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Building a platform for publishing, advice for proceeding?
Hi all,

I'm considering going it alone and building a new service which aims to assist content creators with the jump from using tools from many sites, to becoming a professional operation using the tools and the audience of one to get their work out there, but before I start I kind of want to see if the idea makes any sense.

I'm interested in building a blogging and publishing platform, basically what would happen if Tumblr and Future Publishing merged, and the publishing side opened up to support newcomers to self-publishing using crowdfunding to fund new equipment for them to improve their output and to upgrade the level of service they get from my platform. I have a lot of details as to how it would be viable, but obviously cautious of sharing as I don't want my ideas being used by someone else until I have a product out there.

Does this make much sense as it is? There are a massive amount of people out there who classify themselves as journalists within gaming, and many who upload content exclusively to Youtube. I feel this would work if orchestrated correctly, but would like to see what others thought before making a start for real. Is there something I'm missing perhaps?

Any feedback would be awesome and if you're interested about becoming involved let me know. It'll be voluntary I'm afraid as I'm not currently running a business, so strictly if you're interested in taking part because you genuinely believe this could become something, you're based in or around Birmingham in the UK and know PHP/MySQL (Linux knowledge would be advantageous!).

The plan is to go to IndieGoGo once the project is in alpha stage and can finally be used by the public and use the feedback of current users to assist in the campaign for funding in the hope I can resign from my current position and focus on this project full time, while getting office space, moving equipment, registering the business and employing staff.

So, any feedback that anyone may have for pressing on with this?

Many thanks to anyone who has anything to share. :)

1 topics   5 posts
I've had a similar idea for sometime, =). I think it'd be great! However, I'm not presently publishing games content regularly like some of the others on here, so I think they'd be the ones to answer whether they'd use such a platform, and what tools they might like to see.

Does this make much sense as it is? You've been quite vague at this stage. I'm mostly excited by the idea, as the vagueness has allowed me to assume some of your ideas might be similar to ideas I've had myself - but for all I know, they could be completely different! You may have to be more specific at some point, as regards exactly what it is you're proposing.

Nothing wrong with being cautious, but typically, sharing can be key to working with others and making stuff happen. One or two people might steal your ideas, but they won't get far on their own, I'd wager. Pulling something like this off, sounds like quite an effort!

Speaking of effort, I recently ran a failed KickStarter - and learnt so much! Specifically speaking there needs to be a way to bring an audience to it. Youtube is great, 'cos as long as you search engine optimise, your content can be found when people search for a game title on Youtube or Google, but these crowd funding platforms seldom have their own audience. You have to work hard to pull in every page view to your campaign yourself, =S.

Also, I'd say the benefit of your platform has to be really clear to those who might benefit from using it.

I've seen some cool projects in the indie games-website community be pulled off in past years, but often they fizzled out as everyone involved was quite strongly independent, and it was difficult to get them to unify or work together - although I have seen two or three sites work well together, it's seldom more than that. Of course, it sounds like you're talking independent journalists, moreso than indie websites. Even still, I'd assume a platform would face less difficulties if it allowed those using it to operate independently.
But I don't want to highlight problems before you've started, ;-).

Sounds like you need encouragement and the means to get started atm, ^_^.
You can always sort out problems along the way, =).

14 topics   111 posts
This sounds encouraging, and hopefully I'm not pitching your own ideas here! I'd like to cater for both independent journalists and indie-websites (as we'd offer anyone who uses the platform the ability to completely customize how our platform looks to readers/viewers). For anyone in business and already has an infrastructure in place I'd like to offer LDAP/Microsoft Active Directory integration, the ability for them to use the tools they are already comfortable with, and add collaboration tools so they can communicate with colleagues, sources and PR departments for other firms through the platform. We would essentially be running a cloud-based service which integrates with their on-premise systems rather than it all running in the cloud and them having to change all their workflows. It'd be late in to the project when we start adding these features, but if we're going to offer a competing publishing service we need to integrate with some legacy systems journalists and outlets are currently using so the footprint of switching for journalists is small and the risk to current businesses operations for them is also small.

There are a lot of things that can be done to provide for publishers of all sizes from single-user self-publishers to massive multi-user news outlets, it's just a case of how fast these features can be implemented. As I've had experience with Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, and many other IaaS services I've got a fair idea as to what a business is looking for when they're looking at switching to the cloud, and also a good idea as to what changes when they do. I'm not as in to 'cloud' computing as many IT managers are, but I see strong benefits in it when it works with on-premise systems, as opposed to trying to replace it.

I'll go in to a bit more detail, so specifically the idea would be as follows:

- Standard users would get access to a dead simple blogging platform which builds upon the ultra-simple UX of Tumblr, but has more features to allow both micro-bloggers the ability to use it easily, while also allowing essay writers (people -like me- who find it way too easy to write paragraphs and paragraphs on a particular subject) to have their posts still look as though the system was designed for it. For advertising to free users, I'd advertise other content creators on the publishing side of the platform. It'd gather 'relevant' publishers based on the tags a user uses for each blog entry rather than anything personal to get around privacy issues surrounding the advertising platform, and present these ads under something like "Discovery", showing small snippets of relevant publishers using the platform.

Publishers would get tiered plans as follows:

- Startup Self-Publisher - A 6-month trial of services on the platform, with the ability to be signed up for mentorship from a customer advisor on the team to help them take their idea from concept to reality by providing advice and guidance to help them get the most of the trial and succeed with their ideas. At the same time, if they decide to opt-in to the mentorship they can add a donation box to the pages of their publication on the platform and set a split for where the donations go, whether it be us so we can grant them more services or take them from the trial in to a full publishing plan after the 6 months, or to themselves to gather equipment or software licenses to improve the quality of their output. When a user subscribes to a startup self-publisher within the 6-months trial they can also opt to donate to them, making subscribes much more powerful.

In the future, if this did take off, I'd like to offer video hosting (with the option open for publishers to turn ads off, or pick their own) and live broadcast with dynamic region targeting so content is pushed to the relevant datacentres where demand to view a stream is high, pushing video quality up at the cost of lag. The benefit our live broadcast system would have over others is the ability of the publishers to tailor the stream exactly to their needs, and not have random ads appear mid broadcast. Streams pushed through us would look far more professional.

I'd also like to run a print press so members of the site can custom order magazines that publishers make with 30% going to us to print and send it, and the rest going to the publisher but this idea and the streaming idea above would be well in to the future if the project was successful. Our income would come from premium-plan bloggers and self-publishers and any advertising we run along side for our free users.

I'd build the service to have a very simple to use UI for all users (including staff on the project) and as such this allows anyone using it to get right to it, and allows us to be able to support people faster.

Sorry for the length of this post. You can tell I've had a good think about how to do this!

1 topics   5 posts
This all sounds very cool, but when you start talking live video, Twitch [or even Ustream] is miles ahead of you, and Xbox One and PS4's inbuilt functions will be right behind Twitch! When you talk about a customer advisor, it's obvious you can't be (as your first line of this thread indicates): "...going it alone...". As coding and being a customer advisor, are two different jobs, yes? =).

What I would say is, why would someone blog on your platform, as opposed to any other platform? I assume the tools and mentoring. Of course, neither exist yet, =S, so it might be a case of building something, and then seeing how it's received.

14 topics   111 posts
That's the initial plan, just get a blogging platform live and try to get people using it. I'm hoping that down the line when the foundations for a good service are down, people are using the service and an income is coming in, it's at that point I can start looking at getting additional people on board to assist with developing new tools for people to use, and then as budgets allow get experienced people on board to help new content creators get started once the publishing side of things is ready to go. Video in any form will be way in to the future so I'm not thinking too much in to that at this present moment in time. This would involve massive investment so no major rush to do this until publishers start saying "It'd be nice if...".

I'll admit that by going in to developing a blogging service I'd be going in to competition with already well established platforms, but no one platform is perfect. Several friends pointed out both Tumblr and Wordpress as having major UX or feature issues. Myself being experienced with both, I can say that receiving the response that a particular feature can't be implemented because 'our architecture doesn't support that' when the feature is (or should be) rather obvious (lots of others have asked too), and the other simply being too over-the-top for what a lot of people want. I want to satisfy the middle-ground where people don't want every feature imaginable and just want to write and post, and apply features the other I feel is missing when they should be fundamental. Because I'd by default have to put up with tough competition, I need to do something else that sets the service apart otherwise the platform I make will be 'just another blogging platform', so I'm hoping the publisher/discovery side should differentiate it somewhat once it's built. Until then, I'd be relying on the fact that the user experience when blogging is superior, and people simply enjoy using the platform. User experience is going to be crucial, and listening to feedback even more so.

Might even have a completely different idea when it comes to implementing that, but I won't know unless I do get there. I guess it's just a case of building the blogging service in to beta and seeing how people take it and see what their suggestions are. Would be nice to finally see a British built web service in heavy use. Would be nicer if it were my service. Even if it didn't take off though, supposing failure, I'd take away development experience and experience of handling different development scenarios as challenges came up, so on that hand I might even be missing out if I didn't go ahead with it.

To answer your question as to why people should use my platform over others, I'd say my service would provide a superior user experience that gets out of your way when you have something on your mind. This is a category of web services where one leading competitors platform is too powerful for users of the other leading platform, and that other leading platform isn't powerful enough and has very poor UI design that was made with a focus on looking pretty, as opposed to being functional.

Out of curiosity, does this sound like fair reasoning to you (prioritizing simplicity and very select features over beauty), or would you say I could focus on other features/qualities other platforms are missing altogether but would find useful?

1 topics   5 posts

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