorbacklinks [dot] com



I have money, help me spend them!

tshirt monitor backlinks tableYou feel like you have the potential to do greatness if given the chance? :)

This is a letter to you, our next collaborator.

Are you specialized in one of these fields: IT (PHP, MySQL, Java Script, HTML, CSS), SEO/Adwords, Marketing, Public relation, Web Design, Copy-writing and looking for new opportunities?

We give you the chance to show: Initiative and Skill and earn a fair amount of money for useful proposals of improvement for

We are rewarding any suggestion you might have, and we’ll pay you to implement it, for:

  • developing new useful features of the product;
  • successfully promoting/selling it to different target audiences;
  • developing and implementing communication campaigns;
  • improving user’s experience by making the design more user friendly, or by communicating  etter the qualities of our product.

If you feel, just by looking at, that we need you to make it better, you might be right, so…contact us. J Find from the above list what you could excel in, and join our team of employees or collaborators.

Be sure you do your research thoroughly, get to know our product first, understand what it stands for, ask us if there is something you need to clarify, and only then come to us with your ideas.

Razvan Girmacea
CEO Monitor Backlinks Ltd.
razvan [at]



[Looking to hire] Senior PHP Developer at Monitor Backlinks in Iasi, Romania

PHPIf you are tired of working on an agency or as a freelancer and doing tens or hundreds of websites, not focusing on quality because of projects budgets and because you have to move to on to the next project, I invite you to come work on Monitor Backlinks!

Monitor Backlinks is an SEO tool for SEO developers. It helps them monitor their link building efforts and keep the user focused on building more links, without having to worry if their links get removed or broken. It also helps them organize the backlinks better and see what are the most important backlinks.

We spend enough time on each task until it’s pixel-perfect, perfect user flow, perfect user experience, perfect stability, perfect scalability! Quality, not quantity.

If you truly think that you can take Monitor Backlinks to a new level and dedicate yourself to create a remarkable international project and to take credit for it, Apply to this job!

Monitor Backlinks, launched in November 2011, is still in the Start Up phase, so you will have to work hard with us so we can move forward and move fast!

Have you got the skills needed for this?

  • PHP/MySQL (a lot!)
  • HTML/CSS (why not HTML5/CSS3?)
  • Javascript+jQuery (quite important for a modern website)
  • WordPress + Plugins (should be nice)
  • Anything extra that can help us! (just show it in the CV)
  • Initiative! (you see a bug, have a great suggestion? DO IT!)

Your responsibility:

  • Improve our crawlers
  • Implement new features on the existing code
  • Develop new adjacent projects
  • Keep up with new technology
  • Suggest best solutions

Answer this questions when you apply:

  • What do you like doing the most?
  • What do you like working on or with the most?
  • Why do you think you are perfect for this job?
  • What is your desired salary?

Send your resume and links to recent projects to contact [at] monitorbacklinks [dot] com

This job is for Iasi, Romania.

(If you have really good geek friends that might be interested, send them the link to this article: ).

Emag rescrie codul de afilere Profitshare prin newsletterele lor

Daca promovezi Emag-ul prin afiliere (Profitshare) si vizitatorii adusi de tine se aboneaza la newsletter-ul emag, iar apoi acestia dau click pe newsletter, ei trec link-urile prin sistemul lor, cu ID-ul lor de profitshare ca sa nu iei tu comisionul pentru cumparaturile generate de acei vizitatori.



Emag trimite newsletter aproape zilnic si are probabil cea mai mare rata de conversie, deci sansele sa va pierdeti comisionul sunt foarte mari.

Nu mai zic de cate plangeri sunt pe net de lipsa de transparenta a celor de la Emag.



Am pornit de la link-ul de pe newsletter-ul primit azi “Prinde Cardurile Cadou“:

Folositi tool-ul HTTP HEADER STATUS CHECK pentru a vedea pas cu pas unde duce.


Cei de la 2Parale au pus zilele trecute in termeni si conditii:

Sa nu promoveze propriul site prin programul sau de afiliere cu scopul de a suprascrie cookie-urile utilizatorilor.


Interviu despre SEO in Romania si Monitor Backlinks

Interviu despre SEO si Monitor Backlinks, luat de Bogdan Livinti, cofondator Ghidul Consumatorului.

Monitor Backlinks

1. Cu ce e mai deosebit decat MajesticSEO sau Ahrefs?
MajesticSEO si Aherfs sunt Backlink Discovery si Profile. Nu te ajuta neaparat in campanii sau link-trading daca vrei sa monitorizezi strict anumite link-uri.

2. Cum ai ajuns la idea dezvoltarii acestui serviciu SEO? 
Aveam o idee neclara acum 5 ani: cautam o metoda super-easy pentru utilizator sa adauge link-uri la monitorizat (Pe atunci aveam un singur camp, era ciudat si nu a vazut lumina zilei).
Acum 2 ani am intermediat o vanzare de link-uri pentru cineva si vroiam sa ma asigur ca cei care au pus link-ul acolo nu il vor scoate, fiindca am platit pentru asta (varianta usuala Excel nu era o solutie). De aici am ajuns la monitorbacklinks destul de rapid.

3. Ai vazut o oportunitate in piata? 
Stiam numai de softuri foarte faine, dar complexe si scumpe. Am vrut o solutie doar pentru monitorizarea link-urilor adaugate de mine.

4. Este Monitorbacklinks esential unui startup? 
Eu l-am folosit pentru mine, de fiecare data cand am facut PR si am obtinut un link de pe un blog, l-am adaugat sa il monitorizezi. De mai multe ori s-a intamplat sa expire domeniu respectiv, sa isi schimbe design-ul sau alte probleme si ii contactam imediat si imi punea link-ul la loc).

Intr-un start-up trebuie sa te focusezi pe dezvoltarea produsului, marketing, PR, cash-flow, strategie etc. Daca nu gasesti solutii sa iti optimizezi timpul petrecut cu fiecare task, vei intarzia proiectul foarte mult.

SEO in Romania

5. Ce parere ai despre piata SEO romaneasca? 
E in dezvoltare. E inca un mare gol intre piata din US/UK si ce se intampla in Romania si asta din cauza preturilor. Daca clientii ar fi dispusi sa plateasca mai mult si cei care ofera serviciile SEO ar investi acei bani in a face o treaba de calitate. Da-mi 100 de euro si iti fac treaba de 100 de euro; da-mi 10000 si pun inca 5 oameni la treaba. 

6. De ce nu platesc clientii mai mult? Ar schimba educatia modul in care sunt vazute serviciile SEO?
Sunt unele afaceri online unde nici nu ar merita sa plateasca mult pentru servicii SEO bune pentru ca nisa pe care sunt ei nu e suficient de mare si ar iesi in pierdere din cauza ca ar fi prea putin trafic, prea putine comenzi care le-ar veni din Google. Majoritatea firmelor din Romania care vor SEO, fie sunt foarte mici, fie nu vor sa investeasca mult in zona asta. Cei care ofera servicii SEO s-au adaptat, au adaptat preturile si calitatea pentru ca altfel ar fi refuzati (si injurati) in 99%  din cazuri.

7. Oferi consultanta SEO?
Nu (sau destul de rar).