Thursday, September 16, 2021

Good post by a journalist summarizing his first year at Substack

From a much longer summary by Casey Newton:

Other than the stories I mentioned above, the Discord launch was the single biggest thing I did over the past year to convert paid subscribers. 


It’s been great to build a small community of Platformer readers and interact with them every day. Better yet, to watch them interacting with each other in friendly, constructive ways. And I was surprised when people I had never interacted with before showed up in my Discord DMs offering me story tips and advice. For these reasons alone, it has been a good project.

That said, I imagined it as a great, ongoing conversation between independent writers — a kind of public newsroom Slack channel — and that hasn’t materialized. There are two main reasons why: one, these writers are truly independent. Everyone is focused on getting their newsletter out, on spinning up a podcast, on a book project, on whatever. And so there hasn’t been the kind of regular interaction that I first envisioned. This issue was compounded by the fact that two of our initial writers — for excellent reasons, by the way — quit their newsletters within a few months of launch.


One other thing folks have observed to me: no matter the Discord server, every channel seems to be dominated by the same few loud voices. None of them are breaking the rules, exactly, but they tend to crowd out other people who might otherwise share their opinions. I basically have no idea what to do about this.