Protagonize subscription preview

Okay, time for a another “state of the nation” type post where I give you a bit of an idea as to where things are going with Protagonize for the next few months. You’ve probably seen my blog post from last week requesting feedback on a few survey items, but those are a little further off on the development chart.

Protagonize needs your support

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve added a big shiny Donate (via PayPal) button on the right-hand side of the site’s pages. There’s a reason I haven’t mentioned it on the blog yet; I had to get a few things sorted out at my end before I made a public announcement about it.

I’ve always been loathe to ask for donations on the site for a couple of reasons: (a) I was worried it would come across as painfully cheesy, and (b) I didn’t feel right asking for any kind of financial contributions from our members without being able to give you back something else in exchange for your support.

Now comes the time where I feel comfortable putting information about how you can support Protagonize up on the site. The reason being, I’m able to announce that the subscription system I’ve been teasing folks with for the last few months is officially under way, with a bunch of awesome additional subscription features being phased in one-by-one over the next three to four months.

Since putting up the the donate button and the related donation information page four or five days ago, I’ve already seen a handful of generous contributions come in without my even having advertised the option. I think that goes to show we have a pretty dedicated group of folks here and I definitely appreciate your contributions thus far.

As an aside, anyone who donates prior to the official subscription service launch will get a $5-10 (all prices CAD) discounted Pro or Plus account for a year. Pretty sweet, right? In addition, donations of $50 or more will get you not only a Plus account, but beta access, which allows you to preview all subscriber features before they launch publicly. 

So, what do I get once subscriptions go live?

First of all (and just to clarify for anyone wondering), subscribing to Protagonize is entirely optional. All of the features that are available on the site to you today will remain permanently free. In addition, I’ll continue to add new free features as the site evolves. Subscribing just gives you more cool stuff than you’d get as a free account user.

Since you’re all wondering what exactly subscribers get in addition to their shiny badges and ad-free browsing of the entire site (which is live for our Pro & Plus members right now), I figured I’d give you guys a taste of what to expect. This is just a high-level view; I’ll go into more detail on these features in future blog posts. Most of them should be pretty self-explanatory, but a few might leave your collective mouths watering for more info…

DISCLAIMER: This feature list is preliminary and is obviously subject to change before subscriptions are officially live, but I figured I’d give you guys a sampling of what’s coming up and what to expect as subscribers in the next few months. I’m aiming to have most/all of this in place prior to Christmas. Ambitious, yes, but I’m always up for a challenge. :)

Upcoming free features:
  • Groups – full phase 2 & 3 releases (yay!)
  • Overhauled author profiles (finally!)
  • Story challenges!
  • Export your stories to plain text or PDF
Pro accounts: ($30.00 CAD / year)
  • No advertising!
  • Story & author recommendations (dynamically generated based on your reading habits)
  • Feature your own stories (on your profile)
  • Enhanced author profile & portfolio management
  • Unlimited groups (free accounts will only be able to create a limited number)
  • Pro account badge on your profile
Plus accounts: ($60.00 CAD / year)

Everthing a Pro account gets, plus…

  • Author blogs (finally, a way to pontificate outside of comments :)
  • Detailed reader statistics (story & profile view counts; readership demographics)
  • Vanity URLs (e.g. yourhandle.protagonize.com)
  • Protagonize beta access
  • Plus account badge on your profile
Future subscription features:

(Note: These are a ways off.)

  • Editing / Story markup (overlay suggested edits on top of stories and pages!)
  • Cover pages & chapter images for stories
  • Story sets (organize your works as collections!)
  • Characters (shared between stories)
  • … and more!

Hopefully that gives you a bit of an overview of what I have in store for the site, for both free members and subscribers. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here or post them over in the Protagonize Pub for everyone to read. I’ll answer as best I can.

The next few months should be pretty exciting for everyone. I’m looking forward to getting this all up and running for you guys. :)

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5 Responses to Protagonize subscription preview

  1. Trevor says:

    Boss!

    Having viewed other sites (i.e. Scribd.com), I’ve seen story/document exchanges turned into vast virtual warehouses, unminded, spam laden, and obviously there to turn volume into traffic revenue. Basically microchipped ghost towns.

    But YOU!…YOU! (ahem) It is so obvious that this is a labor love for you. Your dedication to the site is apparent in the speed at which you respond to members.

    These new features as much as I appreciate them I call, “POOEY!”. Because I don’t think they’re all for US. *I* think you love this site, YOU can’t help but want to make it better! HA! Am I right?

    I’m a DETECTIVE, Mr. Buckymcbuckmuck!

    Thanks, Nick – for taking creative writing to a new level.

    (I’m gonna write the good people at CBC another letter. ;) I’ll send it to you after :) (It’ll be good))

  2. ElzuWolfe says:

    Whilst I appreciate what you are doing, I have to ask if there will be alternate methods of payment made possible, because unfortunately Paypal hates me profusely for reasons I cannot fathom.
    I tried to make a donation the other day, but alas, Paypal refuses to believe that the new debit card I own is unique to my account, thus it will not let me sign up.
    I’d love to know if there is another way.

    Wolfe

  3. Nick says:

    Hey Wolfe,

    Although I’d love to be able to offer a wide variety of ways to donate/subscribe (and I probably will be able to at some point down the road), right now I’m limited by not having a merchant account.

    Paypal is the simplest option for small businesses online aside from Google Checkout. And I’d love to use Google Checkout, but they still don’t support Canada, although they’ve been promising it for years.

    The only alternatives I can offer right now are:
    – Email money transfers (which some banks allow)
    – Wire transfers (although there is a rather expensive fee for this)
    – Certified/cashier’s cheque or money order via postal mail (sloooow but should work too)

    If you’re interested in any of those three, just drop me an email at nick_at_tauntmedia_dot_com and we can sort it out directly. I’d warn you that the email money transfer may or may not be available; it depends completely on your bank.

    Hope that helps!
    -nick

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  5. Ian Ridgwell says:

    As much as I am so far enjoying this site (I have been eyeing it off for some time) The features you are suggesting play to me like a myspace account or facebook. Sure social features are important in a social application however I fear there isn’t a great deal of focus on improved writing apperatus.

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