I’ve been thinking a lot about ads lately.
The reason for this is that Citationsy’s business model — give all users an awesome app, charge $20 / year for Pro features — has been working out OK, but not as good as I thought it would. The reason is probably that the free version is good enough for most use cases.
This is not something I ever want to change — if I lock more stuff behind the Pro paywall it just leads to tens of thousands of people using a less good app to get their work done.

I want the free version of Citationsy to be good, really really good, and the best reference manager for most people.
Unfortunately this leaves very little room to charge for upgrades.

My thinking on this was shaped largely by Call you Girlfriend, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman’s podcast, specifically their two Boss Ladies episodes. They talk about how they make money from the podcast, merchandise and ads, and specifically how they built it this way so that all their listeners would always be able to listen for free.

Another big influence was Marco Arment, creator of Overcast. Overcast used to be free with a $4.99 upgrade to get the best features, leading to, as Marco says,
“This brought in good money up front, but income slowly declined, as all paid-once purchases do, and it restricted the app’s best and most compelling features to the very small percentage of people who paid. Everyone else got a sub-par app”
(emphasis mine)
That’s essentially the situation I’m in.

So, ads.
I really don’t like ads. I don’t like how they look, I don’t like how they slow down sites, I don’t like the weird 2MB tracking JavaScript they inject all over the place. These are things I just can’t compromise on.
But an ad model that works like Overcast’s — I control who places an ad, they pay me directly, all ads are tasteful, no trackers or JS, no animations — that might be OK.

So, I’m doing it. You can buy a 30-day ad on Citationsy, shown to 100.000+ students, academics, researchers, and professors, for $100.
I built a self-serve platform to help you prepare your ad and make the payment, and once you’ve done so I review all ads and they go live on the site.

This way, everyone gets to use Citationsy for free and I get to eat.

Want in?