Hey AOS, over the past few months, my cofounder Jason and I have been trying to figure out how to exactly launch Ramamia, our family sharing app.
Link here: http://staging.ramamia.com We've been in beta for a number of months and this is our kind of final product. At first, we were going to go for a premium model, as in: the only plan we have is a $40 a year or $5 a month plan, with a 21-day free trial.
We're not sure how we will generate steady incoming traffic. So I thought--why not use free as a marketing tool? So thus--freemium.
We're just not sure about how we are going to generate a stream of incoming traffic for our app, which is a big problem. Should we go freemium or stick with premium?
Keep in mind... with a freemium model, we'd restrict a number of things like # of photos per month, remove video functionality, etc. but there will be still a lower conversion rate to prem... though we might get more leads from 'free' valprop.
Have you looked at the Customer Development model (http://steveblank.com/2009/11/16/times-square-strategy-session-web-startups-and-customer-development/ )?
You may want to look at some of the various posts about this and see how you can track what your customers think of this concept, and what you are offering.
Once you get a better idea as to how people think you will then attract people by word-of-mouth, if others are finding this useful. If your customers are recommending your service you may want to find out why, and start to fine-tune your application, as that should send up red flags as to the sustainability of your web application.
Customer feedback is going to dictate your direction, whether you like it or not. :) I'd start with the Freemium model, because Facebook already does everything you do, and for free. You're going to have to build trust in a community first (and 3,000 doesn't count considering the millions on FB).
For a product like this, I would concentrate on online communities, PR, and word of mouth marketing rather than SEO in order to drive traffic.
For instance, forums and magazines targetted at parenting and family could work well.
I'm wildly speculating here, but I suspect there would be a relatively small demographic of people who would really love this feel-good proposition and product. For that reason, I'd concentrate on laser targetting them rather than just getting more eye-balls to your site, most of which would be aware of the free alternatives.
I Agree with James Customer Development is a nice way to validate your idea from actual customers. Note when you start off you are mostly going on assumptions having an actual process of finding customers and learning from them is useful. We are currently using customer development on Nurall, company that I am working on.
Here are useful resources
http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/ (Bog from eric reis about customer development and lean start ups)
If you want to get introduced to the subject matter