Making n8n sustainable: paid advanced features

Note: After reading this, we’d love it if you filled out our survey.

In the last couple of years, we’ve managed to build up a great team at n8n, and hopefully, you’ve started to see the beginnings of the step-up in quality and functionality we’re making to the product. We have big plans for making n8n the go-to workflow automation tool for everyone, and we’re on our way — usage of n8n increased 80% in the first quarter.

Of course, to keep on making these improvements, we have to build a sustainable business that generates revenue. Only like that can we ensure that we are able to support the ongoing development of n8n long-term, especially in these uncertain times.

We think the best way to do this is to gradually introduce some new advanced features that are paid, while keeping the vast majority of n8n free.

All current n8n functionality that is free will remain so. For new features, this is where we see the dividing line between free and paid:

  • Free: Core functionality — everything you need to get your workflows up and running and successfully automating your tasks. E.g:
    • Improvements to existing workflow-building functionality
    • Easier data mapping between steps
    • Replay data without triggering from external systems again
    • Deployment templates
    • New nodes
    • Workflow templates
    • Local data store
    • Option to only fetch new data
    • Python support
    • 2FA
    • Stability improvements
  • Paid: Advanced features needed by large-scale users, e.g:
    • Environments
    • Fine-grained access control when sharing workflows/creds
    • Advanced debugging
    • Audit logging
    • n8n API
    • More scalable n8n

I want to be very clear that majority of our efforts will continue to go into improving the free product. While at the same time, if you’re getting a lot of value out of n8n as a company, it feels fair that n8n and therefore the community as a whole, should benefit too.

It’s also not a decision we’ve taken lightly. I started n8n because I wanted to make workflow automation available to everyone, and that hasn’t changed. I believe that putting n8n on sustainable financial footing is the best way to make this happen.

We would love to get your thoughts on this, so please fill out this survey!

Thanks a lot!

16 Likes

So quick thoughts on this.

I take Posthog as a baseline for open source SaaS tools and feel this decision is broadly in line with their business model guidelines. (By the way, it’s pretty fantastic that they commit to open sourcing the internals of their handbook, business strategy and roadmapping, and I think n8n could take still a lot of inspiration from them!)

Open sourcing the core product — a really good workflow automations tool! — is a real win and I think it makes a lot of sense to paywall ‘enterprisey’ / multi-team organisational features whether through cloud or ‘source available’ licensing if it makes it viable to continue to support an open source community around that.

I basically assumed that open source + enterprise core was going to be the direction of travel when I first heard about this product, so no real surprises.

8 Likes

I understand and fully support why you would like to provide a more stable income for the project. I do feel however that locking the API behind a paywall for self hosted clients does feel a little at odds with the general openness of n8n, in the fact that it thrives on the open APIs of other projects to provide it’s automation.

I would also like to see some basic workflow sharing capability and access control, although I can understand why a fully featured granular RBAC might be a paid feature.

14 Likes

Sustainability is at the core of every business. They need to find a way to provide value to their clients/customers while also paying for the resources (employees, utilities, etc.) needed to keep the business running.

One challenge that many businesses that start out with only a free product is transitioning to a paid product. Some customers/clients feel betrayed or cheated because what was once free is no longer free. Others realize that this is a business and that there is a cost for the value which the business provides. And someone is paying for that cost. It just happens to not be the person using their product.

I, personally, welcome this change. I absolutely love free things (who doesn’t) but there is always this nagging in the back of my mind wondering how long they can keep this up for free. I always assume that there will be a day sometime in the future when there is an announcement that either the product is no longer free or the product simply is no longer.

The fact that I will be able to do what I am doing now with the new model is absolutely amazing! I’ve literally lost nothing with a change in policy. In fact, I’ve gained a few things:

  1. Peace of mind that a product won’t just disappear
  2. Options to leverage capital to get some things that I need quicker
  3. Clear direction from users (via purchasing solutions) regarding where time and effort should go

Really looking forward to how this will work and happy to continue supporting all of the efforts that n8n puts forward!

9 Likes

I agree with @PsychoAlex , locking the API and sharing features for Creds and Workflows I believe goes against the general openness on n8n. API’s are a core part of the platform, why would you lock down the main API?

The other features I agree are a great idea. There are many features that mostly make sense for enterprise companies, and they are happy to pay those prices.

11 Likes

Paid features for large-scale users are fine except the API, i believe it should be in core functionality too.

9 Likes

debugging should not be locked away or the api

6 Likes

Agree that API should not be behind the “enterprise” paywall.

Probably several paid tiers is the way to go. Smaller payment for the tier with API, higher payment for the tier with scaling and advanced debugging.

3 Likes

For sure it’s very fair. But think there is some of them which would be important to keep free, as an example API. API should be is a common feature for all applications, something like business rule :sweat_smile:.
Adv Debugging once you get good feedback from our application we start to get excited and the feelings for keep the apps up and improving. So, it means that as long as the is running correctly we would love to pay for any other feature that will make easier. For that reason, i thinking any thinking related about Debugging should be free as well.

Thats it. What you all may could do is. For features paid may provides a feel free days acess for each feature. But no only day running like 7 days free. The main target is provide a controll button for active and deactivate each feature and for each activations pressed its gonna take one days less for the free package :package:.

Fell free to ask if it was not too clear.

3 Likes

an always forever free tier for existing users would be nice who have be great. Charging new enterprise customers is fine

1 Like

Hey,

I don’t think Enterprises or companies in general, are really bothered with paying for n8n. Of course, there is a difference between like 50 euros or 200+ euros. And of course, the smaller businesses will have less to spend on things like n8n, but the efficiency the automation brings will show its value fast.
So when features that are mostly aimed at (larger)business use of n8n will be behind a paywall, that should never become an issue.
Then there is the question of what features this would be.
I’ll give my opinion on every example given:

  • Environments
    No brainer I think, no small scale user will be needing this really.

  • Fine-grained access control when sharing workflows/creds
    This depends on what the default functionality will be for this. I can see something like RBAC being a premium feature. But something like sharing workflows directly with other users should be a default feature.

  • Advanced debugging
    This one is tricky, as we all would like advanced debugging. But I think it will only be used by power users anyway, so making it a premium feature seems logical.

  • Audit logging
    No brainer I think, no small scale user will be needing this really.

  • n8n API
    This is where most discussion is based around on this topic. I get what some are saying and I do think we should all have access to it. Even for small scale users, it can be very useful to have the API to do certain things. But is it necessary for those users? I don’t think it really is.
    Maybe some APIs can be open by default and the more advanced API calls should be locked behind the paywall.
    So for example everyone needs to be able to make easy backups but not everyone needs to be able to do actual server management with the API.

  • More scalable n8n
    No brainer I think, no small scale user will be needing this really.
    For example, the n8n setup with multiple workers is already unnecessary for most small to mid-scale users.

This all is of course also dependent on your definition of small/mid/large scale users. :slight_smile:

I was already wondering how n8n would be making enough money to be sustainable after the license changed. So I am happy the team is having discussions about this and they ask the user’s opinion. :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t mind n8n to become paid completely, for example for all companies using it pay like 10 or 20 euros(or more, not sure what would be the best price). This would be negligible for companies using n8n for automation/integration. But you would want them to try it out first so maybe after using it for a few months this paid arrangement should kick in. This would however be hard to enforce of course. and be an administrative nightmare.
This could also be on a “good faith basis”, making it easy for those companies to get invoiced regularly for a subscription for example. Have some tiers where you state the size of the business compared to the contribution that should be made. Maybe a bit naive, but the clients I talk to would probably be willing to contribute in such a way. Because they are for example familiar with Integromat’s pricing and they do see the advantages of the product.
They however sometimes need to pay for someone to, or wait for someone to create the nodes they need, which other platforms like integromat already have. So this needs to be taken into account I think.
I can understand that they wouldn’t be thrilled to pay for the nodes to be created, to be also be paying for the product they are also improving by having the nodes created. (of course when nodes are made public)

There is also a possibility of having some support services. But as of how awesome the community is now, this will not be needed for most users. Just the large scale users that might depend on n8n for their daily operation might want to pay for this, to make sure they are getting the help they need as fast as possible.

To put my opinion in context. I am an independent consultant and love to use n8n for my clients. As I see the value of using it.
The fact that n8n is free is of course one of the selling points of n8n. But this is not the most important one for me. The flexibility and openness of it is the most important selling point. And also the fact that it can be self hosted giving complete control over the data and performance of the system.

Hope my opinion makes sense, if you have any questions please ask.

4 Likes

The whole team and I wanted to thank all who commented and/or filled the survey, for your super helpful and supportive feedback. Is really amazing to see how much you all care and want to help to make n8n long term successful and sustainable!

The comments here and the answers in the survey also gave us great insights into what you all care about and how you feel about the subject generally but also the specifics. So did a little bit more than half of the participants in the survey answer (and far ahead of any other feature) that the API should not be a paid feature. Honestly was that also something I and many people on the team were not sure about either. Because the best action, when you are unsure about something, is to simply ask instead of assuming, was all your feedback very valuable to us.
That is also the reason why we will release the API as a free feature that will give access to credentials, executions, and workflows. The only thing that will be part of the future paid offering, will be the user-related endpoints (creating, reading, updating, deleting n8n users) as they will be mainly needed by larger-scale users in a multi-user setup.
On another high note, the API is almost ready and will be released with the next version today or tomorrow. So you all can start using it very soon.

So thanks again to all of you! I am very excited about the next chapter together with all of you and all the great things we have in store.

We will keep the survey open for a little bit longer just to make sure that even more people have the chance to give input.

Have fun!

13 Likes

Sorry actually could not make it work for this version (0.180.0). It will be actually released with another version tomorrow.

3 Likes

often, debugging in free version is CLI and in paid version with a GUI

1 Like

I will be happy to pay n8n cloud if the price is not $20, in My country it’s almost the same as $45, i do really love n8n, and i know it need to sustain for the future, but for the solopreneur, im still confused how do i must get the money from client using my backend using n8n. How much i need to charge to my client per month, if i need to pay $20 per month and my market only want $10 max per month :(, i’m not selling n8n to my client, but i use it to automate job from client, etc.
I do really want to create and automate n8n using public API so i could create new workflow for every client that need an automation their product or services.
Please think about this idea, let say there is $5 plan with great limit at least 5k permonth running workflow, i will register each client under my domain and i become your paid user every month per each client rather then self hosting it, because im tired maintain the server even for now i only maintain my server.
But if there is low plan, i could register n8n cloud for every client that ive got so they have their own instance, 10 client = $50 per month, so i dont need to maintain my server anymore.
Please make n8n cloud more affordable, because even it’s marked as no code tools, client need to have or hire developer like me to make it work, and since the license of n8n forbid to sell to client now i self hosted n8n for my self, but the bad news is, every client now in the same instance aka my server, so the workflows is mixed between my own workflow and my client workflow.
Thanks for making n8n but please make it affordable, the more affordable the more people want to try to learn, that’s the point.

2 Likes

I was afraid one day I was going to see a post like this one, but at the same time it totally makes sense and was expected. Revenue (in any of its forms) is the way projects stay afloat and I definitely want n8n to stay afloat.

Besides what has been already shared regarding the API (I agree that the API should remain open. API’s lets us create and develop things, ideas, experiences, having it behind a paywall will kill a lot of creative projects that could be built with n8n and end up harming more than helping by losing all that creativity)

Besides that, my 2 cents on this subject would be to have different pricing for different users around the world similar to what Adobe, Netflix and others do. For example, I pay $57 for my Adobe subscription and some people that work with me from different countries pay $15 for the same plan.

I know it would be super hard for them to be able to pay $60/mo so finding a way to incorporate users from different economies around the world should be taken into account.

3 Likes

Pricing always triggers anxiety with people and its fully understandable, with the economy as it is.

For me the last thing i need is another subscription to pay, unless there is some other way to use the tool to pay for itself via making some money as i am not a business just an individual using it.

1 Like