The digital services I pay for and why

by Jeff Hilimire on January 21, 2014

Like you, I use a lot of free web services today. I play free games on my Nexus 5 and iPad Air, and I use Gmail and Google Calendar, among other free tools. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to take inventory on the things that I actually pay for. So…

Here are the web services that I do pay for and why:

For fun ($19.31/month)

Google Play Music – I pay $7.99/month for Google’s music service. I can pull up any song I want at any time. I recently canceled my XM/Sirius subscription to make room for this monthly fee. In the car I alternate between Google Play Music and listening to podcasts on the Android app Pocket Casts. I never listen to the radio. While there are alternatives to Google Play Music – Spotify, iTunes, etc. – I prefer Google Play Music because it is so nicely tied into my Android experience.

ESPN Insider – I pay $3.33/month on the annual plan for ESPN Insider. With that I get ESPN the Magazine and access to the ESPN Insider articles, which mostly come in handy during Fantasy Football season. But mainly I figure $3.33/month for the magazine isn’t a bad deal and with the added content it seems worth it. But full disclosure, this is the one on the list I flip back and forth on possibly canceling.

Netflix – I pay $7.99/month for Netflix’s streaming access.

For work ($42.97/month)

Dropbox – I store all my files and photos here. I pay $19.99/month and get 255.25 GB of space. The extra 5.25 comes from referrals. Knowing my files are safely stored and that I can access them at any time, any where, is worth $20/month to me.

Evernote – I pay $45/year for Evernote’s Premium service. It allows me to have access to offline notebooks, share and edit notes with friends more easily, put a passcode on the app, and gives me 1GB of monthly uploads (more than enough). Evernote also has a referral program to earn points but I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of it yet. I should, I’ve blogged about Evernote dozens of time so I’m a huge cheerleader for the service.

Doodle – I use Doodle to coordinate my calendar invites. When I’m scheduling a meeting with someone I can send them a link or invite to choose from a set of options that I’ve chosen. It’s also fantastic for getting large groups of people to pick a date for a meeting. I’m currently using it to organize a meeting with 27 people. I recently signed up for the annual subscription for $39, partly because it allows you to directly connect your Google calendar and you get unlimited invites. I also like to actually pay for a service that I use a lot, especially now that I’m in the business of building apps!

Wisestamp – I use Wisestamp to have a customized, dynamic signature in my email. I have it set to pull in my latest blog post so that when I email someone, down at the bottom of the email there is a callout to my latest post. We also use it at Dragon Army to keep everyone’s signatures in sync. I pay $36/year for Wisestamp Plus which gives me multiple email accounts, premium templates and priority support. But mainly I pay for this to support the Wisestamp team.

Boomerang – Boomerang is one of my favorite gmail apps. It allows me to send emails at a particular time in the future and remove emails from my inbox to re-appear at a time of my choosing. It’s a wonderful tool to help manage your inbox (and achieve Inbox Zero). I pay $4.99/month for unlimited boomerangs (the free version only allows a limited number of boomerangs per month).

LinkedIn – I pay $7.99/month for LinkedIn Premium. LinkedIn is such an essential tool for business, and the Premium plan allows advanced searching and tools, the ability to “email” people within LinkedIn even if you aren’t connected (which I try not to abuse…too much), and the ability to see who has viewed your profile, among other features.

For home ($11.58/month)

Amazon Prime – Everyone I know that uses Amazon Prime loves it. It’s $79/year and you get “free” 2 day shipping, access to Amazon Instant Video (like Netflix, but I hardly use it), and the ability to borrow from Kindle’s Owners’ Library (which I’ve never done). To be able to order just about anything and have it in 2 days without paying for shipping is easily worth the $79 a year.

Crashplan – I use the subscription service for Crashplan at $59.99/year. The services backs up my home computer and network completely, so all my important files – mainly all of my family photos and videos from the past 10 years – are backed up in the cloud. It’s hugely important to me to know that even if our house burns down, we’ll still have our family memories.

So it looks like I currently spend $73.86/month in online services. That’s a lot of dough, wasn’t quite aware its that high! However, a majority of that is from Dropbox and Crashplan, which I’m unwilling to walk away from.

What online services do YOU pay for and why?

  • Darin Wonn

    Great post, Jeff. In addition to some of these, I’ve been using Rescuetime ($9 per month for pro version tracks offline time) to keep me honest on how im spending my time, BufferApp for loading up my twitter feed ($9 per month lets me set a different schedule for weekends) and about $10 per month for x-box live, which I really just use for the opportunity to get netflix.

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Thanks, DW. So do you like Rescuetime? How long have you been using it to keep you honest about how you track your time? Curious about that one.

  • Raghu Kakarala

    I paid $99 for a lifetime pro subscription to Feedly. I did it to support them when they rewrote their back end to take over when Google reader was terminated. So far it really has no differrentiation from the non subscriber version except search functionality but I wanted to support them for doing such a fast and good job of taking Google readers place. Hopefully they keep adding features and server speed and capacity over time.

  • tomerific

    Raghu — the lifetime Feedly Pro service is now $299. You got a great deal! Since I missed it, I’m sticking with the $5/month plan.

  • tomerific

    Jeff — I am a huge fan of Aereo which is $12/mo (heck — I should write a blog post about why I like it so much!). And I am a fan of Spotify (vs. Google Play) because it is used exclusive by one of my favorite DJ’s, Armin Van Buuren. Plus Spotify has an extensive catalogue — it keeps my youngest, who LOVES music, happy because he can listen to every single Kidz Bop album! :)

  • Darin Wonn

    Been using it for about 6 months and really like it. Very useful and well-executed. Has a great mobile site and good email reports. I checked it everyday at first but now I check the mobile site a couple times per week. It made the first screen on my iPhone. Check out my stats for last week…ughh too much email!

  • Jeff Hilimire

    I thought Aereo was only NY, did they get it approved/working in other cities? Do you use it instead of TV?

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Dude, too much email and meetings! That’s a cool tool, how does it get that info? Does it monitor your computer, your calendar, and/or do you have to manually enter it?

  • Darin Wonn

    Tell me about it. I look at that and think “gotta delete more emails”. The desktop site has a lot of different visualizations and reports.

    It monitors your computer through installed software. It doesnt have calendar integration. After you are away from your computer for 15 minutes or so it pops a window that says “What have you been doing?” and it has some pre-canned answers (or you can make your own). My meetings skew a little high here, because if I walk away from my computer to go ask somebody a few questions I track that as “meeting” when I get back. I probably need a “hounding people at their cube” category. That makes up about half of my meetings.

  • tomerific

    Aereo rolled out in Atlanta in June ’13 and I’ve been on it since day 1. I use it in conjunction with my Roku box. It is the perfect cord cutter solution for watching over-the-air television! If you are willing to go cordless, then you should definitely get this service!

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Can you “record” things to watch later or is it always there whenever you want to watch anything? And does it have all the major networks in HD?

  • tomerific

    I get all of the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) in HD. Aereo works like a basic DVR — I select the show that I want to record from a standard TV grid display and record it. I simply select a show from my recordings tab and play it. The player also has basic controls such as fast-forward and rewind so I can zip through over-the-air commercials. :)

    I can record up to two shows at a time and I get 60 hours of space. It is pretty sweet!

  • tomerific

    One more service that I like is If This Then That (IFTTT). It is a service that lets you create powerful connections between products. For example, I use IFTTT to add my blog posts to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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