Charge a Nominal Price to Validate Your SaaS Product

Validate your SaaS product by charging $1: build trust, attract committed users, and boost growth.

Charge a Nominal Price to Validate Your SaaS Product
Photo by Andrew Dawes / Unsplash

Imagine you have a brilliant idea for a SaaS product that solves a real problem for your target market. You spend months building it, testing it, and polishing it. You launch it with great fanfare and excitement. You wait for the customers to come pouring in.

But they don’t.

You wonder what went wrong. Did you build something nobody wants? Did you market it poorly? Did you price it too high?

Or maybe you made a common mistake that many SaaS founders make: you gave away your product for free.

Why Free is Not Always Good

You might think that offering free access to your product is a great way to attract early adopters, get feedback, and build trust. After all, who doesn’t love free stuff?

But free can also have some serious drawbacks:

It devalues your product and your brand. If you don’t charge anything for your product, people might assume that it’s not worth anything. They might also question your credibility and legitimacy as a business.
It attracts the wrong kind of customers. Free users are often not your ideal customers. They might sign up for your product out of curiosity or boredom, but they might not have a real need or pain point that your product solves. They might also be less engaged, less loyal, and less likely to refer others to your product.
It reduces your revenue potential. Free users don’t generate any revenue for you, unless you have a clear monetization strategy such as advertising or upselling. But even then, you might be leaving money on the table by not charging them upfront.
It limits your feedback quality. Free users might not give you honest or useful feedback on your product because they don’t have any skin in the game. They might not use your product regularly or seriously enough to experience its benefits or drawbacks. They might also be less responsive to surveys or interviews because they don’t feel obligated to help you.

How $1 Can Make All The Difference

Benefits Explanation
Validates value proposition Customers are willing to pay $1 for a product they see value in
Filters out tire-kickers and freeloaders Customers who pay $1 show commitment and interest in using product
Improves feedback and engagement Customers who pay $1 are more likely to use product seriously
Sets up for future growth and customer loyalty Customers who pay $1 are more likely to stick with product

So how can you avoid these pitfalls of free and validate your product with real customers who are willing to pay?

One simple but powerful strategy is to charge them $1.

Yes, just one dollar.


Because when you charge $1 for your product, you’re doing more than just making money (although that’s nice too). You’re also doing these things:

  • You’re validating your value proposition. When someone pays $1 for your product, they’re telling you that they see some value in what you offer. They’re also telling you that they trust you enough to give you their credit card information.
  • You’re filtering out tire-kickers and freeloaders. When someone pays $1 for your product, they’re showing some level of commitment and interest in using it. They’re also showing some level of pain or urgency that makes them willing to pay for a solution.
  • You’re getting better feedback and engagement. When someone pays $1 for your product, they’re more likely to use it regularly and seriously because they want to get their money’s worth (even if it’s just a dollar). They’re also more likely to give you honest and constructive feedback because they want to see your product improve.
  • You’re setting yourself up for future growth. When someone pays $1 for your product, they’re more likely to become loyal customers who stick with you as long as you deliver value. They’re also more likely to refer others to your product because they want their friends or colleagues to benefit from it too.

Examples of SaaS Companies That Used $1 Pricing

You might think that charging $1 is too low or too risky for a SaaS product. But there are many examples of successful SaaS companies that used this strategy effectively:

  • Buffer: The social media management tool started out by charging $1 per month for its basic plan when it launched in 2010. This helped them validate their idea quickly and grow their user base organically. They later increased their prices as they added more features and value.
  • ConvertKit: The email marketing platform used a similar approach when it launched in 2013. It charged $1 per month for up to 500 subscribers, which attracted thousands of early adopters who were looking for an alternative to Mailchimp. They later raised their prices as they grew their revenue and reputation.
  • Zapier: The automation tool used a clever twist on the $1 pricing strategy when it launched in 2012. It offered a free plan for up to 5 zaps (automated workflows), but charged $1 per month for each additional zap. This encouraged users to experiment with different integrations and pay for the ones they found most useful. They later introduced more pricing tiers based on the number of tasks and features.

How to Charge $1 for Your SaaS Product

If you’re convinced that charging $1 for your SaaS product is a good idea, here are some tips on how to do it right:

  • Make it clear that it’s a limited-time offer. You don’t want to lock yourself into charging $1 forever. You want to use it as a way to get early adopters and feedback quickly. So make sure you communicate that this is a special deal that won’t last long, and that you’ll increase your prices soon.
  • Make it easy to sign up and pay. You don’t want to lose potential customers because of a complicated or lengthy signup or payment process. You want to make it as simple and frictionless as possible for them to give you their email and credit card information. Use tools like Stripe or PayPal to handle the payments securely and smoothly.
  • Make it worth their while. You don’t want to disappoint your customers by delivering a subpar product or service. You want to make sure that they get value from your product, even if they’re only paying $1. So focus on delivering the core features and benefits that solve their problem or pain point, and avoid adding unnecessary bells and whistles that might distract or confuse them.
  • Make it easy to cancel. You don’t want to trap your customers into paying for something they don’t want or need anymore. You want to respect their choice and freedom, and show them that you’re confident in your product’s value. So make sure you provide an easy way for them to cancel their subscription at any time, no questions asked.

Charging $1 for your SaaS product might seem like a crazy idea at first, but it can actually be a smart way to validate your product with real customers who are willing to pay.

By doing so, you can avoid the pitfalls of free, and instead benefit from the advantages of paid.

You can validate your value proposition, filter out tire-kickers and freeloaders, get better feedback and engagement, and set yourself up for future growth.

So what are you waiting for?

Charge your early adopters $1 today!