I don’t love talking about myself, or what I’m up to. (That’s why I created @felixbot, separate from my main @felixsalmon feed, just to tweet myself: if you just follow me, and not my bot, you’ll get relatively little self-promotion.)
But after a fair few of these Nota bene emails, and a few incoming queries, I guess I should try to explain what I’m up to. Even though I’m not 100% sure of that myself.
I started this iteration of my email newsletter back in February, sending it out to the former recipients of my old Counterparties newsletter, plus a few randomly-picked others. If you haven’t unsubscribed, and you’re still opening these emails, thank you!
Part of the reason for setting up the newsletter was to see what my natural writing cadence was, after four years hidden away doing mostly post-text stuff at Fusion. Another part was an experiment: If I started a newsletter, would people subscribe?
I think I’ve managed to answer both of those questions, at least tentatively. I’m writing pretty much daily, which is roughly what I thought I’d do when I started doing this in February. That writing appears in a bunch of different places. Most of it is at Slate, some is at Wired, and some of it is at other places like Artnet or Vinepair. And, yes, some of it is right here on my Substack newsletter.
As for the subscriber base, that’s been mostly steady, but basically trending downwards. (No hard feelings!) There are a lot of email newsletters out there, and while there are certainly people out there who are interested in what I have to say, it takes more than that to want to fill up your inbox with yet another newsletter. If I was interested in building a successful email product, I would have to have a much more focused subject matter, just for starters.
Perhaps it’s the software I’m using. This latest iteration of this newsletter is on the wonderful Substack platform, which is incredibly user-friendly, I’d recommend it to anybody. That said, Substack is focused mainly on generating paying subscribers, rather than just subscribers, and so it can be hard for people to realize that it’s entirely possible (and welcome!) to sign up for free.
I’ve never asked anybody to pay to subscribe to these newsletters, although I’m deeply thankful to everybody who’s done so. If you want to convert to a paid subscription, that would be amazing. For the time being, however, my income from newsletter subscriptions is tiny — my paying subscriber base is in the low double digits.
That’s why I haven’t written anything yet for subscribers only. So long as almost no one pays for this newsletter, it feels silly for me to send out an email for just, um, 18 people. Those 18 people are supporting me (thanks, again!), rather than paying for exclusive content (which, there isn’t any). But if there’s been any confusion on that front — if you handed over a credit card because you thought you were going to get exclusive newsletters, and now regret that purchase — then please just say the word and I’ll personally pay you back everything you can’t get refunded from Substack.
I like the idea of writing something of value, which people pay for insofar as they value it, rather than because of some paywall. Maybe that’s naive. Maybe I’ll start actually asking people to subscribe. And maybe, if that’s successful, I might start writing some things just for subscribers. Everything’s still pretty fluid right now, I’m still trying to work a lot of different things out.
All of which is to say: Thanks for bearing with me. And, as ever, all feedback and suggestions and requests are welcome. You can reach me on this email, or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.