A newsletter–how exciting! Oh well, not technology-wise. Email is around since the Nineties. But starting "Publisher Weekly" is exciting for me and, hopefully, a tiny bit exciting for you. I hope to reach out into the growing community of people who are using the Podlove Publisher to distribute their podcasts and enjoy being part of the podcast community.
So, welcome to you!
Developing software is my primary focus, always has been. However, the job is not done after releasing a new version of some software. What is the point of putting thought in workflow-enhancing features when the average user only scratches the surface of what is possible? Sure, a well crafted user interface can help users explore features. And we put great effort into ensuring the UI makes sense. However, the Publisher is an expert tool and at some point, if you want to use it to all its capabilities, you have to dig in.
This newsletter is an effort to allow you to dig deep. Explore corners of the software you never knew about. Stay on top of what's new, improve your workflows and find areas to improve the podcasting experience for your listeners.
Thanks for joining me on this experiment. I wish to send you a helpful email each week. If you have feedback on how to improve this newsletters or just want to say hi, you can always reach me at email@example.com.
Today I would like to talk about where we’re at with the Podlove Publisher.
Podlove Publisher—State of the Union
It is hard to pinpoint on which day the project officially started. The first documented line of code, however, can be dated back to 10th of February 2012. That is more than 4 years ago now. We have come a long way.
We now have a, dare I say, useful podcast publishing tool with a comprehensive feature set. There is no shortage of ideas for improving existing components or adding new ones. However, there is already enough available to satisfy many podcasters’ needs.
We have reached a stable state. Sure, the odd bug or hosting incompatibility keeps popping up, but the days of daily issue reports are long gone. With release 2.0 in February 2015 we went straight from “alpha” to stable, skipping “beta” with confidence. Fun times—I remember us bringing up the topic of advancing alpha to beta for years, always finding a reason not do do it. In the end, we just got rid of the suffixes with a shrug and never looked back.
Who is this “we” that I keep mentioning, you ask?
Team & Community
There is Tim Pritlove, initiator and coordinator of the whole Podlove universe, and me, Eric Teubert, the developer from day one. Other people did come and go during the years (most notably Alex, hey there!) and sporadic code improvements have been submitted by many.
Software development is not just about the code. A vibrant community grew around the Podlove universe. Hundreds of bugs have been reported, features were discussed. The community has an official home now at community.podlove.org.
For an open source project to be successful and continue to grow, it needs a healthy community. No matter if you are in the forums helping out others, suggest or discuss features, report bugs or contribute anything in any way—thank you. The Publisher would not be what it is today without you.
Some even donated. Let’s talk about the money side of things for a moment.
Money & Sustainability
When I started working on the Publisher in early 2012 I was still a student, happy to have found a way to give something back to podcasting, a medium that had grown on me. I did part time work for a WordPress agency at the time.
A year later, in 2013, Tim announced the first round of crowdfunding. Not a traditional “we need X$ to do Y” but more or less “give what you want and we promise to continue doing useful things”—avoiding common platforms and their processing fees. To my great surprise, a sizeable amount of money was donated and I was able to spend at least one full day each week on the Publisher without worrying about losing agency work income. Another year later, in 2014, the second round was announced.
I was cautious at first about earning money with the project. However, looking back, I don’t think it would have worked in the long run the way it worked out without any financial support. So again: Thank you for your contributions!
Another year later, in 2015, I tried something different. The Publisher gained popularity and I realised I spent an increasing amount of time on support. So I did what many plugins do: I started to offer paid support, which is… mildly successful. Well, it pays for the electricity bill
Looking into the future, I would like to keep experimenting with earning money through the Publisher. It’s not my main goal, though. The plugin will always remain free to use for everyone. But since my student days are behind me now, there are more bills to pay and my income through the Publisher has a direct influence on how much time I am able to spend on the project.
Documentation & Education
Today, the Publisher is an expert tool for podcasters who want full control over their content and workflows. As with many expert tools, there is a learning curve. People who are looking for the easiest way to start a podcast will not find it here. Hosted solutions (like Podigee) will always have a lower barrier of entry. But for people who are looking for full control over their content and workflows, and don’t shy away from investing some time to learn a tool, I believe the Publisher is a great choice.
There is some documentation at docs.podlove.org/podlove-publisher but it only covers basics. Getting started with the Publisher is hard, and the lack of comprehensive documentation is one part of it. And even when the first episode is published successfully, it is hard to grasp all the possible workflows and features available.
It’s a knowledge gap that I aim to reduce with this newsletter. One digestible piece of advice each week. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please send them my way via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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