Today’s interview is with Nathan Baschez. There aren’t too many people more familiar with the creator economy than Nathan. He started his own company with Hardbound and was the first employee and VP of Product at Substack in the early days.
Now Nathan runs a company called Every, which is a bundle of premium newsletters. In this episode we dive into how Nathan creates tons of high-quality content every week, and how to facilitate your ideas with a newsletter “mastermind” group.
We also get into a great discussion about pricing and churn for premium newsletters, and what it means for creators to have Twitter, Facebook, and other big media companies getting into the newsletter game.
Links & Resources
- The Nathan Barry Show 023: Tiago Forte – Building a Second Brain & Lessons From a $1M/yr Newsletter
- scuttleblurb – A Value Investing Blog
- Clubhouse: Drop-in audio chat
- Andreessen Horowitz – Software Is Eating the World
- Slow Boring
- Teachable: Create and sell online courses and coaching
Nathan Baschez’s Links
N Baschez: [00:00:00]
At the end of the day, writing is an act of communication. It’s a good form of communication. When you have thought deeply about what you want to say, and you’ve really crafted it, but in order to get to that point, you want to start with the more informal, casual, everyday way of talking. I think the feeling that this is a fascinating conversation is the key thing we want to get to because that’s the spark that you’re trying to like recreate for readers down the road.
Today’s interview is with Nathan Baschez. There aren’t too many people more familiar with the creator economy than Nathan. And so it’s really fun to talk to him. He’s got a great background. He started his own company with Hardbound and he was the first employee and VP of product at Substack in the early days.
And he was at Gimlet Media for awhile. And now he’s running a company called Every, which is a bundle of premium newsletters. They’re really focused on incredibly high quality content. And this episode we dive into how to write great content, facilitating your ideas with sort of a mastermind group.
There’s a fun discussion around that. We talked about Twitter and Facebook and others getting into the newsletter game and what that means. Otherwise monetize your newsletter pricing churn. There’s actually, it’s a great discussion on insurance. You’re gonna want to stay tuned for that. Anyway. There’s a lot of good stuff,
So let’s dive in and I’d love for you to meet Nathan.
Nathan. Welcome to the show.
N Baschez: [00:01:20]
Thank you for having me.
Yeah, well, we can have the Nathan and Nathan talk newsletters show.
N Baschez: [00:01:27]
Two white guys named Nathan talk in the newsletter business.
Exactly. We have all the diversity of newsletters represented right here. I just want to call it out right away. So I love, first at a high level for you to tell listeners whatever he is and, you know, kind of where it’s at right now and, and what you and Dan have done with it.
N Baschez: [00:01:50]
Yeah, totally. So Every is a bundle of business-focused newsletters. And basically we cover right now, mostly strategy productivity, and then we’re kind of getting into some industry specific stuff, but that’s pretty nascent. So we have a newsletter that covers the passion economy called Means of Creation.
We also have some podcasts that we do that are kind of, they’re very related to the newsletters, but basically it’s just this cluster of people that work together to create cool stuff. But there’s kind of, a lot of, we don’t really publish anything under the Every name. We publish it all under one of our individual publications.
And each of those are incredibly kind of like specific is the goal. and, the interesting thing about our bundle is we’re structured as this. Thing that we’re calling a writer collective where it’s somewhere between getting a job at the New York times and running your own paid newsletter, like, you know, on, on your own sort of like whatever convert kit or sub stack or whatever other platform.
And it, it gives you some of the upsides of, you know, having an editor, having some financing, having some distribution, all that kind of stuff, that you’d get by working at a traditional media company. But. Unlike working at a traditional media company, you’re building your own creative vision. Like you’ve got the final say on edits and stuff.
And you know, you have the most important thing is obviously the shared upside. So you get like a huge chunk of the profits. We typically split them 50–50, but it’s a little bit case by case, depending on like what kind of team we’re assembling around a specific newsletter. And sometimes there’s more than one, you know what more than one person working on one.
But roughly it’s like a 50–50 split. And, we’re also trying to kind of come up with creative ways to split the IP. But anyway, long-winded way of saying it’s like this interesting kind of new experiment, at least interesting to me, a new experiment in how to structure a media company.
Yeah, I love it. So, as an example, let’s say I have a newsletter that I’ve started, I’m running separately, and I want to come to you guys and say like, Hey, let’s do a paid thing together. You know, I don’t know. I’ve got 10,000 subscribers and I’m looking to join every, what does that look like as far as what are you looking for?
And, and, you know, some of the more mechanics of that.
N Baschez: [00:03:55]
Totally key thing that it all starts with for us is we’re really focused now on. W things that wouldn’t exist otherwise. So if you’re starting, if you’ve got your own newsletter and you’ve got 10,000, you know, free subscribers on your email list and they love what you do and you know exactly what you want to do to, to, you know, create a paid subscription around what you offer, where you’re going to maybe write one thing a week, and now you’re going to write three things a week.
And two of them are going to be for people who are paying or whatever. Like ma maybe it’ll make sense to work with us. I think that it really depends on kind of like, your goals, but we’re more focused on things where like, maybe we’re really helping you like really deeply edit thing. Cause there’s like a thing you’re trying to do that, that you really value this sort of like editorial feedback.
And you’re kind of figuring out what you’re writing about as you’re going. or, maybe you already have a newsletter and you want to create a new sort of like. Version of it. That’s like, maybe it’s more researchy and we could like help find someone who like, can, can do some of that research or crunch some of the numbers or whatever.
And kind of like build a team around it. or maybe you just want to show up and like, we can kind of cue up some, like you’re an expert on an industry and we like aggregated a bunch of news and we’re like, Hey, here’s what happened in the industry this week? Like, what’s important. Like, what does it mean?
Tell us. And we’ll like record the conversation and turn it into a newsletter. Like there’s a lot of different ways. That we might work with people, but yeah, for the most part, we’re looking for things now, another way that things may not exist, otherwise it’s just literally money, right? Like if you’re a freelance writer and you’re, you know, want to start a paid newsletter, then you’re basically cannibalizing your, the kinds of articles you may pitch to, you know, I would say you’re normally getting paid like a pretty good fee for, and a lot of cases.
And so it’s hard to get the subscriber base up to the point where it might make sense to do that financially. And so we could be like, sort of hopefully a better version of, of, of, the normal kind of client you’d sell to, because you’re really building your own creative vision and it’s building towards this sort of like profit share thing.
That can be a great, like long-term long-term thing. So those are some of the examples of like, how we think about it, but really every project is kind of like. Case by case basis. And we’re really figuring out a lot of the patterns that, we think can scale and where we make the most sense. And, but the core of it is just w you know, as consumers we realized we really wanted a bundle of these kinds of things.
Because you know, it’s hard to, there’s a lot that we really like out there, and it’s hard to subscribe to a bunch of it separately, and it’s really hard to discover a lot of it separately. but then also, just as writers, we just prefer kind of like working together, like really value, editorial feedback, feedback, feedback, and like developing ideas with people and kind of like creating a community and a culture that, can help unlock the best.
I think people are meant to like operate in groups and that doesn’t mean every group needs to be structured as a writer collective or whatever. Like, you know, plenty of still a newsletter writers form their own sort of ad hoc groups. But this is just the kind of group that felt like it worked for us.
Yeah, that makes sense. So we’ve had, for example, Tiago on the show before, and, and, he’s got a paid newsletter as part of every, so how does that work when you know, his main business model is courses, you know, and he’s mainly monetizing this newsletter. There is it individual articles he’s writing a little less frequently that are become part of every, or, or how does that work?
N Baschez: [00:07:11]
Yeah. So in the case of Tiago, his, yeah, he had his own paid newsletter for like a while and it was doing really well and had had a bunch of subscribers. but he felt like, you know, it could make sense to also offer it as a bundle. So you can still subscribe to . Newsletter independently, but basically we struck a deal with him where it’s like, okay, cool.
Like if people want to buy as a part of the bundle, then we’ll share the revenue back to you from that deal. But in his case, a lot of it is really about the archives, because for years he’s been writing this great stuff, that’s behind a paywall. And so it was like sort of a win-win for him to, make content that’s still behind a paywall, but like gets discovered.
Discovery from like a little bit of a new audience, you know? and then for us to have more great stuff behind her paywall that like is, is content we believe in, from a creator we really love. so that’s, that’s another one of those unique situations where it’s, it’s kind of a, it’s like, it wouldn’t exist without us or whatever.
It’s like, well, it already did exist, but like, you know, the whole reason to do it is like, we, you know, Basically to extend his existing paid content, to like a new audience, and introduce his work to new people, but like keep it behind the paywall so that it’s not like he has to like, you know, make everything free and shut down the subscription business or whatever.
Yeah, that makes sense. you mentioned any, a few numbers as far as where you’re at on subscribers.
N Baschez: [00:08:28]
Yeah, we, so we just basically we’ve been around for a year in some form or another before we, before we launched. And so we just hit the 2,400 subscriber Mark and, launched kind of like officially we had, we were operating sort of, it’s sort of weird, cause it’s like, we’re kind of joked that we were like in stealth, but we’re a media company and like publishing articles and building an
You can’t you be invoked
N Baschez: [00:08:52]
but like, you know, we were just like kind of a sub stack basically for a while. Right? Like, and then we’re a collection of sub stacks and then, you know, then we sort of launched it. We sort of said like, Hey, like, you know, we’ve been doing this thing for a year.
Here’s kind of like the model. Here’s how it works, et cetera. but yeah, it’s kind of, it’s kind of funny where we, we, we had this name in mind, every cent for like a year and we were like built up this whole subscriber base. And then we it’s like, we just launched the company, but also we’ve been operating for a year.
It’s like kind of weird, but anyway, it was fun.
I think it goes to show that you can feel like you can launch these things, iterate, figure out what you’re doing, and you can have a clear idea of your end state. Like every right now is a custom built rails application. We can dive into that, you know, and talk about, more there. So you can know what it is and you don’t have to like, build exactly that before you can start working on it.
Right? Like you launched on some stack, they handle the payments, it’s working, it’s growing, you’re getting subscribers. And then you, then you migrate everything. And it’s sort of, there’s some entrepreneurs who come in and they’re like, Nope, I cannot make a sale until I have a logo and business cards and everything.
And you’re like, No you need, in this case, you need content and people to read the content, you know, you need a product and customers, and then you can iterate everything else from there. And it sounds like
N Baschez: [00:10:11]
Yeah. Yeah, totally. And it’s just so, so important. And so core to our kind of like DNA is like first, just see if you can do the thing and don’t even worry that much about like what kind of response you get, just like you try and do it and like, see if it was good. See if you can do it again, do it three or four times.
And okay. Now start thinking about whether or not. People like it and what people liked about it and how to get more of like a hit when you do the thing. And then once you do that, then you can think about charging or, you know, trying to convert people to paying. And then once you’ve done that, then you can think about like, whatever, more growth and like sustainable like marketing channels, whatever.
But we try and do things very incrementally and very like step-by-step, just because there’s a lot of really important stuff you have to learn at every step of the way, and you just can’t learn anything if you’re trying to do everything at once, you know? So, it’s really important to try and like, you know, strike a balance between, you know, whatever, trying to like deconstruct the process to do just one thing at a time and like, you know, moving quickly enough, all that kind of stuff.
yeah, that makes sense. Along those lines, I’d love to dive into some of. You know, those lessons that you learned, but maybe let’s zoom out in the newsletter industry for a little bit, which first of all, it feels a little weird that newsletters industry, I don’t know that a year ago or 18 months ago, anyone would’ve would’ve said that.
But what are some of the things that you see that make newsletters great. You’re plugged into so many of these newsletters and I feel like you, and maybe you’re in your co-host on means of creation Lee. Are two of the most like plugged into the newsletter world, people that I know. And so I’m curious, what are some of the newsletters that you’re just like, I love these and here’s why here’s what makes them great.
N Baschez: [00:11:53]
Oh yeah, totally. I mean like the one that I always say first, because I love his work and also because it’s massively, I think underrated and under the radar still is, this guy scuttle blurb. So scuttle, scuttle blurb is, it’s, it’s a value investing newsletter, but it’s very, it’s like, it’s like literary almost it’s super well written and researched and each.
Company, he analyzes, he goes super in depth on. And, it’s funny cause like there is a newsletter component to it, but it’s more of like a website kind of a thing. Like it’s like I think he uses member full and WordPress. uh, but the email, you just get like an email saying a new post has been published and like the headline in the first paragraph, you know?
So it’s like any publishes them infrequently. Cause they’re super in-depth so, you know, maybe one a month or something like that. and no, it’s just so good. Like there’s some. There’s some posts on there, like, like about random companies that like, they’re not buzzy companies. Like there’s one, there’s one on Gartner that was just like, yeah.
Like Gartner and Forrester. Like what’s the deal with those companies? Like, why is one better than another? Why do you want to grow faster? What’s the like competitive advantage or moat or defensibility or whatever you want to call it. Like. you know, and like he uses, I think the right amount of finance for me, you know, it’s not like overly financial or quantitative, but like the numbers are there and he’ll tell a story about how, like they were getting increasing, operating leverage, and you can see that in their cost of goods sold as the thing scaled, you know, like, and, and I will have to look up some of those words every once in a while, but like, it stretches me and just the right amount, you know?
Just really an in-depth and good. so I love scuttle Barb. I mean, I can’t, I can’t not say Ben Thompson, because I think that the reason why I’m writing the kind of stuff I’m writing is, in no small part due to Ben Thompson. and I think through him, I got into like, You know, clay Christianson and Michael Porter and a bunch of other Hamilton, Homer, and a bunch of other people that really are more like academics or write books rather than are kind of in the current newsletter thing.
But, in terms of like strategy theoreticians, you know, like that’s like the kind of stuff that I, that I really like. And, so I, I love, I love reading all those people. What else is good. just as in terms of like more kind of like current stuff, like media industry stuff, diesel links by daily at Chi media light by Mark Stenberg.
Those are both really good newsletters. Just kind of like, what’s the latest, like what’s going on in media, kind of like quick, really, really voicey fun, kind of like tone. there’s yeah, there’s a lot of good. There’s a lot of good newsletters. There are
There are, it’s so much fun. The amount of content that is being produced right now from a unique perspective. And. And like the commentary that you’re getting in your ways, I think really fun. what are some of the things like as you’ve watched these newsletters that you’ve really tried to build into every, some of these, these takeaways, either from strategies that they’ve employed or, or like voice or any of those other things?
N Baschez: [00:14:52]
It’s so interesting. because like, I think we think about ourselves as like we deliver our posts via email. but we think about ourselves as like trying to write, articles or essays in most cases more than we think of ourselves, like a newsletter. But then like now we’re rediscovering some of the more newslettery elements of what we do are like, yeah, we could have some formats that are more like topical and timely and a little bit more like you’ve got a formula like every week there builds some familiarity, which I think readers really love, or, or even every day or more frequently than every week.
And it’s been so fascinating to try and figure out the balance with the mix of what we do. The stuff that I feel like has worked the best for us so far is the stuff that’s more like we’re going to spend a couple of weeks polishing an essay, kind of a thing, and then we’ll deliver it via email to let people know that it’s out.
But like, you know, I don’t know what percent of people like read it in their inbox that day versus go on the site later or, you know, whatever. we really think about it like, you know, like ideally looking back 20 years, it’ll feel like we’ve created something. That’s kind of like a modern version of a magazine or something like that with really high-quality feature writing.
And also like more snackable kind of like shorter, more timely series. But, it feels like the feature writing is kind of like the backbone of all of what we do. and, at least. Definitely for my own writing. But I think also for, for other parts of the, of the bundle, that seems to be what people like best, which is so interesting because of people say like, Oh, you know, attention spans, whatever.
Like, but people really like depth. Cause it’s, it’s, not about how many people find it. Okay. It’s about how many people love it, you know? And so it’s fine. If a smaller number of people like actually get all the way through, if the people who do get all the way through are like, this is so great. I’m so glad I’m like paying for this, you know, like that, that’s the, the core goal.
Is there actually, I’m gonna grab something real quick. We have. So my, my question is, is there any plans to like, bring those into other media forms? Cause like, we have this I’m a creator we did in the first edition that was Island blogger, like coffee table books of the stories that we’ve done. And I was just thinking.
You know, I imagine every subscribers, every subscriber, no subscribers to every, I don’t know. Yeah. we’d like, you know, to, to pick up, like, to have some of that in-depth articles in maybe a long form, yeah. In print. I was going to say in a hard bound format, which ties back to your previous company, what are you thinking on that?
N Baschez: [00:17:38]
Yeah, I think we would love to do that. One idea we had is like to do a sort of yearbook thing almost where it’s like every year we do an anthology that’s like sold at cost or something to subscribers. That’s kind of like, you know, there’s probably a little bit of new material, but we’re kind of like, here’s like the best of this year or something like that.
I dunno. That would be cool. I don’t know. I don’t know what the right thing to do is with print right now. Our, our whole focus is really like. Building an editorial culture and organization because, you know, I think we’ve got the first year, this past year was really a lot about like figuring out a lot of the basics of like, are we going to do this at all?
Or what are the, like the B, like how to basically, how do we work with people and what, you know, all of that. It’s like doing things for the first time. And now it feels like next year, And it kind of culminating with being on our own platform, honestly. And now it’s like, all the pieces are basically in place and now we need to like, kind of grow into it, you know, like, okay.
Like, We’re on our own website, but we need to make it like amazing. And we’re, we’ve got like a team of people, but the team needs to really gel and we need to like go through a lot of cycles working together and like we’re writing articles, but like, you know, how do we write better and more consistently and all this kind of stuff.
And like, we’re working with people, but how do we really recruit new people in a way that’s a little bit more structured and systematic. So. I think a lot of this year is about just sort of like fo doing the things we already do and like doing them as best we can and learning how to do them. Just like staying really, really focused.
so, I forgot
makes sense. Well, I mean, It goes into this idea of solo versus versus a team, right? With the rise of Substack We’ve seen so much of people making the jump from a big publication, right? Where they they’re part of a larger editorial team and then going entirely solo. I come from the world of, you know, individual bloggers, podcasters, where people have always been doing it solo.
And now honestly, some of them are starting to, eye a team and say, Okay. I’m earning enough that I could have help. I can speak for myself when I’m working on a book right now, and I have an editor for it. And The times that I’m like, Oh, this is good. I’m a good writer. And then I submit it. And the editor just tears it apart.
And I’m like, what are you doing? And then I go through all their suggestions and I rewrite it based on the areas they push me and I’m like, okay, now, now it’s actually pretty good. And so I’d love your take on, on this, this idea of solo versus team then. And when. Creators should think of yeah.
Going one way or the other.
N Baschez: [00:20:13]
Yeah, this may be a kind of weird thing, but I think everyone needs a team at some point in their career and they may not always need the team once they really figure something out. But like, and the team may not always be literally a team, like of people that you are employed with or whatever, but like, I don’t think anyone can do it in a vacuum, and like start from scratch and be totally in a vacuum and then like succeed from scratch.
Like I think people either have a good friend or like a, like a partner, whoever that, like, they are always running their pieces by, or they, you know, maybe used to work somewhere where they had an editor and they like learned a lot. From that. And then now that it’s a little bit less necessary, but they probably still have people that they send their pieces to and all that kind of stuff.
It just feels like, I mean, I don’t know, at least for me there’s maybe there’s, but like for me, and for most people that I talk to it’s, you know, to create really great writing, it’s like, it’s, you need to sort of be inculturated in it. It’s like any other thing, if you want it to be a really great product manager, how do you become a great product manager or to be a great software engineer?
How do you become a great software engineer? You have to be in an environment where you can see other people who are better than you doing at it and pick up how they do what they do. you learn all the little things to look for little, little things like, you know, Little vocabulary words, almost like, Oh, you know, these sentences don’t fully connect or like this section wasn’t really motivated, you know, like there’s just like little things you can kind of pick up on that, that I think you can incorporate into your own consciousness, but start somewhere else.
That’s just like basic. Why are humans a special species of animal, is it because of like this cultural kind of like learning things? So we’re not born with it, like it comes from traditions basically. and you’ve got to get those somehow. so I think, I think everyone does it. then maybe, you know, our goal is to create a group that is very intentional about those intentions and spreading them and making osmosis happen.
By, you know, creating structures that facilitate it rather than just like rolling on everyone to figure it out on their own. Or maybe, you know, I think that the sad thing is a lot of people probably come to the conclusion that like writing isn’t for them because you know, it’s hard and maybe they don’t get super positive feedback after publishing a couple of pieces or whatever.
They think a lot more people would succeed if they had a little bit more support and accountability. and so, I mean, certainly for me, I don’t think that I would have written nearly as good of stuff as I wrote this year. Not saying it’s like, whatever, amazing, but just as good as it is, it would have been probably about 50% as good, if not less, you know, in terms of quantity and quality, than, than, than it, than it was because I had, you know, like Dan and Rachel, and there’s just like a lot of people who I work with on pieces that I really value their feedback.
Yeah, that makes sense. I think even like in the range of things you could have, one side would be, it’s just you writing completely solo. And then kind of the next step is like the informal editorial advisory board, which is really just like four of your friends that you respect. I think about two of my pieces, that I’m proud of is the ladders of wealth creation and the billion dollar creator, which like, Barrett Brooks our COO at ConvertKit and James Clear.
Who’s a good friend and part of a mastermind group for the last. Eight years. Like I riffed with them on those pieces for probably, you know, off and on for 3–5 months before it turned into the final thing. And then like they gave lots of feedback and some of the sections that I was the most proud of.
They’re like, like just cut it out. You, you already said that in these two sentences, you don’t need to say it in three more paragraphs.
N Baschez: [00:24:01]
Yeah, totally. No, it’s crazy. It’s crazy how important that stuff is. And another thing that you said there that I, that stood out to me is, you know, especially for it took you 3–5 months or whatever you said to like where you were like kind of riffing and you’re, I think that. Period of distillation is so important where it’s like you have some time to think about something and to notice things and to pick up little you’re like accumulating little moments where each one individually is like, kind of interesting, but when you give yourself a little bit more time to like experience life and, and observe things and learn things and notice things that are all kind of gathering.
It’s almost like a crystal having time to grow. And it’s like, you’re finding all these things that connect, you know, like that process is really important. And I think essays that come after that are way better than essays where it’s like, all right, I got three days, like, what am I going to write? You know what, you know what I mean?
And I think a lot of times when people experience, the agony of writing it’s because they don’t know what they want to say. And, You know, sometimes you just need more time to like know, you know, and, and it’s really, but it’s really hard to do that. If you have your own solo paid subscription audience, like you need to publish something probably every week to make a paid subscription newsletter work.
And so it’s pretty hard to carry that on your own shoulders. If you want to write the kinds of things that take a month of like, Chewing on an idea or whatever, and accumulating, insights or, or perspectives or whatever. but that, that, that’s the cool thing about the bundle is, people are subscribing for a collection of people rather than just one.
And again, this is like nothing new. It’s like the new Yorker, you know, if you, if you get in every, every week or two, like, and you look at the table of contents, it’s not the same writers in there every single time. They kind of rotate in and out because it takes a while to create one of those things. and so hopefully we can have a similar type effect.
and it will be a lot easier to justify the paid subscription then than as a standalone. But as a reader, it’s like even better because every week you get something that has been distilled for like a month or longer potentially. rather than whatever I could come up with in like three hours.
Because I send my newsletter at the same time every week and three hours is coming up really soon. there’s two sides of that. I wanna dive in on the paid newsletters in just a second, but, on the other side, what systems do you have in place or you’re like you encourage for the writers as part of every, to have in place to sort of start on those ideas early and then be able to refine and develop them over time.
Right because that requires somewhat of a research system. It requires some productive procrastination, I guess. Like it’s more than just like working on this article for five months. There’s there’s gotta be more of a process.
N Baschez: [00:26:42]
Yeah, totally. Oh, this is so interesting. And we’re actually just starting to develop some of this and I’m so excited to like, see just what happens over the next year as we really like start to systematize it. So, basically, what we realized is we were thinking about it, like how we imagined, You know, a magazine or a newspaper might handle this kind of thing, which is like, you have a pitch meeting and like, you come up with an idea for what you want to write and you roughly know like kind of vaguely, this is the headline.
This is what the story is about. It may not be the exact wording of the headline, but like you basically, you know what the piece is going to be. And, you come and you’re like pitch it to people and people say, if it sounds interesting to them or not, basically, and then you move on and we, and we S we did that a little bit, and it was just like, this sucks.
Like, this is not. This is not it. so first of all, whether something is fully formed or interesting, or not as like sort of a spectrum or like a binary of like, just how interested am I? It’s like, that’s not even the point. Like the point is, I, and like just the sort of adversarial ish relationship between like a pitch.
It’s like, I’m, I’m selling you something and you’re deciding whether or not you want to buy it. You know what I mean? Like, Really, what we want is what comes prior to that, because I think there is a time and a place for pitching stories, but it’s after you’ve done a lot of the work to figure out what the story really is.
And so how do you, what is that work like and how do you, how can it be made more efficient or better? by the sort of like. You know, by, by the fact that you can do it with other people. So we, I don’t know if we’re actually going to call it this, but my, my goal is for us to call it inkling cultivation, where you have an inkling about something.
That’s interesting. And I think another thing that we’ll probably actually call it is what’s interesting. It’s just a meeting called what’s interesting. And you show up and the goal is like to get into interesting conversations, basically. Like if they’re, if people are enjoying talking through an idea, then like it’s working, it’s, it’s all about that feeling of actual, like enjoyment, you know, But the by-product of it is, I can say like, Hey, you know, I was thinking about like clubhouse and I think that I’m not sure if it’s like a feature or a business, like clearly there’s something compelling about the audio room format, but like, is that just going to be a thing that exists in a lot of products, like Snapchat stories or is that going to be like its own network effect, business type, type thing.
That’s like going to be, you know, an important company with like some real defensibility and revenue and all that stuff. Like, I dunno. I just, you know, it’s interesting question to me and I’m like, Then other people will tell you what they think, and you can get into a conversation about it and it’s fun and you can take notes and stuff.
And then, then you’re in a much better position to like write a draft or do some more research or whatever. Then if I had just kept that thought to myself, you know, yeah,
When I can see, someone saying like, Oh, well, that’s. That reminds me of this article. Right. And that someone else wrote and they share with you and you might be like, Oh, okay. It’s been written already. I’m done. But most likely you’d be like, no, actually I disagree here. I like, yes, it has a similar title, but I think it’s going to go this direction.
And so, you know, that’s the sort of thing that your very first commenter is going to be like, ah, this has been written before. And so if you have them read that article, because someone in the, in this what’s interesting meeting, Uh, brought it up then you can like, it’s a better research, more thought out piece,
N Baschez: [00:29:53]
Totally. I think that, I think the core idea is like at the end of the day, writing is an act of communication. And so it’s, it’s, it’s a good form of communication when you. Have thought deeply about what you want to say and you’ve really crafted it. But in order to get to that point, you want to start with the more informal, casual, everyday way of talking.
And I think the feeling that this is a fascinating conversation is the key thing we want to get to because that is ultimately, it’s like, that’s the spark that you’re trying to like recreate for readers down the road. It’s like the thing that feels interesting now, Is ultimately the same feeling in some ways that the reader is going to have later, you’re just serving it up to them on a platter in like a guided journey, as opposed to like the sort of like rough, you know, loose thing that happens in like life live conversations.
What I love about that is not just the refinement of the ideas, but you’re also taking writing, which can be a very solo. Sometimes lonely task and turning it into a, a, a social engaging, you know, having that connection. And it’s something that, right. Someone might start a newsletter it’s growing and they get advice like, Oh, you should hire an editor, they’ll push your ideas.
But then you’re like, look, I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars per article on an editor yet. I’m not quite there yet, but you could make your own like, I’ve recommended mastermind groups a lot,
N Baschez: [00:31:12]
And so you can make your own like, What’s interesting group of like get together with four or five newsletter creators in the same space and have a weekly or a monthly call where you just kind of riff on each other’s ideas, on, so it’s amazing that you’re creating that for, you know, members like, publications inside of every.
N Baschez: [00:31:32]
Yeah, totally. I’m so curious, like mastermind, I didn’t even make that connection, but I think it’s completely apt. Like, are there any structures from masterminds that you think would be useful for, you know, groups of writers talking about what stuff they’re interested in, potentially writing about.
Well, there’s two sides of it. One with the mastermind. It’s using that word. It’s more commonly going to go to, to like, how should I grow my publication? What strategies should I use? And so a lot of people are going to fall into that side of like, Oh, well, Nathan, if you did this, then you would grow 5% faster per month.
And that has its place. and can be like highly recommended, very useful. I think what we’re both saying is you need both. Yeah, like that’s the business side. And then for a second, let’s just set aside everything about business and growth and let’s just talk content and make sure that those stay like there’s a wall between those.
Yes, exactly. that would be funny if you’re like this. This is Church
N Baschez: [00:32:37]
Church. Yeah. Oh my God. We should totally call it church. That is actually a great idea. And then we can have another meeting called state and it’s
Yeah. It’s just about the business logistics of everything else. What’s the conversion rate on that in, and you’re like, I don’t care. This is a church meeting.
N Baschez: [00:32:55]
Oh, my God. I actually kind of love that idea. I mean, there is a problem with media companies where there’s sometimes too much separation between church and state, but I think having a cheeky plan that could be like a really fun, I’m going to pitch Dan on this. Okay.
I love it. So structured for the mastermind. You know, I’ve, I’ve seen, hot seats. You know that that’s probably the most common one where say, if you have four people in a mastermind group, they’re, they’re rotating, who’s in the hot seat every week. Another important thing would be accountability. often you have these ideas that maybe you’ve you’ve pitched it or thrown it out in a what’s interesting meeting.
N Baschez: [00:33:32]
Right. And then you follow up and you’re like, so whatever happened, did you write that thing?
Right. And so there’s some visibility, let’s say there’s like five or six of us on the, on this meeting. If there’s some visibility into what’s in your rough drafts article list. And you’re like, Hey, that one is actually good. Like I have one from quite a while ago. It’s like, Oh man, it’s probably 70% written.
Or at least the first draft of it is, and it sat there and I haven’t worked on it in six months. And so to have that accountability where someone is like, Hey, You got to actually put work into it. Like you went from productive procrastination and now you’re just straight up procrastinate.
N Baschez: [00:34:11]
Avoidance. Yeah, totally. Or anything. If you want to join the collective, there’s always a seat for you at the, yeah.
I might just have to be.
N Baschez: [00:34:20]
Interesting meeting or should we call it church?
Yes, exactly. I like that I’m being recruited to church. I did not expect that on, I don’t know.
Well, I love that approach of getting more support beyond like the editorial. Are there other areas that you think of, you know, individual, newsletter creators should be looking to, to add some more support?
N Baschez: [00:34:47]
Yeah, I think, I, I mean, there’s a, there’s obviously a whole bunch of, kind of like just the logistics of running a subscription business. That it’s really nice to not have to, you know, like someone wants to cancel and, you know, they just emailed, you cancel me instead of clicking a couple buttons or whatever, like doing customer support, email is like, you know, always, never, never fun.
And when we were on sub stack, they did that for us, as they do for all of their writers. but you know, like we do that now. but I actually liked that. Like, I think it’s really good for us not to be insulated from those types of things and to have the control, to make it a better experience or whatever.
If we want, like in whatever way is like best, best kind of like suited to our, to our strategy and to our customers and all that stuff. but like as a writer, you know, you don’t necessarily want to be doing, doing a ton of that. what else? I actually think it really helps to have someone to help you look at your data.
Cause understanding kind of like benchmarks and the gotchas and like, it’s really like. Being able to confidently draw insights from data is requires a decent amount of, of, experience. Just like understanding how the technical systems work that create your data. So whether, you know, it’s, even if you, even if you’re on sub stack and you’ve got like sub stack has certain data, but it’s kind of a black box or whatever to you, you know, you still have your Stripe account.
And there’s a lot of different tools that can help you visualize your Stripe account and like every sub stack. You know, paid subscription, writers should be looking at their cohorts and you can do that in subs or in Stripe and in other services that you can connect to Stripe, but like it doesn’t show you what and sub stack.
And it’s like really important to look and see if your cohort performance is improving over time.
At a high level. Can you share what you’re looking at in cohorts? Cause I think, you know, coming from SAS, both you and I spent tons of time diving into cohort performance, ensuring and all of that.
N Baschez: [00:36:37]
I think a lot of other people won’t have that same context.
N Baschez: [00:36:39]
Yeah, definitely. I mean, at the highest level, basically, if you’re running a subscription business, you can really only grow so fast or you can only go so far if you have high turn. Cause even if you’re signing up a bunch of new customers all the time, if just as many customers are canceling, then you’re not gonna end up with a business that has a lot of longevity.
Whereas if you have a very small percent of your people leave, then you don’t need to add as many norms. As many new customers in order to grow. And even maybe if you haven’t quite figured out your marketing or whatever, it can still be a pretty quickly growing business. just by the sheer fact that everyone’s sticking around.
So like churn, churn is incredibly important. and a lot of ways more important than, how, how well you can attract new subscribers. because it shows if there’s really like. Longevity there and like real value being created. and you know, the best way to measure that is just by looking at how long people stick around on average.
But it’s interesting because it’s more useful to look at this in some sort of segmented way than just in general. Like if you’re looking and you’re like, okay, Whatever, like 2000 people have ever signed up and I have 1,600 that are active now. So I’ve got like, whatever percent turn that, that would turn out to like, that is one way of doing it.
And it is, it is like a somewhat useful metric. But if you want to get pretty actionable and figure out like, okay, Why are people churning or like, can I co can I connect any of this churn to like trends or whatever? It’s nice to, it’s nice to segment it in some way or another. And the most common way to do that is just based on cohorts, where it’s like the cohort of people who signed up in may, what percent of them were still there in June?
What percent of them are still there in July? What percent of them were still there? And you can kind of like draw these lines almost that it’s like the X axis is months since joining. And the Y axis is percent that are still around. And so it starts in the top left at 100%, zero months since joining.
Okay. A hundred percent of those there. And then in month one, what percent and what to what percent and what three, what percent, and you want it to basically flatten out at some point, if it just keeps going and it’s approaching zero, then like, You know, overall the business’s revenue will eventually approach zero.
And, and, but, you know, good is it’s hard to benchmark. It’s like, that’s always, the hard question is like, what is good? Well, it’s like good, bad, whatever is less important than just doing the math and extrapolating what your business is likely to do. You can make projections based on these kinds of like averages.
But you know, it’s probably, you want to have greater than like 50%, terminal cohort retention, especially after like a year of being around. And, if you don’t, it’s important to kind of like really figure out, like it’s probably important to refocus efforts and say like, Oh, we’re not going to focus so much on new customer acquisition.
We’re going to focus on really understanding what’s going on with our existing customers and why, they, they seem to be leaving so frequently. so anyway, that was kind of like a long-winded answer, but it’s, it’s really, really important for any subscription business. consumer, you know, media subscriptions is really no different in principle than like.
SAS B2B software and a lot of ways, once you get to the really core principles, of course, They’ll have different, you know, once you start to get into more of the nuances, there’s very different levers. There’s different specific numbers you may want to look at, but like at the core, looking at your retention on a cohorted basis is like really, really nice.
And also you want to see it go like up over time, ideally. So it’s like maybe you had some cohorts that churned a lot early on, and then, but as you’re making improvements to your, to your product, whether that’s an editorial product or any other type of product, you hope that new cohorts tend to stick around better.
Cause that sort of shows that you’re actually creating. Value like the things you’re doing to improve your customer’s experience are, are actually creating value. so anyway, it’s been interesting to us to observe what kinds of things make a difference in what don’t, it’s, it’s, it’s its own whole big thing to dive down, but yeah,
One thing that I’ve often seen in intern cohorts is the very first cohorts, tend to do decently well, the next there’s like this Valley, the next hole don’t do so well. And you climb out of it. And basically what happens is you get the people who love you and would buy anything and pay for it forever.
And they signed up the moment you launched. They’re just like. And they’ll never cancel. And then after that, you’re into the people who are like, okay, I’m signing up. Cause you say it’s good. You know, I’m, I’ve been marketed to when I converted, but then your product isn’t that good, you know, as in they cancel and then the product gets better over time.
And as more people sign up, then they’re like, Oh, this is actually what I expected to get. And, they’re sticking around because of the product, not just because of an existing relationship or they’re a true fan and that’s what you want to see. Like, so don’t be. You were sad when it goes down immediately, because when you go
N Baschez: [00:41:19]
Fans to just, you know, subscribers, but you do want it to climb over time.
N Baschez: [00:41:24]
And, it’s so interesting, like learning what causes it to go. Like you’ll try different things and there’ll be some things that. You think will make a huge difference in it? Like maybe honestly can’t tell if there’s any effect in the data. Like maybe the turn got a little bit better, but you’re not sure what exactly caused it.
And then there’s other things where there’s like, it’s a pretty clear difference. And for us, what that thing has been, you know, without giving away too much of the secret sauce is, when someone new joins the bundle that people already like, it’s like, that’s the feeling of the value proposition of the bundle is like, Oh, My price didn’t go up, but I’m getting more value now.
And it causes the expectation of like, this is going to keep happening. So I might as well stick around and kind of like, see what’s going on here. You know, even when we have like a hit article, it’s kind of like, not as powerful as someone new joining the bundle.
Oh, interesting. Okay. I was also going to ask how pricing plays into it because I noticed that on the new site you’re pushing, you know, the annual plan is the default. So $200 a year for every, $20 a month is available. You know, but it’s sort of like, Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah. In the FAQ, if you want the monthly, here it is.
N Baschez: [00:42:33]
Yeah, I couldn’t decide if that was like bad or not like to do it that way. I really don’t want to design anything. That’s like user hostile. but I really didn’t want to prioritize the monthly thing very much in the design. And it’s hard to like, what’s the difference between like having a dark pattern and just having something that’s like deprioritized prioritized in the design.
I don’t know. Yeah.
Well, I think, I mean, you’re S you’re saying this is the product that we’re selling, that doesn’t work for you. We do have other options, and I feel like that’s different than like, I don’t know, dark patterns and user experiences, a whole different road, and all you’ve done. Is like on the site, your, your user interfaces is just copy.
N Baschez: [00:43:15]
So the question was basically like why the $200, why focus on annual, all that kind of stuff.
Yeah. And what effect has that had on churn?
N Baschez: [00:43:23]
That’s an interesting one. So we have very few people that have been around for over a year. So our initial customers from when we very first launched, paid subscriptions, are a lot of like, sort of true fans that signed up, like on day one ish. And so those have retained fantastically, well, we’re a little bit more curious about what’s going to happen.
Like come, I think June-ish is when we start to really get beyond just like people that knew us, you know, and like, yeah. We’re kind of hitting a stride with some of our writing and we added, Tiago to the bundle and all that kind of stuff. That’s when we start to get beyond a little bit. And, when those yearly renewals come up, it’ll be more of a true test.
A lot of the reason why we decided to focus on annual instead of monthly is because if we can convince you to be around for a year, that gives us a lot longer to improve. Whereas if it’s a decision every month, like we’re only going to get so much better in a month, but in a year, we’ll have a lot. I mean, I hope we’re going to feel like very different in a year, you know?
And, so it just lengthens the decision time. And like in exchange, we give you $40 off because you would be spending $40 more if you stuck around for a year on a monthly plan. and also in exchange, we give you if it’s only $1 for 30 days and then we charge you for this. So there’s a pretty long, it’s not a free trial cause we want to make sure, like, you know, you’re a little bit bought in and kind of like there’s some skin in the game to like, Give this a real try and like read some stuff, because I do think that there is some activation energy around like reading things.
Like it takes some effort in order to get the benefit out of it. But once you do that effort, you may be bought in, or maybe you’re not. And in which case we need to do a better job, or maybe you weren’t like the right target, kind of like the right kind of person we were targeting. But, Anyway, that was the kind of theory behind the $1 for 30 days.
Thing is like, you should have a pretty good idea of if this is like, basically good enough for you to like stick around for a year. And then once the year happens, like then we have a year to get better, to
N Baschez: [00:45:12]
Prove, improve the product
Yeah. That makes sense. Is there anything else that you’ve learned on running the paid subscription that, you know, people would want to know if they’re either thinking about moving to paid or they’re, you know, they have the free and a paid and they’re thinking about, okay, how do I drive more value or increase revenue?
N Baschez: [00:45:30]
Yeah. I mean, I think if you’re thinking about going paid, the key thing is if you’re not already paid, is that because it’s sort of like a part-time thing for you and there’s something else you’re doing for your primary income. And, if so, like how much it focuses you really going to be able to dedicate to the paid thing?
Because it is like really hard. It’s some people do have them as side projects, like paid newsletters, but. I personally feel like there’s this kind of bifurcation that happens and that most people in this sort of like buzz about paid, paid, paid, paid newsletters right now, like aren’t focused enough on which is like, these things tend to either work and then work really well.
Or people try am for a little while, and then it’s not right. It’s not right for them at that moment or whatever. And so, Most people who it’s not right for are the ones who had a newsletter that was free. And they have some sort of other job that’s like takes up pretty much their full time. And then they want to just tack on a little bit to what they’re already doing.
And then they, they struggle with it. because it is hard to sustain a solo subscription where it’s like, you definitely will have those people that are just like your super fans that are going to buy anything you do, because they love you. and if that’s so many people that. You know, you don’t even have to almost write that much and people will still stick around and that’ll support you then.
That’s great. That’s awesome. There are definitely people who are in a position to do that. Like, you know, when slate, star codex moved on to sub stack and like, it was the first time he’d ever offered, paid subscriptions for his writing. I’m like, I don’t care. Like, just as a thank you for like all the years of like, Whatever, like hard work that love his work that I loved.
I’m just like, I’m paying, I just want like to be on the list. It’s like, so, you know, and so, so for him, it doesn’t even really matter what he’s putting behind the paywall, because he has such a big audience of people who like, love it so much. whereas like, you know, for me, I have to prove a lot more value.
And I haven’t, I haven’t built that thing up yet with very many people, maybe like a couple dozen, but not, you know what I mean? Like people with, you know, whatever in my family or something. so, you know, I think that’s a real thing for people that are like considering going paid. there was another part to your question though.
I forgot what it was. Cause I rambled for a long time.
I think just noticing what your other commitments are in life, that’s really important. Right. Cause if you’re like, yeah, I’ve got the newsletter. I do that on the side, then I’ve got the full-time job and then like, Oh yeah, I just had a kid or I just got married, you know, or some other things.
And it’s like, yeah, let’s also do a paid newsletter. And it’s like, no, no, no, no. Versus if you’re like, you’re like, okay, I’m at the New York times as a journalist, I’m going to, I’ve been building up my free newsletter on the side and I’m going to leave this and now do a paid newsletter as my job. and not only do you have the professional experience of like, yeah, I write on deadline every single day, you know?
And I have that habit, but also I’m going to be able to dedicate, you know, 10, 20, 30 hours a week just to this paid newsletter. That’s very different from just like, there’s a quick opportunity to say I’m going to stack one more thing onto my list of side hustles.
N Baschez: [00:48:45]
Yeah. And I think that is, it kind of speaks to what I was getting at earlier with like the inculturation thing of like, you know, if you like have been a full-time journalist and you have a beat and you have sources and you know what it’s like to publish like a couple of things a week, on a regular basis, like, yeah, you’re a really well, and you have the audience or whatever, like you’re in a great position to like, do your own Substack and like.
You know, more power to you. That’s amazing. We’re big fans of Substack We’re glad that that, or just in general, the idea of having a solo subscription newsletter, right? Like that’s, that’s awesome. that’s not going to be right for everybody. Like, you know, maybe, and that’s not to say that, you know, like, I think if you wanted to write something that just like, you want to write one thing a month, you know, like some people maybe that would work as like a solo subscription, but like in a lot of cases, I think that may end up being tougher.
So I don’t know. I think, I mean, in terms of really tactical advice, I really do think frequency matters a lot and it really, if you can get up to like three, four times maybe even like daily or like weekday weekday-ly Like those do tend to do better. I, I don’t remember a lot of the specifics of like when I was at Substack and I had access to the numbers and stuff, but like there was, we did look at that and there was a real correlation.
Yeah, that makes sense. let’s talk platforms for a little bit, cause we’re seeing obviously sub stack has grown. Like crazy. we can get into the broader macro things of review and Facebook and Twitter and everything else. but for just a minute, I’d love to talk about obviously the growth that people are seeing on sub stack.
And then there’s this category of newsletters, especially over the last, probably three months in particular, every being one of them that have made the switch off of sub stack either to. MailChimp plus Pico or convert kit or a custom built platform. and I’m curious what you’re seeing and, and you know, what drove you to make the switch to a custom built platform?
N Baschez: [00:50:39]
Yeah, I think, I mean, subsets and amazing place to get started. I was their first employee there and like a huge fan. I’m biased. I’m a shareholder still like, you know, like that’s. You know, we should put that on the record. like, so I think that, I think that they’re very focused on, on a very specific thing, which is like the solo writer, you know, and I think to some extent they’re very interested in, groups of writers working together.
And to some extent they have a thing, but it’s more like individual publications with multiple by-lines rather than like a bundle of publications really, you know? and so, It’s all, it’s all built around that very specific thing. And I think they’ve done the reason why, you know, we’ve heard so much about sub stack, but like, you know, other platforms that, I mean, like review was around, I think before sub stack remember full, like the reason why sub stack took off is because I think a, of the simplicity of what they created, there’s just.
Zero setup costs. I think B because it’s a little bit more constrained and it’s a little bit more branded, substan just felt a little bit more visible than something like remember fall, which is like totally behind the scenes. review had a little bit of that same branded feeling. but I think, you know, maybe not quite as much as sub stack, but then see, and I think really the most important thing is they.
Had a new vision for what writers, what solo writers could do. They were like going out to people who are talented writers that had big audiences and saying, Hey, I know you right now, you’re focused on. Getting a book deal or getting a job at wherever the next step is for you and your career path. But like, have you considered doing a paid subscription thing?
There are some people that are doing it that started from a place that didn’t even have as big of audience as you. And it worked really well. And they got a lot of writers to like change their career plans, basically to try a new model. And that’s what I mean when I was at sub SAC, like we would call it jokingly like the religion, you know?
And it’s like, we didn’t like. You know, it’s like faith that you can make your own business. You can be your own publisher. You can, you can, it’s better to have an ARR than a salary. You know, it’s better to have an audience whose email addresses, you know, they’re looking forward to hearing from you in their inbox and you own the list of their email addresses or whatever.
It’s better to have that than to have that to be published. And it’s really appealing religion. You know what I mean? it’s, it’s something that I think, I think that they just aggressive. They are, I understand writers cause Hamish is one and you know, was a journalist for a lot of years. And but he also has that kind of like sales person, you know, of like, he, he, he knows that’s like their DNA is like, have you considered this?
Basically? I know you probably haven’t, but you really may, will actually want to. and then I think also what really. Supercharged. It was just honestly, Andreessen Horowitz, like does a great job at like they’re very well networked and they use their network and we’re seeing it now with clubhouse too.
And that really can there’s there’s sort of network effects that they understand around cultural stuff. That’s like, You know, it’s acceptable to like have a sub stack in a way that going on a platform that maybe people haven’t heard of as much as like, might feel more risky to people who like, you know, are, are more, like if you’re, you know, a journalist or whatever, that, that you, you want to do something that feels like it’s a little bit more well understood or whatever, subset gets kind of like blazed that trail.
So I think there’s a lot of huge advantages to being on sub stack. I think that it’s awesome. That sub stack is sort of like realizing that vision in a way that, you know, we talked about when I was there, but like, There wasn’t a ton of people publishing on sub stack. When I was, you know, it was really amazing to see kind of like the growth over time.
And, I think that there’s definitely at the kind of like, high-end some, some possibility that there’ll be more, people who kind of have a vision more to create their own publication. That’s like multiple authors, like maybe it’s structured as a writer, collective like us. Maybe not. but, I think that some of those, it will make sense for them to like own their own stack and, and, and leave the platform to have a little bit more control.
But maybe some cycle also build to be like more supportive of that use case. Like I could imagine them if they had given us like, You know, a lot more customization. Like they could’ve kept us for a little longer probably, and it doesn’t seem like something that doesn’t fit with their business model.
I mean, at the end of the day, if they’re providing, you know, the infrastructure and they’ve got their percent take, and if you want to go in and do other customization, you can, but like you don’t have to, you know, there’s, it could, it could have. Stuck around a little longer potentially. so I don’t know.
It’ll be very interesting to see kind of like what happens at the high, I think at the high end, it kind of will bifurcate what, where, some will kind of form their own media companies that are like multi, multi author type deals, whether it’s a bundle thing or like a, just a normal publication type thing.
But then I think there was also going to be a lot of people who want to just write, you know, and like they know what they’re right. They know their audience, they’ve got their thing figured out. And now they’re kind of cashing in on it rather than it’s a different situation from like, you know, like Matt Yglesias, for example, like when Matt Yglesias, like, you know, 15 years ago or whatever was coming up, it was probably very important that he had like colleagues and editors and all this stuff now, like he’s been doing it for awhile.
He can, like, he knows what he’s doing and. You know, a little bit of different needs. So it’s an interesting, like thing to observe kind of the market evolve a little bit, and our understanding of like, how to make these models work evolves.
Yeah, I think it will be a lot based on, like, you’re saying what the individual writer wants, you know, and some people are saying like that super clean, simple publishing experience and just like. Almost put up some of the guard rails. So I can just focus rather than getting caught up in the weeds of everything.
And then other people are going to say like, okay, well, based on pricing, you know, I want, I want to be paying three, 4%, not 10%, you know, or, or you’ll get into automations or some of these things where people want to try a hybrid business model. I think it was interesting. Hunter Walk has his article on like the multi-SKU creator.
And so having method where some of that’s available, you know, cause stack, you are limited to just like recurring payments and you’d have to use a teachable or convert kit or Gumroad or somebody else, if you wanted to do a one-off product.
N Baschez: [00:57:04]
Yeah, the multi SKU creator thing is really fascinating to me. I don’t, I don’t know how I feel about it on the one hand. I’m like, yeah, that makes sense. Cause you’ll probably, maybe you’ll have like something that’s cheap and then something that’s more expensive or whatever, and different people want to buy different stuff.
On the other hand, like I’m not anxious for us to develop more skews. Like I want to pack more value behind the same skew. It’s like we have this bundle and we just want to keep making it better and better. And we think eventually the Tam could be pretty large. Like there’s a lot of people who, you know, whatever may eventually want this, but it just, it needs to be really, really good.
And let’s just keep making it really good and making it a no-brainer where there’s like tons of value behind the paywall, but that’s just one simple price. There’s one simple product, you know,
Simplicity is good. last thing that I wanted to touch on is, you know, in the last two weeks, I don’t know. It’s pretty recent since we’ve been recording, you know, Twitter acquired review, and also Facebook there’s like some, not an official announcement. There’s like some, apparently they’re getting into newsletters too.
So I just love your take on it. I’ve at, you know, a couple of years ago, newsletters where this thing that people are like, you’re starting a newsletter.
N Baschez: [00:58:13]
And then now all the big companies are getting into it.
N Baschez: [00:58:18]
Well, it’s interesting because, You know, Twitter historically has fumbled, like new opportunities, basically like vine and like Periscope, like, you know, there’s a lot of sort of stuff that they were like right there. And then like someone else really ran with the opportunity. Like vine really could have been TechTalk, you know, like.
And Twitter could have owned it. like, I don’t know, maybe not, but I think, I think it could have been. and, like, you know, the newsletter thing is interesting because, it seems like they’re acting a little bit more decisively about trying to convert people from being, you know, a writer with a Twitter account and then all their writing somewhere else to like, what if I just did it all here because my audience is here and the audience I’m trying to reach is also here.
And so, yeah. We can really reduce the steps in the funnel and that could be really good thing. So, I think for Twitter, like if they want to be really bold, like they could, it could be a massive opportunity. It just historically, a company as big as Twitter is not going to be, I think very decisive in, leveraging the value that they can add as Twitter.
Because it, it creates a lot of risk for them of like upsetting the other parts of their business model. And there are very real trade-offs like, do we want users to keep scrolling and seeing more ads? Or do we want them to like go into some subscription funnel where it doesn’t make as much sense to display ads?
And like, you know, there’s very real trade-offs there and how do we even split the money with writers anyway? And like, what do we, you know, there’s how do we power discovery when. Like basically the reason why people are mad at Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and other platforms is because they did a great job with discovery.
And some of the things that they were helping people discover were like terrible. And so at scale, you can’t like if you’re trying to get in the middle of content discovery, you’re also going to take all the risks that come with that. And it seems like we’re in a moment where generally speaking, the last thing they want to do is be more in the middle of that.
So, it’s tricky. It’s it’s, it’s very tricky, but, they certainly have a lot of potential. It’s just unusual, I think, for a company with that kind of potential to actually, use it. Well, one other interesting comp for this is like YouTube has a Patriot and competitor. It’s just not as popular as Patrion because you know, they don’t push it because it conflicts with their main actual business.
Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, because I remember them making quite a bit of news when they announced it and it’s sort of like, okay, is this for Patrion? And, you know, patrons just like
N Baschez: [01:00:43]
Keeps climbing. So
N Baschez: [01:00:48]
And then with Facebook, I mean, Culturally, as far as companies go, Facebook is much more prone to like actually copy a thing, you know, like boldly, you know, whereas I think Twitter’s a little bit more in line with other companies, at least what we’ve seen historically, where they’re a little bit more cautious about it.
But I mean, Facebook, like the absolute worst audience for Facebook in terms of any sort of level of trust is just as writers, you know? So like I’m sure Facebook is so huge that there’s like, you know, definitely gonna, they can find some writers that like will publish on Facebook, but like, In terms of like, at least in the United States, you know, sort of like journalism and typewriters.
Like, I don’t think anyone would want to publish on Facebook. Even if Facebook offered them a large sum of money. I think culturally, it would be like too, there would be like, you know, Fox news publishing your thing. If you’re like a Democrat or whatever, like you just can’t, it’s like, you know, and you know, whether that’s fair or whether they’re right or whatever, it’s like a totally separate question from just what the reality is.
I think my read on it. Yeah.
Yeah, that totally makes sense. Well, I mean, no matter what, well, what it’s lending a, an air of legitimacy and, you know, it’ll bring so many new writers into the, into the fold, right. Because if someone’s like, I’ve been growing my Twitter, following else. And then this button pops up of like newsletters new and you’re like, here’s the letter I thought about starting a newsletter.
Sure. I’ll do that. And then, then really the buying decision happens. Someone might start on, on Twitter and with review, but then they might also just easily switch and say like, okay, you know what, sub stack or convert kit or ghost or one of these others, you know, basically it might serve as a funnel to bring someone into newsletters.
Is more likely to end up on review than anywhere else because that’s the natural path. you know, there’s a decent chance that as they grow, they start to look at other platforms.
N Baschez: [01:02:40]
Yeah, that is an interesting, I wonder it would be very interesting to look at the effect of that thing on YouTube and like, see if it’s like driven more people towards the Patrion model almost then it has like captured the people that are trying to do that. Or it’s like how many people uploaded a video to YouTube, and then you saw that you could like do sponsorships on it and thought about it and maybe Googled it and then like, Found out about patron because of that or something like, you know, interesting, interesting to, to think about the downstream effects of that.
Yeah. I mean, it’s so go ahead. I was just going to say, it’s so interesting. The effects of like, just something becoming a meme, you know, like this is kind of what I was saying about sub stack religion earlier. It’s like, I think a lot of times people do what they believe will be profitable to do, and that belief is based on what other people seem to be believing right now.
And so, it does add a lot of momentum to that belief that Twitter and Facebook have added support for it or are considering it or whatever. I think that, It’s interesting. It’s interesting that it’s the word newsletter that has sort of captured all this magic. Cause it’s really, to me, it’s about writing and it’s about the direct relationship with readers and writers and it’s about, like I think email is a channel is a good component of it.
but there’s also this other. Almost baggage with the word newsletter that it’s like almost the form of it. It’s like, Oh, this is a newsletter. So it means like welcome to edition number, whatever of my Roundup, where I like it’s a little, some links with my commentary or whatever. Like, you know, like that’s not necessarily like what a newsletter really is, but that’s kind of like what it was.
So it’s interesting. It’s like a blog is where the writing is. And then the newsletter is like
But blog doesn’t have the same, trendiness, like it, you know, like, Hey, you should quit your job at the New York times and start a blog. They’d be like at right now. They’d be like,
N Baschez: [01:04:36]
Where are these? You know, like, I don’t know what the deal is with that.
N Baschez: [01:04:42]
Yeah. It’s so funny. Cause it’s like the word blog is like totally out, but like as recently as I dunno, whenever medium first launched, it was like a way to start a blog without having to like publish all the time. Cause you’re like publishing on medium rather than having to start a blog, you know?
Oh, that’s fascinating. Well, I should let you go. I’m also realizing it’s I should have turned some lights on. It’s getting weirdly dark in here over time.
N Baschez: [01:05:06]
On our conversation.
Yes. There’s the time has come to come to a close. but thanks for coming on. Where should people go to learn more about Every?
N Baschez: [01:05:15]
Yeah. Every.to. T O every night to we like to pretend that it’s like Toronto or something, it means something cool. Literally it’s just Every dot. And then that was like one of the, what are we going to do? every.limo or something like now, like that doesn’t, you know,
N Baschez: [01:05:32]
Is worth a couple of billion dollars and their notion dot. So, so like every dot TO will probably be fine.
Yeah, so long as it’s not a negative, you, you can go with, but these things, awesome coming on and, hope everyone will check out every and, and we’ll talk soon.
N Baschez: [01:05:48]
Thank you so much for having me. It’s a lot of fun.