BONUS - Sustain our Docs Pilot Episode


October 11th, 2021

26 mins 35 secs

Your Host
Special Guests

About this Episode


Justin Dorfman


Portia Burton · Eric Holscher

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain! Today, we have a bonus episode for you to listen to, and we’re calling it “Sustain Our Docs.” If you are looking for your place in open source, then you have found it. We’ll be sharing with you a new concept around documentation and sustainability and all that kind of cool stuff. We’re going to talk about how you can leverage documentation, how you can leverage content to bring more people, more attention, and more funding to your products. We will talk to experts who know how to write content engagingly, interview people who speak about the importance of content having goals, and talk to people who have successfully built projects, used excellent documentation and used the content as the pillar of their success. Our hosts are Portia Burton and Eric Holscher. Portia is the owner of Document-Write, a technical documentation agency, and Eric is the co-founder of Read the Docs, Write the Docs, EthicalAds, and PyCascades. We learn about Portia and Eric’s backgrounds, businesses, and visions for this podcast. They also have conversations about the sponsorship model, the multi-pronged finding model, the meaning of funneling, and the importance of documentation and sustainability. So go ahead and download this episode now to find out much more!

[00:00:38] We learn all about the hosts, Portia and Eric.

[00:02:05] Portia tells us why she is super excited to talk about financial sustainability when it comes to open source projects.

[00:05:35] Eric shares his thoughts on how in the software ecosystem, documentation is a huge part of how people get involved in projects, and he talks more about documentation and sustainability.

[00:08:09] Portia wonders what kind of conversation Eric has when talking to a maintainer of an open source project about economic sustainability and its connection to documentation.

[00:09:18] We learn more about EthicalAds and the sponsorship model.

[00:13:45] Portia goes deeper into the multi-pronged funding model.

[00:17:01] Eric explains more about what they mean by “funnelling.”

[00:18:27] Portia and Eric explain what this podcast is all about.

[00:21:50] We learn from Portia why money was the most off-putting part about open source and one of the biggest problems she had with having conversations about money.

[00:24:29] Eric touches on the huge benefits to having really good documentation and some great teasers are mentioned for future episodes.


[00:02:58] “I guess you know the vision is I want to see open source developers get paid.”

[00:03:14] “And it just breaks my heart to see such talented, smart people not know how to make that next step and to be able to take a little bit of value or monetize, basically the gifts they put out in the world.”

[00:04:45] “So I think documentation is a form of ethical content marketing.”

[00:07:12] “Yeah, it’s one of those things that really brings me a lot of joy is seeing success in open source and people getting paid for the work that they’re doing.”

[00:09:44] “And advertising is one of the ways, but I think developers know all the issues with online advertising around privacy and everything else.”

[00:10:44 “Sponsorship model is a model that you see in other industries such as fitness and beauty, and it’s definitely something that open source projects could emulate as well.”

[00:13:52] “I think we also need to have more conversations in the open source community about having different revenue streams, as opposed to depending on one.”

[00:17:10] “It’s all the stuff that the successful projects are already doing.”

[00:18:04] “And when you write documentation, when you write your blog posts, you’re actively finding your people, and how beautiful is that?”

[00:20:42] “ And I’m just remembering, I ran into this thing in the Dev Rel World called the “Orbit Model” or something, and I do think that was a way of rebranding funnels in a way that’s a little bit less kinda loaded already.”

[00:23:28] “I just think about the person who’s dropped from a bootcamp and they go into the ecosystem of software or whatever and they’re trying to learn how to be a developer, and they run into so many terrible documentation sites and software that they actually think that the problem is them, when actually the problem is the terrible state of documentation and in many parts of the ecosystem, and working to improve that situation is a huge benefit to lots of people.”



Support Sustain