Monthly update for September 2020
This is the 36th full month (exactly 3 YEARS!) that I worked on Listen Notes full-time. Hope you are doing well and staying safe!
1, [UI Redesign] Changed top navigation menu a bit. It’s still far from perfect. Listen Notes is used by many different types of users. The navigation system has become quite confusing. Maybe we should split listennotes.com into multiple websites with separate brands, e.g., one for listeners only, one for developers, one for education… Let me know if you have any thoughts.
2, [UI Redesign + Monetization] Updated business-related landing pages, e.g., For Business page.
3, [API] Be able to add multiple accounts to API now. Quite a few API users hire developers to build apps / websites for them. Now they don’t need to share API keys with their developers via email or IM any more.
4, [UI Redesign + i18n] Built a language selector for our website UI. And a nice gentleman from Bulgaria helped add Bulgarian translation.
5, [Productivity] Miscellaneous improvements to make human operators life easier - typical things that data scientists (e.g., building dashboards), DevSecOps (e.g., building small internal tools), and customer services (e.g., writing email templates) would do inside a tech company.
6, [Monetization] Added auto-cancellation to the Premium Membership subscription. Unlike other subscription-based services, we don’t ask people to subscribe for a whole month (or even a whole year). Instead, it’s billed daily on our site. We go one step further: we automatically cancel the subscription for you.
I started to work on Listen Notes full-time in September 2017. Initially, it was a single-page app:
Over the past 3 years, we’ve made some progress…
Recently, I’ve been thinking what exactly is Listen Notes & how can we keep running this service sustainably long term.
So what is Listen Notes?
Essentially, Listen Notes is a podcast directory / database with 3 user interfaces (UI) to access the podcast data. It’s like we are providing picks and shovels in the podcasting gold rush! Hopefully, Listen Notes can make the podcast industry a little bit better.
Okay, here are the 3 user interfaces (UI) of Listen Notes:
The first UI is listennotes.com, the website. It’s a UI for most human users. People come to the website to search podcasts / episodes, and create playlists.
The second UI is the podcast API. It’s a UI for apps / other websites to programmatically access to the podcast database.
The third UI is spreadsheet. People can export podcast data into CSV files on our site and explore the data in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
And we monetize through these three UIs. We hide some advanced search filters behind a paywall (Premium Membership). And we have a paid plan for the API, and charge fees to export data in batch.
I know this is not ideal. People always expect to access to information for free on the Internet. So there are only two options for Listen Notes at this moment:
Make Listen Notes completely free for 100% of all website visitors. And we’ll have very limited ways to generate revenue. We’ll run out of money eventually. Then we have to shut down Listen Notes (the product + the company) completely - just like many other free websites / apps that come and go.
Directly charge 0.1% of all website visitors through the three UIs I mentioned above. So the other 99.9% can use Listen Notes for free.
I don’t know what you think. But personally I prefer the second option. And that’s what we do here at Listen Notes.
In fact, only ~0.1% of website visitors ever opened those “business” pages, and far less than 0.1% actually paid.
Again, this is not ideal. If we can figure out a way to run this Listen Notes thing without worrying about server fees, living costs, or money in general, we are certainly happy to make Listen Notes completely free for everyone. Until that sweet day, we have to accept the imperfect virtual world that we created :)
Thanks for reading! Drop me a line and tell me what you think about Listen Notes -- just reply this email or email@example.com :)