Full and Final (Foolproof?) Instructions For TTT Move To Substack + FAQs

Full and Final (Foolproof?) Instructions For TTT Move To Substack + FAQs
September 20, 2022 Paul Tomkins

 

TTT has moved to Substack

Click here to visit new site: www.tomkinstimes.substack.com

This was first published on Substack, but I’ve gone back into this article on the old site and added these bullet points. It is written from the perspective of being read on Substack

If you received this in your email inbox and can see the comments behind the paywall on the TTT Main Hub on Substack, you’re in!

But read the list of bullet points for a few more bits of info:

  • TTT has moved
  • A lot of people don’t properly read updates or site news, and they should
  • TTT is now on Substack
  • www.tomkinstimes.com is now just an archive of 13 years’ worth of articles, after a ton of technical issues kept re-arising each time we solved them, making a move essential
  • Substack is a publishing platform that publishes all kinds of things, and has built-in subscription software
  • Substack is faster, more secure, smoother, easier to publish with, and works out cheaper per subscriber for us
  • Substack also sends articles out as newsletters (indeed, this was the original point)
  • Substack do free subscriptions and paid subscriptions
  • Free subscriptions give you free newsletters to your email inbox, for when content is free
  • Paid subscriptions let you read paywalled material, read comments and comment on the website
  • If you’re subscribing from scratch, you will be given payment and free options
  • TTT is now a clusterfuck of sites 😁
  • So, not just one TTT Substack – there is the TTT Main Hub, which is … the main hub
  • And there are what I’m calling sub-Substacks, which are smaller, quieter sites, with more bespoke content, co-run with different writers
  • These sites are funded and administered independently, albeit under a main umbrella. But a payment made on one of the TTT Substacks will not be viewable to the others, as those running the sub-Substacks will be receiving the payments
  • The sub-Substacks are The ZenDen, Dynasty, This Red Planet, and launching next month, The Transfer Hub
  • More on the TTT Substack Suite can be read here.
  • All preexisting paying subscribers have been given access TTT on Substack to the Main Hub
  • Monthly subscribers will have to pay on Substack to continue using the site, as of the 2nd week of October, unless legacy payments have come in more recently, in which case that date will be extended
  • The sub-Substacks require separate paid subscriptions (or free ones), but if you were a Benefactor on old TTT, you can request limited-period free access. to the other TTT Substacks
  • Substack access operates via email addresses
  • We applied your subscription to the email address you used to pay for old TTT (PayPal or Stripe)
  • We don’t have your password. You don’t even necessarily need a password. Just the correct email address
  • If your desired email address does not tally with the one you used in PayPal or Stripe, let us know, as they need to tally.
  • If you were an active paying subscriber but didn’t get this as an email (but read it on the web), it may mean we don’t have the correct email address for you
  • If you were a Benefactor on old TTT, let us know if you want a couple of months free access to other three TTT Substacks in operation.
  • We will turn off the subscription software on www.tomkinstimes.com in the coming months, but if you paid with PayPal, if would help if you cancelled your recurring payments before then (log in to PayPal, click on your subscription, and cancel).
  • Some people may be billed during this period of transition, and in those cases, I’ll go back and add time from those old subscriptions onto this Substack
  • No one who has paid for a subscription via the old site will receive anything but that full subscription time
  • Some annual subscriptions still need extending to their correct duration beyond an expiry point of October
  • The community and debate will be centred on the Main Hub
  • The TTT sub-Substacks, or spokes, may have some commenting, but some will have no commenting. Most will be designed to be read, not debated
  • Almost everyone contacting us with a problem could have saved us all time by reading the instructions first
  • We can tweak a few things on Substack but the beauty is that you can’t start doing crazy customisations, so whoever’s Substack you’re using will work in much the same way, with just different colour schemes, logos, etc.
  • There’s bound to be stuff I’ve overlooked, so I’ll update as and when required

Generic Info

  • Comment moderation will work as it used to on TTT; i.e. my rules, which I see as fair, with no personal abuse, no spamming, no trolling, and no ultra-sensitive language policing (but offensive words used in offensive ways = ban)
  • For any new subscribers, we mostly avoid overt politics, but occasionally allow a political discussion. These are usually enlightening, with a broad spectrum of views and people largely respecting each other’s opinions, but some people are very easily offended, and it’s generally best to avoid politics unless it directly relates to football
  • Comments can be viewed in chronological, top-rated and newest order, but you may need all comments to be loaded before sorting. In the app there’s a little icon in the top right corner to toggle between the three
  • No, we can’t have the Recent Comments bar back. or popular posts turn yellow, as they were bespoke adjustments in WordPress
  • We had to use 51 different plug-ins just to make TTT function on WordPress, and many were costly
  • Yes, there is a Substack app, but it’s iOS for the time being; Android due soonish

Okay, back to the original article on this site…

Full and Final (Foolproof?) Instructions For TTT Move To Substack + FAQs

Today (September 20th 2022) marks the 13th anniversary of the launch of The Tomkins Times. What a ride it’s been! It also marks the last day in the active history of the site at www.tomkinstimes.com, and we can now be found on Substack.

So, this will be the final post/article on this version of The Tomkins Times (Legacy TTT or WordPress TTT, at www.tomkinstimes.com). 

The explanation as to what TTT will be like on Substack and the various sub-Substacks we’re launching can be found here, after I published it yesterday. Substack provides the opportunity to try a few new things, and so the format will be the Main TTT Hub, but other, more specialised separate TTT Substacks (sub-Substacks, as I’m calling them), that are explained further down.

All ways to contact us will be listed at the end of this post. Commenting has been shut off on most threads on here but I’ll allow comments on this article until this evening. Then we will shut off all commenting, and the site will be metaphorically laid to rest.

I will update this article if there is anything I’ve overlooked, or if there are resources we can add to explain things better. It’s not paywalled, so even if you can’t access your old subscription on here, you should be able to read the instructions in the coming days/weeks, such as if you’ve been on holiday and not been paying any attention lately.

FYI: There is also an app for Substack on iOS, with an Android one in development.

If you were still a paying subscriber at www.tomkinstimes.com

If you want to stay part of the community and haven’t already worked out how to move across (despite me posting various explanations), then please take the time to read this article, from top to bottom. 

It’ll take 15 minutes at most. If you can’t afford us 15 minutes, then, well, it doesn’t bode well.

The main thing to remember is that Substack access is very much based around an email address, not least as it mails out the articles as newsletters.

The General Stuff

Most of this article is for existing subscribers at www.tomkinstimes.com. 

If you’ve never had a subscription or have one that lapsed in the past, just sign up to Substack and follow the payment instructions (or the ‘free’ instructions if you just want the free newsletters whenever they we publish them).

A Brief Plea For Patience

This is a brief plea for patience, but if you’re too impatient, scroll down 😉

The move was brought forward due to the postponement of the games against Wolves and Chelsea, followed by the international break. This presented an extended period of time with only one Liverpool match, which seemed perfect to try and get everything sorted by the Brighton game at the start of October. 

Whilst we are rushing like blue-arsed flies to get this sorted, your patience is also required and appreciated.

Mistakes will be made, things will be overlooked, people will be left down the back of the sofa, but we can always go back and correct things. That said, if you’ve not seen any of the news about this before now, I cannot legislate for people living under rocks or in caves 😜

Comments will be allowed on this post (below) for legacy subscribers, but soon, all comments on here will be deactivated, and everything will take place at https://tomkinstimes.substack.com – and this site will exist purely for archives. 

In time, we will transfer the best of our archives from this site onto Substack, and while people will no longer be able to access/view the comments on here (1.6 million!), they are all archived.

The new Substacks are up and active, but we’re still moving in some of the fancy furniture and sprucing them up. The main thing was to get the basics sorted, before we add the extras.

Idiots!

If this is the idiot’s guide, then I at least hope people to put in the few minutes required to read it properly!

While these things can seem complicated at first, it’s often just a case of finding out where things are; once you know where they are, it then seems obvious. 

If you’ve read the instructions and are still confused, send us a polite email. And give us time to respond. But just make sure it’s not something clearly explained in this article 😉

Everyone Should Have Paywalled Substack Access Now

For all existing paying subscribers: earlier in September I took all the email addresses connected to your www.tomkinstimes.com payments (that were made with either PayPal or Stripe, which is just a credit/debit card portal), and assigned the remaining time to https://tomkinstimes.substack.com. 

This is your subscription “carried over” to the new platform.

If you cannot access your Substack subscription or see behind the paywall at the TTT Main Hub, it may be because you used an obscure or lapsed email account when paying in the past. Let us know if that’s the case, and we can transfer your payment to your preferred email address. We can’t mind-read what email addresses you use elsewhere, and the only way to work out who paid what, and when, was via the data export facilities in PayPal and Stripe. Hence, those are the email addresses we’ve worked with.

Passwords

No TTT passwords are carried across to Substack. 

I repeat: No passwords are carried across.

Not least as we don’t know your passwords anyway! 

Mostly you don’t even need a password for Substack, just the active link sent to you in an email, which you can request again if you ever can’t log in.

Here are Substack’s instructions if you still can’t access the site:

Log into your Substack account either on Substack’s homepage or through your favourite publication.

1. Navigate to the Sign in button in the top right corner of the page or head directly to this link: http://www.substack.com/sign-in

2. Select whether you’d like a secure access link emailed to you or log in using your password.

I personally haven’t had to log in to Substack unless changing devices. On my computer it remembers me.

Someone on TTT wrote this slightly more expanded version, which may be more helpful if struggling with the above:

Every time you need to sign in, if you enter your email, substack will send you a link.

The simplest way is to attempt to read any of the paywalled articles (they have a little lock image below them). If you can read them you are logged in and should be able to comment.

If you are not logged in

click on on subscribe (top right corner – don’t worry you won’t have to pay)

Enter your email (if you have more than one it’s the one that substack have been emailing you on)

Click subscribe

You should see a page that says “Check your email It seems you already have an account as [email protected] We sent you an email with a link that you can use to sign in.

Open that mail and click the “Sign in now” button

This should bring you to https://tomkinstimes.substack.com/

Attempt to open the same article again, this time you should be able to read it

But remember: if we don’t have an up-to-date correct email address for you on file, you won’t be able to access behind the paywall of our Substack, and you need to let us know.

If you had time left on your old subscription, then taking out a new subscription (as long as it’s the same email address we have from your old payments) then you will not be billed until it expires. So if you had two months left and paid again now, it will not start taking money until two months’ time. But again, it has to be the corresponding email addresses.

How Your Access Works and When It Will Expire

For some annual subscribers, the expiry of your Substack access is (temporarily) set as sooner than it should be, but I will alter them to the correct expiration date. 

Initially, it was easier to import all the email addresses en masse via a CSV file and assign a month’s access (via a dropdown menu), rather than doing each one individually, which would (and still will) take eons. Correcting those expiry dates is on the priority list.

All monthly subscribers will see their “carried over” access start to expire soon (early October). Obviously you’ve also been using up access to this site, which has been fully active until the last couple of days. 

Anyone who gets billed via the old method during this period of changeover can either ask for a refund or ask to have it applied to their Substack subscription.

Subscribers also need to cancel their existing TTT payments, i.e. the ones for this site. However, due to issues with the WooCommerce plug-in, people who paid via Stripe cannot cancel – we have to do it for them. PayPal is easy: sign in to PayPal, find your last payment to TTT, click on it, and you can cancel your recurring payment. If subscribers could do that, that would be a big help.

In time, we will cancel all www.tomkinstimes.com subscriptions by switching off the entire payment ecosystem (along with virtually everything else we pay for in order to keep this site active), but we don’t want to do that until everyone has been ferried safely across to Substack, and things are working okay.

Once we switch things off on here there’s no getting any of it back! 

Anyone still billed via the old site in this period of transition, before we turn off the entire billing process, will be refunded or can request it be added to their Substack access. No one will lose money or access to the paywall on Substack.

While Rox helps out on the Helpdesk, we are not some huge company – just me and a half a dozen part-time paid helpers who have been on the TTT journey for most of the 13 years now. 

(We work in the mythical TTT Towers, which basically means working from home, and the TTT Dungeon is not an actual place either. Just in case the police or human rights campaigners are concerned.) 

Payment Methods

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) we can’t do anything with PayPal anymore. 

Substack is 100% Stripe-based, which is essentially just a credit or debit card portal. 

We can’t even transfer your old TTT Stripe-based subscriptions across, as permission was for the old site, not Substack, and the prices are slightly different.

In other words, everyone has to take our a new subscription, once their transferred access to Substack expires. 

When it’s time, Substack will prompt you to pay. 

Substack will tell you when your “carried over” access to Substack has expired, after an automated email warning of your time running out.

And then it should be simple to either subscribe for the first time at the very slightly reduced monthly/annual rate, or if you no longer want to stay part of the TTT community, don’t do anything. You cannot be billed by us on Substack unless you’ve subscribed via Substack. 

If you need help cancelling your old payments, then email us. But again, in time we will press the big button that obliterates all subscriptions created on this site. That may be 1-2 months away.

Benefactors

Existing TTT benefactors – those who paid more for the old site out of the kindness of their hearts – will be granted free periods on the first three sub-Substacks (excluding the Transfer Hub, which will be the last of the sites to go fully live with a paywall).

Simply email me to request that, using the email address already linked to Substack, or that you want linked to Substack.

Debate Section

Contrary to what some people have said, there is already a debate section on the main Substack, but it’s not yet fully fleshed out. I’ll be commenting on the TTT Main Hub, as normal.

The Debate tab is in the top menu.

https://tomkinstimes.substack.com/s/debate

Community 

Access the most recent posts via the Community tab. This tab is on the homepage, but you need to scroll down a bit to see it. Or, use the link:

https://tomkinstimes.substack.com/?sort=community

We can’t control the commenting format on Substack, but it’s far quicker and smoother than it was on here. It doesn’t have all the same bells and whistles, but is simpler, and any developments Substack make will be across the board, so new features will work 100%, unlike features we’ve added here, that had to be plug-ins that often created various clashes and compatibility issues with other plug-ins.

Other TTT Substacks (our sub-Substacks, or Spokes)

The TTT Main Hub on Substack will be cheaper than the old TTT, but there will be totally optional additional paid sub-Substacks for more bespoke content.

This is designed to help us to pay for the content people actually want to pay for, with the current way Substack works allowing for different sections, but all via the same single payment.

But with different Substacks, we can have different areas of focus, each one run by a different member of the TTT motley crew (none of whom are/were members of Mötley Crüe; or at least, not that they’re admitting to).

The TTT suite is:

You really must read this article for the full explanation, and with links to subscribe to the different areas of the new TTT.

What is Substack?

For those who don’t know, Substack is just a publishing platform, with – crucially – a built-in subscriber payment system. Essentially, it does what we’ve been doing since 2009, only it does it much better, because it’s all organic, whereas this old site was constructed, and faults fixed, like a Heath Robinson contraption. 

Articles on Substack arrive as newsletter emails, but the website allows for commenting and a community, much like this one.  

People publish all kids of stuff on Substack, on almost every topic imaginable. Some people take it out on Substack if they don’t like the topic or the writer, but that’s daft. 

We will be using a network of different Substacks, albeit one central hub (the TTT Main Hub). 

Again, see this link for the full details of what will be on offer.

Why Are We Moving, and Why Substack (Brief Recap)

If you’ve missed the news – and as much as people get annoyed at being told things over and over, there will always be loads who say “hey, why didn’t you mention this before?” – this explains why we’ve moved. 

I published some the following few paragraphs last week, but obviously not everyone is reading everything:

Due to spiralling technical issues beyond our repair, we can no longer stay on WordPress, and so, we’re moving to somewhere that will work out cheaper, far easier to maintain, and more reliable in terms of site stability. 

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. (For instance, the Recent Comments sidebar – a very popular feature – frequently crashed TTT due to the strain on the server. A plug-in, it had to be hosted externally, at a cost, to stop it crashing TTT.) 

We had to pay to have images compressed, in addition to the various subscription plug-ins that no longer worked properly, including still allowing subscribers with no active payment to use the site as normal, but also with no way of allowing them to pay again. 

Instead of paying for server space and bandwidth, for the site and for various plug-ins, 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.

Helpful Resources

https://support.substack.com/hc/en-us/articles/360059542452-How-do-I-log-into-my-Substack-account-

https://tomkinstimes.com/2022/09/how-to-subscribe-to-access-use-the-tomkins-times-substack/

Forgotten/Overlooked?

Anything I’ve forgotten or overlooked, let me/us know. We can then update this document to make it up to date, and this will remain as the top article on the site until the site disappears into the ether (albeit we do want to keep it available as an archive). 

Ways To Contact Us

The old help email address for Issues cancelling old subscription relating to WordPress/PayPal, etc.

Help for issues accessing Substack

And…

See you on the other side!