Up to

I was inspired some time ago by Peter Rukavina to keep a running log of the sort of things I am working on, or interested in during a particular month. A public pronouncement of sorts, in an effort for accountability. Unfortunately, I haven’t really been paying attention to it since last March and haven’t changed the updated date since July of 2019 (I just updated it now).

But much has happened since then, and since I shared a short progress report on our Instagram, which by the very nature of Instagram must be entirely positive, I thought I might give a slightly longer update here, and include some of our challenges.

🎧 In the past year I have almost completely pivoted to audio. I still do the occasional product consulting, and I try to approach all the work I do with the same approach I advise to others, but my hands on design and design research skills have been set aside. I’m not sure what the future will hold for me if our venture isn’t able to produce revenue but it’s often great fun.

🧑🏾‍🤝‍🧑🏻 Our company is now called Minzoo Studio Ltd, and I hold no title, other than what is required on the legal document. I cringe when introduced as CEO or some other nonsense.

🎙️ We currently have 4 podcasts with others under development. Of these 4, Sleep Tight Stories has proven to be the most successful, at least in terms of listener growth. Sleep Tight Relax passed the 1,000,000 download mark a few months ago, and Sleep Tight Science finished its’ 1st 10 episode season. We soft launched Sleep Tight Premium in the past month as a paid product.

💯 Sleep Tight Stories is currently ranked in the 0.5% of all podcasts according to Listen Notes and is consistently ranked highly in kids & family and stories for kids. Unlike most podcasts we share our data on our website.

💯 Our growth this year has been phenomenal, thanks in no small part to The Startup Zone. Sleep Tight Stories continues to grow and now has over 530,000 downloads per month and close to 4,000,000 downloads this past year alone.

💯 Audience measurement and its’ meaning continues to be a bit of a mystery. And downloads ≠ money.

💯 Numbers make for a great talking point, but don’t really expose the true value that this project brings to us and hopefully our listeners. Creating a product that resonates with children and has a positive effect on their lives brings us great joy.

📚 We continue to feature local independent authors on Sleep Tight Stories as much as we can. Authors generally are enthusiastic, but publishers, especially local ones, are less so.

🗞️ At the behest of an advisor, we created a press release, which resulted in a bit of local coverage.

🐝 At one point we (the 2 of us) were producing 6 episodes per week. It was 7 days a week, with our heads in front of Logic Pro amongst other tools. We’ve now managed to make the workload a little more manageable so that we can focus on creating more products for children.

🎨 Content creation as a business, despite the stories of successful YouTubers and Instagram influencers, is not a path to riches, and yet all my life I have found myself drawn to this type of work.

💸 Our original plan to be advertising free wasn’t sustainable as we had little time left to develop other products that people might pay for. It’s proven to be difficult to get people to pay for what was always free in the past but Patreon, private feeds and ad revenue is growing, albeit too slowly.

📚 Our first attempt at being a sponsor of the Island Literary Awards fizzled – this the idea of a generous Island teacher who offered to donate the prize money. For some reason since I have arrived on PEI every attempt to either volunteer or donate my expertise, or in this case our platform, has failed. For now we will focus our attention off-Island, but may revisit helping the local community in some small way once I understand what I have been doing wrong.

💸 Startup Zone has been the only source of government assistance we have received. We are an outlier in this regard, so it seems, as I don’t know any company in the StartUp Zone who isn’t actively pursuing money from the government. Some get government money to hire someone to help them get more government money. Without outside financing we rely upon our own sweat equity which slows growth but I think creates a more sustainable enterprise over the long term.

💰 We find living and working on PEI expensive, so if we grow, and we are able to freely travel again, we might start looking to work and hire from elsewhere. I miss traveling immensely.

🦹‍♂️ The hardest decision which is always waiting in the shadows is deciding whether or not to stop. The fact that we have worked so long on this project shows how lucky and how financially disciplined we are. It helps when you are bootstrapping to be cheap. There are many measurements of success, and I feel great about what we have accomplished to date, but playing the starving creative was never a role I ever was fully committed to – otherwise I would still be working in music today.


Years pass

It doesn’t seem so long ago when I was holding our daughter Catriona in the kitchen of our house in downtown Hsinchu. Now she is in full-blown teenager mode, with all the frustration that entails, and applying for University.


Not knowing might be better

Since growing up some what and finally taking more care with the security of our WordPress installs I am now getting daily, and end of month reports as to all the attempts to gain access to our websites. Most of these are automated via AWS and other lessor known services but some are obviously individuals. This level of attention is anxiety inducing and I wonder if isn’t better to not know. On our plan for this year is to move all websites from WordPress. I can’t wait.


A room for the night

The room that we shared with pigs and chickens below us while hiking somewhere in Northern Thailand. While the accommodations might not have been luxurious, the food that was cooked for us was amazing (poor chickens).


Podcast discovery experiments

I’ve spent a great deal of time learning and putting into practice various strategies for podcast discovery and listener growth.

“If you build it, they will come” seldom applies to any product but especially so with podcasts. So many lovely sounding products that never get heard.

Many strategies are extremely expensive, too expensive for an independent. As an example, we were offered $900US/episode to advertise a new pod launch from Wondery (we turned it down). That is not a cost that we could not afford.

Most strategies we have flirted with haven’t produced much in the way of results – the Google and Facebook tax that many companies have to pay hasn’t worked for us.

My current experiment is advertising on Overcast where I paid $120US for a 30 day run in their Kids & Family category. They state that you should expect 300–500 taps with 20–30 subscriptions. Subscriptions do not equal listeners, nor does it necessarily mean downloads. It also does not mean that they will become patrons or paying customers.

Though the results for others appear to be promising, at 9 days in we don’t seem to be having much success. Currently we have 14,228 views, with 149 taps (1.0%) and 2 subscriptions (1.3%). Thats a cost of acquisition right up there with Netflix.


It was warmer

4 years ago we were taking a break from work in a far warmer locale than where we are at the moment. I flew to Thailand from China, stayed overnight in Bangkok, before taking a small plane, ferry and bus to join family who had already rented a little cabin near the beach. Lot’s of memories on this trip, the food, the motorcycles, and the motorcycle accident. Camren rode on the back of my motorcycle and when hitting a rut on an unpaved road, we promptly skid and crashed. We were largely unharmed – I was bruised, scrapped and shook up a bit. Camren came away fine as I served as his airbag when he landed on top of me. Something we still joke about.

Later, our world would change as I flew to Canada to be with my mother in palliative care, accompanying her on her final journey.

Hopefully someday we will be able to throw a change of clothes in a bag, hop on a plane, and visit some interesting place far away from our daily routines.


Capitalisation

I find the lack of capitalization in place names on this T3 transit schedule page annoying – the typeface they used, Poppins, I find irritating as well. The let’s make what should be capitalized, lower case, was a trend in the late 90’s I believe and it had the misguided intention of making websites seem more “friendly.” It also made them harder to read. The shapes of letters and the shapes they make when combined into words can significantly affect our ability to understand text.


Having a website sucks

I started building and designing websites of some sort 26+ (?) years ago. This was back when tilde domains were popular and when I had a “Zine” hosted on Geocities. It was fun and I learned enough to later get work doing this very thing for others.

Over the years the practice of creating websites got more and more complex, I got older, and my professional practice got more specialized. As a result my skills have languished and personally I have little patience and interest in understanding the language I hear web developers using today.

I was at one time a self-professed expert in using MoveableType and created a number of custom themes for that platform for people who I was working with at the time. I made a fateful decision awhile back to join the herd, drop MT, and use WordPress for any hobby projects, including this weblog. Our nascent business is run on this platform as well.

Since that time, I’ve had nothing but trouble. I’ve had a whole project taken down due to miscreants using one of our installs as a file sharing node. Lately, bugs in various plug-ins keep me busy with meaningless tasks. The latest problem is a common one, someone gained access to our server and installed malware. The last time it was some kids from Indonesia with too much time on their hands. This time it was a number of different actors. In fact I have found out that our website sleeptightstories.org, a website for kids with completely insignificant traffic, is a popular target.

This nonsense has distracted me and taken me away from the work that I enjoy.

Though it’s a matter of perspective, I realize I’m at fault for not having an almost religious conviction to ensuring that WordPress and her plugins are update and secure.

Our current web host, Pair, is very pithy with server resources on our former plan. Updating a WordPress install has more than once resulted in errors that required a couple hours to correct, so I often delay updating each install until I know I have the time to devote to the possible problems. Auto-update seems to only work intermittently. According to Pair, this is likely why they were able to so easily infect at least one of our sites.

But who builds a product that is insecure by design? Like Facebook, WordPress seems to have consciously created a product which has resulted in a whole cottage industry of people who help small business owners manage how they reach their customers, and keep their WordPress installs secure and spam free. It shouldn’t be necessary.

This is I hope the last time I make this mistake. Going forward I will be evaluating our relationship with Pair (I’ve been a customer for 20+ years), and have in the interim moved our WordPress installs to a new far more expensive managed hosting account.

We’ve already decided that our future lies with services like Squarespace, and not something built by myself. Goodbye Apache, hello nginx and whatever Squarespace runs on.

I can’t help but feel a little sad that the days of having fun with building websites are over, at least for a hobbyist like myself. I just don’t have time for all the inevitable problems that arise, nor unfortunately, the time to learn how to create something robust.


Targets

Since my last run in with website hacking ne’er-do-wells, I’ve tried to up my game somewhat in keeping our WordPress installations free from their machinations. At least until we migrate our sites to new dedicated hosting on Wednesday.

2 of our websites seem to be a constant target for login attempts, registering hundreds of attempts a day.

I can’t imagine what it must be like managing a WordPress website that gets real traffic.

Update: Using AWS to perform login attempts seems to be popular in Singapore.


A brief windows flirtation

When we came back to the Island I purchased for my daughter a cheap Asus Vivobook to use to complete assignments and such for high school. As the requirements for the laptop were simply to have the ability to login and complete work in Google classroom, I didn’t want to invest much in the way of hardware. A Mac was certainly out of the question, and I had little faith in Chromebooks.

When my son started to use a laptop running Linux and I was taken back by the price of a new Mac for myself (and their then faulty keyboards), it seemed briefly that we would be an Apple free household for the first time since I purchased a Mac Classic, via a Long and McQuade payment plan, many years ago.

My purchase of a new MacBook this past July nixed that trend, and now a call from Combat Computers has likely killed that idea for some time.

Her Vivobook was slow at the best of times, but lately the cursor would always continuously spin, not allowing access to the startup menu and preventing me later from accessing utilities. I couldn’t even boot into safe mode and the processor was always at 100%.

As my knowledge of Windows PC’s is about zero I took it to combat computers for repair and they just repeated back the same result I had but with the added opinion that the soldered on memory was likely damaged. Nothing can be done they say.

And thus ends my flirtation with cheap hardware running Windows.


Skybird

The passage of time. I would love to go back in time and experience this period of our children’s life. Walking with Camren through the hills behind our house to take him to kindergarten, watching out for snakes and feeding stray dogs as we went. They both had the benefit of a marvellous pre-school education. Unlike most kindergartens in Taiwan, which are often seen as a means to get kids started early in rote learning, they climbed trees, made food, created crafts and played. Later in elementary school, they learned calligraphy, kendo, tea making and played Chinese instruments. This education didn’t come cheap, the tuition cost the equivalent of a years salary, but it was worth every penny, and gave them an experience unlike what we could have provided elsewhere.


Back

All our websites are back after a truly international effort to deface one website (a crew from Indonesia) and to inject code to forward all links to some stupid advertising rich website, the persons behind the link redirection is unclear.

Thank you WordPress. I’ll send you a bill later for lost time due to your lack of security by design.

I took this opportunity to delete old files and web projects dating back 20 years or more. Lots of memories. Many projects that are likely best forgotten, like:

I used to absolutely love the web, not so much anymore.


Emoji apocalypse

I spent far too much time yesterday re-entering emoji’s for 100+ article titles on one of our podcast websites. I made a decision a year ago to make extensive use of emojis as part of our communications for our kid’s products. I haven’t performed any testing to see if kids respond to the imagery we create, so the end result could be having a little fun finding suitable emoji’s on emojipedia.

A week or so I noticed that all emoji’s used in titles had been replaced with question marks – no idea why, though I blame a bug in the Yoast plugin, the only difference between this site and others.

As an aside, I think it’s issues such as this that keep people employed as social media managers. What business owner has the time and inclination to deal with all the designed complexity of WordPress and other such tools, such as Facebook. If these tools were designed well, a whole group of people would be unemployed. Facebook is especially egregious. Despite having a huge staff of design talent, their business suite of tools are some of the most ill designed I have ever seen. Answering a query from a listener required a roundtrip through 2 devices and 3 different apps.

One of the remaining mysteries of my emoji cut’n’paste journey was the realization that in text displayed via WordPress, not css, the emoji’s that displayed are from Twitter Twemoji 13.0.1 and not those displayed by MacOS. This problem doesn’t reveal itself when viewing via an iOS device.

I’ll leave this issue to a time when I have nothing better to do.


Fresh snow

Taken en route to a haircut yesterday with Barbie Girl, near the soon to be closed Starbucks, a victim of North America’s inability to summon enough discipline and responsibility towards their fellow citizens to reduce the spread of COVID.

My forgotten photography skills didn’t capture what was a beautiful scene on the part of the trail we are permitted to be on last night. It’s only slightly over 4km’s one way from start to finish, but a run or walk on that trail cures all that ails you. It should be on every local mental health practitioners or physicians prescription pad. Your first step to wellbeing should be a walk on that trail.


Office hours

I came out of my cave yesterday and had coffee with the outgoing CEO of the Startup Zone, who is moving with his family to Halifax. In our conversation he reminded me that I have been renting space at the fish bowl and rarely set foot in the space. So today I am sitting in my space away from the lure of the kitchen refrigerator.

It’s been since the pandemic that never goes away (because of people) since I have worked with any regularity outside of home. It’s also one of the few times I’ve been concerned with looking human – it’s t-shirts and sweatpants and an ever growing beard at home.

I get the feeling that working from home is here to stay. The travel time and cost of working in even Charlottetown doesn’t make the same sense that it once did.

If we ever finally settle down here in the Charlottetown area, ensuring that there is a dedicated space for work will be a priority.


Stupid

We need to recognize that stupid is a thing and, per Professor Cipolla, encourage our youth to discern how not to be stupid and to aspire to be “intelligent,” which also is a thing … and a noble thing, and not derived from a place of privilege that demands apology and self flogging.

He glosses over many issues and over simplifies situations which are actually complex – over-simplifications, objectifications, and identity politics are what have helped create the mess we are in. But sometimes the effort to understand human behaviour is just too great and a label such as stupid is all that can be summoned.

Stupid. His views on the pandemic are also of interest.


Fitness year in review

I did 405 workouts and ran 1,727kms for the year.

This is a marked improvement over the year before when due to an aversion to cold I stayed indoors and only managed 909kms of running (I worked out more, with 487 workouts in 2019).

Considering how little preparation I did and the lack of stretching and mobility work, which is essential at my age, I was surprised that I suffered no injuries. I think CrossFit and the fact that I build up my weekly mileage slowly over many months kept the injuries at bay. Now that I am restricted from running on the trails, I haven’t figured out a way to do long runs in winter safely. Between ice on the roads and distracted drivers I’m not confident that I won’t suffer some sort of calamity.

While it was a good year, it still pales to the amount of running I was able to enjoy in years past. Hopefully, I will find the will to run 2500 kms for the year, and if people would help us get the pandemic under control, run a few races.


Closet full

I have a thing for sneakers, which other than coffee is one of my few arguably necessary indulgences. I’ve long run in Hoka One One’s with their super sized cushion but after running 900km in a pair of Bondi 7’s have become a Altra Running convert. It takes time to adjust to these shoes, as they are zero drop and place a greater emphasis on a natural foot position. The last time I tried this kind of change in shoe it was with a pair of Soloman’s and I developed plantar fasciitis as a result. This time I am taking it a bit slower and paying attention to any discomfort or tightness in the lower kinetic chain.

The orange pair in the middle I bought specifically for winter trail running, which I have since found out is prohibited (and the fact of which still annoys).


The private public trail

Pedestrians on Confederation Trail ‘quite a safety issue,’ this season says snowmobile association

Snowmobilers excited for season as more Islanders join their ranks

Who in their right mind would have agreed to this lease?

On Sunday when I was running on the Confederation trail, Sheryl was out for a walk and had sent me a warning of 2 snowmobiles coming down the trail towards me. One apparently sped by her with little regard to her safety. I met one of them, who was extremely curtious, but luckily didn’t see the other. We commented afterwards that it seemed odd to see snowmobiles on a public trail.

Now it seems the oddity was us, as according to the Snow Mobile Association people are for the winter months forbidden on the trails, as they have an “exclusive lease” that “covers the entire Confederation Trail except two sections reserved for pedestrians: in Charlottetown from the bypass to Joe Ghiz Park.”

This has got to be one of the most ridiculous agreements I have ever seen.

The trails are the safest places to run, walk or bike in the Charlottetown area. And the views are beautiful. If anything we should be encouraging people to borrow snowshoes from the library and get out and explore the Island in winter.

To give exclusive access to public land to those with the money or even inclination to drive a snowmobile seems extremely short sighted, to say the least (actually I think it’s heinous).


Christmas Gifts

This year outside the usual coffee or running gear I gave myself a number of gifts which will I expect will keep on giving throughout the year.

As to plan, I gave myself 4 days off this year, which marked the first time I have taken any time away from work since around February. Generally I have been working 7 days a week with Saturday and Sunday mornings off for running and CrossFit. Though Christmas Eve was busy enough that I was wishing I was at my desk, it worked fairly well, will a nice mix of boredom and quiet fun. This was made all the more special by the fact that the family all had this time off as well – Christmas in Asia though celebrated, has often meant school or work. This worked well enough that I am going to make it a habit, perhaps taking Saturdays off every week.

I quit Twitter. “Doom scrolling” Twitter on my idle time was having a distinct negative effect on my mood and mental health. The algorithm that influenced my feed was all doom, idiocy, or “life on the Island is constant rainbows so let’s be kind to one another” extremes. My mood has improved immensely since I’ve stopped reading it. Though I haven’t deleted my account, I don’t plan on returning.

Lastly, I finally replaced what was perhaps the worst purchase I have ever made. Satechi’s bluetooth keyboard may be an attractive device and pleasant to type on, but it constantly repeats characters randomly on key press. This behaviour drove me to near madness and I have no idea why I waited so long to send it to the recycling bin. I replaced it with an Apple keyboard and won’t bother with 3rd party bluetooth keyboards again (we have a couple solid keyboards from Logitech which are great but I don’t like the feel of the keys). Next up is the expensive Logitech bluetooth mouse which always runs out of power at the most inopportune times.


Winter Running

I’ve been out running a couple times since the snow fell – last night in the dark and on Sunday afternoon. I’m not a lover of winter and it has taken me a couple years to acclimate to the cold, so I’m very pleased that I am able to enjoy some activity during this season. There is no denying that winter scenes on the Island have a certain beauty.

Running in snow or the semi-prepared surfaces of the various trails is quite a work out. It’s particularly hard on my ankles and shins.

I’ll likely restrict my running to the trails as many streets in Charlottetown are a “slippy” mess and falling on ice is on my short list for things I fear.


A festive wee poyum

What a lovely sounding language.


My gift to myself

Fu

I think likely the greatest gift I can give myself this coming Christmas is to take some time off. I may be wrong, as my memory fails more often now than years past, but I don’t think I have completely disconnected from work since January or February. Working weekends has been the norm.

But my enthusiasm for the work and productivity have plummeted of late. Each day feels like I’m slogging through large drifts of snow. Which is pretty indicative of the need for a break.

I have no plans for the 4 – 5 days I plan on taking off. I’d love to proclaim a complete disconnect from the screen, but that might be too optimistic. Instead, I’ll likely eat, run, read books, and spend time with family. Hopefully I’ll fit some boredom in there as well.


Great emptiness

Just after dusk in the downtown.

I don’t think I was expecting a Hallmark moment but I think I expected some signs of life.

On Sunday I ended the day a bit early, cleaned myself up, put on pants and decided to go on a Christmas shopping sojourn to the downtown area. Outside of my hobbies of running, food and coffee, I do little in the way of window shopping, so Christmas has traditionally been the time I look through the stores in search of interesting things to buy for the kids. In years past I would spend hours looking through Eslite bookstore and the multitude of other small design/craft related shops that inhabited the central district of our old residence, going elbow to elbow with the throngs of people doing the same. This effort would often necessitate rest breaks in a café or 3.

That’s life in a big urban centre and I would like to say pre-pandemic, but they got that under control from the onset, so it only applies to our experience here.

The downtown on Sunday was like a scene from the Walking Dead with streets devoid of people and no traffic whatsoever. You could say that the new restrictions are having an unhealthy effect on business, but I’ve heard that these restrictions haven’t stopped families from shopping en masse at those big box stores that keep moving farther and farther from the town.

I’ll admit that I have a bias. I hate the experience of shopping in Walmart, Canadian Tire and the like. With an experience largely devoid of warmth, personality and efficiency, I would rather shop online where the prices are much better and the selection far more vast.

I do enjoy the downtown and would love to be able to do all our activities there, groceries included. I’d also prefer to buy local, but how many fancy soaps, coffee cups and fine mittens and hats can one buy? Luckily, my kids love books, and we have a trio of bookstores, of which the previously read stores provide a great selection. It’s a shame that downtown Charlottetown can’t thrive without tourists and expand it’s retail options beyond what appeals to the cruise ships.


Running into winter

We have been blessed with a somewhat mild fall/winter to date and as a result my running season continues unabated. The photo above was taken just before the finish line during the 2018 PEI marathon. I couldn’t deal with the cold that year and stopped running shortly after. The winter also brings the real possibility of falling on the ice and breaking something, a fear that ranks up there with drowning for me. Hopefully sticking to the trails over the winter and my new Altra shoes that I purchased explicitly for running in snow and slush will lessen that risk.

Tuesday past I had an unexpected guest, my son, on my nighttime run on the trail between the entrance at Sherwood Rd. and end point at Covehead or Union road. It made for a nice slow 10k run in pitch black darkness, with no others on the trail but a few hares running about hiding from some plush foxes that I’ve seen other evenings. It’s nice running with Camren, a first, and like many his age his goal was not only to keep up with me but find some way to win in the end. Which he did. The fact that he was sore and wondered how I did this everyday gave some satisfaction.

The new public health rules have had an effect on his life as well. No more swimming or CrossFit. His swimming team, the Bluefins, have had a rough time – first the pandemic killed last season, then both the pool in Charlottetown and in Summerside were unavailable all summer and fall. It would be nice if sports other than hockey got some attention from the local government.

Camren declined an invite to run last night but may be convinced to go again tonight. I’ll see if I can’t sneak a couple more kilometres into our route to push him a bit farther.


A new colleague

Though when it was announced that we were switching to home based learning, I started spewing obscenities, I am happy to have Catriona studying at home. I can’t say the feeling is shared as she doesn’t like my reminders to stop reading Chinese soap operas and study biology.

Hopefully, teachers this semester will have higher engagement rates than 25%, the often touted figure from the last time they tried home based learning. When teachers look at her report from last semester they regularly discount the achievement as many I talked to feel little was learned. I don’t disagree. Many kids need school to flourish and Google Classroom is a poor imitation.

It’s interesting to me how you think you have adapted to the loneliness of working at home, until you have a temporary colleague and realise what you have been missing. This ongoing social isolation, was in part the reason for my anger at hearing the new temporary restrictions from Dr. Morrison.

If I hear one more time the phrase, “we can do it,” or “we are in this together” I am going to puke. The fact is after all this time we still don’t have the pandemic under control. How can we, when you have a huge percentage of people who don’t believe that the virus is real or doesn’t affect them, or have incredibly poor risk assessment capabilities, and/or lack the sense of civic responsibility to care about others? People complain about having mask fatigue! Like washing your hands and wearing a mask is some Herculean task.

What is a Herculean task is to “continue to be patient and kind”, as espoused by Dr. Morrison. I think it’s time to start taking a harder stance against those who refuse to follow common sense public health measures. Perhaps handing out fines like they hand out in Taiwan might be a good start.

This push and pull from a government who wants zero cases and a portion of the public who doesn’t seem to care has real consequences. People get sick and people die. There are seniors I know who are alone, I have a mother-in-law with cancer who we can’t visit, kids are out of school and we, and many others, face risk of severe financial hardship, as there are no government programs available for our family.

It’s time to set aside the politeness so prevalent in Canada and take a more aggressive stance.


Patreon procrastination

I recently set-up a Patreon account for Sleep Tight Stories as a means to allow our fans to support the continued production of the podcast, and future improvements. It hasn’t been publicized yet, and we still have some jiggering to do with the pricing of our tiers.

We set a couple goals:

  • remix all the old episodes so that the sound is more balanced and calm inducing.
  • create more original stories that feature girls in strong leading roles – instead of the prince saving the princess, how about the princess saving the prince.

Though it’s extremely common for creators of all types to ask for support using Patreon, I have resisted, and procrastinated as I didn’t (and still don’t) believe that the amount of money that could be raised would make an appreciable difference in our lives. It might not even pay for the time required to maintain the service. One of the fascinating aspects of our podcasting adventure is time costing all the busy work – the copy’n’pasting, the uploading of files, writing summaries, and etc., all (surprise surprise) takes a great deal of time.

As is my method, I became a customer of all the common platforms that podcasters use to help monetize (shudder, I hate that word) their shows. Many like Supercast are efficient, and built with easing customers through the sales funnel as quickly as possible. Others like Patreon, until recently, are a usability nightmare.

One of the values commonly given to patrons on Patreon is ad-free access to the podcast. Until recently Patreon required your patrons to copy and paste their RSS feed into an app of their choice. I asked 6 people to try and accomplish this task. No one could. Addressing this deficiency, many podcasts write lengthy how to’s about how to access the episodes. My conclusion was Patreon presented yet another app., yet another pain point for our listeners.

And yet here we are. To address this problem Patreon recently partnered with Acast to provide free private feeds for podcasters. This means that patrons no longer need to copy’n’paste, but can conveniently subscribe via their favourite app., except Spotify which doesn’t permit private feeds.

The only issue I have encountered thus far, is that if you want to offer your complete back catalogue to listeners, you need to enter each and every episode manually. Acast has a feed import tool but they only allow you to use it if you are migrating to their service, which judging by my experience with the company to date, wouldn’t be advisable.

Thats over 150 episodes to import manually. Perhaps a task for my son.

As I have reduced my work load slightly, I hope to be able to report more on our successes and failures in our venture. One of my chief complaints about starting a podcast has been the lack of transparency, at least as compared to video or web publishing. We publish some data here already, but hope to share more if possible.


Apple Embeds

This is test of sorts. Apple released the ability to web embed podcast episodes recently, which in my case means I don’t have rely upon Spotify and their funky player, nor Libsyn’s ugly utilitarian version. I’m not convinced of the utility of this beyond marketing purposes, as it’s not available via Podcast app on mobile, where most people are going to be spending their time listening to podcasts.