This is the third part of a series on the WeMartians Patreon program. In January we covered the Orbiter level of $1/month, and last month we talked about the Lander level of $3/month. We’ve set some ambitious goals for the podcast. The most important goal is launching the WeMartians Travel Grant. If I’m serious about hitting these goals this year I need to ensure that the benefits of becoming a patron are clear. It occurs to me that I’ve only ever gone over the rewards at a cursory level. So, with this blog series I hope to change that.
Today I’d like to go over one of the most popular support levels: Rover. You’re a Rover-level patron if you contribute at least $5/month through Patreon. This reward level centers around our shared Discord community and advance notice of interviews.
Building a Community
One of the most amazing things that has come out of creating the WeMartians Podcast and subsequently building the Off-Nominal Podcast with my co-host Anthony is meeting and conversing with space enthusiasts all over the world. From emails to Twitter replies, Reddit comments & more, engaging with the space community is an awesome experience. But there’s never been a good forum for WeMartians listeners to congregate and share their passion.
Meanwhile, Anthony had started something with his podcast, Main Engine Cut Off. Using the integrated functionality of Discord and Patreon, he had created a chatroom for his listeners to meetup. When I asked him how it was going, he was proud to say that he had begun to see the inklings of what could be an incredible space for space. I wanted in on that action. But it didn’t make sense to compete. Anthony and I, by virtue of being podcast partners, shared a lot of listeners. It would be a bad experience for them to have two separate Discord servers to talk similar content.
A few conversations later we solved it. A shared space, branded under our partnership Off-Nominal, to host supporters of both Main Engine Cut Off and WeMartians. By bringing the communities together we simplified the experience. Plus, since the size of the community increased its value, we were stronger together.
What is Discord, anyway?
Discord is a software platform that was originally designed for Voice Over IP (VOIP) communication between gamers while playing multiplayer games. Think of it like Slack but for gaming. It has expanded to include all kinds of use-cases for communication, including Patreon communities. Users can communicate via chat in different text channels, sharing photos, links and more. Or, you can join voice channels to have vocal communication among a group. Discord can be run as an app on Windows, MacOS, Android or iOS, or directly in a browser. Here’s what you might see when you log in (I’ve edited this image to protect the identify of our supporters). It’s from a discussion about Space History and sharing our favourite photos and documentaries.
The Off-Nominal Discord is a private server that can only be accessed by supporting WeMartians (or Main Engine Cut Off) through Patreon at the $5 level. By creating an account with Discord and then connecting it to your Patreon account, you will automatically be added to the server seamlessly.
What Goes on in the Discord?
Because our community is global, there’s always something going on. As a user you set your own level of participation. Some supporters pop in once every few weeks to say hello and talk about something on their mind. Others find enjoyment from keeping the conversation going almost daily!
The topics we discuss are divided into broad areas, each with its own channel. This is helpful if you’re super interested in Space History but don’t care much about Space Policy. Simply mute the channels you don’t want to hear about! The channels we run today (available to all supporters at $5+ from either podcast) are:
- #Announcements (for community announcements and events)
- #General (for non-specific space related topics)
- #Planetary (for Mars and other planetary science or exploration topics)
- #Launch (for upcoming launches and launch vehicle technology)
- #Policy (for politics, law, and strategy of space agencies and companies)
- #History (for learning about the past of space)
- #Random (for non-space related topics. This usually ends up being about listeners learning about other listeners and where they live)
We also have specific channels for those who support a specific podcast to discuss Patreon perks (more on that later). If you want to learn more about the channels, you might want to check out our helpful starter guide, which we give to new users who join.
Sometimes, there’s an event happening, like a rocket launch or a Mars landing. These are great opportunities for the Discord community to get together and share the experience. Occasionally we’ll set up a voice channel to have a conversation about the event, or we might just stick to text based. These can be especially fun times to be a part of the group – the insights we get from each other amplify the experience!
We’ve also experimented with live recording sessions for Off-Nominal or other audio recording events (in fact, you can listen to one being published tomorrow!). We’re still ironing out these details, but it could mean you could hear one of the podcasts live as it is put together with the chance to offer questions or insights along the way. You could be a part of the show!
The private WeMartians channel has a special purpose. It is the one part of the server that is not shared with supporters of Main Engine Cut Off. There, listeners can discuss some of the perks that they get from being a Patreon supporter, from the Red Planet Review or Off the Cuff bonus content, to advance notice of guests (see below). It’s our private space just for Patreon Perks.
Sound good? Click the button below to pledge on Patreon now and join the community. If you’re not sold yet, keep reading!Pledge $5/month on Patreon to join the Discord!
Advanced Notice of Interviews
The other key benefit of the Rover-level is advance notice of interviews. I try to plan my interviews as far as advance as possible to give myself flexibility in publishing and producing. I’m not always successful, but most of the time I can arrange for 3-7 days warning for Patreon supporters to know what I’m up to. Then, I ask for questions. I’ve gone back to Episode 36 with Farah Alibay, a payload systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and working on the InSight mission, and made the post public so you can see a real live example of what these notices look like.
For Rover-level supporters, this is a chance to be a part of the podcast. Have a specific question about the spacecraft our next guest is working on? Let me know and I’ll try to squeeze it in. Think I might miss an important fact for understanding a science paper on Martian rocks? Give me that heads up and I’ll do my best to get it answered. Want to know what it feels like to live in a habitat on a Mars analogue? Well, you get the idea.
If I read your question on the show, I’ll say your name so everyone knows who asked it. You will become not just a supporter, but a participant.
Remember, the notice of interviews is made that much better when combined with the Discord community. By popping in to the private WeMartians channel, you can talk with other supporters about upcoming interviews and plot your questions together!
The Rover-level is very popular because it combines two really key benefits. Having advance notice of interviews gives you the inside scoop on the next episode of the podcast and the chance to be a part of the interviews. The Off-Nominal Discord is a superb place to hang out, ask questions, share thoughts and learn something new. Together, they create wonderful benefit that not only benefits you but helps keep this podcast independent! That’s pretty cool.