illustration of a hand handing a blank card
22 November 2023

Why is gifting subscriptions so hard?

As a freelancer, some years are better than others. The last two years have been difficult for me financially, so I'm always thinking of ways to better weather the storm.

I had this idea to ask my family to gift me subscriptions this Christmas for the online tools I use most. A month of Webflow, a year of, or Notion would be a cherished gift because it's one less expense to worry about. Even a few months of Apple Music would ease some of my anxieties. Music is good for the soul or, as Dead Prez would say, “One thing about music, when it hit you feel no pain.” Gifting subscriptions, at least for me right now, are the type of rare gifts worth more than their retail values. And, yeah, asking for specific gifts can feel a bit awkward, but I don't need socks this year. Throw me a month of, dear sibling.

But to my surprise, the act of gifting subscriptions doesn't really exist for most software as a service (SaaS). You can buy an Apple Music gift card, but that's mostly where it ends. Why?

I'm old and cynical enough to know that new ideas are rare. If none of these outfits are offering gifted subscriptions, there's probably a reason for it— some obscure financial metric that shareholders don't like. Or maybe it's the result of shortsighted executives. Who knows.

Subscriptions are out of control, I know. #

I'll be the first to gripe about the current state of software, and how everything is a damned subscription. As a result, customers get shafted and left with dark pattern practices that keep us locked in. To justify the monthly expense, the software then becomes bloated and unfocused over time. I get why some services use a subscription model (i.e.,, but mostly it's bullshit. This is the world we live in, nonetheless, and subscriptions add up fast, especially for digital freelancers.

Gift URLs #

Wouldn't it be great if these companies had a "gift link" users could share or publish to their personal websites?

For example, sends you to a gift page with 1, 3, 6, or 12-month subscription options to gift your favorite micro-blogger.

Note: that link, of course, does not work. Here's my actual microblog account URL:

In such a world, I would create a dedicated page on From Jason with just a list of gift links for all the software I use. Users like me get longer-term stability; SaaS companies get free advertising and increased revenue (I think?). These companies are always begging us to pay for annual subscriptions, so why not offer the ability to gift it to someone?

Take it a step further, SaaS gift links could show how far in advance a particular user is paid up. Gift givers could then choose which subscription to gift based on a person's needs.

Why doesn't this exist? Or does it and I wasted 500 words? Or is this a horrible idea for reasons not obvious to me? Let me know your thoughts. Reply to this post on my Mastodon post or via electronic mail.


label name
Plot freelance
Type note
Phase sorting
Assumed audience freelancers