NearlyFreeSpeech.NET is about three things: fairness, innovation, and free speech.
Our baseline pricing is designed to recover the basic costs associated with "keeping the lights on." What that means is that if every member of our service set up only sites and services that subsequently got no activity, our goal would be for them to pay exactly enough to cover the costs we incur. In other words, at such a basic level, we would pay our bills, everybody involved would make a reasonable wage, and there wouldn't be any money left over at all. Everybody pays their way, and nothing more.
Then, when sites get bigger and become more successful, that's when we start to profit. That's the essence of our intention that "our success depends entirely on your success!" However, beyond the occasional pizza, we tend to reinvest what profits we make, be it spending money on innovation, newer equipment sooner, or similar improvements. (No matter what we do or how far we come, our list of ways to make the service better always seems to gain items faster than we can cross them off.) We also like to keep a little money around so that when the really critical legal issues come up, we can fight to protect our members' privacy and service, rather than letting anybody who can hire a lawyer financially DDOS our members into submission.
Like most web hosts, we use and depend on a whole lot of open source software. Unlike most web hosts, we don't depend on a proprietary control panel written by somebody else that dictates what sorts of services we can and can't offer. We use a clustered hosting network that turns downtimes that would last hours or days if your site was dependent on a specific web server into minutes, or no outage at all. On our network, moving sites that are misbehaving where they can't hurt others is the rule, not the exception. Those are some of the benefits of innovation.
The flip side of this is that our interface and featureset were entirely developed by people who march to the beat of their own drummer. It does things that others can't, and doesn't do things others can. While the result of that is something that's not for everyone, a lot of our members are kindred spirits, and they like the idea that supporting us as we chart our own course helps us support them as they chart theirs.
Since we started back in 2002, one of the things that's repeatedly been made clear to us is that governments aren't the biggest threat to free speech. They certainly bear watching and perpetual wariness, but they're just not the source of the everyday threats to our members' ability to express themselves.
The most common threats come from corporations and the pressure they can bring. Not a week goes by that we don't hear from some cheap lawyer about how mad some company is that some website said something that they don't like and what horrible things they're going to do to us if we don't hop to and do their bidding.
We know where the line is. We know what our legal protections are, and how far they go. We know how to tell intimidation from legitimate complaints (which, sadly, do come up from time to time). As a result, we've been successfully telling the corporate blowhards who think intimidation gets results where to stuff it since 2002, and at this point, we're awfully good at it.
(Please don't take this as an invitation to violate our Terms & Conditions of Service. That's a betrayal of the trust we place in each and every member to play by the rules, and when that trust is violated, we come down a lot harder than any corporate thug. In fact, we would go so far as to say that in such a case, we would strike down upon you with great vengeance and furious anger.)
(If you want to dig back into the past, you can visit this page from 2005.)