Super exciting news this week! I've secured sponsors for the next two months to provide EVERY video on ModulesUnraveled.com absolutely FREE for you!
It's a bit of a long story, so if you don't care, just go learn some Drupal. But, I thought you might be interested in the back story, so here goes...
(P.S. If you're not a reader, I recorded this as an 8 minute podcast just for you.)
Why Modules Unraveled is now FREE for everyone
Late last year, there was a moment when I realized that it had been a long time since I had thought about why I started Modules Unraveled in the first place, and whether or not I was still on course with that original vision. I decided that I wasn't.
For reference, Modules Unraveled started with a video demonstrating how to setup Organic Groups in Drupal 7, back in 2011, when Amitai took over development, and did a complete re-write. Nothing was the same, and there were support requests all over the internet from people who didn't know how to use the new version.
I wanted to use it in a project I was starting at the time, so I went through the twisted, and difficult process of figuring out how the new module was supposed to be used. When I finally did, I recorded a video showing exactly what I had learned, so that others could skip the hours (and let's be honest, days!) that I had spent figuring it out, and just use the module the way it was intended.
Basically, I wanted to help everyone use Drupal to do amazing things.
At the time, I was teaching in the public schools full-time, but had the desire to do more web development and create videos like the one for Organic Groups. So, I started getting up at 3am... yes. 3:00 in the morning... and during that time I worked on videos until 6am when I would get ready to go to my full-time job.
Then, I started to charge for some videos. I figured, if I was saving people time, it was worth the $29 investment to learn how to use something like the Simplenews module, which has its own complexities. People apparently agreed with me, because the orders started coming in. Then I created more series' and put those up for sale, and everything was on an upward trajectory.
In the spring of 2012, I looked at what I was making between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 in the morning, and extrapolated that to see what I could make full time. Based on that, I decided that it would make sense to quit my full-time teaching position, and focus on developing sites, and videos full time. (Too early as it turned out, but I'll explain that later.)
So, I was working for myself, from home, and everything seemed to be going great. The income was incredibly irregular though, so eventually, I switched the site from a pay-per-series model, to a subscription model. That was nice, because it provided a bit more predictable income, but though there were good months, on average, it still hadn't ramped up to what I was making as a full time teacher.
Because of this, I started to focus more and more on the money that I needed to make, instead of providing amazing quality videos that could help thousands of Drupal developers create their sites more quickly, and with less headache, like the original Organic Groups series did.
So, in December of of 2014, when I re-evaluated whether or not I was fulfilling my original mission, the answer was a resounding "No." I saw the thousands and thousands of site visitors in Google Analytics, and the meager handful that were actually signing up as a paying subscriber to access the videos. And the interesting thing is that it wasn't the lack of subscribers that hurt the most, it was that such a broad audience was coming to my site, because I had something they needed, but then immediately leaving because of the subscription requirement.
These were the exact people I had set out to help. And I was turning them away. I had reached a wide audience of people who didn't know what I was saying, because I was charging them to listen.
So, I wasn't making enough on the subscriptions alone to provide for my family, but I kept churning out new videos in the hope that eventually, the snow ball would roll in my direction, but it wasn't happening.
I eventually came to grips with that fact, and started trying to figure out other ways to produce an income, but still help the people that I had originally set out to help. I knew if I just got another job, I'd stop making videos. Because they take time. A LOT of time. You see this evidenced all over the web. YouTube is littered with Drupal tutorials teaching you how to do this or that, but there are rarely more than a handful done by any one individual. And, because video production, and teaching are not generally their areas of expertise, the quality is widely varying (to put it nicely.)
The obvious monetization strategy was advertising. I had never had third party ads on my site, and really didn't like the idea, but I had to try something new, because what I was doing wasn't working. (And one definition of insanity after all, is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. I didn't want to be insane.)
So, I immediately started to contact businesses that I had some form of personal connection with. Some were ones that had products I used, some were ones where I knew someone(s) personally within the business, and others were ones that close friends of mine had personally recommended.
I wanted to see if anyone would be interested in advertising on my site. Some said yes, and some said no (one even suggested buying me outright, but after thorough discussion with my wife, and time in prayer, it didn't align with my life goals.)
The ones that said yes had a hard time nailing down a dollar amount (which is understandable, since I didn't have metrics to give them, having always been subscriber only), and for four or five months, I felt strung along, and didn't know if it was ever going to work out.
Then, I went to DrupalCon in LA. I wasn't planning to go, but then I won a conference ticket from the amazing people at Four Kitchens (thank you again!) and then just had to figure out a way to pay my room and flight. The only way I could convince my wife (who would be left alone with a two year old, and five month old) to let me go, was to convince her that I resolved to make something happen while I was there and that it would be a good investment.
I followed through. To give you an idea, I went to one (1) session the entire week, and spent the rest of my time in the expo hall, and hanging out with people who might be interested in becoming a sponsor (as well as a few old friends, that I don't get to see except at DrupalCons).
This was MUCH more fruitful than my previous, online-only, attempts. The net result was that six sponsors agreed to advertise, and combined, they would replace the existing membership income, and a little more. It wasn't much more, but was enough to let me run a two month trial to see how it would go, since I have absolutely no idea if it will be beneficial to anyone. My hope though, is that it will be beneficial for everyone, and I can sign additional sponsors, and/or charge higher rates.
One of those sponsors let me know that, after reviewing their budget, they would not be able to advertise, but the other five are still on board. You can see them, and (please!) thank them on the "Sponsors" page.
So, here we are! The site is completely free for anyone that wants to learn what I teach, and I get to find out if advertising will work on Modules Unraveled.
Want to become a sponsor?
I'd be a fool to leave it at that, and not mention that if you're interested in becoming a sponsor of the site, or the podcast, contact me, and I'll get you the information you need.
You MUST be able to legitimately serve my audience, and prove your worth in order to be a sponsor. But, if you meet that criteria, I'd be delighted to talk to you!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. It means a lot to me! And if you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to ask!