Hear What's Changing With Tech's Message

This special episode summarises some of the changes we're thinking of introducing to the show. It's a version of a couple of written posts we've made on Patreon over the last week, and a transcript is below.

Hi everyone. I wanted to give everyone a little insight into some changes we’re introducing to the show as a way of making our Patreon membership more valuable, which will include new episodes each week.

But before that, I thought it might be worth telling you some things we’ve not talked about before.

Firstly, episode 100 of Tech’s Message was originally going to be our final episode. It’s not something we ever disclosed, because our plans changed, as evidenced by us now being up to episode 163. I’m happy to say I am not planning on the show ending any time soon.

The thing that changed was our move to Patreon two years ago. Listeners will remember a couple of weeks ago we had an episode with Naomi Kerbel, herself a listener to the show before she was a guest. She said what surprised her going into the recording was just how much preparation is involved in planning of the show. It sounds casual and off the cuff, but actually the majority of it is loosely scripted, spanning several pages and typically 2,000-3,000 words.

That takes a lot of time to prepare through the week. Then there’s the recording, which for example on episode 162, was close to an hour and a half. The editing and post-production is then several more hours.

This is all a way of saying that prior to Patreon, that’s about 10 hours or so every week that didn’t pay us anything and was on top of my full-time job. I’m not complaining — it was always the intention to be a very polished show that took a lot of time, because I do also love doing it — but when you’re staring down the barrel of your 100th episode you do wonder whether it would be a good time to bow out on a high and maybe put that 10 hours a week into something new.

By having Patreon supporters in addition to thousands of free listeners, I was reminded how valuable the show is. And by being able to pull a bit of money out it, it meant that it felt like the time commitment was balanced out. Plus it lets us buy things like microphones, a dedicated computer setup to record with, and so on. Basically, it totally rejuvenated us and although it did turn the podcast into part of our profession, it was a job we loved. So we’re still doing it, and we’re grateful to you every week for that.

Which brings us to the present day. People who join our Patreon membership do so with a simple PayPal subscription with Patreon. We’ve got several tiers of membership depending on what people are after, and that’s what we’re talking about changing today.

Rather than going over the current benefits, I’m going to outline what the new tiers are likely to be and I would LOVE feedback on them. We’ve already consulted existing patrons but I’m also really keen to hear what we could offer some of our free listeners that might be valuable enough for them to want to give our membership a try. Here’s what we’re thinking of offering:

For $2 a week you’d have access to a special RSS feed that contains the extended version of the show every week, which includes additional stories and discussions, as well as fun outtakes. This version of the show contains no ads and the MP3 is encoded at a higher quality. You can listen live and chat to us in our Discord group while we record, as well as with hosts and other patrons throughout the week.

A new $3 tier would include everything from the previous tier, but at this level listeners will also receive an extra unscripted episode every week that goes behind the scenes of why we chose certain stories, or a personal tech experience we’ve had. The current thinking is this would be recorded during a walk I take each week. If any of you have heard the intros Adam Buxton does for his show each week, you imagine it to be something like that but as a standalone episode.

At our $5 tier you’d have everything from the previous tiers, plus get access the raw "as-live" audio of the show each week if you're hungry for 100% unfiltered recordings from the moment we press record to the moment we press stop (As a warning, this does contain bad language on occasion). You will also receive a PDF version of our show notes ahead of recording, containing our original scripts and production notes.

There are two other tiers that always exist — one at a dollar a show, which was created in response to listeners just wanting to throw in a bit of cash to say thanks without wanting benefits in return — and a $10 tier that a number of superfans are on.

The main changes here are the addition of the new $3 tier that essentially gets you double the shows per week, which also go out to anyone on the higher tiers automatically as well.

I’d really appreciate the feedback on these tiers to get them to a place that does the following:

  1. keep existing patrons happy and willing to continue supporting us

  2. offer more value without asking you to pay more for it

  3. offer a lot more value to people who would like to support us for more money

  4. of course, encourage more of our free listeners to become patrons

There’s no secret to any of this: we’d like the show to at least keep making us the same amount of money, and to do that we need to make sure we’re giving you what you want. And nobody running a Patreon page would ever say “we don’t want to make more money!” Of course we’d love that, but the main reason for that isn’t so we can buy a new Mercedes each; it’s because the more financial value the show has, the more we know we can then do with it. For example, if we could afford to hire a freelancer to edit the show every week, it would potentially free us up to do more shows, or more types of additional special episodes. That’s how we think about it.

So as ever this is where you guys come in. You’re our supporters, but you’re also our customers. You’re earning money in your jobs and choosing to give some of it to us because you value what we spend some of our time creating for you.

When I recorded my first podcast in 2006, I wouldn’t have dreamed that 13 years later I’d still be podcasting, and that it would generate a bit of income. It’s impossible not to be incredibly grateful, particularly since we also love doing it. The words “thank you” aren’t enough, but hopefully they’re a good start!

Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, or email me at the usual address: hello@techpodcast.uk.

Thank you again to everyone - current patrons, potential future patrons, and the free listeners that help spread the word of the show - and I look forward to being able to keep the show valuable to you no matter how you’re able to support us.

Nate

Nate Lanxon