We added a $0.99/month subscription model to the RunPee app in late October of 2021. A subscription would give users access to use the app without viewing any advertisements. In essence, they replaced purchasing Peecoins. At the same time, we upped the price of the Infinity Peecoin from $19.99 to $47.99—which is equivalent to 4 years of subscription which is give-or-take the industry standard for a lifetime subscription.
Users who subscribed didn’t get anything extra in the app, other than they didn’t need to waste their time with advertisements. After two months we had a total of 152 subscribers, which brought in $129.20/month after Apple/Google took their 15% cut. (By the way, did you know that Apple forbids app developers from mentioning that they take 15% from all in-app purchases? I only mention that here because they won’t let me mention it in the app—what a bunch of ass-hats!)
Vera and I discussed it and decided that we’d make the built-in RunPee Timer exclusive to subscribers or Infinity Peecoin owners. Also, anyone who has EVER purchased Peecoins, or the RunPee app itself when it was a paid download way back before 2012, would be grandfathered in. However, we don’t have access to who purchased the app and who didn’t, so if you didn’t automatically get grandfathered in then email me ([email protected]) and I’ll set you up. No questions asked.
Note: if you want to know if you’re grandfathered in automatically:
- If you own the Infinity Peecoin then you are automatically grandfathered in. No worries, and thank you for your support.
- If you have EVER purchased Peecoins then you should be grandfathered in, but it’s possible it wasn’t recorded in the RunPee database, so check in the app.
- If you purchased the RunPee app when it was a paid download prior to 2012 then you should be grandfathered in, but that data isn’t available to me, so you’ll have to send me an email.
To find out if you are automatically grandfathered in: open the RunPee app, select any movie, and go to the Timer screen. If you see a pop-up message about a Timer limitation then you weren’t automatically grandfathered in.
This means that the only people who don’t get access to the built-in Timer are people who only view advertisements. And isn’t because we don’t appreciate the thought, but viewing advertisements makes about 1/10th of a cent/per, which doesn’t cover the cost of gas driving back-and-forth to the theater. RunPee would need millions of active users to make a meaningful amount of money. The only reason that we have advertisements at all is that we want to allow users to use the app for free if they wish. Not everyone can afford to pay. Although, come to think of it, if you can afford to see a movie then… Never mind, I’m not going to go there. 🙂
As of the date of publication (September 1st, 2022) we have 840 active subscribers. That equates to $714/month income. In the beginning, we were adding about 100 new subscribers every month. But, that dropped to zero new subscribers through the fall and has started picking up again in November of 2022. Hopefully, by the end of the year we’ll reach 1,000 monthly subscribers.
We also have a contract with AMC Theaters to license our data to them. They give us $9,000/year ($750/month) and two movie passes that give us access to unlimited movies. But it turns out the movie passes are fairly worthless because we can’t reserve tickets in advance so I bought AMC Stubs for me and Christene, which costs $19.99 per/month, times two.
The RunPee.com blog makes a surprising amount of money. Between Google Ads and paid posts from advertisers, we earned $2,421.93 in 2021, which averages out to $201.83/month. Unfortunately, this also includes the money we make from in-app advertising.
In total, we currently make around $1,500/month from the RunPee app. (I’ll do my best to keep these numbers updated each month.)
What does it cost to maintain the RunPee app?
You probably know that we have to watch every movie in person, hopefully on opening night, so that we can get the Peetimes. My sister, Christene, Vera, and I get the Peetimes for the majority of movies. Vera and I don’t “get paid” since it’s our app. I give my sister $50 to watch a movie and get Peetimes and write a short review. On average she watches 5 movies a month—$250. There are a few other Peeps that help us add Peetimes for the rest of the movies. That’s another $250 or so.
We also have server costs for the app and blog. The blog and app run on completely different servers, but with the same company. (If you’re curious we use WPEngine.com.) Together, the server packages cost us $180/month or $2,160/year. By the way, the reason the app and blog run on different servers is so that if the blog gets a lot of traffic it won’t affect the performance of the RunPee app. That’s what happened in 2018 when Avengers: Endgame was released and the server crashed due to an article published on CNN.com about the RunPee app. We learned from that mistake.
Jill, the RunPee.com blog administrator takes in 1/3 of the income that RunPee makes up to a $1,000/month limit. For 2021 that came to $513.72/month.
I’m not going to bother including random expenses such as computers, phones, cellular plans, tax, and bookkeeping expenses that are a part of any modern business. But suffice to say, we spend money on all these things.
At a bare minimum, we spend $943/month to keep RunPee updated every week. That leaves Vera and me a shared income of about $250/month.
And then there are taxes. As it turns out we’re running a non-profit. (Who knew?)
A Week at RunPee
Obviously, I do a lot of work each week for RunPee. My work consists of watching movies and adding Peetimes, user support (I respond to every email and tweet), writing movie reviews and other blog content, helping with the weekly newsletter and organizing who’s seeing what movies and when, plus adding those movies to the database. I don’t keep detailed numbers on the hours I work on RunPee, maybe I should do that for a month to really know, but my best estimate is about 20/hrs a week.
Oh, that doesn’t include the time I spend actually building and maintaining the RunPee app. In case you didn’t know, Vera and I are both software developers. We rebuilt the RunPee app from scratch in 2020-21. That was thousands of hours of work. I worked about 30/hrs a week for a year to rebuild the app and all the backend and the RunPee admin app. Vera also worked a great deal on the app. She did all the work on the Peeple’s Poll and payment systems, plus most of the UI/design work. (That explains why the rebuilt app looks so much better than the old one.)
My goal is to update the RunPee app about 3-4 times a year. Each update will add a new feature, or at least enhance an existing feature, and contain bug fixes. Fortunately, there’s not much left to fix. I’m very proud that at present there are zero known bugs to fix. That isn’t to say there are no bugs; only zero known bugs.
Making ends meet
Obviously, Vera and I don’t live off the income from RunPee. We both work as freelance software developers. Currently, we’re working with a local company to help build an app for beekeepers. It’s a noble effort that we hope succeeds. (In case you didn’t know if all the bees in the world died one apple would cost about $16.) For that reason, we’re working cheap for $50/hr. Vera works pretty much full-time hours or as many hours as they can afford. I work a little less than 10/hrs a week because I have responsibilities to keep RunPee going. If I didn’t have RunPee to maintain then I could work full-time, making in the ballpark of $100/hr.
RunPee Business or Hobby?
Our plan is to give RunPee until the end of 2022 to see how it grows. If it can earn in the ballpark of $5,000/month then we’ll treat it as a business and continue to support it as such, and more. If not, then we will cut back on our time spent with RunPee and focus on freelance work.
If we can make at least $2,000/month profit then I’ll try to use the income from the app to hire someone part-time who can take care of the day-to-day activities. That will take RunPee work off my plate and I can focus on freelance work.
I don’t think a worst-case scenario is likely, but if the profit isn’t enough to get someone to help with the day-to-day then I’ll have to cut back on my involvement with RunPee. We currently add every wide-release movie to the database and a few limited-release movies here and there. That averages out to about four movies/week. If we have to cut back our involvement with RunPee we’ll probably keep it to one or two movies a week. That means we’d keep adding blockbusters and movies that we’d otherwise like to see anyway. We feel we owe it to everyone who purchased the Infinity Peecoin to maintain the app indefinitely as much as time allows.
What if RunPee were profitable
If RunPee makes a profit of $5,000/month, or more, then we can start doing interesting things. We’d like to have a few Peeps that live in LA or NY who could help us add at least one or two limited-release movies each week to the database. Plus, we’d like to make the RunPee app regional and add Peeps in other countries, notably the UK, Australia, Mexico, Spain, China, Japan, so that users in those countries could see local productions, plus view Peetimes for Hollywood movies in their language.
How likely is it?
This is the thing all businesses struggle with, but I’ll give you some numbers and you can decide for yourself if you think RunPee can reach profitability. In the past 28-days, we’ve had 25,986 active users. The movie industry is still recovering from COVID which correlates to how many active users we have. Over the next few months, we expect usage to increase dramatically.
At the end of the day, we can’t do it without our fans. We need some of you to subscribe if you feel it gives you value and we need all of you to share the RunPee app with your friends and family so that we can grow our user base.
How to help support RunPee without subscribing
- Share a kind message about RunPee on your favorite social media platform(s).
- Tell your friends and family about RunPee.
- Maybe lean over and share the RunPee app with a stranger in the movie theater and make a new friend in the process. I mean, you’re watching the same movie together, you already have something in common. 🙂
- Write a kind review of the RunPee app at the App Store or Google Play Store.
- If you think of something we can do to make the app better for you then email me ([email protected]), leave a comment below, or you can chat with us on Discord.
Here is a related video I watched recently from one of my favorite YouTube channels: PolyMatter
Don’t miss your favorite movie moments because you have to pee or need a snack. Use the RunPee app (Androidor iPhone) when you go to the movies. We have Peetimes for all wide release films every week, including Avatar: The Way of Water, Knock at the Cabin and coming soon Ant-Man: Quantumania. We have literally thousands of Peetimes—from classic movies through today's blockbusters. You can also keep up with movie news and reviews on our blog, or by following us on Twitter @RunPee. If there's a new film out there, we've got your bladder covered.
Creator and developer of the RunPee app. When something doesn’t work right in the app it’s pretty much his fault. 🙂
Aspiring author. Would like to finish his “Zombie Revelations” trilogy if he could break away for working on RunPee and the cottage he’s building for RunPee Mom.