The basic service of this platform is a free contact form. To be transparent, here’s what the costs are and where money is made (hopefully) going forward.
Let’s start with the costs. Given that I am a one man show, I don’t count the time I spend as a cost here. So what remains are the costs for the server (Digitalocean in my case) and for sending out the emails (via Mailgun). The server costs should be fairly constant while the email sending cost will go up over time with more and more users. This is why there needs to be a way for this service to make money, otherwise it would need to shut down at some point due to simply not being economically viable.
In theory there are 3 income streams going forward, 1 of which will likely turn into a cost at some point:
When a user fills out a form, he/she has to complete what is called a captcha, a way to proof that the user is a real person, not a bot. Finishing those puzzles can help with creating training data for AI systems which means that there is a potential small financial here, however, that’s not even enough to cover the costs for sending out the subsequent email.
Furthermore, there are Pro versions available for this which I will switch to once the other 2 streams make enough money down the road to increase the user experience of people submitting forms.
On some of the blog posts as well as sometimes at the end of emails we will make suggestions for services that might be useful for you. When you sign up for those services through the link we provide, we get a cut of the purchase price. Given that I want this service to be a win-win-win for everyone, I’ll try to stick to relevant services that I myself like and use.
Eventually, if the free service takes off, I plan to add paid plans with more features. This will likely be the biggest source of revenue for this service going forward. Having said that, the free contact form will remain free as it is as long as this service exists – what’s the point otherwise to call the website Free Contact Form.
To sum up, given that you’ve read all this, you’re probably concerned that something fishy is going on here like user data being sold, etc. That’s not the plan at all. The service itself might be sold at some point, but that’s a long way down the road.
As you can see, the service should be financially viable in the long run after the user numbers go up and the paid plans have been introduced. For the immediate future, I’m fine with taking some minor losses into account while the service grows.
If you have any other questions, feel free to get in touch!