Adam and Jerod take a moment to review the soft launch of Changelog++ and feedback received from members and the community. We talk through some of the feedback we’ve received, how some folks still want the ads, updated thoughts on extended and bonus content, hiccups and lessons learned, the “Working in Public” winners, and where we go from here.
We want to hear from you! Submit this form to share your thoughts and help us improve our podcasts and Changelog++ experiences.
As a thank you for your time, you will be entered into a giveaway for a free Changelog t-shirt. To be eligible for the giveaway, you must complete the survey before October 2, 2020. Please email email@example.com if you have any questions.
Click here to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧
Welcome backstage. We are talking about Changelog++, more of a retrospective on this soft launch we’ve done, and kind of where we’ve been at.
You like retros, right?
I love retros. Retrospectives is the funnest thing ever, because digging in deep to what went wrong, what went well, and what we’ll never do again…
…so maybe that’s what we’ll discuss here.
So we soft-launched Changelog++, and y’all probably already know that…
Yes, hopefully… If not, then - well, hey, we’ve launched Changelog++.
Check it out. Changelog.com/++. It’s better…
It’s there… It’s better, yes.
That’s right. And yeah, soft-launched in August… It is now mid-September, so we’re a couple weeks past the soft launch. We had the discounted price, we had a lot of cool people sign up, and we just thought we would regroup, talk about what went well, what didn’t go well, feedback we’ve received, where we’re gonna take it from here… And so on and so forth.
Let’s start with a big thank you, I suppose. We had what I thought was a really warm reception of this membership program. What do you think?
Yeah, I agree. It was an outpouring of love, it seemed…
Yeah, so we had about 100 of our most loyal fans sign up during the month of August. Many familiar names in that subscription list, which we’re always happy to see, as well as plenty of new ones, new friends that we made along the way, or are interested in making as we continue to roll out and evolve this membership program. So thank you to everybody who signed up, we appreciate it.
Of course, we launched it – a soft launch; it’s on Supercast, it’s the easy button to get something out there… We’ve had Changelog++ in mind for a long time now, but it’s always dropped off the priority list, mostly because there’s some infrastructural lifting that I would have to do, and that we would have to do, and design, and workflows, and all that good stuff that is a barrier to actually doing a thing, so it always stayed slightly below the top few things on the priority list… And anybody who’s maintained a priority list for a long time knows if you have like ten things on it, things seven through ten are not priorities; they’re never gonna get done. They’re just gonna stay there, because when number one is done, there’s something else that slots in right under it, right? So that’s kind of where it lived.
That’s right. 1.a), 1.b), 1.c)… You never get to two even. Sometimes two is there, but it’s more like a, b, c, d, e…
Yeah, I feel ya. I feel a little background could be helpful, because as you mentioned, we’ve had this in mind for a while… We have done a full-on Backstage episode about our thoughts on this, but…
Right. It’s the last one in your feed. You’ll have to scroll up one episode…
[00:03:50.16] That’s right. Maybe even pause this and go listen to that first, or just listen to this… But a recap is Supercast versus our own software, right? There’s obviously some – not so much glitches, but just differences, I suppose… We can’t do global pricing that makes sense for everybody based upon where you’re at, there’s some limitations there… There’s even some integration limitations there, in terms of what we can do on-site that’s specific… So it’s not like a single sign-on thing, it’s more like “Here’s a thing where we can do it and give you a special feed, because you’re a subscribing member.” And this was really meant to be something for us to sort of put out there and see if it was received well.
And if people were actually interested in it. Can we improve upon it? Shall we dig in deeper and write our own software and do a deeper integration? But the Supercast team has been really great, the platform is doing really great, aside from a couple things like emails, and stuff like that, that had gone out to people around the trials, and stuff; other than that, it’s been smooth.
Yeah. So like I said, a lot of people signed up. We had a lot of people give feedback. For the most part, most people seemed to be pretty happy. Let me just lay out the features that we launched with, which is – the big one is the ad-free version of each episode. We also had some extended and bonus content in mind… We haven’t done too much of that.
We did an extended episode of Founders Talk, with some of the final questions only going to the ++ feed… But that was about it, because we’ve received some feedback that maybe those things aren’t really even necessary or super-important to people, as much as – of course, the ads thing is something that people desire, but for the most part, it seems like people want to join the club, support us, say thanks, be a member, pitch us some of their hard-earned cash, and that’s one of the main reasons, at least this first round of listeners signed up… And that the bonus content and extended stuff is kind of gatekeepy, kind of paywally, and why not just create for everybody out there, and not for just the members… And so I would say that we’re on that fence right now, and kind of leaning towards not doing that kind of stuff if that’s the way people feel.
Yeah. We had said something like “Let’s optimize for free.” And it was a weird thing to even say it too, because hey – we’re from the indie days; we’ve been podcasting forever, basically, so we’ve been here for a while… So to call a podcast free was weird. You know, like, “Optimize for free…” So that whole analogy of like paid vs. free - well, it really wasn’t meant to be that. It was meant to be like your die-hards.
And even a few weeks in, I started to reason with the fact that directly supporting us was a feature. Originally, that wasn’t on our feature list… To say “Hey, you get to directly support us.” There was this lack of understanding of a desire from our audience to say “I would actually like to directly support you.” So much of Patreon, and other methods out there allow fans to support their creators, or things they’re listening to, and stuff like that, or the creators they pay attention to, or whatever. So it had never really occurred to me that that would actually be a feature of its own, you know?
But I’m happy that it’s that way, because that’s cool. We appreciate that.
Yeah. And nobody has unsubscribed and said “You said we’d get closer to the metal.” And I’m still feeling pretty far away from the metal at this point…
It’s like, “Well, you didn’t realize that’s a meaningless phrase, did you?” [laughs] That is not a feature, because there’s no such thing… But it’s fun to say, and thankfully, our audience is smart enough and good-enough-looking that they didn’t fall for that one.
Mm-hm. It is fun to say though, “Closer to the metal.”
“Make the ads disappear.”
Get YOU. Let’s get YOU closer to the metal.
Directly support us.
I mean, come on, who’s gonna say no to that? It’s like, “Alright…”
I’ve got my hand up. Let’s do it.
[laughs] I think it’s hard to think about it and be like “From a podcast feed? What does that even mean…?”
[00:08:11.10] But you know what - listening back… You know, I’m not a subscriber of Changelog++; however, I’m part one of two that produces it, so I kind of get a sneak peek behind the scenes… I at least listen to them; I know how they sound, let’s just say… So having listened to several of them, I really do like the flow of our shows without ads. And this is not any sort of knock against the sponsors we have, because - man, we do a ton of work to make sure we have relevant sponsors. We don’t have – not that there’s anything against Casper, but Casper Beds isn’t sponsoring our shows, because we want people to find out about new developery things, not new beds to sleep on. No offence, Casper.
We did a Casper spot once, didn’t we? Back in the day.
Way back when… Yeah. Way back. When it was cool, I suppose, to be more widespread or more mainstream. But then I think it was just a couple. We weren’t a good fit for that kind of brand. We were a better fit for different brands, that actually wanna speak to developers and add value.
So while we put a ton of work into our sponsorship relationships, our sponsor and partner relationships, I really appreciated the flow of our show without the ads. The initial opening to the shows, the flow - I like that. So I think that to me speaks to maybe what you meant by, maybe not, “Closer to the metal.” To me, that’s closer to the metal.
You get right to the heart of the matter.
Yeah. So one thing that we talked about for a long time internally was time to first content. We’ve been trying to reduce that, because we have our sponsors who are upfront, our long-time sponsors. We all know them - Fastly, Linode and Rollbar - and we had that commitment to them up at the top of the show… And then we also have the awesome music that is part of the show. Then we also have the actual conversation, which is the show… And how do we balancing-act that thing. So we’ve moved to cold opens, which I think is a great compromise, and a fun way to do it… And really, when you hit Play on one of our shows, you are listening to the show right away; we actually reduced that TTFC (time to first content) to zero. Zero milliseconds.
But then after that, we then transition to the partner pre-roll, and then the first pre-roll ad, and then the theme music. And I have to admit, on that Changelog++ version of each file where it just goes cold open, you’ve found a secret coin and right into the music - it’s like, “This is nice. This is nice.”
So… Changelog++ is better.
Slightly inside joke there… You’ll hear it, maybe, eventually…
I’m sure we will.
So on that note, one strange piece of feedback that we received is some people actually want the ads still.
Yeah, that’s super-strange.
I mean, I get it, because there are shows whose ads are good enough that I still listen to them, even though I know they’re coming… There’s podcasts where I’m fine, I just listen to them, because every once in a while I’ll find something via a podcast ad where I’m like “I actually am gonna try that service out”, and that’s how ours is oftentimes for people, who haven’t heard of a Pixie, or DataDog, or whatever. They get value out of that. And I think it’s probably a small percentage of overall listeners who would opt for ads, even if they joined Changelog++. But it’s a non-zero percentage. There was two people at least who verbalized that they want to have Changelog++, but they also want the ads.
[00:12:00.11] Which is a conundrum to be in, in our seat, considering the fence we had mentioned. So when we do this, how do we 1) receive value from the membership, but then 2) also give it as part of delivering it. And I think the only way I can empathize with that point of view is how I feel about Instagram ads. The one thing I can think of that Instagram does well is it knows me. It’s kind of scary, because it advertises things that I actually bookmark. I have a folder – you know how you can bookmark things on Instagram… Well, I have a bookmark folder for advertisements, essentially; like, sponsors, or advertisers, or whatever. I forget what the folder is actually called; I’ll look it up.
But I’ve put it in there because all too often - and this is actually helpful for me when I help people understand how podcast advertising can help them, is that it takes many touches to really get through to somebody. Not so much to convince them to say yes, but more so they finally need you, or they finally understand how they can use you, or they finally understand your benefits to them… For me, my empathy is drawn from Instagram, and as I mentioned, these ads on there, because I will find things on there and I’m like “I like that. That’s interesting”, and I’ll bookmark it, and go back to it sometimes months later and then finally buy, or finally talk to my wife about “Oh, we were finally at this point in the project of our life, or whatever it might be. Now this is relevant for me to bring up.” And the point is - would I want Instagram without the ads? I’d probably say no. I kind of like the ads, you know what I mean? I kind of like the ads.
I’m glad that you have that experience. I cannot agree. My experience is totally different on Instagram.
There are once in a while where it’ll hit me… Mostly, they know that I really want that blue Ford Bronco with the Tesla engine in it, because they keep showing me that one… [laughs] And I could win it, if I just signed up, and signed on the dotted line and sold my soul to the devil, or whatever you have to do to get in on that action.
That’s the only one. Otherwise, they miss quite often. In fact, one they show me all the time is the gutter – there’s some sort of gutter-proofing thing…
Oh, yes. I’ve seen that one, too.
See, what they don’t realize is my house - you know this; I’m planting trees. My house is on a hill; it used to be farmland. There’s not a large tree on the property. I’m planting trees. There’s no point in my life where I’m gonna need to block the leaves from my gutters. It’s just never gonna happen. It’s just not a problem that I have. They just don’t know that. I mean, come on, you have satellite imagery of my house; figure it out, people! If you’re gonna track the crap out of me and advertise to me, get it right!
That’s my pro tip.
Well, you’re just inviting creepy relevance.
I must be…
I suppose - and we’re digressing a little bit, but the point is there’s people who can appreciate ads. And I think I’ve gotten that advertisement, too. Now, what they don’t know about me - or maybe they do - is that I live in a new neighborhood, that doesn’t have many trees…
So I don’t have that problem. One day I might. Thankfully, I have this bookmarked for my sponsored things, so that later on…
Because what happens when you hear an ad or see an ad or something that actually is relevant to you - you move on with your life, you move on with your life; you don’t click through, because it’s not relevant then, and you forget the name. You forget the name, you forget the offer, you forget the benefits, you forget all the things. Next thing you know, you’re googling whatever random things that make sense to you to find the advertiser…
Right. Or in our case, you hop in our Slack and you’re like “What’s that one thing you guys talked about nine months ago…?
Exactly. That’s right.
Like, “That was an advertisement. Here it is.” Yeah… Well, I’m glad you have bookmarks. We need that for podcasting. Advertising bookmarking for podcasting as a service. Here it is. Free startup idea, people.
Yeah. Good luck. That’s difficult.
[00:16:05.23] Okay, so there’s some people that want ads, but they’re not very many, of course. Making the ads disappear is probably the primary feature, in addition to supporting us at Changelog and all the folks who are putting together the shows here.
But then the other relevant concern – that is I think probably an outlier, people who don’t want the ads… But would be pretty manageable with our own software, with a toggle button of some kind.
The other one is a lot of people just don’t want all the shows, and we’re kind of stuck there right now, because on Supercast we are shipping them off… It’s basically a clone of our Master feed where ad-free versions are available. So when you sign up for Changelog++, maybe you’re just a Brain Science listener and you wanna support Brain Science, but you’re gonna get all the shows. And that’s, I think, a really kind of crappy scenario, for those people who don’t want that. That’s the other feedback that we’ve gotten, is “Why do I have to have all of them?” And our answer to that is “Well, that’s the limitation of where we’re sitting right here.”
Exactly. So back to the point - we are testing things out to see if this works, and to see if it resonates with our audience, with you; hey, you’re listening to this - does it resonate with you? Because if it does, then we’re gonna – this is just phase one of many, if it’s valuable to you. We’re gonna bake it into the platform, we’re gonna add more features… Can you share a peek behind the veil, Jerod, of some of the fun features in terms of custom feeds? Do you wanna mention any of that, just to kind of tease a little bit of that? Like, future integration plans if this works out well, which it seems like it is…
Yeah, for sure. So we’ve built some of it already; in fact, we’ve been working with Lars, and I’m just forgetting Lars’ last name at this point, just to make him mad… Wikman. Lars Wikman.
@lawik on Twitter. Give him a follow on Twitter. Lars is an awesome Elixir developer. He’s been working with us over the summer on some features, and one of the things that he has built and will be merged soon - in fact, if you wanna go check out all the code, it’s out there in an open pull request on our repo right now… It’s the backend to our Metacasts feature, which is really the foundation for these personalized feeds. So we want to give you the ability to opt out of certain shows, but not just that.
So the idea long-term for Changelog++ feeds is that you’ll be able to build your own personalized feed using this cool DSL that Lars came up with, which I’m sure will turn into a widgetized UI of some kind… Where you can not just say “I want everything except for Founders Talk, because the host of that is really just annoying…”
“He’s just terrible.”
Right? Or “I just want Brain Science and Founders Talk and The Changelog, because I’m an Adam Stac fan person…” Those are the kinds of things you can say. But you can also include certain topics, certain panelists… So maybe you only want JS Party when Suz is on the show, so you’re gonna be able to create that in your personalized feed. So it’s basically like filter and build your own personalized Changelog feed, with all the little nuts and bolts that nerds love. I’m excited for it, because I think it’s gonna be pretty cool.
So that’s out there, and it’s a thing, and it will be the code that we use when we bring everything on-site.
And then the merging of the two would be knowing that you’re a member, knowing that you have a Changelog.com account, and giving you special UI and special features on-site. That’s the missing component - we don’t have what Supercast is inside of changelog.com right now… So that’s the hold-up.
And I suppose we’re in it for this six-month content… Not content. Six-month contest. Content’s on the brain. Supercast has this contest that – hey, if we win, we might win 100k, or something like that. I don’t even know what all the details are about this contest, but we love to try to compete… And this was one reason to sort of – maybe it was Jerod’s lure to get me on board with it, I don’t know; I’m not really sure.
There’s definitely a carrot on the stick that attracted me, because it’s like – we’ve been putting this off for so long; here’s a cool platform that provides a lot of the stuff that we’re gonna have to build, and we really like them. We talked about it on the last Backstage… And they have this contest going, which - because of how long we’ve been around and how many shows we have, and stuff, we have a shot at winning this contest… And it’s like 40k in cash, plus a bunch of free advertising, up to $100,000 in value. That’s a pretty big number. That’d be pretty rad.
So I think it was one of the things that just kind of like pushed us over the top of the hill.
It’s like, “Why not? We should do this.”
Yeah, let’s give it a shot. And it’s a six-month deal, so it ends at the end of the year… And it started in July. So we’re on Supercast through then. I doubt we’re gonna jump ship January 1st or anything like that, but we’ll start to build out the things that we need in order to make that transition, and we’re gonna try to make it as seamless as possible for everybody who’s already joined via Supercast.
One of the things that’s awesome about them, which was kind of a requirement/requisite for us, is that they don’t own our accounts over there. So they pass everything through to Stripe, which we have our own Stripe account… Y’all know that if you’re signed up - everything is through Stripe. So that aspect of that customer relationship is owned by us already, which is spectacular when it comes time to move off; we won’t have to wrestle those accounts from unwilling hands.
Yeah… Which to me is a sign of somebody worth working with, even if temporary…
…because vendor lock-in is a well-known phrase in the cloud world. I suppose in any services world at all. When you’re locked in, it doesn’t feel very good. So Supercast never made us feel like we’re locked in. We even expressed to them we will probably eventually move off, and they didn’t hang up.
Right. They were like “Okay.”
They were cool about it, they understood. “Okay. Cool.” And to me, that was even more – like, in terms of the carrot and the lure, it was like “Yeah. There’s nothing to lose with trying this out.” So maybe we can talk about what’s been gained, I suppose. Maybe it’s jumping the ship a little bit, but that feedback loop, I suppose, as podcasters - Jerod, you can help me share this sentiment… What was the phrase we used to describe the feedback loop? It was deficient?
Yeah, we’re malnourished.
We’ve been malnourished. The feedback loop for us is very slim. Lately it’s been more frequent, but not a gigantic feedback loop, even in terms of traction. So we’d have to have our own tracking or something like that to measure the success of a podcast or the throughout for a particular episode… But only until recently with iTunes, or maybe even Spotify, have we gotten an insight into where people are… Not so much in terms of tracking, but simply some sort of feedback. We’ve put this mp3 out in the world - was it listened to? By whom? How often? Was it successful? All of those things.
Right. And what did they think?
And what did they think when they listened?
[00:23:52.12] That’s actually the question that we care about the most - when you listen to this, what did you think? Did you like it? Did you learn something? Did you wish we would make it half as long, or three times longer? What do you like about it, what don’t you like about it? Those things are infrequently told back, fed back to us. Even over all the years, it’s just been very infrequent. Usually it’s good, and we had nice emails; we don’t wanna act like we don’t. I love it when certain emails come in and you’re like “Holy cow…!” We had one recently around Changelog++ where a listener (you know who you are) went through and enumerated all of the cool projects they’ve discovered over the years because of us, because of the show specifically, and how that’s affected their work life, and their life. That was an amazing email. So we get those… It’s just infrequent.
We’ve gotten the occasional phone call, too. We do have a phone number. Not many people know that.
Yes. And if you call the phone number, Adam will answer.
I’m gonna answer it.
And you can just talk to him.
You can talk to Jerod, too. I think you have to push 2 maybe, instead of one… I don’t know. Maybe because it’s 1, they’re going to me.
What happens if they push 2? I never got a phone call. Is it gonna route to my phone?
We’ll have to double-check, but I’m pretty sure they can be redirected to you as well… Which was fun things we had planned for JS Party, like “Call in and leave a message and we’ll play it on air”, which we haven’t really executed on much, but the opportunity is there…
Yeah, it’s a similar situation where we have tried it and we just didn’t get enough call-ins to be a thing that we could do on the regular… But if you just wanna call and talk to Adam sometimes, I highly recommend it. He’s not busy, he’s not doing anything; what’s he doing all day? Just sitting over there, thinking of questions to ask people…
That’s right. Twiddling my thumbs, answering calls…
Hoping that phone will ring…
Yeah… And it does, and I’m like “Hey, this is Adam”, and they’re like “This is Adam?” “Yeah, this is Adam. What’s up?” “I didn’t think you’d actually answer.” “Well, hey, I answered. What’s going on?” And it’s just a conversation. So hey, reach out and say hello.
We get occasional calls saying – and this one was actually around the membership. It was – I’ll have to look in my email and find the person’s name and say them on air, for sure; hopefully I can google that fast into my email, but… They called and they were like “I just wanna tell you how much your shows have impacted my life, and where I’ve been at”, and they share that story. So when you go to Changelog.com/community, we essentially do our best to let you know you’re not an impostor here, you’re welcome, and no matter where you’re at on this journey of being a developer, this is a place you can call home; this is a safe place for you to hang your hat. And all you have to do is take that first step, which is sign up, and it’s for free. ++ - we’ve been talking about this - is not free, but you can join the community totally free.
And that person described that feedback loop, that malnourishment that we talked about… They were giving it full-on, and I have to admit, I almost was in tears hearing their story. It was so impactful. More like baby cry tears, but like… Tears.
[laughs] You’re just ballin’…
Tears of empathy. I was like “Wow.” It’s such a nice response to know what we do matters to people, and on this story of ++ - we’ve been on this journey of like we realize and have become more aware of how much we matter to people, and I think that switch that gets flipped whenever you directly support somebody that matters to you, that feeds into your life, that you maybe just lurk, and that’s cool… And maybe just that exchange is enough for you to give them that feedback, to say “You matter to me, and you’ve mattered to me for many years, I just never tell you.” In a review, or on Twitter, or in an email, or on a phone call, or whatever… But that feedback loop is closed in a couple of cases, and it’s been really special to hear that.
[00:28:01.24] And I totally get it too, because I’ve listened to podcasts for years and never interacted with the hosts… And I feel very strong, positive emotions towards these people and I’ve never told them, I’ve never tweeted at them… So I’m not complaining; I totally get it. It’s just the fact is our feedback loop is minimal, compared to a YouTuber who gets thousands of comments right there. They’re overwhelmed with comments as soon as they post their video. Other mediums have more direct and constant contact, and podcasting just doesn’t.
That’s kind of baked into YouTube though…
It’s a behavior change to ask podcast listeners to comment… Even though on our shows–
And they still don’t. [laughs]
They still don’t, you know?
That’s right. Did you know you can comment on this episode? This is Backstage episode 13… So changelog.com/backstage/13, or open your show notes, click Discuss on Changelog News link. You can leave a comment right on our website, and we will hear/see it/read it, and respond to it.
That’s right. And we love that.
We say that at the end of many episodes, and it’s just – it’s not right there. In the YouTube app you can be watching the thing and commenting. Here you have to leave your show notes, go to our website, hopefully - depending on your podcast app, maybe your session expires… We don’t expire sessions, but if you logged out or you switched browsers and it’s the in-browser, or the in-app browser versus the Safari browser, so now you’re not signed in…
Yes, oh my gosh…
So then you’ve gotta get signed in, and you’re like “Why did I go through all the–” I get it. It’s not smooth, but it’s the best we can do in the podcast ecosystem today.
Which might actually speak to maybe an unanticipated topic for this show - feel free to say no to it or not - is this platform, this lack of platform. So one, Supercast, and this kind of direction we’re going, helps us begin to carve out our own platform to enable these types of features, this kind of interaction. And so then you might think “Well, somebody should just build that.” But the problem with that is that podcasts have always been independent, and this Spotify, this iTunes, this Stitcher, this XM Radio thing that’s happening out there is kind of exciting, but also kind of like – you know, I kind of like how indie it is. So I’d love to have those features, I’d love to have what youtubers have on YouTube. I don’t know–
…what are the trade-offs, right?
…then Google, or YouTube would own – yeah, exactly, the platform.
They work for YouTube, in many ways.
Yeah. So while it’s nice to have those features and that kind of platform, can it be not owned by anybody? Can it be the same really simple syndication that podcasts have been built upon? RSS feeds? Probably not.
No. I think you just have to be able to build enough of a community around you that everyone’s willing to use the platform that you built around that community.
So therein lies the challenge, and you’ve gotta bootstrap that and it takes years. We’ve been doing that with more or less success, and we’ll continue to do that. I’d much rather take this situation than the other way around… But each one has [unintelligible 00:31:31.21]
Yeah. Or being censored… Because it’s not like we say anything that needs to be censored, but that’s the other issue; on either side of the fence you sit upon, there’s an opportunity for control, I suppose, of the content. I had even heard about Spotify, when Joe Rogan brought over some of his stuff… Some of the shows didn’t make it over, the most controversial. I didn’t read more into it, but that’s a headline I saw… So I assume “Hey, I’m a headline-driven person. That’s true.”
No… Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t know; I didn’t dig into the details.
[00:32:05.19] But you know, you have that opportunity for your content to be controlled… Whether you wanna call it censorship, or whatever, you can. So that reminds me of the long, hard road that that Jeff Sheldon and I talked about… And I think you and I, Jerod, are the kind of people that appreciate hard work, and the benefits, and I suppose the fruits of the long, hard road… Versus the quick, easy shortcut.
Right. So let’s talk about what hasn’t gone so well, or hiccups that we’ve had along the way. Of course, no launches have the 100% grade… And because we are on Supercast, we also ceded some control. Talk about ownership and control and autonomy, which is really the conversation around platforms - discovery versus autonomy. We desire autonomy, but we’ve given up some of it here. And that doesn’t feel good when things go wrong. So we’ve had a couple of things that have been less – I wouldn’t say they’re wrong, they’re just less than perfect… You know, we just have to throw Supercast under the bus each time. No – you know, it’s kind of out of our control in certain cases.
The biggest one that has been confusing and issued bug submissions - really, it’s just the copy, Supercast’s copy around trial… What’s it called – when your trial ends.
First of all, we think the 30-day trial was kind of a misfire by us, so maybe we should take it off Supercast and blame Adam. Adam, that was your idea.
That was my idea. I’m trying to be generous.
Tell us about the trial –
Gosh… It made so much sense, but in hindsight it doesn’t make any sense. So when you subscribe to a membership, like we asked everybody to do, I thought “Well, hey, we’ll give them a chance to try it out.” Well, that doesn’t really make sense, I don’t feel, in the retrospect, of what a membership is. You don’t often trial a membership.
Unless it is new stuff, right?
Right. If they already had a membership..
Insider content that you’ve never seen before… Or like Disney+. You want a 30-day trial because there’s a bunch of shows that you don’t know what they are, and maybe you don’t–
But this is not that kind of membership.
No. This was just simply ad-free, a couple additional things…
This is supporting a network… Yeah.
What are you trialing?
It was the same great content, but closer to the metal, as we’ve said…
There was no real reason to trial it… And so we had some issues whenever it came 30 days around, people were getting these emails that weren’t well-worded, that made them think they had to go back and do something else, and something was wrong, essentially. And I don’t even – I know what the right-worded email said, but I don’t know what the wrong-worded email said. But I imagine it was bad enough to make people reach out to us on many different avenues - email, Slack, Twitter, DMs… All the directions, saying “Hey, I subscribed, I wanna be a subscriber. What’s happening here? My trial is ending. It sounds like my credit card [unintelligible 00:35:21.04] gotta go back and do something else…”
And that could have all been avoided, 1) first not putting the trial there in the first place, and 2) a slightly better-worded email, that was a bit more clear on “Hey, your trial is ending, however you don’t have to do anything. Everything is cool”, however you wanna word that. It was just poorly worded.
And then to layer on top of that the way that plans are implemented on Supercasts and requires us to – when we changed from the soft launch pricing, which was the $6/month, $60/year, to the regular pricing, which is $10/month, $100/year; we had to delete those old plans, which is the way it works… And anybody who’s signed up on those plans still has those plans, but they’re no longer in the system.
They’re not available. So then when they got the email that says “Your trial is about to expire”, they would click through, thinking they had to do something, which really – you didn’t have to do anything, because you gave your credit card upfront. It’s just gonna charge your credit card in three days, or whatever… They clicked through and they would see this new $10 plan there, and it’s like “Wait a second, I thought I was on the $6 plan. Now I have to switch to the $10 plan and pay?” It was just a mess.
So it was kind of like two separate issues colliding and causing a super-issue.
A super-issue for Supercast.
That’s right. So apologies if that confused you. We know the buck stops with us; we can’t just throw them under the bus. But to their credit, they fell on their sword and they were like “Oh yeah, we’ve gotta fix that.” They immediately sent back some new copy on the emails… i think I forgot to approve that copy, so they didn’t update it right away in the system, so that’s on me… But they were very gracious and quick to say “Oh yeah, that’s not well-worded.” We’ve all written that one transactional email that we think everybody else just understands what’s going on, when you’re just coding away… You’re like “Okay, that email works now. I just wrote the copy real fast”, and you realize that’s terrible copy.
So they were great to recognize the problem and to really support us in saying “Actually, everything’s fine.” That was the best news. Nobody has – I thought they had switched these people to the $10 plan; I’m like “This is gonna be a mess.” Everything was fine. Bad copy, updated copy. So they were very good at fixing it once it was realized.
And probably, we’re the first people to use that trial… Just a guess. In production. I don’t know. Maybe the first guinea pigs.
Maybe so. One more layer though could have been that we got to edit the email ourselves.
That would have been nice.
Because I can recall using Memberful way back when. When we had Memberful, we had full control over all sorts of different email templates… Which again, to give them credit, to Supercast - they’re new, in terms of like they’re early in their feature set, and so some of these issues they haven’t really dealt with… And so as any new platform might be, you’re dealing with the most high-priority things as they come up. So they just hadn’t gotten to that yet. But another thing would have been to be able to edit ourselves, and then we wouldn’t have had to really go through them at all, because it would have just been maybe some different variables we could pop in the email, different stuff like that, and we could just craft our own email too to the trials…
..and that can be like “Hey, you don’t like that email - that’s on you, buddy. You go ahead and just fix that.”
Right. Yeah, it definitely speaks to the immaturity of their platform. They’re only a year into this, and those are the kind of things that you build out over time; the more and more you allow your customers to customize, build that out as the priority list – I’m sure there’s other major features that they’re working on.
So yeah, those are a few of the hiccups, and lessons learned. No 30-day trials, and double-check that email copy.
There you go.
I thought before we’d go, we would announce our Working in Public winners. So if you didn’t get the memo, we gave away three physical copies of Nadia Eghbal’s awesome new book, Working in Public. We were able to get Nadia to autograph these copies… Adam, you got one. It just showed up at your house the other day, so…
I love it. Beautiful book. Great signature.
[00:40:05.29] We’ll give away three of them to Changelog++ members. How did we do that? Well, we just set that September 1st deadline, and on September 1st I exported that membership list to CSV, and then I took that CSV and I put it into SQLite, or Sequelite… How are you supposed to say it?
SQL-ite. And I ran a Select, Order by Random, limit three, and congrats to our three winners - Christopher Hern, Mark Luciere (it depends if you’re French or not; I’m not sure, Mark), and James [unintelligible 00:40:41.20] who all won copies of the book. I’ve been emailing with James… He wrote a nice email actually when he was sending me his mailing address, that I asked him if it was cool to share, and he said “Yeah, share it away.” I just wanted to share this one note from him.
He says “I’ve only been listening for the past six months”, so - late to the party, but he still gets to win. And he says “JS Party got me started”, and he says “I’ve listened to over 500 episodes during that time, and enjoyed every minute of it. You guys even got me to learn Go. Keep up the good work.” I thought that was pretty cool.
How many episodes have we done? Because 500 is almost all of them. Isn’t it?
I’m doing some math real quick. I mean, that’s 83 episodes a month. You said six months, right?
Yeah, 500 episodes divided by six months, that’s at least an 83 episode average. per month.
And divide that by 30…
Okay, 83 divided by 30… 2.76 episodes per day.
That’s like two or three episodes a day.
Good job, James. I wish all listeners were like you. I’m just kidding… [laughter] Listen on your own cadence, whatever works.
The problem is he’s gonna catch up, and then he’s gonna be like “I’m all out of stuff here. I’m all out of stuff.”
That’s true. He’s definitely listening at a rate which we cannot sustain, so - maybe slow down…?
Yeah. Well, it’s funny, because we were emailing about this, and he said “By the way, when does the new Changelog come out on the Supercast feed? Because I have the new JS Party which came out on Friday morning, but I don’t have the new Changelog, which came out on Friday evening.” And I said “Well, that’s one other hiccup we have with Supercast.” Right now there is a manual process. So we publish a private, ad-free feed, privately to Supercast. They then consume that and rebroadcast it effectively to each of y’alls individual feeds.
However, their importer is not quite smart enough to just ping us every once in a while. Even once an hour would be plenty. So when we publish an episode, we do get to publish it entirely via our own platform, which is a huge win. We don’t have to double-enter it. But we do have to go over to our Supercast account and basically paste them our RSS feed and say “Import, please.” Every time we publish an episode. And that’s – you know how human-based systems work…
Humans forget. So one of us forgot to put that into the Supercast on Friday, and that’s why you all got your Changelog a little bit later than usual. But I went ahead and did it today, and it should be in there now, so… Thanks. Sorry about that, James, and thanks for the bug report.
That was me… I did. I forgot.
[laughs] I wasn’t gonna say it.
That’s more for the audience. I mean, hey, it was. It was late Friday. Gosh… Yes.
Yeah. It’s easy to forget. I definitely have done it before. But a few hours later, I’m like “Oh yeah, I have to go do it.”
Oh yeah, do that. Well, thankfully, I have an unfurl that makes the URL easy…
Yeah, me too.
…because that would suck, to have to go back in mine and your DMs and be like “Where did Jerod share that email with me at?” or whatever.
So that does make it a little easier. So one layer of procrastination chipped away. However, forgetfulness does not save yo.
I know. It’s almost like we need to add that to our published flow. When you hit the Publish button, it’s like “By the way… You should go over to Supercast and let them know.” Just a reminder right there might be fixing that.
Anyways… There are your winners. That’s one thing we would like to do a lot more of, is these giveaways. I think giving stuff away to our membership is like an awesome, fun thing that we’d love to do more… And we have lots of opportunities at swag, at books, at trials, at discounts, stuff like that… So expect more like this one. If you didn’t win, we apologize, but if you won - congratulations. And hopefully, more giveaways will be coming down the pipeline. Let us know how we could best communicate those with y’all, and may already know what’s coming up next, or look forward to maybe winning a few things just for supporting us, which we appreciate and we’ll be happy to do.
Yeah. I have an idea… Why don’t we put together a type form? You asked the question earlier “Do you like the ads?” I think we can ask that question, and maybe “Do you like these giveaways?” and maybe a couple more questions, totally optional, and it’s only being told to you listening to this… But in these show notes will be a link to a type form, all questions options, but it will be great feedback for me and Jerod as we begin to make more and more plans to make Changelog++ better, for you and for others. So a couple questions; let us know what you think.
I like that idea. Alright, anything else?
Where do we go from here? I don’t know, I guess we could say bye… But what else?
I’m all out of things.
You’re out of things? Let’s just say goodbye then. Thanks for listening to this show, it’s been awesome. If you’re a subscriber of ++, if I saw you, and it was cool, I’d give you a big hug. Otherwise, a high five would do. Either way, thank you so much for supporting us, we appreciate it.
Yup… And we’ll talk to you next time.
Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚