Things I Pay For Online

And no, I’m not detailing my online porn addictions to you. What I mean is, what premium services I pay for online. Since so much is available online for free, if one is paying for something online, it’s generally because it offers some genuine value and is worth the price. These are some of the things that are worth money to me.

1. Rhapsody: I’ve been paying for Rhapsody for I think five years now, first because it was the simplest legal way to listen to music online (which also compensated the artists, something that was and is important for me), and these days because I’m familiar with it and find it really easy to use and to find music on. Since the time I subscribed and now, lots of legitimate free music services have popped up (you’ll note I frequently embed imeem streaming), but most of those services are still hit-and-miss in terms of availability of music, and most of them are still kind of a pain in the ass to navigate. For making it dead easy for me to find the music I want when I want it, Rhapsody keeps earning my $15 a month.

2. Encyclopedia Britannica: Because none of the editors I work with consider Wikipedia reliable in the slightest. I personally use Wikipedia tons for casual research, but I cross check it with EB (and original sources) when I do actual writing. Wikipedia partisans, this is your cue to link to that study that suggests Britannica is no more accurate than Wikipedia on several fields, but you know what? Unlike Wikipedia, if I cite Britannica and it turns out to be wrong, I don’t get blamed for sloppy research. Britannica’s reputation is worth the subscription cost. This is actually my oldest current online subscription; I think I’ve had it for almost ten years now.

3. Flickr Pro: Because it’s easier to upload and store pictures there than it is to my own ftp space. Don’t worry, I have all the originals stashed on an archive drive here at home.

4. LiveJournal: Because I like the ability to comment on LJ, basically. This is probably the account for which I get the least exchange value for, but it’s $25 a year, and, eh, I can spend that. Although now I understand they’re putting ads on LJs, and since I’m a paid member I don’t see those. Go me.

5. GameTap: Because $10/month (or whatever it is I’m paying) is a really really cheap way to keep Athena entertained with hundreds of video games that I don’t have to buy. Also, to be honest, GameTap serializing the recent Sam& Max games alone made it worth the money I sink into it on a monthly basis. You know what one of her favorite games on GameTap is? Pong. Cracks me up, it does.

6. Wall Street Journal: Because I read it enough to justify the cost. I think it’ll amuse some folks that I’m fairly left and still subscribe to WSJ, but you know, I just skip the editorials and it’s fine.

7. AOL: I know, I know. Call it an affectation. Just in case the broadband apocalypse comes, I want to be able to have a dial-in backup. Also, although I haven’t worked for AOL in almost a year, there’s always a chance they’ll still want to use me as a contractor in the future, and it’s easier to hang on to the account just in case they do. Also, you know. They’ve paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to me over the years. I can spot them $72 a year, or whatever.

8. Skype: Because when I go overseas, it’s cheaper than roaming charges. Also, it’s a pay-as-you-go sort of thing; I deposited 10 euros worth of money into my Skype account in 2005 and I still haven’t worked all the way through it (I don’t go overseas all that much).

9. Club Penguin: Because it amuses the child, so why not.

10. Of course. Devotees will know that I recently switched hosting of Whatever to, which I’ve been very happy with, but everything else about the site still resides on, who’s been my host provider for four years now. This is a good arrangement, since is able to handle the load of my blog visitors, while is good with handling my e-mail and storing my files and various domains, and for all I do with those, $20 a month isn’t a bad rate.

And I think that’s it at the moment. The great news for me is that almost all of the above is tax deductible one way or another. Ah, the life of a freelance writer.

48 Comments on “Things I Pay For Online”

  1. What about Amazon Prime? Does that one count?

    And, I admit. I’m kind of giggling at the AOL subscription. I mean, it’s logical and all, but I think, these days, the only paying subscribers are you and a monkey in Thailand who harbors Communist desires.

    Still… Good on you.

  2. I’ve also been addicted to Rhapsody — been using it for at least a year and a half now. Rhapsody devices such as the Sansa, Tivo, and Nokia Internet Tablet are all in use with the account. I’ve basically got a jukebox wherever I need it.

  3. I’m THIS close to cancelling Rhapsody after several years. I love the breadth of music they have but I also have a few complaints: it doesn’t always play nice over VPN (my work connection), Some of their DRM updates take a half-dozen tries to install, and I really didn’t like the price increase this year. Plus, I just got an iPod Touch and I’d like my music to be a little more available now…

  4. Netflix for me, with the just added support for playback online for Mac’s, I get more than my $15 a month worth( I average 8-10 disks a month) plus online watching.

  5. I just want to say that there are all sorts of cool online resources available to me because I have a library card and my local library subscribes to stuff.

    Check with your local library system, you just might be able to access stuff online with yours. YMMV.

    I was pleasantly surprised when I began exploring the online stuff my library offered.

    That said, I pay my $20/ month for DSL and that’s it.

    I’m still not bored with free online flash games, call me simple.

    I also work for a state university, and get lots of stuff free via that instead of a decent paycheck. Although I’m not sure that accessing academic journals equals music.

  6. Dude, AOL used to be so much more expensive than that. I’m pretty sure we were paying like $25 each month for the slowest dial-up connection in the history of EVER and the price just kept going up. When it got to the point that broadband was cheaper, I finally managed to convince my mother to switch.
    I think I have a free LJ account… it’s been a while since I’ve been over there.
    And Skype is awesome… I first used it when I went to Europe in 11th grade, but now it’s much more useful for video chatting with my high school friends who now live far away from me…a service that is free!!!

  7. Thought your opening line was funny:

    And no, I’m not detailing my online porn addictions to you.

    Not detailing, but not denying, either!

    Netflix, Skype, and that’s about it.

  8. WSJ, check. AOL, check. Future Quest ( host). Plus all the usual: TiVo, Netflix, Publishers Marketplace. I own OED and Britannica on paper (smugness…)

  9. I’m paying for flickr 1&1 and typepad, although my review blog is on blogger still. Eventually I need to work out how to move across without losing everything. I used to pay for picturetrail but stopped, flickr was much better value. I also bought a lifetime membership to librarything, which I love.

  10. nicola griffith @ 9: I have owned the OED and Britannica on paper and thus I do not get your smugness. Reference books are a pain in paper form. I use the OED multiples times every day when I’m writing, but when I had it in paper form I only used it when there was no other way, cause it was so heavy, and cumbersome, and, well, a pain. It’s a blessing to be free of them. Clearly your mileage varies. If I could I’d have all reference materials online.

  11. If you live in Canberra and create an online account with the ACT library system (free to join for ACT residents), you have free access to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a bunch of other useful research tools, including the OED.

    I love my library!

  12. Well, I certainly use the internet for lots of purchases… Amazon, iTunes, PayPal for various things, utilities, etc, I have very few subscriptions. Actually, I think I only have 2 right now: Consumer Reports online and Everquest 2. Yes, I’m a MMO junkie. But I’ve got myself a little more under control now: my rule is “only one MMO subscription at a time” because I’ve found that I only have time to devote to one game at a time anyway. Anything more is just wasted money. And $15/mo is pretty cheap entertainment considering that I don’t go out, I don’t watch TV, and I seldom watch movies. My only other entertainment comes from books. So I think it’s pretty economical.

  13. No subscriptions. I buy books, ebooks and cd through the internet but I don’t like subscription services.

  14. Keep an eye on Club Penguin :-)

    Imagine my surprise when I got an email from the moderators (my then 11 year old daughter had an account there), telling me that my daughter had been engaging in “ugg ugg” with other penguins, and so was being banned. Of course, the conversation consisted of “Want to ugg ugg?” “Yes, I’m bumping you now”, and everyone went on their merry way. Obviously I moderate all of her accounts, and I think that it’s safe to say that neither of us really understood what “ugg ugg” was supposed to mean- since penguins have girlfriends and boyfriends all of the time and break up 28 times a day, I thought that it was the “want to be my boyfriend for 15 minutes” question. Apparently not, according to the moderators. From what I understand, now “ugg ugg” is very passe, and it’s now bumping, trucking, or pressing.

    Fortunately, we have the ultimate blackmail tool now. For the rest of her life, I can just say “ugg ugg”, or “penguin sex”, and the conversation is over.

    (The moderators on Club Penguin are awesome, for the record. I can’t imagine moderating penguins as my career, but they do a very, very good job.)

  15. – 2 audio books a month for about $20. Well worth the money to help ease the pain of the DC Beltway.

    Mobileme – yeah I know but for $99 a year I keep my computers and iphone synced and it is no more then I paid for my hosted exchange account when I was using windows mobile.

    Hosting for about $6 a month plus registration fee for a few domain names.

  16. I’ve also found value in Rhapsody for over 5 years. But some artists have cut back on available music. For example, Death Cab for Cutie’s earlier works were available (currently only last two CDs) ie Transatlanticism–I’m not a DCFC expert, but I used to play that one in the background kind of like the way I listened to Brian Eno in my college days.

    Add Cook’s Illustrated subscription. Thank you Chicago Tribune. One of their 50 best magazine articles a few years ago introduced me to this one.

    Netflix, amazon prime…I am giving the Encyclopedia Britannica some consideration–you may have nudged me just enough.

  17. One that people haven’t mentioned is Consumer Reports Online. Something like $12/year gives you access to all their product reviews.

    Personally, I stopped paying for online music since Yahoo shut down the DRM servers from Musicmatch and I got locked out of the 20 or so songs I’d bought over a couple of years. (Yes, they sent an email – to the Yahoo Mail account I never use any more.) I’ll stick to physical CDs and internet radio.

  18. emusic – inexpensive, non-DRM, and it appeals to my obscure musical tastes. I’ve subscribed off-and-on for about five years now

  19. D&D Insider!

    $60/year for Dungeon magazine, Dragon magazine, and access to their online D&D tools (rules compendium, character builder, encounter builder, etc.)

  20. Things I pay for online: A great resource for book industry news as well as contact information for editors, agents, subrights folks, etc. Well worth the $20 a month. do I use it? Not so much. But someday I probably will, and until then GoDaddy gives it to me for about $10 a year.

    Flickr Pro: Again, super useful tool.

    Backspace Writers Place: ( A great online writers community where I sometimes pop in to give advice. It’s about $30 a year.

    MyBlogLog: About $20 a year; I use it to see exactly what people are clicking through to, how often and who they are. It lets me see when and where my content is useful to readers and when it’s simply being ignored.

    I don’t pay for any newspapers or magazines in print or online. I have a whole boatload of leftover passwords for these things from every publishing job I’ve ever had, and – surprisingly – they never think to change them. I figure access to online periodicals and Lexis Nexis is the one perk that should have been included in my severance package that wasn’t. :-P (Although after posting this, someone will probably go and change all the passwords. Oooops!)

    I no longer pay for an LJ account because they’re free. And you don’t need a paid account to leave comments on other folks LJs. And, hell, just ignore the ads.

    And my blog is hosted on Blogger for free. Blogger is pretty robust and has always done right by me.

    Things I Would Gladly Pay Money For Again:

    The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy ( Not because I write, but because I want to support them and also I enjoy reading the writing that gets workshopped online. For some reason, however, because I am an agent, I can no longer buy a subscription to this (although I keep trying!).



  21. Ooooh! Forgot one! To download city guides, bathrooms, restaurants, maps, movie schedules, you name it onto my smart phone. Indispensable if you live in New York City.

  22. I started reading WSJ back as a file clerk at Smith Barney in the early 90’s and while I don’t subscribe currently I have in the past and read it online as much as I can find time to. Outside the alternate reality that is the op-ed page the WSJ has top grade business and international affairs reporting.

  23. I tried EB on line for a while. I loved the EB print version, but they had no idea how to organize it for online access. Maybe that’s improved now.

  24. I get my porn free via usenet.

    I pay for Consumer Reports Online and Dungeon Runners, a MMORPG,

  25. pizzangst,
    That’s the other weird thing about Rhapsody — certain albums or artists seem to disappear then come back later. I assume that’s the artist’s or label’s choice but not sure what the intention is…

  26. Netflix
    Gamefly (video game version of Netflix, recommended)
    Amazon Prime
    Baseball Prospectus
    In the past I’ve done eMusic, Salon (not worth it), an adblocking program, and I have a couple domains registered.

  27. I have a free LJ account (and I would love to see a comment from you sometime). I don’t pay for anything online at the moment, because there really isn’t anything that I have a need to pay for.

  28. I pay about $100 a year for IMDB/Pro. At first I did it because I use IMDB quite a bit (and sometimes update their information), but Pro has some interesting behind-the-scenes features you can’t find on the standard Website. If you want more information about features in production, it’s probably about the most useful site out there.

    A few years ago, I joined LiveJournal because I have multiple journals.

    Jim joined AmazonPrime which family members can use (and I do).

    Call me old fashion, but we still buy CDs and DVDs, though we also have a Netflix account. I particularly enjoy having about 3/4ths of our CDs copied onto our desktop harddrive.

  29. I am all about Encyc Brit. The kind of freelance I do so much of (academic) requires me to have recognized sourcing. So it’s totally worth the $. Other than that, Netflix has kept me out of the video store to the point that said video store called and offered free rentals. But I can’t even be bothered to drive there.

  30. Emusic (didn’t you used to have a subscription, John?). They also have an audiobook subscription where I can buy MP3s from a pretty good selection.

    LJ account for the lack of ads, features, and so on

    Flickr for the mass uploads


  31. LJ, Emusic, MobileMe (gad what a stupid name, but it keeps all my systems synced), Live365 VIP, and Audible. Digital subscriptions to Make, Mac|Life, Cooks Illustrated, Macworld, Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF, and Consumer Reports.

  32. Well, I was going to say that you don’t need to pay LJ to comment, but I see others have already said it, so I won’t. Just forget I said anything. :-D

    The only thing I pay for online that I would be loathe to give up is a monthly $5 charge to for their unlimited online backup and restore service.

    The thing is, if I have to remember to back up my computer, it doesn’t get done. And I’ve never seen the point of relying on a backup drive sitting in my house, because in the event of a fire, flood, massive power surge, theft, random meteorite through the roof or whatever, they’ll both be toast and then I’m screwed (and since I work from home, that’s not just me screwed – that’s the company I work for and my private clients screwed, too. It’s a damned orgy of pain, is what it is.)

    So I pay my $5/month, and Mozy’s software automagically sucks my D: partition (where all my files are) plus all my oddments and bits like Outlook .pst files and whatnot on the C: that I might need into several secure and cryto-locked drives located in a nice, climate-controlled and maintained server farm somewhere else (I suddenly have this image of fat, happy servers scattered across a lush, green Bliss background). And all this happens in the background without me having to remember a damn thing, usually once a day and sometimes more often. I iz impresst.

    Bonus – as long as I have an internet connection, I can restore my entire set of files and backups to any computer anywhere…like at a hotel waiting for the hazmat guys to remove bits of radioactive space rocks from my living room, for example. Sweet!

  33. I pay for LiveJournal, Flickr and, although I haven’t finished setting up my site yet.

    I really hate paying for things online.

    My son pleaded for a Club Penguin account, but I wouldn’t get him one. The site seems designed to instill and urge to shop, and you can only shop with a paid account.

    There’s no way I’m paying six bucks a month so he can spend fictional money on fictional goods for his fictional character.

  34. Pandora Radio, for the Squeezebox.
    Donations to odd and distant NPR stations like KZYX that I listen to online.

  35. I concur of Rhapsody even though the service is maddening sometimes at least with my Sansa players. I do really like the selection and music rental possiblities

  36. Well, the internet is obviously very helpful as you can read the newspapers online and even magazines and watch television shows. The traditional methods used for advertising like commercials on television were murdered by the DVR, so many ad campaigns were moved to online platforms. A big one is myspace. Although I think myspace is ruined and not worth messing with (because of the spammers) I also know that the cheapest ad campaign on myspace costs around 3400. per month. There were many industries that were negatively affected by the presence of the world wide web, but I feel like the internet is “awesome progress”. Napster was an awesome website until we all realized that the musicians were being ripped off. Now there are excellent ways to get music without having to by the whole album. Hence “itunes”, which I use addictively and will use even more since I just bought my daughter an ipod nano.

  37. Wow, GameTap is very cool. I can’t believe it’s been around for 3 years and I never heard of it. For someone with a short attention span for games (and a penchant for the oldies), it’s a great deal.

    Also, check the payment options… they may be happily charging you $10 a month while there is a $60 a YEAR option available.

    Thanks for the tip!

  38. I came across this by accident. I have a difficult time with all this technology. The idea of paying of something I cannot hold, or touch…a tangible thing…is quite different for this 50-somthing year old.

    Just got my second MP3 palyer, and it came with a free trial to Rhapsody…and I am wondering whether its worth it…hence finding this blog as I googled.

    Its interesting all the tings one can purchase online….services for things we cannot see, let alone touch. This is certainly the future of humanity.

    I don’t know what to make of it.

  39. I meant “things” LOL.

    I wonder…where is there a list about all the “things” one can purchase nowadays? It must go on beyond my wildest imaginations.

    We have internet DSL, a cell phone plan for 2, and Cable.

    Nothing more.

    As I said, I am wondering about Rhapsody, and Netflix too. Could be handy.