An update on the Fundraising Sale and the new RSS Feed

Listen to the latest podcast to find out about the new fundraising sale and your chance to get new episodes of “The History of Byzantium.”

Download: An update on the Fundraising Sale and the new RSS Feed

RSS Feed: The History of Byzantium

If you want to send in feedback to the podcast:

– Either comment on this post.

– Or on the facebook page.

– Leave a review on Itunes.

– Follow me on Twitter.

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Categories: Podcast | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “An update on the Fundraising Sale and the new RSS Feed

  1. Dario Achury

    Robin: I am a newcomer to your podcast and I am still not up to date. But let me commend you for an excellent job so far.

    The only strong objection I must raise relates to the sale of episodes. I clearly understand the need to monetize the podcast and furthermore I strongly believe you should be compensated for the excellent work you continue to do. But the entire approach to the episode sales seems so out-of-step with your deft handling of the material.

    The first time I purchased an episode I had to struggle a bit to finally get past the pay-wall and download my episode.

    Now you’ve devised a 15 minute explanation that is absolutely tortuous to listen to. Can’t you just write short bullet-point instructions that I can read-through in under 2 minutes so that I can pay you?

    I think on one point above all others Michael Duncan’s History of Rome was superior. Whenever he needed to monetize the podcast he would make a simple, but compelling appeal. All we had to do was hit the Donate button on his website.

    I think it’s great that you too have the donate button. I have no reservations about donating $10, $20, or $50. I think your podcast is well worth it.

    I just want you to understand that the random sale and its “byzantine” rules are wholly unnecessary and probably preclude some people from making more significant donations. I am less inclined to give generously after I’ve had to struggle to pay you $10 –there is some strange psychological dynamic at work.

    An appeal to people’s generosity is often more compelling than a random request for $5 or $10 later… but only after you’ve listened for 15 minutes and gone to another website and followed a different procedure!

  2. Hi Dario,

    Thanks for your feedback. I take your point about written instructions and I will put some up. I’m sorry that the audio instructions seem to bother you so much. My assumption is that 90% of listeners won’t use them and will just navigate the shopping cart as they do on most websites with no problem. But there are always some who would like full instructions and I thought they’d appreciate me talking them through it.

    The sale structure was dictated by my web developer and I am not in a position to tell him how to design things. Once you’ve been through it once I think it’s pretty simple.

    As for the sale versus donations point. I’m afraid the sales are necessary. Some weeks I do about 2 hours of work on my other job and spend the rest of the time on the podcast. It’s a big leap for me. This is my career now. If I had to come back every other podcast begging for more money it would put a lot of people off, force the same generous few to keep giving and drive me crazy! By forcing the issue with a sale I can determine how much longer I can realistically keep the podcast going. I have to plan for the future and therefore I need to know that the money will come in on a certain date. Donations are wonderful but people give when they want to. I can’t do a month long sale like Mike Duncan because my audience is much smaller. I need people to be able to continue buying when they catch up.

    I hope you will forgive the Byzantine system and get on board with it.
    Thanks,
    Robin

  3. Imp

    I’m personally totally cool with paying now and then for this podcast to be continued. Sure, the net is full of “free” ones (=nag-ware), some of them pretty good too, but I find this one to be exceptional in quality and professionalism and deserving support now and then. And I personally prefer an out-and-out commercial transaction than the donation approach, as it gives me, the listener, the right to complain, e.g. over the pay-wall not working well as per the OP’s example. What right have I to complain to someone who’s a volunteer and who does this for free in his own time?

    With that said, if you want to go down the professional, commercial route you have to be much more regular and upfront in your release arrangements. What I mean is not just “there will be a podcast every Wednesday, or every second Friday, or every third Sunday in Epiphany, or whatever”, though this would help immensely. I mean a firm arrangement about how many episodes and how often will be behind the paywall. So far, I have been unclear. First, it was sort of “every century”, then it was “the episode on the origins of Islam which is controversial anyway”, now it is “buy one, get 3 free”. I don’t find this a good idea. I would prefer a regular arrangement. For instance (and that’s only an idea out of the hat) you could make all the narrative episodes free, and put all the end-of-century in depth discussion ones behind the paywall. This way, casual listeners caring only about “the plot” can follow it for free, while those who are more interested in deeper discussion, or wish to ask questions, will need to pay for it. Whatever way you pick though has to be regular and clear. Same with your release schedule. Otherwise you just fall between two stools: a volunteer who does this in his own time (and hence someone we can’t moan to if he takes e.g 6 weeks to post an update); but a volunteer who now and then asks for money, but nobody knows with what pattern.

    • Hi Imp,
      I appreciate your desire for regular episodes. I listen to loads of podcasts and I know that it’s frustrating when you don’t get a consistent output. However there are 2 things I need to make clear about my situation. One is that I have a day job and my schedule with it is seasonal. As in sometimes in the year I am far busier than others. That’s why between December and March I produced episodes weekly and since then it’s been harder. But also the amount of research each episode takes varies wildly. Some can be done in a few days, others take a month of reading. Between those two things I can not yet be on a regular schedule.
      But more than that, this sale is not a deal between me and the listeners over the regular, free episodes. I’m not asking for money in exchange for the free episodes coming out on schedule. I am offering individual eps for sale and that’s all.
      Sadly you will just have to have faith in me. I have not abandoned the project at any point the in the past 3 years. When I can I produce episodes more quickly and I will continue to do so.
      Robin

  4. Matt

    I like the current system. I like being able to donate whenever I want (as I have), and I like occasionally being offered extra for a little more. It also doesn’t bother me in the slightest whether Robin keeps to a set schedule with the pay episodes, because I tend to view them, as I said before, as bonus material. Non-profit and low-budget organizations hold intermittent fundraisers all the time, whenever the cash box runs low or the budget looks thin. And this is the way the episode sales have been framed–as fundraisers, nothing more. I’m not sure why that would be bothersome to anyone.

    • Thank you for the kind words. I want everyone to know that there will be periods when I produce eps more quickly but I don’t want to promise anything and disappoint. I am constantly working toward the day when this is my full time job.

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