Nick Haskins launched Story.am earlier this year as a hosted storytelling platform that offers all the features of Aesop Story Engine. Initially, the platform was only available to paying customers, but this week Haskins announced that Story.am is now available to everyone for free.
The platform had not received much feedback in the several months it has been open to customers, so Haskins decided to remove all barriers to account creation.
“We really want feedback on Lasso, our visual web editor on Story.AM,” he said. “By making it free, we hope to garner a lot of feedback, even if that feedback isn’t good. Often times, that type of feedback is the best.”
In our recent review of Lasso, Jeff Chandler found that the product wasn’t quite polished enough for prime time but that it has potential. Haskins is hoping to build a broader network of Lasso users who will offer the feedback he needs to improve the editing experience.
Immediately following his announcement that Story.am accounts are now available for free, Haskins was averaging one signup a minute.
Newsletter out, story.am now averaging one signup a minute for the last few minutes.
The power of free.
— Nick Haskins (@nphaskins) April 23, 2015
“Since the announcement yesterday evening there have been about 130 signups, so we’ve calmed down to about 5-7 signups an hour,” he said.
Story.am is a multisite installation that was built to be elastic and ready to scale. In the future, Haskins will open up a Pro level that will offer additional features such as the ability to sell story subscriptions with Stripe and use your own domain.
“The domain mapping and ability to sell story subscriptions are all in place and ready to go,” he said. “But rather than just releasing a Pro level straight away, I’m interested to see if what I THINK users want, is actually inline with what they REALLY want.”
Haskins is taking notes of trends while monitoring the signups to get a better picture of how people plan to use Story.am.
“I’m seeing a lot of what I would describe as ‘people who aren’t necessarily writers but want to tell stories,'” he said. “The domains that are coming across include terms like comic, pastor, fish, school, etc. It’s quite interesting to see. We are tracking everything in great detail, so as time goes on we’ll begin to have some solid metrics.”
Many Story.am users are using the platform in the education space, a trend which has continued since opening up the site to free accounts. The platform is also open to bloggers, but Haskins is not aiming to compete with WordPress.com.
“I’d like to see folks use stories in their own unique ways, with their own flair, and I think this will be tough to come by on a ‘generalized’ network. i.e, one that basically treats everyone as the same,” he said. “One thing I don’t want to purposefully do is compete with WordPress.com. I’d much rather work with them to bring our ideas and tools to their platform, in some way, shape, or form.”
Story.am has no current ETA for launching Pro level features, but Haskins said that he will be gauging the demand and gathering feedback before moving on monetizing the platform. If you’re curious about how Aesop Story Engine components work with WordPress and want to try the new Lasso frontend editor, it’s now as easy as signing up for a free account on Story.am.