Thanks so much for increasing our awareness of the potential opportunities for writers on the Vocal+ platform, Dr Mehmet Yildiz. Here are my initial impressions as a reader:
- No way to follow my favorite creators (currently).
- No way to access my favorited content (which could proxy as a way to follow creators).
- Maybe there’s a way to keep track of creators I support monetarily?? Will have to test it and get back to you (unless someone here has tried this and cares to share).
- High level topic organization makes it difficult to find to content worth reading. The Moderator Picks are really good. But without being to able to follow or otherwise easily access my favorites, how will I know what to read?? My main goal is to support my favorite people, but frankly, I don’t trust them to have figured out personalization algorithms that would work for me (as they’re generally designed based for mass appeal).
- They don’t have an Android App (not sure about iOS). While the mobile web experience is fine for one off reading, I’m not likely to spend much time there. (Avid readers may want to block 20 minutes or 2 hours for reading their favorite writers. This is a hugely missed opportunity for the company. Then again, maybe people like me aren’t their primary target audience??)
- There are numerous ways to interact and communicate with creators. Although commenting directly on referenced content is convenient, it’s much more important to me as a reader to have a convenient way to keep of my favorite creators. Maybe I will break down and make a spreadsheet 🤷🏾♀️
- I wouldn’t mind paying $10/month or $100/year on Medium if I thought the additional revenues would improve creators' experience. Unhappy writers = unhappy readers.
- I also wouldn’t mind paying another $10/month for Vocal+, although I might prefer simply tipping a handful of my favorite creators directly in small recurring amounts. I do really like that feature!
OTOH, from a strategy perspective for creators and publishers:
- More is more when it comes to content marketing! Vocal+ seems like a great way to reach a new audience, even if it is not suitable as a home base (currently). (Again, I may not be their target profile, but clearly they do have a large established audience you can tap into).
- All companies have the potential for change and growth. Being relatively young — and still in the phase where they’re putting creators first, Vocal may very well build a mobile app and add features like following and commenting in the not so distant future — especially if they reach or surpass their goal for paid subscribers.
- I’ve noticed a pattern with content driven platforms — they (often but always) lure creators in and then flip the script on them once their hooked (e.g. Medium, Quora). Linkedin and GitHub, for examples, seem to do a better job balancing diverse stakeholder interests. Who knows what’s in store with Vocal? No harm in trying it out if you’ve got the bandwidth to do so. Repurposing existing content seems like good, low risk way to get started.
Please note — I spent no more than 20 minutes exploring Vocal. Although that was apparently enough for this comment to turn into an article, it’s quite possible (if not likely) that I overlooked some key features of the platform. I also didn’t subscribe to the paid plan (yet) — that experience may be different for readers.
What do you think?