Bloggers November 9, 2020

Write ✍️ or Die ☠️: I've built a commitment device for bloggers.

Aleix Ramon @AleixHere

The problem: Blogging regularly is hard because there are always other "urgent" things to do.

The solution: Raise the stakes. Put a price to not blogging.

Imagine telling yourself:

I should publish a new blog post by Thursday.

Now imagine telling yourself this instead:

I should publish a new blog post by Thursday or I'll pay $100.

Which one would motivate you the most to write? For me, if I put $100 at stake I definitely won't waste my limited time on unimportant tasks and I'll start writing right now (even if it's uncomfortable).

This is why I've built Write ✍️ or Die ☠️: You set a deadline for your blog post and a price, and if the blog post isn't online by the deadline you'll pay the price.

I've tried other commitment devices before (Stickk, Go Fucking Do It, Beeminder). They do wonders for motivation, but it's relatively easy (and tempting) to cheat. In contrast, in Write ✍️ or Die ☠️ you have to show proof of completion to a real dedicated person (me). That makes it cheat-proof: if you commit to your deadline, you must do it.

I've just released it and Indie Hackers is the first place where I'm talking about it. I'd love to hear feedback from you all, especially from those who blog regularly.

  1. 3

    fascinating. really contemplating this.

    1. 1

      Glad that you like it. Please let me know any feedback you might have if you use it; your opinion would be appreciated!

      1. 1

        i've been blogging daily for 19+ years. so... i never needed anything like this.

  2. 2

    Omg. Do you make money from people not making their deadlines ? 😂 This is very interesting...

    1. 1

      Yep, I'm monetizing procrastination :)
      But hey for some people this helps them!

      1. 1

        I sure it helps ! But when you think about it, for your business to succeed, you need people to procrastinate. So what will you do when potential investors tell you you need to make more money ? Find a way for them to procrastinate more ? 😛 I think it's a great idea, but it's kinda paradoxal if you think about it. I'm curious to see how this evolves !

        1. 1

          It's a bootstrapped project, so no investor pressure here. You're right in that it could be a delicate situation if there were any.

          Still, there could be other ways of getting more revenue. Some of the ideas I thought of (some provided by other Indie Hackers):

          • Have a sponsor and give promo codes to those who win (or lose, as a consolation prize)
          • Incentivizing high bets with the discounts mentioned above, or other things.
          • Upselling, like offering (outsourced) life coaching sessions.
          • Having a forum for those who bet more than x amount, and in that forum have a sponsored job board. Since the forum would be only for people who are serious about it, it would be a great target for companies looking for copywriters. Companies are often willing to pay a lot to find good talent.

          Anyway, these are just ideas. I'm now focusing on the core idea.

          1. 2

            Sounds good 👌🏽

  3. 1

    Based on the name, I was expecting a mechanism to slowly poison you over time based on your writing output, a la /r/shittyrobots.

    1. 1

      Haha, maybe version 2.0? :D

  4. 1

    How about the content nuke?

    Write or all my existing content gets deleted.

    Btw, is there a way out if you get sick? When really sick, I think it's okay to skip whatever you're doing once.

    1. 1

      Btw, is there a way out if you get sick? When really sick, I think it's okay to skip whatever you're doing once.

      True. But how would you show proof of that? If I start offering users the possibility to step out of their commitment just by saying they're sick, it would be tempting to cheat. Any ideas on this?

      1. 2

        Cheating would for sure be a serious problem. Depending on what's on the table ($10), most people would be okay with writing it off when they get sick.

    2. 1

      How about the content nuke? Write or all my existing content gets deleted.

      That would be quite hardcore! For some bloggers that would be a stronger punishment than paying $1000 or more. I'll stick to the current payment punishment for now, but I'll keep your idea in mind. Thanks!

      1. 2

        Another problem: Every serious blogger (hopefully) has backups. :)

        That said, you'd also lose the income from the money they "bet" on themselves.

        ---

        Another idea I have had: Maybe you can motivate more people to use your platform if they can choose to have a certain percentage (70%?) of their money go towards charities and only the rest of it going to the platform. Kind of like a platform fee. Think of the App Store's 30% cut.
        This might also open you up to partnerships with charities looking for donations, i.e. they promote your product in the hopes of people donating to them through it.
        In the end, integrating a charity option will probably make you look less greedy. If I can choose, I will much rather hold myself accountable by paying a family member than paying an anonymous person on the internet. However, if I can choose to support a charity in the process, I would be okay with you getting your cut.

        Might be worth looking into.

        1. 3

          I had exactly the same idea. Then I pictured myself deep within the battle with myself - i would be broke & over-due on my stuff.
          „Do I really want to take the $100 away from these poor kids? That would be cruel. I should finish this tomorrow and let the cash be donated!“

          I struggle to keep my deadlines. Doing that for a good cause: endless excuse cycle.

          1. 2

            „Do I really want to take the $100 away from these poor kids? That would be cruel. I should finish this tomorrow and let the cash be donated!“

            Exactly, that's the problem with this approach. While what @nikwen proposed sounds like a good idea, I think that giving part of the money to a charity would give the users a positive reason to fail. It would end up being negative for the users' motivation, and having a motivation boost is the main reason why they use this.

            I do like the idea of giving part of the profits to charity, but if I did it it would be without telling the users so that there is no motivation at all for them to fail.

            1. 2

              To be honest, I would try to A/B test this. Maybe set up a separate landing page and see which one converts better.

              That said, the correct choice also depends on what you want to optimize for:

              • Nobody failing
              • Having as many users as possible (charity might help with this)
              • Collecting enough money (for charity or yourself)
              1. 1

                Good idea. A/B testing would be the best solution, though I'd need more users for that.

                Ideally, I'd optimize for "nobody failing": I'm convinced that there would still be people failing that would provide revenue.

                1. 2

                  Ideally, I'd optimize for "nobody failing"

                  Personally, I would also look at the number of users.

                  If you had 1000 users of which 4% fail, I'd say that you have done more good in the world than if you had 100 users with a 2% rate of failure.

                  1. 2

                    If you had 1000 users of which 4% fail, I'd say that you have done more good in the world than if you had 100 users with a 2% rate of failure.

                    Very good point, you got me there.

                    Pondering now about giving a % of the money to charity if the user loses, I do like that:

                    • Even if the product is a bit less effective because losing doesn't sound that bad, it would attract more users - more word-of-mouth, more press, etc. And more users using it means more good done in the world, as you say. Not to mention how good it would be for the charities.
                    • Partnering with charities could be good promotion. I could even offer "affiliate" links - if the charity refers the user through that link and she uses it, the % of money when failing would go to that organization.

                    Regarding % donated to charity, I'm thinking about 20% for now. If the business model works, I'll consider raising it.

                    1. 2

                      Glad that I could help. :)

                      As for the exact percentage, I would experiment a lot until you find the value which works best for the product. Maybe a cut of 20% works well. Maybe you need 70% for charities to take you seriously. Nobody knows at this point.

                      That said, you can influence the perception of the chosen percentage by presenting it relative to revenue or profit: "20% of revenue" might equal "30% of profit."

                      Yet, the larger percentage sounds more generous. At the same time, that wording is a bit less transparent to the user.

                      You could run an A/B test to see which version works better.

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