If you’re reading this post, you are most likely a user of Tweekly.fm. I’d like to take a little time to write about the changes that have recently happened on the site.
I’d like to note that I have come across some of the most fantastic people in the world through this humble small service and want to see it continue for a long period of time - but to do that things needed to change.
What is Tweekly.fm?
The main functionality of the site takes data that you have provided via Last.fm and posts it, once per week to social networks.
This in itself sounds like a very simple system that has multiple parts within it. Every day, thousands upon thousands of updates are posted to Facebook and Twitter - which take a lot of time and consume a lot of resources to do so. Previously, Google Ads were ran across the site which generated a low amount of income which didn’t cover the cost of keeping the service up and running. The were unattractive and not a good fit for the service.
As most of the regular users who use the service know, I attempted to run a crowd funding programme earlier in the year, which did generate enough money to contribute to the hosting costs and some of the development time in updating the site and services that you use.
While the new site has been built, I took time to decide how the new service should run, what the foundations of the service should be and how this can be attained - without financial impact on me personally. I didn’t want to use Google Ads on the new site and as you can see, they’re not present and won’t be.
The biggest cost besides hosting the service is the amount of time answering support tickets and emails. This gets done in my own free time and outside of my 9-5 job. No service is without bugs or hiccups - but a lot of general questions take time to answer and if you’ve ever emailed I’d like to think you got a response quite quickly.
What’s the cost?
The service runs on Linode using a mixture of servers, which for the most part consisted of:
- 2 x 2GB Linode ($20x2 + $10x2) - Web servers
- 2 x 2GB Linode ($20x2 + $10x2) - Queue runners, queue daemons
- 1 x NodeBalancer (1x$20) - Load Balancer
- 2 x 4GB ($40x2 + 2x$10 Backups) - Database (Master and Slave)
As you see, this comes in at $240/mo which for a service that doesn’t generate a lot of money, is a costly expense that I’ve been happy to cover for a long time. I should also note that the project has very kindly received hosting from Last.fm directly in the past and in the early years this was absolutely key to the project. For the new site, the requirements are about half of those servers.
The last time consumer is keeping up with the external services that are used. Each time Twitter, Facebook and co update their APIs, I needed to change a lot of in-house code to match. During the development of the new system, everything has been moved over to Laravel 5.1 and a lot of standard libraries have been used in the codebase to improve and minimise the amount of time needed for upkeep.
So, what happens now?
The biggest issue for the service was dealing with the amount of traffic that came back to the site once updates are posted, so the new system has no public facing profile pages at the moment. The only place that people can see your updates are on your social media profiles.
Secondly, the largest time consuming task was auto-publishing all the thousands of updates per day - this has now been changed to a premium user feature. You can still sign up for free and continue to post your updates manually - without a charge. This will always remain the case, but for the future auto-posting updates will be limited to those with a subscription.
The changes to the support ticket system are also now in favour of subscribed users. Any support emails from subscribers will be answered first and the rest at some point later in the week.
I know this is quite a change to how the service previously ran and I also accept that some of you may not want to subscribe - I have absolutely no issues with that but I hope you can readdress your expectations in what you want from me.
There has already been a number of folks sign up for premium accounts and for those I’m grateful that you place a value on the service provided.
As always, if you have any questions, ideas or thoughts then please do use the comments below or if you would like to discuss in private, contact [email protected] and I’ll be happy to talk.
Lastly, thank you to all half a million Tweekly.fm users from around the world - it’s been one hell of a ride so far and I’m glad to have provided you with a service you enjoy.