(Of course, people who don't have friends already on LJ may be better off hosting blogs on their own sites (e.g.: by installing WordPress), or using free, simple hosted services like Blogger.)
So let's take it as a given that a paid account is somewhere between desirable and essential. I only bring it up so I can bring up this question.
Should you buy a paid account, or wait for a permanent account sale?
A paid account is $20 a year. But for just $150... (during the very limited times when they're up for sale), you can have all of the paid account features, maxxed out, forever! How does that sound?
It sure sounded good to me last year when I bought one. I marked the sale date on my calendar and when it came I couldn't get to a computer fast enough. I was at Sainte-Anne at the time and LJ was the world's window on me. I thought this sale was the luckiest thing ever.
And then tonight it struck me to do the math. A paid account is $20 a year. So... dividing $150 by $20... 7.5. It takes seven and a half years to get your money's worth from a permanent account. I'll be 33 when the savings start to roll in near the end of 2014.
Seven and a half years. Does anyone even intend to use LiveJournal for that length of time? Remember, LJ's only been around for nine years (it was founded in 1999). I can justify my purchase somewhat in my conceit that I want my writing to be available in perpetuity, and a permanent account is a great way to do that in a way that ensures my content won't be covered in ads when I'm covered in grass. But this notion is laughable, because the entire framework of the internet will very likely be so greatly changed by the end of our lifetimes that it would be unrecognizable today. Remember the internet before instant messaging? Before Google? Before Gmail? Before Facebook?
Twelve years ago, most of what we now take for granted was just a pipe dream! Imagine what things will be like twelve years hence! Or even seven and a half.
My verdict: Buy a paid account, but don't bother with a permanent account, unless you really really really really really and I mean really like LiveJournal. =)
I was wondering how LiveJournal could afford to sell permanent accounts at such a "bargain," and at the same time deprive themselves of a particular revenue opportunity forever. Ha-ha. Lesson: Always do the math.
A not-unrelated exhoration: Don't bother with multi-year cell phone contracts, either. You will be lucky if your phone is still operational after just one year, let alone fashionable. Save up your own dimes and buy off-contract.