Tag Archives: kickstarter

Twitterrific Phoenix on Kickstarter

I use Twitter much differently than most people. I haven’t returned to my @manton account in over 4 years, and instead I cross-post all my blog posts to @manton2. I reply and like tweets when I get mentions, but I don’t actually follow anyone.

But despite this weird use of Twitter, I follow the company closely and still maintain the Tweet Marker timeline syncing API. So I’m excited to see Iconfactory launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund new work on Twitterrific for Mac.

I’ve backed the project. It’s a good opportunity to support one of the pioneers of Twitter development.

Timetable 37

I’m taking some time to resume Timetable recording. From the latest episode:

Now that the Kickstarter campaign has wrapped up, I move to the next phase of getting Micro.blog ready, planning for invites, and focusing on the Slack community.

I started Timetable over a year ago to document what it was like to build Micro.blog and figure out how to launch it. Each episode is about 4-5 minutes long. Reaching this point with the Kickstarter finished is a huge milestone, but there is plenty of work still to do and talk about.

Core Intuition 268

We posted this week’s Core Intuition today, with the latest Apple developer news and a debate on Alexa vs. Siri:

Manton closes in on the last week of his Kickstarter, and Daniel catches up on his progress. They discuss new beta updates from Apple for both Mac and iOS. They react to Apple’s forthcoming review prompting system for iOS, and the ability for developers to respond to reviews on both Mac and iOS. Finally, they debate the merits of Siri vs. Alexa on grounds of reliability and viability as an international, long-term success.

I haven’t kept up with Timetable recordings lately, but hope to do another one before the Kickstarter campaign wraps up too. Thanks for listening.

Making the Kickstarter video

Since I launched it over 3 weeks ago, thousands of people have watched my Kickstarter video, but I haven’t watched it again myself since that first day. I knew if I watched it I’d find new problems with it, and remember all the things I wanted to fix. It’s too late.

I had fun creating it. I wanted something with a hand-drawn feel, because to me blogging is about individual creative expression. It’s about not being afraid to publish something that isn’t perfect — something that is personal and a little rough, like a quick sketch.

Because I love traditional animation I wanted to draw all the frames with a pencil and paper, not digitally. Here’s me flipping through some of the drawings:

At 30 frames per second, doing any animation at all is extremely tedious, even with these little sketches. I made about a hundred drawings and scanned them in one at a time. I composited everything in Apple’s Motion, then ended up using Motion for sliding objects around and fading them in or out, which cut back on the number of drawings I would have otherwise needed.

The inspiration for introducing the video was the early 1920s-era Max Fleischer and Walt Disney cartoons, like Alice’s Wonderland. I also thought it would more naturally cut from me talking at the camera to illustrating the story of why independent microblogging matters.

I’m not sure whether I will ever do another Kickstarter campaign. But I hope to have the chance to make a video like this again. I learned a lot from it.

Microblogging community on Slack

Since I launched on Kickstarter, backers have asked if there should be a Slack community to discuss Micro.blog and related microblogging topics. I wasn’t sure. I know some people are already in multiple Slack groups, including the excellent IndieWebCamp IRC/Slack, and I also didn’t want to distract from any posts that should happen in the open on blogs.

Some discussion just fits better in chat, though. There’s an emerging community of indie microbloggers. Having a place to share tips, tools, and ask questions about Micro.blog just makes sense.

I’m experimenting with the Slack channel now, and I’ll be opening it to all Kickstarter backers next week. If you’ve backed the project before Monday, expect a backers-only project update with information on how to join.

Core Intuition 267

This week on Core Intuition, Daniel and I talk about the halfway point to my Kickstarter campaign, running ads, and more:

Manton talks about marketing for the Kickstarter, how many people watch the video, and how to transition from marketing the passionate philosophical backers, to making a case for the sheer utility of the product. They talk about modern advertising technology that allows hyper-focused delivery, and follow up on Chris Lattner’s departure from Apple, and the exciting opportunities he will likely have at Tesla.

The last segment of the show is about Chris Lattner going to Tesla. We recorded before we listened to the latest ATP, but our conversation still holds up as pretty relevant. Hope you enjoy it.

One year of Timetable

I started my microcast Timetable a little over one year ago. I’ve recorded 35 episodes, so fewer than 1 a week. My goal is still 2-3 a week, so hopefully I’ll work up to that for 2017.

This podcast is one of my favorite things to do right now. It’s so much easier to record and publish a 5-minute podcast than a 1-hour podcast. All I need is something to talk about.

Here are the feed descriptions for each episode over the last year, starting with the earliest. Reviewing these provides a neat snapshot into the journey of building Micro.blog. You can subscribe at timetable.fm.

1: On the first episode, I introduce the idea behind the show and the topics I hope to cover.

2: On this episode, I talk about trying tea instead of coffee, how I named this podcast, and my work schedule as I wrap up the week.

3: On this episode, I talk about finishing some work and the new iPhone microphone I bought.

4: This morning I was downtown to work at a coffee shop for a few hours before lunch. I talk about getting out of the house and last night’s icon sketches.

5: Today I stopped at the post office to pick up some stamps to mail stickers for the new microblogging app and platform I’m working on.

6: I start with some thoughts on basketball, my potential Kickstarter campaign, and whether it’s better to start strong or finish strong. (Go Spurs Go!)

7: This morning I was distracted a little with backups, ordering a new hard drive, and thinking about my iOS app, which was just rejected by Apple.

8: Recorded in 3 segments, I set my alarm early this morning to get some coding done before the day starts slipping away.

9: Today I mention the iPhone app rejection, talk about why the iPhone app itself is secondary to the web version, and reveal more about the Kickstarter.

10: I take the iPad Pro and my microphone out to the front porch, to think through what work I need to focus on for today.

11: Back from a sick day or two, I talk today about Twitter’s algorithmic timeline change and why it would be nice to launch a product when your competitor has some bad news.

12: Back from a quick trip to Portland, today I’m thinking about the music for my Kickstarter project.

13: I finally drop the stickers in the mailbox at our neighborhood post office. Thinking this episode about what it means to be lucky.

14: At my 10th new coffee shop in as many days, I write a few blog posts. And on this episode I talk about it.

15: I reflect on 6 months as an indie, think about stealing time for projects, and plan how I can use working from a coffee shop in the morning to provide a better structure to my day.

16: This week I’m thinking back on how Staple! Expo went over the weekend, and why it never helps to panic when something isn’t going perfectly to plan.

17: It’s spring break week, which means the kids are out of school and SXSW is taking over downtown.

18: I’m playing Nintendo’s new iPhone app Miitomo, watching my Mii character pace around the room as he (and I) wait for our iPhone SE delivery. Also talk about the library routine and Rails 5.

19: I finally record a video for my Kickstarter project. Now I just need to edit it and do everything else.

20: I talk about receiving the Loish art book and my current thoughts on Kickstarter goals and rewards.

21: Today I take stock of the last few weeks of client work and recovering from 2 months of focusing so heavily on my personal blog.

22: Last week was stressful. This episode is about being mad at nothing and everything, and why fireflies are magical.

23: I play a clip from the Upgrade podcast and then talk about my struggle to wind down a product correctly.

24: I summarize my week in San Francisco from the perspective of not just the WWDC technical news and events, but also of using the trip to refocus on my priorities for Riverfold Software.

25: Back after a summer break, on this episode I talk through what we can learn from Tim Duncan’s incredible 19-year career.

26: I talk about getting derailed with home repairs, the U.S. presidential election, and writing about the Dash controversy.

27: One week after the election, I react to Apple’s design book announcement and talk about why social networks may be broken.

28: Not enough sleep yet still focused on getting work done. I review today’s blog post and play a clip from the Moana soundtrack.

29: I got a new domain! I talk about the .blog registration process and my evolving plans.

30: From a listener question, I talk about steps in November to wrap up old projects and finish new ones.

31: I try the new WeWork location at the Domain, listen to a singer at the car dealership, and remember that I need to get out to talk to real people about my work.

32: I share some thoughts on the first day of Super Mario Run and how my work week is wrapping up.

33: The morning after Christmas, I give a quick update on Micro.blog plans and Kickstarter’s Launch Now review feature.

34: Happy New Year! I talk about the first day of the year, and the final day to finish my Kickstarter project for Micro.blog.

35: A week after launching the Kickstarter, I talk about its success so far and why I believe I can build Micro.blog, with a clip about optimism from Gary Vaynerchuk.

Kickstarter, first week wrap-up

One week down. The launch on Kickstarter is going great. It’s fantastic to see everyone’s reaction to the project. More than ever, I’m convinced that the time is right for this.

I wanted to highlight a few posts and links. I was a little caught off guard by activity on the first day, so I’ve yet to really reach out to press contacts who might want to write about Micro.blog. I’ve been focused on replying to questions about the service and book.

John Voorhees wrote for MacStories about the Kickstarter:

Micro.blog has a lot in common with social networks like Twitter, such as replies and favorites, but with an important difference. Instead of locking users into a proprietary system owned by someone else, the content created by individuals is owned and controlled by them. As part of the Micro.blog service, Reece is also building publishing tools with Markdown support, including a native iPhone app, to help people get started with microblogging.

John had interviewed me at WWDC last year about what I was up to. While I didn’t have the name Micro.blog yet back then, I was actively working on the service and you can hear many of the same themes from back in June as I’m saying today.

I thought Marco Arment summed up the urgency well:

We’ve all been pouring a lot more of our writing and attention into Twitter and Facebook than the rest of the web, and the diversity and decentralization of the web has suffered greatly. Far too much power now rests in far too few hands, and we’re starting to suffer tremendous consequences.

Reaction from the WordPress community has also been encouraging. I knew I wanted to reach WordPress fans, because Micro.blog works great with WordPress, but I’m not as plugged into that community. I was excited to see Matt Mullenweg tweet a link to it. And WP Tavern did an excellent write-up, mixing interview questions with previous posts of mine:

During his 14 years of blogging and 10 years of using Twitter, Reece became an advocate for the open web. He said he used to be excited about Twitter and built apps for the platform but grew disillusioned at their approach to locking down the API.

I’m thankful for local articles as well, such as this story from Silicon Hills News by Laura Lorek. Laura is just in the last day of her own Kickstarter campaign for a podcast companion to the Austin news site.

Not to mention blog posts from Brent Simmons, Gus Mueller, Becky Hansmeyer, Ben Brooks, Dave Peck, Chris Aldrich, John Johnston, and the hundreds of tweets and links I’ve seen over the last week. It’s really special to see it spread so far. Thank you again to everyone who has linked to the project.

Now that I’ve had a week to reflect on the campaign, and listen to feedback, I’m starting to form a much clearer picture of how the rest of the month needs to play out. This is the kind of opportunity that doesn’t come around very often. I’m looking forward for the work ahead.

Medium may not last

On Monday, I launched my Kickstarter project about independent microblogging, with a focus on owning your own content and making blogging easier. On Tuesday, Lindy West left Twitter in a post about Twitter’s inability to deal with harassment. On Wednesday, Ev Williams announced that Medium would lay off 50 employees.

The message is clear. The only web site that you can trust to last and have your interests at heart is the web site with your name on it.

That’s the main goal with Micro.blog. Build a service and write a book that makes independent blogging more approachable. No one knows exactly what the web will look like in 10 years, but we can take the first step to get there. If you’ve been frustrated by the ad-based silos and waiting for a reason to post to your own site again, I’d love your support.

Kickstarter, day 1

Yesterday morning I woke up early, after not enough sleep, and flipped the switch to launch my Kickstarter project. I’ve been amazed at the response, seeing it funded on the first day. If you backed it or shared a link with friends, thank you. It meant a lot to see so many people embracing the idea.

I’ve backed 18 projects on Kickstarter but never created one myself, so I didn’t know what to expect. Was the funding goal too high? Too low? Even at the last minute I was noticing problems with the video and wished I had more time to improve it.

But I really wanted to launch something new at the beginning of 2017. I settled on January 2nd a couple of weeks ago and decided to stick with it. I announced the date on Core Intuition. I booked a sponsorship slot on 512 Pixels to lock myself into the date. I gave my mailing list an early heads-up that it was coming. I even set a promoted tweet to run, for some reason. (And I quietly deleted some other advertising ideas from my OmniFocus list, because I just ran out of time to pursue them.)

Today, I took a few minutes to re-listen to episode 34 of my short podcast Timetable, which I had published on Sunday, the day before launching on Kickstarter. It’s fascinating to me in the context of the success of the project so far, and in general people’s positive reaction to the video, because I think you can hear the doubt in my voice about it. I was not confident.

And I felt the same way yesterday morning, staring at the “0 backers” text on Kickstarter for a little while, wondering if maybe I had rushed it out without enough planning. That’s a really bizarre feeling. It’s much different than selling traditional Mac or iOS software.

Right now I’m feeling incredibly lucky to have the chance to launch this project — to see it spread and to hear everyone’s feedback and ideas. I have a bunch of work to do. And I have new features that I wanted to build for Micro.blog which I haven’t announced yet, which now it looks like I’ll be able to prioritize.

I’ll have more thoughts soon. In the meantime, I’ve been answering questions on Kickstarter and email, and I’ll be sending a project update later today to all backers with details on what comes next. Thanks again for your support!

Kickstarter video work-in-progress

Tomorrow I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign for Micro.blog and a short book about blogging called Indie Microblogging. I’ve had fun working on the video for this project, trying to tell the story of why independent publishing matters.

Of course the video has me talking at the camera, but it also incorporates some animation and screencasts. Here are 4 stills from the video:

Video thumbnails

I can’t wait to share the full thing. I’d love your support when it launches.

On this day, last year

One year ago today, I posted the first screenshots of Snippets.today for iPhone. I never would’ve guessed that a year later I’d still be working on the beta, still not quite ready to ship.

One theme from that post a year ago is even more true today, though. To succeed I need to not just announce and market the product, but tell a story about why it matters. This realization is what has held up the Kickstarter video for so long. It doesn’t need to be perfect — I’m sure it will be flawed in a few ways — but it needs to be right, in that it should frame the idea of independent microblogging correctly.

More from that post last year:

Earlier this year I gave a talk at CocoaConf about tips I’ve learned to be productive while juggling multiple projects. But as I worked on the talk, it turned out to be about something else. It was about Walt Disney moving from Kansas City to Hollywood. It was about crazy side projects that no one else believed in. It was about Texas Hold ‘Em poker and risking everything for an idea.

I still feel that risk. A long-overdue product is difficult to push forward, the weight starting to carry as much burden as potential. And everywhere I look there’s a new excuse to procrastinate.

Timetable episodes 19 and 20

I published 2 new Timetable episodes this week, with a shared theme around Kickstarter projects. They’re both just 5-6 minutes long.

Episode 19 is about how I finally sat down to record a video for my upcoming Kickstarter project. I still have editing to do, but I’m already feeling a lot better about actually launching this.

Episode 20 continues the discussion of Kickstarter, starting with my reaction after receiving the art book from Loish yesterday. I was really impressed with how well it was produced. Anytime I see something of such high quality I’m inspired to do a better job with my own work.

Getting press

As I mentioned when I first linked to Studio Neat’s Obi project on Kickstarter, I enjoyed the Thoroughly Considered podcast that came out of that endeavor. It’s now one of my favorites.

On the latest show, Dan and Tom and Myke talk about the press: getting press for your product, communicating with press folks, and the impact of being featured in the press. Because Studio Neat makes physical products and not just software, their take on these topics is always good.

While I’ve blogged from time to time about the press, there’s a lot that I get wrong or don’t make time for. I was impressed with David Barnard’s promotion for Rando, a new iPhone app that was a joint venture with David, designer Rick Messer, and Jonathan Hays and Ryan DeVore from Silverpine Software. The app got a lot of great press coverage. Even the reviewers who weren’t convinced they’d use the app couldn’t help but recommend that readers download it. Not just because of its novelty, but because David framed the app with such a clear story.

Self-promotion is hard for many of us. I try to remind myself that journalists want something interesting to write about. The community as a whole benefits when writers have good stories and developers have good traffic to their apps.

One of the approaches I’ve been trying with my upcoming microblog platform is to write about related topics for months before the project is officially announced. It’s great because these are things I would want to write about anyway, regardless of having an app to promote, and so the heightened level of interest from beta testers and bloggers is like a bonus. Now I just have to actually ship the product while the timing is right.

Core Intuition 220

On this week’s Core Int:

“Daniel orders a Brother, Apple defies the FBI, Manton continues to struggle with his Kickstarter, and the two discuss using structure and constraints to encourage tackling new goals.”

I like this episode because it has a mix of serious and fun topics. Toward the end of the episode we talk about my new goal of trying a new coffee shop once a day for a month.

Charles Perry’s microblog

Charles Perry has started a microblog. On the balance of what he should post to Twitter and what he should post to his own site first, he writes:

“Most of the things I write on Twitter are snippets of conversations or other thoughts that I don’t necessarily want to preserve. Those will stay on Twitter. But some microposts—is that a thing?—I think are of interest on their own. These I plan to post to the DazeEnd.org microblog and mirror to Twitter. That should allow me to preserve and archive my thoughts on my own website and use Twitter just for distribution.”

I was really happy to see these posts show up in my RSS reader. There’s some momentum around indie microblogging right now. You should start one too.

Here are some more of my posts on the topic:

Listeners of my new Timetable podcast also know that I’m writing a short book about independent microblogging. You can hear a little about this on episode 9.

Core Intuition 202 and Thoroughly Considered (and stickers!)

We posted episode 202 of Core Intuition yesterday. This was a fun episode because we didn’t plan for it; we just started talking. From the show notes:

“Manton and Daniel discuss the paralysis of choosing what to work on as an indie, Manton’s mysterious Kickstarter campaign, and the allure of company stickers and other marketing stuff.”

Make sure to listen through the end for why I ordered stickers for my new app. If you want one, you can email me or send us podcast feedback.

As I said on the show, I highly recommend checking out Thoroughly Considered, the companion podcast for Studio Neat’s Kickstarter project. While you’re there, also consider backing the project, at the podcast level or the full Obi product if you have a pet that would love it. Even if it doesn’t successfully fund, I really enjoyed the first couple episodes of their podcast and hope it continues.