Update: You might be reading this article late. We have launched the new Hashnode.
Hey everyone! 👋 I hope you all are safe and sound. We have been working on something big that will significantly change Hashnode. I just thought to make an official announcement and gather feedback from the community.
The beginning and journey so far
Hashnode started in 2015 as a Q&A community for software developers with a strong focus on friendliness and inclusivity. We raised 1M in venture capital funding to grow our the business and make it easier for developers to share their knowledge. In 2019, we started thinking of being self sustainable by introducing a business model. At the same time, we also launched a new tool called Devblog which aimed at helping developers launch their personal blogs easily and for free. I also started multiple threads to take community's opinion on how to monetize Hashnode. We got many insightful suggestions from the community, investors and friends.
Here are some of the related threads you should read:
With the launch of Devblog, we saw more blog posts on Hashnode than discussions. So far, we have ~8K developers who have unlocked their blogs and around 1000 of them have mapped their custom domains. The content produced by our bloggers have gathered millions of views over the last year and the product has grown organically through word of mouth.
We understand that Devblog has been working really well so far. Here is what we did right:
- Free custom domain mapping 🌍
- Automatic HTTPS
- No cold start. Every blog post of yours is pushed to the community automatically.
- Blazing Fast -- Every devblog has a PageSpeed score of 100 ⚡️
- Automatic back up of your posts on your private GitHub repo 💾
- One click export of your blog posts
- You posts live on your domain so that your canonical URLs aren't held hostage. You are free to move out anytime you like. -- No questions asked.
- We also offer a bunch of other tools to aid you in growing and analyzing your audience. e.g. free newsletter integration, AMP support (off by default), easy integration with Google Analytics/FB Pixel and so on.
With the success of Devblog, we thought this is right time for us to think about sharpening focus of Hashnode and sustain ourselves by finding a suitable business model.
We started as a Q&A community, but if you visit Hashnode today you will realize that it's more about individual bloggers than just Q&A. After you log in, you can already see a feed of popular articles published on different independent blogs. We would like to sharpen the focus of Hashnode by making "blogging" the primary focus. We are going to make it really easy for developers to start an independent blog for free. If you are a part of any other developer communities that let you publish articles, you probably know that your content lives on their domain. This means your canonicals are held hostage -- check this article of mine to know what I am talking about.
We are going to offer you everything you need to grow your audience and retain independence as a blogger. We are going to double down on this and make sure you get a seamless blogging experience at Hashnode.
That doesn't mean we are going to do away with discussions. We'll have a place for discussions, but blogging is the fundamental value proposition of Hashnode. So, as we move further there is no separate Devblog tool -- rather Hashnode is Devblog. This is where developers come to tell their stories.
Hashnode is community centric. We've been helping developers share their knowledge in a friendly and inclusive environment. So, how do we make money out of it? We have been asking this question to ourselves for quite some time now.
Here are some of the ideas we discussed in the above threads:
- Ads: No one liked this idea. Most developers already have ad-blockers to get rid of ads.
- PRO plans: We must hit a critical mass of users before introducing something like this.
- Paid plans for Devblog: We considered this briefly, but slowly realized that this may not be very sustainable. We can generate some revenue by charging for team collaboration features, but charging individual developers will be difficult.
Among other ideas, we discussed things like Marketplace, Recruitment, Paid Consulting and so on. To be honest, several other companies are already trying this and we have a long way to go before implementing any of these correctly.
One of the suggestions from the above threads was launching Hashnode as a Platform (HaaP). Most of the businesses that build products for developers need a community for their users. How about offering them "Hashnode powered Hubs" or simply "Hubs"? It aligns with what we already do at Hashnode and looks like a natural monetization strategy.
We brainstormed and iterated the idea multiple times over last 3-4 months. We are fairly convinced that this is a great way to monetize Hashnode while keeping the core of the community free! When ready, our SaaS offering will help businesses launch their developer hubs or portals easily. We are going to make it free for open source and non-profits while charging only businesses/teams. Instead of charging individual users, we are going to help business build great developer portals and help them reach out to developers easily.
It's completely free for individuals to join Hashnode, consume knowledge, create a blog and even launch an open source Hub for their side projects. As promised, there are no ads and paywalls on Hashnode. We make money when businesses use our SaaS offering to launch their developer hubs.
All in all, the idea is that we let businesses run Hashnode-like communities along with some more layers and launch developer hubs. I am going to share more details on how these Hashnode powered Hubs will function in a few more days.
The New Hashnode
We are going to launch these updates in two phases. The first phase will streamline the focus of Hashnode and bring Devblog to the forefront. This will also include many product improvements and optimizations. The 2nd phase will introduce HUBs. We are going to ship phase #1 within next 10 days and launch phase #2 within 1 month after that.
Building with the community
Lastly, I would like to emphasize on the fact that we have made some mistakes in the past while building Hashnode and we have learned a lot from this experience.
We have been rethinking how to build Hashnode with the community and make sure we build a sustainable business with strong focus on helping developers share their knowledge and grow their career easily. We intend to keep Hashnode free for individual developers/open source projects and generate revenue from businesses. We need your support now more than ever.
Here is what we are going to do to make sure the community plays an active part in shaping Hashnode:
- We are revisiting our GitHub repo for tracking user feedbacks and are going to make sure every piece of feedback is addressed.
- We already have a dedicated discord channel to speak with our users. You can join it and help us by providing your insights.
- We recently hired Bolaji as a developer advocate. We are looking for more amazing developer evangelists to join our team. They will make sure we listen to our users and address their issues in a quick and timely manner.
As always, please comment here or email me at email@example.com if you have any suggestion or feedback. We can't wait to show you what we have built so far. Meanwhile, we'll really appreciate if you let us know what you think of our plans in comments below.
We are looking for more developer advocates from different parts of the world -- Hashnode has a remote team and we strongly believe in equality and diversity at work. Feel free to check us out and apply for a job if our mission excites you.