Paper.li newspaper “Exciting changes at Paper.li!” said the email subject line.

(Paper.li helps you “create a web presence” with an online newspaper that contains your “curated” content.)

The email continued, “We’re thrilled to have you as part of our community, and want you to be the first to know about the exciting changes happening that will help you take your paper to the next level!”

Uh oh. Have you noticed that when a company promotes their “exciting changes,” the result is usually less than exciting for you? Even with two exclamation points?

Thus it was no surprise the next line in the message was this (cue impending doom/Jaws music): “These changes will have an impact on your current paper.

I’ve used the free version of Paper.li for a number of years as a way of collecting interesting articles to share with fellow solopreneurs. I hoped The Independent Communicator was helpful, but it was never worth investing more than my time to edit and put it together. I didn’t see a need to pay for the Pro version.

With this update, Paper.li helpfully gave me a free trial of their Pro package, so I didn’t see the “exciting changes” right away. It seemed to be business as usual. But they warned,

“Once your trial expires you’ll lose many features, meaning fewer sources, limited customization and personalization (no commenting, pinning, or custom sections), no email newsletter or bookmarklet, and your paper will have a max one source and 5 articles.”

Well, that IS exciting.

Sure enough, once the trial ended and I declined the Pro package ($12.99 US/month) and the Starter package ($4.99 US/month, which seemed to be similar to the old free version), I was left with a basic list. You need to scroll to see more than the first one or two items, and as promised/threatened, there are only five items in all. Want to have links to multiple interesting articles from different sources? You have to upgrade. Want a layout grid like the old paper, where you can see the headlines at a glance? You have to upgrade.

Of course, companies everywhere are trying to “monetize” (ugh) their offerings. They want to move you from the free options to ones that make them money. I understand that.

And I guess scrolling is business as usual for people who use their cellphones to view online content. I always looked at Paper.li papers from my laptop, so I don’t know how much scrolling was involved in the old layout.

My real issue is with companies who tell you they have exciting news that actually isn’t exciting for most people.

Here’s my advice: Lose the weasel words and jargon. Be honest. Use plain language to explain why you have to move more people to a paid option – maybe you’ve had to spend more on coding or infrastructure or technical support?

Then talk about why the Pro plan is so good, or why even the Starter plan is a great option. Include some customer testimonials about the value of the plans. And don’t forget to throw in a “We hope you understand” and “We appreciate that you have been part of the Paper.li world since [year].”

Wouldn’t THAT be an “exciting change”?

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