First of all, I want to thank everyone for supporting The Changelog over the past few years. When Wynn and I started this site back in November of 2009, we really had no idea that it would one day be a blog with over 750+ posts on fresh and new open source projects and 84 podcast episodes surpassing 3 million listens collectively. Just writing that blows my mind.
Now, we're turning a new leaf. We're in the midst of a relaunch on a brand new WordPress setup. We're reactivating and reinvigorating our Changelogger team. We're also resuming the podcast you've come to know and love over the years.
This post is as much of a state of the union as it is a relaunch post to let you know what we've been up to, where we're heading - and more importantly, what you can do to help.
Memberships. No ads.
There are two main reasons why we've decided to go the route of memberships and no ads.
First, we never wanted to dedicate our time to something like this only to serve ads to you. That's really the easiest way to say it.
Not long ago, I had an epiphany. Why must a blog and podcast (like ours) work so hard to gain the trust and support of an audience only to use the trust gained and access to that audience as a means of wooing advertisers to get money (revenue) in exchange for exposure to that audience (ads)? I thought to myself, "is that really the only way to do this AND make money?" Sure, member supported blogs aren't all that new. Blogs like Daring Fireball, ShawnBlanc.net, and The Brooks Review have been able to do it, so why can't we? Let's find out.
Here's how I look at it. If we think about The Changelog as a product, who's the customer? The readers. Right? But if the money (revenue) comes from advertisers for exposure (ads), who's the real customer? The advertiser.
I want you to be the customer we serve. I want you to be happy with our performance and ability to deliver great content. And, I'd like you to reward us for doing that.
But guess what, you don't have to.
That's right, your support through a monthly or yearly membership is 100% your choice. Members and non-members will always have the same level of access to our content. We have no plans to restrict certain content to paid members only. However, we do have some planned perks for paid members; free Changelog stickers (everyone loves stickers), discounts on our upcoming tee shirts, and more ideas we'll talk about in the weeks and months ahead. Being a paid member means that you value what we're doing and want more of it. You want to support our efforts and continued growth.
All Changeloggers are paid for their writing and contributions. So, you are really supporting our ability to support them. Open source moves fast, and we help you keep up.
Second, getting new advertisers and show sponsors was a constant time sink for me. To be honest, it was time I would rather have dedicated to creating awesome content instead - which is the entire point.
Don't get me wrong, there are a number of our advertisers and sponsors over the years that helped us keep the lights on. Without their support, we wouldn't have been able to do some of the things we did. I would like to keep them involved in what we're doing (we're not giving them axe), but I just feel that relationship, as it was, was a bit skewed. I'll explain more when we talk trusted partners.
All of the posts, podcast episodes, tags and authors have been migrated to a brand new WordPress setup. WordPress is by far one of the best open source blogging platforms out there - touting more than 60,000,000 WordPress sites in the world. That's HUGE. With a thriving developer ecosystem, a regular release schedule every 3-4 months with features primarily driven by ideas from WordPress users, multi-author support (we needed this bad), and a seemingly limitless flexibility - it just made sense for us to move from Tumblr and relaunch on WordPress.
New features include:
- Brand new design - The new design is 100% focused on being easy to navigate and read. It's also mobile and retina friendly. Of course we will continue to evolve and refine the site's design over time. We have big plans ahead. We're just getting started.
- Author specific profiles and RSS feeds - Now you can subscribe to your favorite Changeloggers. Each author page includes their pretty face, bio, RSS feed and links to their Twitter and GitHub accounts.
- Popular tag navigation - At the top of the desktop based design, we've added the top tags we post to. These tags are dynamic based on popularity in terms of number of posts per tag. You can click through to them, follow links to all posts with that tag, as well as subscribe to the tag's RSS feed. For example, if you'd like to keep up with all our Python related content, you can. The same goes with Ruby, Rails, Sass, Node - the list literally goes on and on. Over the coming weeks and months we'll be working hard to evolve and refine the site's design and access to content.
- Tag indexes with RSS - Extending the idea of adding our most popular tags at the top of the desktop based design, we've spent the time to make sure we had design in place for browsing our various tags and also being able to subscribe to them via RSS. When you view a post or podcast episode, you'll see the category and tags we've added and be able to browse to them to easily page through all the posts within those tags. Sure, it's a simple feature, but it's great for getting lost browsing your favorite tag topics.
- Easy access to all podcast episodes - With Tumblr we were a bit limited in what we could do with the site's design and since we're hackers with a passion for design, we always wanted more from The Changelog's design. Now you can access all the podcast episodes from one single page, and easily subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or RSS. Like I said, we will continue to evolve and refine the site's design over time. We have big plans ahead and we're just getting started.
- No advertising - We favor your support through a membership over ads, so we're removing all ads from the site and podcast and we'd like to keep it that way.
The podcast back on-air
If you've listened to this episode of The East Wing you'll hear some of the back story of how Wynn and I started The Changelog. But the tl;dr is I had this crazy idea for a podcast called "Changelog" where we would get together and literally go over an open source project's changelog and talk about its changes from version to version. Of course Wynn thought the name and idea was great and together we evolved that idea to what you see today. 84 shows later and here we are.
We've always referred to the podcast as a weekly podcast, and truth be told, we tried very hard to stick to that schedule. However, time, life and the like would have its way with us and we'd miss a week, or a few weeks. Most recently (since August 8, 2012 with 0.8.4) we've missed many months. Not cool. Some of you have even reached out to us on Twitter and email to ask if we've called it quits. We haven't. I could make excuses, but I won't. Life happens, and when this site or podcast doesn't help pay the bills to support our families, it becomes a lower priority to career moves and life happening.
The plan for the show going forward is evolving, but Andrew and I have some pretty neat ideas. The basic plan is to get back to weekly. We're also taking it live. That's right. We'll do it LIVE! We'll also open up #thechangelog on IRC for realtime chat during the show, so this could get really, really fun.
In addition to members, we're also working with trusted partners.
Much like members, partners are the equivalent but for brands - and we're really picky about what brands we want to partner with. Having partners helps us to allow brands we know and trust to support our efforts as well. Besides mentioning them as a trusted partner helping to support and grow The Changelog, we are under no obligation to directly promote them or their services. They simply want to be a part of making The Changelog possible - which is a good thing.
If you represent a brand and you'd like to help us support and grow The Changelog, contact us about becoming a partner.
We've relaunched, and we need your support. Thank you.