Hey there, friend!
My name’s Chunck Trafagander. I am an Online Educator and Freelance 3D Artist working in the gaming industry. My online presence, modest as it is, has been growing steadily over the past couple of years through my activity on platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Artstation, and Gumroad, among others.However, over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to use Mavenseed to set up my own online platform. Being a freelance artist and educator, Mavenseed has turned out to be a great tool to begin (or continue) an online presence for both disciplines of my work. I wanted to share with you some of the things Mavenseed has allowed me to do during my short time with it, and even some things that I would like to see in the future moving forward with the platform. Let’s start with what I’m really digging about Mavenseed!
As I’ve mentioned, I came to Mavenseed with some proverbial “baggage”, already having tons of artwork, courses and videos published elsewhere.
Something that has deterred me from other platforms is the fact that it would be too difficult/time-consuming to easily integrate all of this varied content in any cohesive way. And while I do enjoy some of the specific functionality of these other platforms, it was never a structured, predictable experience when linking people to one site, then over to another in order for them to see everything that I had wanted to show them.
There’s a strong chance that I’ve also lost most people at the initial link, because people simply do not have time to be clicking links all day to find what they are looking for.
Mavenseed has allowed me to consolidate my entire online presence, making it a place I can easily identify as my home-base. It makes it easy for me to add connections to my content that’s out on other platforms already, and present them in a way that is wholly cohesive for viewing on my Mavenseed site; a professional presentation you can’t quite get from offering several links on your YouTube banner or Twitter bio.
I’ve been fairly impressed with how easy it has been to integrate my works from other sites onto Mavenseed, as if they were already native to my site.
Built for Learning
While it’s awesome that I can consolidate all of my information into one area, Mavenseed is used for much more.
As an online instructor, something that is critical to my work is my ability to build online courses. And fighting with the tools that enable me to get that done is an absolute deal-breaker. Mavenseed has fantastic course-building resources to get you up and running with developing the structure of your video courses quickly. You can break your course up into chapters, or have it all as one big lesson. Per video, you even have the ability to add more videos to the page, further descriptions of what to expect in the video, as well as an area for comments so that your audience can reach out with problems and general discussion of the content they’ve watched. Sometimes you want to switch things up a bit though and offer your students a moment’s respite.
If you want to test your students as they work through a course to provide direct feedback to what they’ve retained so far, or even give them some exercises to try on their own with some written guidance, you are able to structure that into your courses as well! “Quizzes” and “Exercises” are two more native options available to us to help target an even wider array of learning styles.
You can even provide downloadable content for these courses so that viewers can download your demo files to work alongside the course, as well as the video files themselves if you want to offer the possibility of an offline experience for your audience.
The feature set of Mavenseed for courses is incredibly modular to ensure you are able to make it your platform, your way.
So, Why Not Gumroad?
This is a question that has cropped up in my mind several times throughout my exploration with Mavenseed, and I think is really an essential question to answer to better understand the platform for what it is, what it provides, and where I can see it (and therefore myself) going. I’ve been using Gumroad for a couple of years now, and I love it for what it is. I think it’s an awesome platform that has made it viable to provide my viewers with a little extra content for a fee, which helps sustain me to continue doing what I love!
However, with Gumroad the content that I offer fits into a niche area of the platform that is a little difficult to cater towards, given the current toolset it provides. With educational material, setting up the proper learning environment is very important, something I’ve not been able to accomplish with Gumroad alone. Currently, my audience can only watch a YouTube trailer I’ve embedded and make their best guess as to whether the course page they are looking at is a good fit for their needs. Once the course is purchased, that is the end of the transaction between myself and the viewer. To engage any further would require the viewer sending me an email, which in most instances you would want to limit to troubleshooting problems, not general comments.
By only being able to sell my courses as products and not much else, this significantly limits the amount of engagement that could provide my audience. As an educator, having a direct line to those that are using my resources is essential. As well, don’t underestimate the marketability of providing continued user support. After all, wouldn’t you be more enticed if you knew that you could ask for and receive help whenever you needed it?
Here is the itch that I believe Mavenseed is trying to scratch, intentionally or not. Mavenseed, almost by definition of its name, intends to help curators develop not only the means of selling products but selling themselves and building a community around the content that they provide. It provides far greater community-driven tools to help develop connections between Mavens and their audience.
My audience can look through my courses and art without having to leave my site or be linked elsewhere. For any course I make, I have the ability to provide free chapters to help my audience make informed decisions about their purchases. Once a course has been purchased, I am still able to directly contact and converse with my audience to help them if assistance is required, all without having to leave the platform.
The toolset that Mavenseed provides enables me to develop content that feels curated for each viewer, as well as provide continued technical and personal support for my audience when it is needed.
In my time with Mavenseed, I have been pleasantly surprised at the flexibility it offers. Often I am thinking about functionality I wish it had, only to stumble upon exactly what I was looking for, (which is likely my own fault, I am stubborn and like to jump in without reading the documentation). That being said, after some serious research to ensure that this functionality does indeed NOT exist already, I’ve really only run into one area that I can see possibly needing some tender love and care at the moment.
Generic Project Templates
Now, templates in a way do already exist, allowing you to develop certain looks and styles of your pages and courses which you can save and use across your site for cohesion. However, as far as I can tell there doesn’t exist an option to select templates for generic layouts and designs of pages to start with that may work better for different kinds of storefronts. Say I wanted to begin developing a site for my (fictional) dog photography business. I would have to start my site from the exact same place as I would my other (fictional) online bicycle repair schooling; from scratch.
Starting an online platform for many can be a truly daunting task, especially when they have to learn the tools to then build for a medium they may not be entirely comfortable with. Sometimes you just don’t know what looks good until you see it or you want to start from nothing when first building a page/site.
I think providing users with a couple of barebone templates that offer generic, preset layouts is a simple, great way to help people get up and running with the Mavenseed platform quicker and would encourage people to stick with it.
Extras To Check Out
Even though I have not yet managed to touch every aspect of the platform, there are a few things I do want to mention about Mavenseed that genuinely excites me.
Plugins are extra extensibility options for your site, which offer you the ability to introduce new features to your platform. Currently, it is in beta, so the feature-set is kind of light, (only 8 plugins available, 5 of which are free).
I am interested in keeping an eye on it as it develops, as I think it is a great way to obfuscate functionality that isn’t needed for your site, while also offering more if you think you are going to need it.
Mavenseed also provides us the opportunity to bring other collaborators onboard as “Staff” and “Authors”. Now, the names for these roles are set in stone, however, it is more of a functionality title, rather than a status thing.
With Collaborators, we can bring in other people to help develop more content for our platforms. Depending on the role you provide them, they may have more or less access to various parts of the site, such as being able to access administrative back-end features, or merely the ability to create, edit and delete various content on the site. This is very useful when hiring full-time staff, or part-time contract work as you can categorize their role and access to the site without giving away the keys to the kingdom.
While I personally have minimal use for this yet, I find it very intriguing and something to look forward to one day using.
Over these past few months, Mavenseed has really grown on me. Having been accustomed to the ways I had been working across various platforms for the past several years, the biggest obstacle came from trying to figure out how Mavenseed fits into this larger picture.
I’ve realized that it actually makes a perfect place for me to centralize all of my workaround, and leverage its ability to consolidate my works from other platforms. I have several courses already planned for this year, and I am looking forward to really putting Mavenseed to the test with what I have planned!