Here's a little podcast: Hear how our business is doing
We're halfway through our first year as a Substack newsletter, and the learning curve is sharp as hell.
In this episode, we talk about our favorite topic: ourselves.
Just kidding, our favorite topic is whatever weird gossip is flying around your political group. Always feel free to tell us about that kind of stuff. We actually feel very vulnerable when talking about ourselves.
If you missed our rundown about our second quarter this morning, you’ll want to read that first. The gist is, we’re halfway through our funded year as Substack Local awardees, and the reality of our situation is starting to set in.
We did notice that our little badge thing says we’re in the top 100 of politics Substacks. We didn’t have that before; we don’t know how many there are in our category overall. But we’ll choose to believe that we’re moving up in the world.
While our new Friday audio things and reading lists are typically just for paid subscribers, we’re letting this one out for free because it’s probably most helpful to local journalists around the country, who are not usually a well-paid bunch. But if you want to support our candor, please become a paid subscriber! Or if you can make us some dope intro music for our podcast thing, we’ll comp you a subscription.
As new-ish Substackers, we’re always reading other Substacks and about Substack and paying attention to what the company does. We like to do our research. So, like last week, here’s a reading list of the stuff on or about Substack that’s inspired and informed us.
We struggle many days with self-motivation because there’s no boss keeping track of our work anymore. And we come back to this hilarious piece by Daniel Lavery, who runs The Chatner, titled “A Press Conference About What Happened To This Morning Where I Was Going To Get So Much Done” to describe how it’s going. It’s truly a work of art — well worth the read.
Casey Newton, who runs Platformer and used to be an Arizona journalist, wrote about how his first year on Substack went, and we loved the transparency he showed. We want to be like this, which is why we’re doing these regular public updates on how it’s going. (He’s also very nice and generous with his time, and he helped us better understand how important local writers are for a platform like Substack.)
One of our fellow Substack Local awardees, Hanna Raskin, writes The Food Section in the South, and her stories always dive deeper than just food itself, like all great food journalism does. She’s trying out a print version and in-person events, and we’re always keeping an eye on how her experiments play out.
We’re obsessed with Rusty Foster’s Today in Tabs, and his subscription pitches inspire us regularly. Rusty made stickers for paid subscribers, so we made stickers (and it worked).
Ryan Broderick of Garbage Day wrote this incredible one-year summation of his Substack, including how silly you can get with stats about what works and what doesn’t. He also offered this bit of wisdom, which has held true for us: “People fucking love coupons.”
The most frequently cited local successes on this platform are Joshi Herrmann, who’s building a nice little newsletter empire in the U.K., and Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger, who’s successfully built a local newsletter that pays two journalists (that’s our goal!). We keep an eye on what these two companies do.
There are new think-pieces about Substack and the newsletter economy seemingly on a weekly basis. We always swap them back and forth, but the ones that stand out are: the Poynter piece on local news and Substack, Ben Smith’s column about the platform, and Axios’ piece about how Substack is overblown as a threat to media itself.
And we think a bit about how you exit a newsletter, just in case that has to happen someday. Charlie Warzel, who took Galaxy Brain from Substack to the Atlantic, talked some about leaving the platform. And this Vanity Fair story from Delia Cai, who wrote a Substack called Deez Links, shows how there’s not a foolproof way to leave.