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The Humane Way

This is not our first rodeo. Our founders have built two other profitable agency businesses.

When it was time to start Humane Club, no more was it about simply earning a livelihood.

This time we wanted to build what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives.

This is our attempt to articulate the values we believe in — what does it mean to humane — not something highfalutin; instead, everyday things that address everyday daily necessities with elegance and freedom.

Photo credits by 五玄土 ORIENTO on Unsplash

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Humane is for… people like us

You’ve put in the work to build up our expertise, skills, and credibility in one field. Your identity, businesses, initiatives, and causes are your Life’s Work.

  • You are a researcher, academic, PhD candidate, beat reporter, policy maker, consultant, or analyst.
  • Alternatively, you run a sustainable businesses that serves a dedicated purpose. Yes, it’s a business and not a startup. You are what one might call – a boring, old-school business that solves a specific problem for a well-defined customer. Customers like your work, and they pay you for your solution. You compete on getting the little big details right. 

This is unlike Venture Capital (VC) funded products that are just there to make a financial profit. If they stop making profit, they get arbitrarily killed (remember Google Reader), get acquired (remember Posterous, Nuzzel), or go out of fashion (remember Orkut).

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Hence, you play the long game

Source: https://twitter.com/paulg/status/1546259036106006528

You’ve built up credibility over decades and have things to lose from taking short-term, opportunistic decisions. Hence:

Problem: It is common for people to stand out online for the sake of it. Influencers showcase their latest fast fashion. People eat Instagram-friendly food. While chasing the latest trend might be gratifying, in the long term, it is shallow and hollow.

Solution: It is extremely difficult to come up with a product that is complete new and unique. It is advisable to think of a concept that your audience is already familiar with and a product your audience considers ‘normal’ and attempt to improve it. The improvement will make it a ‘super normal’ product. In fact, the most important products in our lives aren’t the ones that stand out but the ones that get the least attention, but it would be impossible to live without them.

Amazon follows something similar.

Source: https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-jeff-bezoss-very-first-amazon-job-listing-foreshadowed-his-stepping-down-as-ceo.html

Our decisions:

  • Why WordPress: WordPress has survived and grown annually online for over 18 years. It is unlikely to go away.
  • Why WordPress via Humane Club: If Humane Club shuts down, we commit to giving you a self-hosted version of our software so that you can continue business as usual.
  • Why our SuperNormal Theme: When using WordPress, you’ll need a theme. We took the CAPEX effort of discovering design patterns that have stood the test of time and packaged those learning into a modern, clean, structured, responsive, performant theme. It is Super Normal because it will disappear and give space to your brand, content, and products.

The best writers do not ghost write. The best builders do not rehash white labeled generics. The best researchers publish papers. The best bootstrapped entrepreneurs do not go about distributing their equity. You wear your work on your sleeve.

Yet, sadly on the Internet, we are all renters because of our addiction to free tools provided by BigTech.

  • You are the product: You end up paying with you privacy and valuable personal data. 
  • Renter not owner: When you build your media and commerce on BigTech, you are a tenant in their establishment. They own your data and audience.
  • Not responsible: This advertisement-driven Attention Economy, a.k.a. surveillance capitalism, has unintended consequences on our digital public square.
  • Risk to your life’s work: You expose your content and commerce to being de-platformed, demonetized, or to the vagaries of algorithm changes. Or you end up risking the foundations of your work — data, processes, systems, and operations — to companies that can shut down any day.

Our decisions:

  • Why WordPress via Humane: We built on WordPress. WordPress is open-source (read: Can WordPress save the internet?). However, as is the case with most open-source software, WordPress is tough to use. We simplify the complexities of WordPress for you.
  • Disconnect from BigTech: While it is impossible to replace BigTech, we want to help our customers become more responsible. We partner with products attempting to rebuild some tools without the destabilizing bits.

You are well-positioned to run your own media operation because you’re already highly educated, mindful, and thoughtful. You already have the material!

Let’s say two books are produced at ₹50 per copy. Yet some books will sell at a price of ₹100 and others will be at ₹400. The difference is, what is the customer’s willingness to pay (WTP).

Media will raise your customer’s willingness to pay. Here’s how:

  • Trustworthy: Write to demonstrate your expertise and who you are, what you do, etc.
  • People like you: You don’t need to serve everyone. Articulate the values you believe in, things you’ll stick on the wall and live by. This will allow others with the same values to find you.
  • Understands me: Articulate how well your understand your customer’s problems.
  • Impulse purchase: Articulate your product’s features clearly so customers can immediately decide whether to sign up or not.
  • After-sales support: A well-documented help desk demonstrates that you have a stable product and also reduces your cost of support. 
  • Content can be their first purchase: Sometimes, along with your actual product, you could also sell content — small course, book, or PDF — at a low cost. This allows leads to experience what it means to purchase from you. If they are satisfied, they might purchase your main product.

Our decisions:

  • Apart from software, we can give you perspective on how to setup and run your media operation.
  • Learn with the community: We are working towards releasing a members-exclusive course that helps working professionals who can read each chapter and immediately apply it in their project, product, company, or organization to articulate their brand, an essential step to getting your website up.

You convey your best understanding of reality backed by evidence and data.

  • If you are an academic or researcher, you maintain detailed list of citations of work done that you use for literature review or to build your argument.
  • If you are a beat reporter, then you tend to use structured journalism — a list of events, people, locations that you encounter as part of everyday reporting. 
  • If you are a product manager, researcher, data journalist, or management consultant, you regularly leverage insights from reliable datasets to make your case.
  • If you are a professional from the creative fields — marketing, copywriters, and design — then you maintain swipe file or mood boards of brilliant work already done. The goal isn’t to copy but to seek inspiration. This can include things like excellent headlines, advertisements, social media posts, or quotes, among others.

Our decisions:

  • WordPress is a brilliant content CMS. But, it lacks the features that candid communicators — researchers, academia, think tanks, and journalists — require to communicate data and evidence with all of its messiness and nuance. We bring data visualization capability to WordPress.

You are comfortable in your skin:

You’re here for the long term. Given that, you see the benefit in being part of a community and being civic-minded.

Our decisions:

  • Humane Club is a community-supported project. Read more about the membership benefits.
  • Your website is privacy-friendly.
  • Your website will also be inclusive because its design is mobile-first and most people access the web on their cell phone.

You do not have fear of missing out (FOMO). You are ambitious but not aggressive about it. I’m sure you’d want this for the Internet we all inhabit.

Problem: However, products that profit from advertisements use persuasive technologies — algorithms and notifications — to mold your behavior, opinions, and attitudes to meet their company objectives. You keep returning to their platform and spending more time out of FOMO or by driving you into echo chambers. This does long-term harm to you, your children, your business, and your civic information space.

Solution: But life doesn’t happen in an app but outside. So Humane Products want you to get the job done as soon as possible and exit. Additionally, they recognize that life can be stressful, and hence they often build gratitude right in.

Our decisions:

  • If you want this for your audience or customers, then Humane Club is for you. Our user interface is clean, structured, and calm. We also do not integrate with programmatic advertisements like Google Advertisements.
  • We intend to implement avoid ledger of harms of persuasive technology by The Center for Humane Technology.

“Yeah, but I have something he’ll never have: Enough.”

Joseph Heller, American novelist and the author of Catch-22.

The essence of maintaining work-life balance, enjoying what you do, and building a sustainable operation is having a sense of this is enough — from a sense of satisfaction.

Our decisions:

  • You’ll get a website that is similar to what the big companies have.
  • Pricing: Flat annual fee without hidden fees.
  • We execute on the basics well.
    • Design: Responsive and Super Normal
    • Web Standards: Regularly maintained and upgraded
    • Website: 99.99% uptime
    • Search engine optimized
    • Hassle-free WordPress