Posted on Fri 12 February 2016

Online subscriptions I pay for

I like it when an app I rely on has an underlying subscription model. Though it's no guarantee, it makes me a tad more confident that they'll be around for a while. So many services have come and gone in recent years that I'm wary of relying heavily on anything these days, so that little bit of extra confidence goes a long way.

I pay for a few recurring subscriptions for services I find really useful. Whenever these recur, I tend to find it a happy reminder that I use these services often, and I'm supporting the teams behind them to continue their work.

These are the ones I currently value highly enough to pay for.


I'm not naming a particular service here because I've switched a few times. I really liked Rdio, and was disappointed to see it shut down. I used Deezer for maybe a year, and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I found Deezer made it difficult to do the most important thing for a streaming service: find the music I want to listen to. I'm currently using Spotify with a hack workaround to make finding my favourite albums a bit easier, but I'm always checking for updates to the Deezer Mac app to make this process easier.

Regardless of which service I use, I find the convenience of not having to purchase and store music I like, and the much, much better experience of no ads is worth the price of a premium streaming subscription. They're all roughly the same price, too, which makes it easier to switch around when one doesn't quite give me what I need.


FeedWrangler is my RSS sync service of choice. I use third party apps to read the actual feeds, but I rely on FeedWrangler to keep them in sync. I particularly like the bookmarklet that makes it fast and easy to add a new feed subscription from my browser. I just wish I had an easier way to subscribe to feeds from my phone or iPad.


I started paying for iCloud storage in the last few months of my iPhone 5s ownership, as I was running out of room to store photos on my 16GB phone. I upgraded to 64GB when I switched to a 6s, but since I keep various devices backed up to iCloud, I still find the $1.99 monthly fee worthwhile to keep me a bit more space.


Babbel is like the smarter, older sibling of Duolingo. It goes more in-depth in teaching you rules and structures of a new language, where Duolingo focuses on improving your vocab and teaching you grammatical structure through practice.

It's funny, because kids pick up the structures and rules of their native languages just by noticing them as they learn the language, but I find this difficult and frustrating. Duolingo pretty much works the same way: it throws in variations of a verb among various sentences and expects you to figure out when to use each variation, and what the differences between them are.

Babbel, on the other hand, explains these differences before pushing you to practise them over and over to get the idea into your head.

I like using a combination of Babbel and Duo to learn French.

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor costs a lot more than I'd like to pay for email marketing, but I tried MailChimp and couldn't stand the way it worked. Better the devil you know, I guess.


I haven't used Freeletics nearly as much as I should for how much it costs me, but I like the way it works. It's a workout app that focuses on using your bodyweight rather than equipment. Paying for the coaching feature lets me follow the app's guidance in what workouts to do when, so I just have to show up and do the work.


We've been paying for Netflix for about six months now. While the catalogue is more limited than I'd hoped, it's definitely served us many hours of entertainment. I look forward to more Netflix original shows and a widening of the catalogue in the future, but for now it's worth paying just to get House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

Subscriptions can add up quickly. I try not to purchase any subscriptions I don't really need, and I try to keep on top of what I'm paying for so I can cull any I've stopped using. But for the few services I use often and would be sad to lose, I'm happy to pay a regular fee to help them stay in business.

P.S. I make some stuff you might like: Exist, a personal analytics app to help you understand your life, and Larder, a bookmarking app for developers.

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