Paid Subscriptions are Now Enabled
Firstly, to my free tier subscribers: fret not, you won’t miss anything. All new posts will be free, I’m just going to archive paywall old posts whenever I release new posts. See below for details.
The literature on the subject of going paid on Substack states that unless I’m bringing in an audience I’ve already built externally, I should build a robust audience from my posts first and then go paid. I’m not going to do it quite like that.
Writers, filmmakers, and artists of all stripes have a terrible habit of creating arbitrary goalposts for success, especially regarding monetization. I’ve observed enough careers at this point to know that people who monetize early tend to have an easier time monetizing more. People who hold back monetizing have increasingly difficulty making the jump. The worst ‘moving goalposts’ are the ones of your own creation.
I should know, I’ve had more than enough experience apologizing away my own work to prevent evaluating it in any commercial marketplace. The result is that I only got paid to make other people’s work, and my own work takes second priority.
The other thing that I’ve noticed is that artists are terrible at even making monetization possible. I’ve had to cudgel friends into charging me for their work and even then they’ve had this obnoxious habit of throwing in freebies and other frilling to ‘make it more worth it’ to me. For instance, I bought the first CD a friend produced, and he gave me three copies wrapped up and packaged in a box more expensive than the album I purchased.
Artists struggle to accept their art is worth purchasing.
I’m going to enable monetization of this Substack early. Paid subscriptions are now available, I would appreciate it if you’d support my work here:
However, I’m not casually dismissing the importance of building an audience and making my work accessible, so here’s my initial model:
Recommendations posts are free. It’s against the purpose of advocating for great work out there if the pitch itself is behind a paywall. I’m trying to get people to support other people’s work, so for me I don’t need that monetized.
For the foreseeable future, newest posts of almost any type are free. I am still audience building and the hope here is that if you want to revisit something you liked before, or you’re new and very curious about older stuff I published, you can unlock the archive.
Posts get archived by type. I so far release STSC Symposium posts, word essays, photo essays, and videos. So if I release a new video, the previous video essay gets archived, but not the previous non-video posts.
Over time the value of the subscription increases as the archive grows.
This post will remain free and pinned to the top for awhile for clarity.
The balancing variable of this equation is that it places the responsibility of me to create dope-ass posts that interest people enough that they desire to pay for my older content.
One reason I came to this structure is that I have some series of interrelated essays I’d like to get cracking on. Each one should stand alone on its own merits, but be richer for building on each other.
So I’d highly recommend you subscribe and read along as I go less the content get paywalled before you get around to it.
This post isn’t really meant to be all about me.
If you’re an artist who does want to practice your art beyond a hobby, please make monetization possible. So many, terribly many, awfully many artists I know complain about being incapable of monetizing their work whilst never even providing the option for someone to buy it.
Perhaps this subscription model will create zero conversions. But at least I started with the option. I can grow and learn from there.
You bring up some excellent points. I've seen other artists, especially beginners, fall into the trap of doing their art for free. I'm no exception.
This has given me a lot to think about.
Thanks for this, man. Great approach