Substack seems like such a great deal for journalists. A direct relationship with your paying audience, without the headaches that come from writing for a parent media brand? Marry that with the potential to make some serious money and the added legitimacy of more creators getting on board and you have a winning pitch for many people.
But of course it isn’t quite like that, as Simon Owns explains: “Star journalists generate six figure revenue within weeks after launching on Substack, but that’s not the reality for most writers.” He highlights the issue of a lack of resource to A/B test in addition to the lack of a safety net in other areas as key barriers to joining the big leagues.
That doesn’t even factor in the lack of support you have from a wider team. Owens’ conclusion – it’s worth pursuing a career on Substack, but only if you’re very sure of your time, worth, and resources.
Well, if Substack doesn’t float your boat, maybe Facebook will. This piece from Nieman Lab takes a look at some of the first batch of journalists who are making a go of Facebook’s new paid-for local newsletter options.
Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza is now the largest newspaper in central Europe, with a 250,000 strong digital-only subscription business. The key lesson in this write-up on WAN-IFRA is the changes the paper made to its onboarding process, which was originally turning subscribers off. A great case study in how to tweak subscription offerings.
In this throwback episode we hear from Jasper Wang about Defector, which was formed after a mass staff exodus from former GO Media property Deadspin. It’s a great chat about what Jasper believes is the core of a successful newsroom – writers who fundamentally understand their audience.
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