1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Pivoting to Substack

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Dec 3, 2020.

  1. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    So I did something, maybe really dumb, and pivoted to Substack. And by pivot, I mean I started a substack and keeping it free but asking for subscriptions.
    In my case, I didn't walk away from a gig, more the gig moved on and left me behind.
    While I've been working on it here and there for a couple, three months, I actually flipped the switch on Monday and the first newsletter went out today.
    I'll keep this short but starting a substack is easy, maybe almost too easy, and entirely free on the front end. They take a 10 percent cut once you start charging, but if you keep it free, you never pay them a dime.
    Substack's CMS is rudimentary and limited. Like you can't make things flush right.
    But the basics are easy enough.
    It also is really not designed for a news site, more essays and long reads. You can throw a photo in, but not a photo essay or album.
    If anyone is thinking about making the leap, let me know. I'll answer what I can.
  2. Elliotte Friedman

    Elliotte Friedman Moderator Staff Member

    Good luck
    JayFarrar likes this.
  3. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    Knock 'em dead, my friend.
    JayFarrar likes this.
  4. Severian

    Severian Well-Known Member

    A big meme going around is people thinking that by switching to Substack, they're on track to make a six-figure income. Just like podcasts, not everyone needs a newsletter. I'm sure you're more realistic about this.
    wicked likes this.
  5. Carlkolchak

    Carlkolchak Member

    Grip it and rip it champ.
    JayFarrar likes this.
  6. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I'm hopeful to hit between $5,000 to $10,000 in year one.

    After two weeks, I'm on track to hit the low end of that by year's end. I've already passed my hoped for subscriber number and about halfway to my hoped for paid subscriber number.

    That allows me to have some cash flow and also give my contributors, one of whom is a regular here, money for a case or two of beer. My advantage now is my market is where I was editor of now-closed papers, so I have some insight into the people and what they want, along with what they're willing to pay. I think that market could support a couple, three thousand paids, which would put it into very low six figures. I'm charging $5 month or $50 annually with a lifetime sub going for $200. Almost all my paids are annuals. so that's good for immediate case but not so good as you don't have a steady monthly stream of cash.

    My model is a subscribe if you like, pay if you can model and the not really dirty and maybe secret of substack is if you can get your subscriber list number to a certain point, it will unlock some sponsored content opportunities and that's where some real cash can be paid, assuming you can provide some metrics to those paid content shops, which I can.

    Anyone thinking about doing this, and it isn't for everyone, needs to think that the locals who you freelance for now, will tell you to straight go to hell now that's you've launched something they view as a competitor. Nor that it really matters because at least for here, the freelance market has dried up tight. The other is get your spouse completely onboard because you will absolutely need their support. My wife has been an absolute champion on this and, for me, she always had the better paying job, even when I was a full-time regional editor for a poorly paying chain in a job that no longer exists.

    The last and bonus thing is contact your local small business assistance center. It is probably located at the nearest local college and the help they provide is amazing and free. I just literally spent an hour talking to a CPA for free about tax issues for startups. I have no idea what that would have cost me in real-life, but I suspect more than what I would have been willing to pay.
    cake in the rain and wicked like this.
  7. Carlkolchak

    Carlkolchak Member

    JayFarrar likes this.
  8. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

  9. Situation

    Situation Member

    I don't know the first thing about Substack, but perhaps a better option is building a wordpress news site and making money through Google Adsense (or the like once you grow) and affiliate marketing.

    You may only want to cover sports, but mixing in some affiliate content may help you pay the bills (i.e. Best Baseball Gloves For Beginners).

    With wordpress you would also have the option to reach out to local businesses to display their ads.

  10. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Well-Known Member

    And we’ve circled all the way back to 2004 SJ.

  11. Severian

    Severian Well-Known Member

    Google gets a huge cut of that ad revenue. Substack, meanwhile, gets a much smaller cut after a newsletter starts generating a certain amount of money. Substack is the way to go in this situation.
  12. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    If the Post and Times couldn’t make it with an advertiser-only model, what makes you think anyone could?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page