The Subscription Blog Experiment

I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with media, from early (and fairly successful) attempts to make magazines via Kinko’s as a kid to later experiments with hybrid journals, online-only journals, multimedia articles, interactive features, blogs (ala the Scholarly Kitchen and others), and self-published novels.

I’ve been watching the media space , and the pivot to subscriptions by many outside of scholarly publishing has caught my attention. I’ve written a lot about it, and watched it grow, and listened to the stories about how it only helps things all around. Whether it’s a podcast feed as a subscription to an advertising-funded show, a streaming subscription, a cellphone bill, or something else, subscriptions remain popular with users and producers. They denote loyalty, and they provide recurring revenues — even for advertising-supported or sponsorship-supported items, as multiple episodes and regular publication mean revenue realization, a stable or growing audience, and so much more.

I’ve been blogging for over a decade for free, and will continue to do so every once in a while, but a new service has caught my attention that I’m going to try. It’s called Substack, and it’s a paid email newsletter subscription service. Matt Taibi talked about it recently on a Recode podcast, and is using it to publish a book. I’m going to try it as an alternative to blogging.

What this means is that to read most of my posts, you’ll have to subscribe at There is a monthly or annual fee for this. If you don’t want to pay, that’s fine. But a lot of posts won’t be available to you. If you choose to pay, you’ll receive an email directly from this service whenever I publish something. And I’ll be working hard to keep you satisfied and reading. This will mean interviews, thought pieces, some diversions, and some things even I can’t anticipate.

It will be interesting to see if this can work. I’m convinced it’s a strategic mistake for publishers, editors, and authors to pivot away from content. This is my effort to pivot back into it, and into a subscription model at a time when paid content needs to be defended and even celebrated.

Join me at to read this new email newsletter. I look forward to seeing you there.