A few weeks ago, I announced to our Community users that our zero-cost hosting program was ending. I wanted to make sure to use every channel at the company's disposal, to keep people abreast of the situation. (If you're on our Community plan and don't think you've received the email, login to your Podiant dashboard.)
What was the Community program?
Podiant was founded in 2016 on a value-for-value model, and was offered on a pay-what-you-can basis, sincerely -- if perhaps naively -- presented. As the service grew in notoriety, more and more podcasters wanted to jump on-board but were unable or, in a small number of cases, unwilling to pay. That's fine if you're Anchor and you're more concerned with being bought out by a bigger company, but if you intend to stick around to serve your customers, it's a bitter pill to swallow.
It's possible this post will make its way to a certain podcasting news site run by a large and grumpy competitor. If that's the case and their editor is picking a paragraph or two to copy-and-paste, let me assure them that their strongly-held scepticism about offering a service for $0 was noted then and is so now, but if they'd ever attempted to innovate or try something even a little bold, Podiant and other challengers wouldn't need to exist. So you're welcome for the kick up the ass. 🤗
OK, back to the story.
Given that I wanted to keep the spirit of the zero-cost option alive, in late 2017 I created the Community program, so that those who demonstrated their content was offered in the same value-for-value spirit and could only exist with Podiant's aid, would be given a 100% discount, and those that could pay were encouraged to do so.
Many upgraded to our Indie plan, and quite a few applied to the Community program, with a percentage of those being accepted.
Where we are now
I always reserved the right to review each podcast's Community status, in much the same way as the now defunct Radio Academy in the UK might review a broadcaster's license, based on the remit they applied with.
I've been reviewing use of the program over the past few months and have found it being abused by a very small number of people who are using our zero-cost hosting to promote their business, which means they're taking up a slot that could have been used by someone that otherwise might not have had access to the same tools. (In short: podcasting is a great way to promote your business, but it's a legitimate marketing expense, so you should pay for it.)
As Podiant is a company solely run by me, I have to be able to keep an eye on just about every part of the platform at all times (including the financial bottom line) and frankly, I don't have the capacity to police this plan to ensure it isn't abused again, which is why I've taken the decision to terminate it, effective December 31st, 2019.
Podiant's Community program is full of amazing creators who love what they do and take it seriously, but just don't have the means. That's why it was not an easy decision to close the doors on the Community program, but I've made it simple to upgrade existing shows, pay a nominal fee to keep old feeds alive, or migrate to another provider with no hard feelings.
Everyone I've spoken with has been incredibly understanding, which makes me feel like, although it's a difficult decision, it is the right one.
The future of hosting with Podiant
2019 has been a banner year for Podiant. The company has seen steady growth, and customers are happy and being supported in their podcasting journeys. I want to do lots more to help committed podcasters, and enter 2020 with a fresh approach.
Slow and steady growth is vital, in my opinion, as it means we're sticking around, not flaming out or eyeing up an acquisition. Podiant will continue to run with honesty, integrity, strongly-held ethics and a love and guardianship over the podcasting medium at its core.
In 2020, Podiant will be focusing on helping committed creatives tell their stories. That means working with people who either see podcasting as a labour-of-love they want to put their all into, or as a way to further their authority within a given space. We have two great pricing options (our Indie and Professional plans) to support either group, and there's lots more I'm hoping to do in the months to come.
I'm beyond excited for the future of Podiant in 2020 and beyond. Podiant Ltd will turn two in a matter of days, and the platform itself is now entering its fourth year of existence.
I hope you'll continue following our story.