Just about ten days ago I promoted Duotrope as my "Link of the Month."
Today they announced that they are going to a paid-subscription model. This has been the topic of quite a few discussions today in various places online. Since I had so recently called them out as being a site worth exploring, I felt it appropriate to put in my two cents on the changes.
From reading their statement on the changes, it sounds like the site will be pretty much of very little use for non-subscribers after the 1st of January. Pretty much everything I listed as being a worthwhile feature of the site will require payment starting 1/1/2013. The payment is $5 month and they offer a $10 discount when paying for the whole year, making the yearly rate $50.
That's a non-trivial amount of money, relative to my writing income. And while I've donated to Duotrope in the past, it had not been at anything even close to that level.
To be honest, when I first heard the rate and it was quoted as $50 per year, my first reaction was "No way!" At $5 a month, I suspect I'll hang around for at least a few months to see how things go and give myself time for a graceful exit strategy from the site if I decide it's not worth the new expense. Yes, if I end up sticking around throughout the whole year I'll end up paying $60 for 2013 instead of $50. But I'll have the freedom to stop whenever I find the site no longer worthwhile for me and I won't have to pony up all the cash at once.
The ultimate question will be: Is Duotrope worth $4-5 a month to me? Financially probably not. Ultimately, there are very few paying markets which I've recently heard about only via Duotrope. For the most part, news of new markets spreads rather quickly. I do, however, like the ability to access the response time information which they compile. But there's the rub -- if too many people drop Duotrope altogether, the number of responses coming in will drop, thereby degrading the value of that data. That's where being able to go month-to-month will help; I can specifically watch and see how much impact the change has on the utility of those stats.
For me, at the moment, it will be worth paying the $5 per month because I've been lazy about maintaining a separate spreadsheet of submissions. That's totally my fault and I specifically suggested that people NOT be wholly dependent on Duotrope in that way in Write Every Day. This is a time I wish I'd heeded my own advice since I figure it will take me a couple of hours to get everything back up to date. Every month I pay Duotrope $5 I put off that task. Of course, every month I pay Duotrope $5 and don't work on that task I only make it more onerous. The smart thing to do, assuming I decide I want to disconnect from Duotrope at some point in the future, is to start slowly updating my old personal spreadsheet a bit at a time until I get to the point where I could make the switch whenever I felt Duotrope was no longer worth it to me. That will also protect me if this switch to a paid model is an utter failure and the site goes dark sometime down the road.
What would I suggest to someone who had not used Duotrope yet? If you can, take it for a "test drive" in December and see if you find it worth $5 a month. Make a point to NOT make yourself, in any way, dependent on their service during that month. If you don't think it's worth it, then you can let it go at the end of the month. If you do find it worthwhile, then you can decide if you want to go monthly or annual.