Or: Four Years of My Letter. Some Thoughts.
That was an epic, but interesting, read and I will be taking several of your points away with me.
I'm relatively new to Substack and, in a flurry of enthusiasm, subscribed to a load of newsletters. I confess I am now suffering inbox overload and am slowly filtering out what resonates with me or interests me; anything that doesn't resonate/interest me after two or three reads is going. Mercenary, I know, but unsubscribing from said newsletters will prevent me from spontaneously combusting! You passed the test though 😂😂
Thanks for this in depth perspective of your experience. As someone fairly new here, I appreciate hearing from those who have been around awhile. My sense so far is this is a much healthier place than most social media. The community feel, the positivity, and the encouragement all contribute to an environment I want to be a part of. Keep up the great work.
Lots to think about here. I only started on Substack a few months ago, so my journey is just starting. I, too, started out with just a few subscribers, almost all of whom were friends and family. When I started sending daily posts of one kind (my 2-Bite Stories) and a daily serialized novella, I lost a few. I concluded, as you did, that it was inbox overwhelm, and at that point split off into separate publications people can subscribe to or unsubscribe from. It seems great minds think alike. On the other hand, I've had more subscribers come from Substack, and they wouldn't have found me otherwise.
I'm still working out how to approach paid vs free. I don't believe anyone should work for nothing. That's slavery. On the other hand, a few freebies add value to those who like your work. When you go to a restaurant, you pay for the meal but usually get free refills of coffee, and maybe a cupcake with a candle if it's your birthday.
I'm constantly tweaking, looking for the perfect balance. But I'm sure I've found the right medium.
This was a remarkable and insightful post, thank you.
I too draw out maps for fantasy worlds (and scifi) but only recently drew one clean enough to share. It needs colouring and I'm glad you shared your method on a different post. Watercolours hadn't crossed my mind but seems obvious now, thank you.
While I started my SubStack back in Arpil 2021 it felt like an archipelago without any means to traverse the stormy seas until Notes arrived which opened up a whole world of writers (some of whom have become friends) I didn't know existed. (Part of this was my own fault for not looking hard enough.) I like seeing how others have experienced SubStack, whether it be growth of readership - or not - as there is always insightful parts to take away and similarities. Write well, write consistently, find a niche, engage with people, and if this doesn't result in growth it should, at least, result in committed readers.
"Answer, ‘What do you do? With ‘I’m a writer/author/artist’ and you get very different reactions depending on geography." - Here in the United Kingdom I answer with writer/artist/painter and receive reactions ranging from 'That's so cool!' to a look of bewilderment that says 'People still do that?'
Your photo of the Alps is phenomenal.
Most insightful thing I’ve read in a while. Woah.
Great post outlining your work here, how it has evolved and grown, as you too have!
Oufff! I read this on Saturday, sat down to comment immediately because I knew I’d forget the details if I didn’t... just as I started typing our WiFi decided it wasn’t playing any longer and that was that for almost the whole weekend... so I’ve just had to read it again!
I love facts and figures, (and maps... agreed, a map will draw me too...) especially when I can figure out a complication that’s been niggling me through them… I can’t imagine how long it must have taken you to compile all this information though… bravo from me for your stamina!
I too arrived here, at the recommendation of a friend Pipp (who writes @Pipp Vineyard Tales) with no following at all other than a handful of loyal and very dear Instagram friends - I sent a handful of letters to family and friends with the idea of keeping them updated with my going’s on abroad… as we spoke of in Notes recently, I used to write to them by hand, then emails etc… which they loved, strangely though, most have never even opened even my first Substack letter! I published my first post on 17/01 this year (I was aiming for the first but simply didn’t have the courage or the faith in what I was writing) and since then have gathered almost 200 subscribers… personally I’m delighted.
As you say, ‘everyone has a different journey’ and though I would love to think my letters could gather thousands, in paying terms and subscribers, I am not that naïve! And thankfully never was… or I would be sorely disappointed. My journey is purely for the love of words and their powers of description, too many have a far more eloquent way, more knowledge, more imagination than I ever will but I’m happy to keep my old brain working as it should by continuing and if I gather a few more subscribers along the way, well that would be amazing and I’m so very grateful for every single one of them.
OK so now I’m rambling, when all I really wanted to say was a huge thank you for sharing your Substack journey! And good luck (of course) with ‘la suite’ !