The Nice Place
It seems the times of free online advertising for indies are over. Blogs are not what they used to be, RSS is about to be buried. Facebook is a commercial and moral nightmare, and so is Facebook’s Instagram. On Twitter, our main marketing channel since 2007, engagement is sinking year after year. VC-powered startups steal our organic top ad positions on Google search for 20 dollars a click, and we’re too old for Snapchat or TikTok. So what can you do in 2019 to get the word out?
In spite of all that, we are in a lucky position. iA has been blogging since 2005 and there’s a community that knows us and likes our designs, products, and writings. (And we love you back ten times!) That’s why we have plenty of RSS subscribers, newsletter members and followers on Twitter. But in the sea of bought attention, work email overflow, Snapchat, chatbot and Slackbot, horror news, social media anger, flat earth conspiracies, and Neonazi propaganda, it’s still hard to reach them. Our followers don’t see what we post anymore unless we repost and retweet until we get unfollowed and unsubscribed by those who saw us.
More and more we get prompted to spend money to boost our content. Newsletters cost, too. They still work, but we don’t want to spam our customers with too many emails, either.
When we write, the feedback is positive as ever. It’s better, even, because we’re older and calmer and nicer now. We try to write posts, that offer meat to the bone. We back our claims up with practical experiments and insights into the process from what we designed. We make our own apps, give out free fonts, wallpapers, games, and learn to make music to bridge theory and practice. We try to create tangible, practical, entertaining and useful content. It’s just hard to reach people.
Discussing internally, and checking our stats we decided to blog again. And now we have decided not to just blog again, but to blog again more, much more. Blogging is surprisingly efficient. We could not afford to buy the targeted traffic that our blog posts bring. We experimented with search ads and retargeting, and that just cost us thousands of dollars for a fraction of the traffic we get for blogging.
Against all odds, blogging does work. It just takes a lot of time. A blog post like the one on music in writing or the one on Ethics and Ethics takes between one and three months. For a small operation like ours, astonishingly, writing long treatises on accidental 12-tone music, enriched with self composed beebop Jazz in is more economical than buying Google AdWords. But it is not quite economical enough. We feel that the expectations are so high, that we write half a Ph.D. every time. We need to relax, share more, be more concise.
Discussing how to move forward we noticed is that a lot of us also use Reddit again. The worse Facebook, Instagram and now Twitter got, the more we use Reddit. Reddit’s focus is on finding great content. Unlike Twitter it’s not about bitching, it’s structured into communities with common interests.
Reddit is not exactly known as a nice place. Overall it appears that since 2016, the fringe groups and extremists have slowly disappeared and the overall culture has become more humane. It’s not clear why or how that happened, but compared to the bot armies, the regular extremism, the constant trolling, spamming and ganging up on Twitter, Reddit is becoming a comparatively pleasant place. Who would have thought! So we decided to contribute and opened an iA Writer community on Reddit.
Meet us there
iA Writer on Reddit is a place to discover news and share tips for regular users. You are welcome to ask how-to questions but it doesn’t replace bug reports (via email) or support (via site), and it is not intended as a place to put us under pressure to prioritize the feature you always wanted (software development doesn’t work that way) or to ask us about ETAs (please stop). Its intention is to be a nice place. So if you’re interested to hook up with fellow iA Writers, please join. The doors are open.
We are looking forward to meeting you there.