Things are moving fast! (If you’re on the free Substack mailing list and getting this message, bear with me! There will still be free, football-only content, but I’m trying to manage a huge relocation this month.)
As of today, I have completed going through and transferring everyone’s paid subscription from www.tomkinstimes.com, be it monthly or annually, over to our new home:
While we’re going explain more in a step-by-step guide soon, it’s now possible for paying subscribers on www.tomkinstimes.com to access the TTT Main Hub on Substack as well. Everyone should be able to see behind the paywall and make comments, albeit we’ve only just started adding paywalled content on there this past week.
People were added via the email address they used for Stripe or PayPal. If you had paid for a year and had six months left, you have been given six months’ access to our paid Substack.
We will keep both sites active for a few weeks, as people shuffle across, and then www.tomkinstimes.com (aka Legacy TTT, or WordPress TTT), will be kept purely for archives, with no paying customers and no commenting.
We will turn off all billing on www.tomkinstimes.com in just under a month’s time.
That means that whenever your Substack subscription access (that I’ve just granted) expires, you will be prompted to pay at the new rate, which is slightly cheaper than we had on here, but where will be added other paid TTT Substacks (run by different members of the team based on their specific interests, but with my concepts and some of my writing) for people to opt into if they would like.
(More on that in due course, if you haven’t already seen the plans discussed. Existing benefactors also have the chance to get a couple of months’ free access to all the other TTT Substacks, when they are launched, which will be shortly after the main switchover.)
As my dentist said to me has he donned a rubber glove and began drilling into my nipples, no-one is saying this will be easy or painless. At times it won’t make sense.
But the situation had become untenable, from a technical point of view. I’ve had some brilliant people helping me out along the way since 2009, but too much has changed since a reader of my old mailing list, Anu Gupta, proposed the idea of a paywalled website 13 years ago this month, and while I doubted how I’d get such a thing created, set it up for me within a week. I will always owe Anu a ton of gratitude, as well as to Jack and Rox, who have helped steer the technical ship since, in increasingly choppy waters.
(Rox, whom I’ve known for 22 years after meeting on a Liverpool forum I used to write for, and who I attended the Liverpool vs Charlton game on the day the Queen Mother died in 2002, will remain part of the furniture, having done the Helpdesk emails for a decade now. Chris Rowland, Daniel Rhodes, Andrew Beasley, Gary Fulcher and Abhimanyu Vinay Rajput are all still aboard over a dozen years on, as are some of our best posters, as we try to find ways to keep TTT going for as long as possible, in the face of numerous challenges. Daniel Marshall has once again knocked it out the park with the designs. I love these people!)
After years of battling with WordPress, the insane and necessary 51 different plug-ins (many costly) to make things function (some of the plug-ins to fix other plug-ins), the various payment systems that don’t work with one another, and a whole host of pain-in-the-arse stuff, it felt like trying to maintain a beautiful, bustling house on a cliff edge, as whole sections fell away onto the sand each year, and then trying to find people who could put a few buttresses up before the whole thing slid into the sea; as, at the same time, we discovered dry rot, an insect infestation, and that every pipe springs a new leak as soon as one is plugged.
Instead of maintaining 51 plug-ins, we will now have to maintain zero.
Instead of paying for server space and bandwidth, it’s all taken care of.
Instead of having subscriptions that continue to allow people to read subscriber-only content after they should have expired (and don’t let those people pay to renew), we won’t lose money in that way anymore.
Instead of worrying about the site crashing during a game or breaking big news, and paying for technical help to be on standby and to try and fix all the clashing technologies, it’s all included.
Instead of paying fortunes for all kinds of plug-ins and server space and other things, the 10% cut Substack take (plus the few percent Stripe take) is still significantly less than the combined costs of running the WordPress site (which at times worked out at over 20%).
Then there’s the bonus of Substack being faster to load and faster to publish with; sending articles to all subscribers via email; the ability to easily gift subscriptions to others; an excellent app, albeit only on iOS for now, until the Android app follows; the chance to offer built-in podcasts to subscribers (which we probably won’t use, but is an option); and much more, as well various innovations that Substack continue to add.
Substack also allows you to retain ownership of your mailing list and customer base, so should we ever need to leave, we can take our customers with us.
The layout will be different (see below for the homepage), but the comments work in much the same way, albeit without posts changing colour in the age-old TTT way upon reaching certain numbers of thumbs-up.
I have set up a Debate section already, with three subsections, and more will follow soon. We’ll continue to keep adding content and features. (Article continues below.)
If people don’t want to follow us on the ride, that’s cool. Tastes change, finances dwindle, and I am more than used to losing a few people along the way, with new ones coming along for the ride.
But we had reached the point where to stay on WordPress would either need a hugely expensive rebuild (and we’ve done that twice before already, only for it to go out of date when plug-ins or payment portal software soon changed), or to watch us slide into the sea.
(For all those who have told me to “get in the sea”, I’ll be there one day, I promise. Just not yet…)
I really appreciate every subscriber we’ve had, out of myriads over the years. (Okay, maybe 10-20 were douchebags, but hey, that’s not so bad really out of thousands and thousands since 2009!)
This also gives me a way to try and keep the TTT team together, with pretty much everyone still onboard since around 2010, if not 2009. A few months ago it looked like I’d have to let them all go.
We’ll never pander to what the new generation wants if it’s not what we’re good at – but we’ll try to keep producing high-quality content, and hope our audience stays with us, and that we pick up some younger members who “age into” what we’re doing. We have quite a few subscribers who first went to Anfield in the 1940s, 1950s (as kids!) and 1960s, as well as people from places like Singapore, America, Australia, Iceland and Leighton Buzzard.
The idea has always been to be a niche site that appeals to intelligent, discerning Reds, where the community and debate is (usually) so special because it’s not too big to manage, and we’ve never tolerated trolls. That community can do pretty much all the same things on Substack, behind the paywall.
Note: No one should be billed again via www.tomkinstimes.com after early October 2022 (maybe even earlier), and for us to bill you on the new Substack, you will have to pay anew via credit card via Substack’s payment portal (which is done via Stripe, which we’ve used on here, along with PayPal over the years).
Ask questions in the comments below, and we’ll finish putting together a “how to” guide for anyone who cannot work out the process for themselves.
I will post this on both www.tomkinstimes.com and Substack, and check for comments on both platforms.
A reminder: if you had an active paid subscription on www.tomkinstimes.com, then you won’t need to pay on Substack until that expires.
However, if you’ve not had a TTT subscription before (or were no longer an active subscriber) and would like to take one out on Substack now, that’s totally fine.