John Saddington combines love of WordPress, filtered photos in new IOS app
[Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a two-part feature examining how John Saddington went up against social media powerhouses Instagram and Facebook to create his new filtered-photo app, Pressgram. Part 1 is Here.]
Giving control to the content creators
John Saddington knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to create an app that would work seamlessly with WordPress, but also one that would respect the community of content creators and their intellectual rights.
So to get the community involved, he turned to Kickstarter.
“You see, you now get more creative control over your content than ever before,” Saddington wrote on his Kickstarter page for Pressgram. “You won’t have to ‘license’ your photos from the app or the company — they are yours forever and you’ll never see them anywhere else except your own profile and blog. This is a boon for the artist, the creative, the independent content creator who doesn’t need to worry about digital agreements or where they may end up seeing their own handiwork.”
Saddington didn’t just want to create another alternative; he wanted to create a better alternative. He was upfront with his Kickstarter project from day one. He hoped to make an app with a different core set of values, and he wanted Pressgram to encapsulate those beliefs that were so important to him.
“I hope it provides both a functional and philosophical reprieve from those other *grams* and their options for publishing,” Saddington told us. “For starters, it can provide a ton of more traction and traffic for a publisher’s property and blog. This is an obvious functional benefit and will help people grow their blogs, their businesses, and their brands better! Secondarily, it will help relieve them of the gross oversight that is Facebook and Instagram’s overtly commercial interests.
“I want to be a better option and alternative, and it’s high-time that someone stepped up to the plate.”
Language like this got people to listen. Saddington had the attention of a fiercely vocal, filtered-photo fan-base that had recently been spurned, and was looking for a better option. This is exactly what they were longing to hear. At a time when other companies were claiming your content as their own (to line their own pockets), Saddington was focused on maintaining intellectual creative control in the hands of the people who were actually creating the content.
Within 30 days, 498 backers had pledged $56,500 of a requested $50,000 goal.
Saddington had his funding.
By a WordPress lover, for WordPress lovers
With the promise that users would get to keep control of (and all rights to) their photos, Saddington had the support of the creatives. And with linking Pressgram directly to WordPress, Saddington worked to put page views directly into the hands of the bloggers.
“… You get to publish your images directly to your WordPress-powered blog when you want,” Saddington wrote in his Kickstarter. “This means that when you share them through your favorite social network … it’ll send your network and your friends to your own blog instead of yet another landing page where the corporate hounds are monetizing your traffic.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. Think of all that traffic lost which might have helped you better monetize your blog or build that fledgling startup company that you’re trying so hard to build … Those are your pageviews, so you should get to keep them. Besides, that’s one of the rewards for your content creation! No need to give them away to someone else. No need to line the pockets of another’s purse.”
Pressgram goes live
After the Kickstarter ends, Saddington kicked into overdrive working on Pressgram. He designed and redesigned the app. He started to get some advance press from The Next Web, Forbes, and even his alma mater, Georgia Tech.
He sent Pressgram to Apple for approval on August 3, 2013. Apple rejected it.
“We start redesigning in earnest,” he wrote on the Pressgram blog. “What was once a curse is now a blessing as the new design is much closer to iOS 7 and is helluva lot better.”
At the end of August, the official WordPress plugin went up, just a few days away from the app’s formal release.
With little sleep, Saddington put in “four grueling weeks redesigning the application from the bottom-up,” and resubmitted the app for Apple’s approval.
After looking at the app during its approval process, Apple unknowingly gave Pressgram “A Storybook Beginning.” On September 4, 2013, exactly one year from the day Saddington first sketched out the notes for Pressgram in a dimly lit Mexican restaurant, Pressgram went live.
It’s been a long journey for Saddington and his supporters, but if the top comment in the App Store is any indication, all of his hard work is much appreciated by WordPress fans.
“An app that is for the creative and by the creative, but most importantly it gives the creative all of the control and rights to our images,” Ben Terry wrote in his review. “The design is beautiful and the philosophy is inspiring. If you love photography this app is for you! If you love posting pictures to your WordPress site then this app is definitely for you! Great app, John!”
[Part 1: Pressgram: Photo Sharing for the People]
After the launch
A brief Q&A with Pressgram’s John Saddington
It’s been a few weeks since Pressgram launched, and John Saddington has managed to push out a couple of updates for the app already. Saddington took a break from his busy schedule to talk with us about Pressgram, and putting content ownership in the hands of the creators.
Q: How has the reception / adoption of Pressgram been? (Better? Worse than you hoped?)
Saddington: The reception has been as-expected, meaning, there have been some people who have loved it and are using it daily (and I’m very thankful for that), as well as those that have vilified it as the second-cousin to Lucifer himself (the Internet allows for such coarse language). I’m thankful for both and both sides can provide valuable feedback — even at my own expense.
We’re not an app that will go “gangbusters” like many others, but the growth rate has been very encouraging. I’m excited to see the long-term plan reveal itself over time and see users become raving fans.
Q: Do users really own all their content on Pressgram?
Saddington: Yes. Always and forever. We’re not monetizing any user’s content, and with their ability to publish it directly to their [WordPress] blog, they have “continuity” that other services don’t necessarily offer. In other words, if we disappear, they still have their images!
Q: What if someone offers you millions of dollars to buy Pressgram someday? How would you handle ensuring users still retain rights to their content?
Saddington: I’d walk through that discussion when it happens (if it ever does), but I wouldn’t agree to anything that would compromise the safety, security, and privacy of the user-base, especially because I’m one of the users!
Q: Freebie Question. Anything else you’d like people to know about Pressgram, your vision for it, where you plan to go with it, etc.?
Saddington: I hope that you join our mission to become the best type of creative, social, and publishing network out there; and besides using the app, I hope you tell others and educate and inform them of this amazing alternative.
Editor's Note: Read Part 1 of this two-part feature: Pressgram: Photo Sharing for the People
Instagram, Facebook, and the Instagram logo are owned by Facebook [FB].
WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool maintained by WordPress Foundation.
WordPress.com is owned by Automattic, Inc. [Automattic].
iOS6 and iOS7 are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. [AAPL].
Pressgram and the Pressgram logo are owned by John Saddington [John.do], and used here with permission [Pressgram].