Monday, November 8, 2021

A Year of Platformer on Substack

Casey Newton (Hacker News):

When I started Platformer with the mailing list I accumulated while writing my previous newsletter, there were around 24,000 of them. Twelve months later, there are 49,604 people subscribed to Platformer’s free list, and they regularly open this newsletter at a rate that far exceeds in the industry average.


The result is a job that feels more durable, and sustainable, than any other employment I’ve had. In the past, to lose my job might require only a bad quarter in the ad market, the loss of an ally in upper management, or the takeover of my company by some indifferent telecom company. Today, I can really only lose my job if thousands of people decide independently to “fire” me. As a result, I’ve never felt more empowered to cover the issues I find most meaningful: the fraught, unpredictable collisions between big tech platforms and the world around them.


Platformer loses 3-4 percent of its paid customers per month. To grow, it has to replace those customers and then find new ones.


Guidance I had gotten from Substack suggested I might expect 10% or so of my free subscribers to go paid. Given that 24,000 people had been reading me four days a week when I launched — some for three years — I thought that 10% would be a slam dunk. Instead, it was closer to 5%.


Other than the stories I mentioned above, the Discord launch was the single biggest thing I did over the past year to convert paid subscribers.

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