Supporting Content Makers

I have been thinking a lot about Membership schemes. on CMD+SPACE I have had some interesting discussions with Shawn Blanc and Ben Brooks about their respective programmes for earning money from their sites.

I am paying members of their sites and I am for many others; like The Loop, 512Pixels and more. I tend to become members of lots of the sites I read frequently as I believe in supporting them.

Personally, it’s not about the perks that are offered that entice me to sign up. It’s not this stuff that makes the decision for me, it all boils down to a pretty simple sentiment.

If I lived in the same town as (insert webite owner’s name here), would I buy them a coffee once a month?’

I spoke a little about this idea on CMD+SPACE this week with Ben and he seemed to like the sentiment too.

I’m in the privileged position that most of the sites that I read and enjoy are owned by people that I have become friends with and I think this is what has spurred me to consider this. I would quite like to have a coffee once a month with Shawn (etc) and because of this I find it to be an easy decision to support him.

I’m not paying any of these people because I want a members-only Podcast or a full-text RSS feed, I simply do it to support them and the excellent content that they create. I am trying to build something of my own, so I totally appreciate how difficult it to be an easy decision to make money from these personal projects.

I really like the idea of giving the power to your readers – or listeners – to financially support you. I think it gives people a sense of being a part of the site. In this corner of the content creator. In this corner of the internet that we operate in, that is becoming more and more important.

I think we all want to see the ‘little guy make it big’ and any part we can play in that will give us that warm and fuzzy feeling.

I am always thinking about how we could turn our Donation scheme in to something more and I have some ideas brewing – and have for a long time – about turning it in to a fan club. I have toyed with the idea of special merchandise, maybe a behind-the-scenes show and even Membership Cards for everyone who signs up.

I would totally appreciate feedback on this idea, idea, if you have any.

So if you read a site or listen to a Podcast or want to support a developer, take a moment to take a moment to think about this; Would you happily buy them a coffee – or the first round of beers – if you were to meet with them socially? This might just help you consider pulling the trigger. Which you should, because the little guys need love too.

On Twitter

I signed up for Twitter in April 2007 – user 763,549 – to be exact. 

At this time Twitter was really in it's infancy. I believe that the '@ reply' had just started to be adopted, hashtags were non-existent and retweets were in the style of 'RT' being appended to a copied post. There wasn't an official word for a 'post to Twitter'—nomenclature ranged from 'toot', 'twoot', 'twit', etc. Suffice it to say, Twitter in 2007 is very different to Twitter now.

I used the service a little, but it was very early and I couldn't find too much of a use for it. So I took a break from regular use for about two years. At this point more 'normal' people were signing up for the service – so I had people to directly interact with that I knew in the real world – as well as just people to follow whom I didn't.

I have been a big supporter of Twitter. I have always wanted the company to succeed and have been in the corner for many years now. However, the company has taken a shift. I believe that Jack Dorsey had an idea for Twitter that was pure. He had frequently spoken about it becoming, 'the dial tone for the world' and I think that he saw the service as a back-end API first, money making machine as second.

Jack left Twitter for a while to start Square. Even though he is now back as an executive in the company, Twitter has changed a lot and most likely too much to go back. 

Twitter is now a media driven company. They are doing all they can to lock you in to seeing things their way and to drive you to use their first party services. They want to be well prepared to start delivering you advertisements that will sustain their business in the long haul.

They didn't have to chose this path. Many users would happily spend money to use Twitter. They could build apps and tools that are worth paying for. The list goes on and on for what they could (and maybe should) have done, but as we all know Twitter has decided to shaft the 3rd parties that have helped build the service and has decided it would be better off without them.

All of this leaves a real bad taste in my mouth. This was not the service I signed up for, invested so much time with and believed so strongly in. I am totally aware of the argument that I shouldn't feel entitlement over something that's free—I get that. But I feel I can be annoyed/angry/upset about this if I want to and I hope that I'm doing a fair job explaining why.

I don't really know where I go from here. App.net seems like a spiritual successor in some ways. It has the intentions I wish Twitter had and many of the people I follow and interact with on a daily basis have signed up, or are showing tendencies too.

However, there's a problem. Remember that I mentioned the hiatus I took from Twitter? This was due to the fact that not enough of my friends used the service and that may well become the case here too. I have people that I interact with on a daily basis that will not move over because they don't see enough value in the service to pay $50 when Twitter has 'everything they need'.

Times are different for me now and I have many more people that I interact with on a daily basis—just online. But I'm not sure how much of a part this will play in a change of service now.

I don't want to use two services concurrently that ostensibly do the same thing and if everyone stays on both, then why would I switch? Maybe it will take a mass exodus of the people I follow to make me move and then maybe I just have to leave the stragglers behind.

As you can see, I've clearly not got a clear enough picture as to what my future will be with Twitter. I will move if the stars align, but I have to keep looking up to see if they will.

Iain Broome: A is for Angelica

Today sees the release of Iain's new novel, A is for Angelica. I am so proud of the Broomester. He has worked tirelessly for years to achieve his dream of having his first novel published and today he has achieved it.

Iain decided he wanted to go the old fashioned route and didn't want to self-publish like so many do these days. The route he decided on takes an awful lot of hard work and rejection – but he did it – because he's awesome like that.

I started reading Angelica yesterday and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. Iain is a truly excellent writer, as you'll know from listening to our Podcast.

I am blessed to be able to work with amazing people like Iain and to call him a good friend. I really do implore you to go and buy the book. It's currently on promotion at Amazon for 99p or $1.56 (depending on your flavour of currency), which is an absolute bargain! Make the Broomester's day, but it now.