What is Poet’s Corner?
I haven’t really written about Poet’s Corner before so some background is probably useful. Poet’s Corner is a poetry community. I originally built it back in 2011 over a weekend. The original version was extremely bare-bones. There were only 3 screens – a list of all the poems, a screen where a user could post a poem and a screen which would show a posted poem.
Over the past 3 years PC has evolved into a really great community filled with a mixture of wonderful older and younger poets who write some incredible poetry. Of all the projects I’ve ever worked on I love this one the most. It has created friends laughter and a ton of inspiration for me personally. I consider it my most successful projects and all the emails I receive from poets thanking me for building it really mean a lot to me.
I do consider it a business. It does make a little bit of money and I hope that with some tweaks it can make more. Having it generate money can allow me to make it better + pay other people to help make it better.
PC has been downloaded over 75000 times and currently is installed on 10000 phones. Those numbers are definitely vanity metrics. A metric I use which I think gives a better idea of how much PC is used is the number of people who have signed in over the past 4 days. For the past couple of years that number has hovered around 1000 people.
So how did 2014 go?
Well let’s put some metrics down for reference –>
New registrations ~5000
Total Revenue ~2500$
Expenses ~ 1500$
Estimated total time spent on PC this year ~24hrs
Estimated hourly wage ~40$
I’ve invested this money this year into buying the domain poetscorner.com and improve the Poet’s Corner hosting.
What went well
PC’s community is very strong. It almost polices itself. The posts off topic and spam are very low. I think that this comes from a combination of having the correct features for the community (no profile pics for example), the community being small, and the core group of poets who have decided to make PC their home. I probably owe this core group most. They really are the ones adding the value to the community at this point.
Buying the domain name. I think that this gives me a chance to really grow what PC can be. I’ve begun to realize that PC is something very special. People identify with it. This is unusual in a software project & I think that PC has the potential to really help people gain courage and voice as artists. This is what is starting to drive me and it has begun to help me define a roadmap for ways I can help people identify as poets even more.
The subscription service — this is a mixed bag. I need to change how the subscription system works but the fact that people continue to support PC even with the limited amount of premium features I’m offering at 6$/month I think shows that PC is delivering something very special.
What didn’t go well
I’ve been neglecting PC for a while (especially during 2013). After releasing the paid features some technical issues with the code made me afraid to modify it. I wrote a post on what I’ve done to correct the problem and I’m starting to get out of the woods, but at the moment PC is hard to modify and that’s keeping me from experimenting.
PC’s active user count has been hovering around 1000 for the past couple of years. My theory is that this has to do with the way the app (and particularly the main poetry board) is laid out. There is only one place to post poems and so this one-board model acts as a sort of natural limiter of potential growth of the app. I believe this is not necessarily a bad thing as the community has been good at forging “strong” connections and friendships between poets. I’m not sure if the same thing would happen if the community size were to triple — I think that I need to decide sometime soon if this is an experiment I want to undertake.
PC has been hard to change. I’m beginning to address this issue but I believe that it’s the main obstacle (that and deciding which direction I want to take PC in) to PC being able to contribute more to the users.
I have a sense that involving someone else in building PC would make it move forward better. I haven’t really identified what role that person would have — community manager and/or developer but I probably need to make a decision on that.
What I plan to work on in the coming year
I want to be intentionally vague about this. Life is complicated and I’m not always able to deliver on my promises and I’m sure some of the poets will read this post ;).
That said, I’d like to get PC to a place where it’s easy to modify and make change to — easy to experiment. This probably means that I’m going to be doing more with the web.
I want to try tweaking and changing some of the limits on PC.
I hope that I can get PC to a point where I could afford to pay someone to help me work on it every once in a while.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my year in review…
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