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Writer Therapy turns One!
I’ve been writing this Substack newsletter for a year now—in fact, today’s my one year anniversary, yay me!
I’m struggling with two things. The first is how to thank my readers. I know everyone subscribes to newsletters with good intentions of reading it regularly and then, uh, doesn’t. (Everyone does that, right? It’s not just me?) But I’ve been looking at statistics and averages and my newsletter opens are consistently really, really good.
This means people are consistently reading this newsletter (or at least opening it before deleting it) which is like, simultaneously humbling and an ego boost. I waver between OMG, they really like me! and Of course they like me, here’s proof.
Still, this newsletter only exists because people ask me questions. Because people trust me enough to send me their questions. That’s big. I am so very thankful for it.
The thing is, though, I am a thirsty bitch, which brings me to my second problem: I want more.
I keep looking at my subscriber growth, and while it’s been slow and steady and like, turtle beats the hare, that’s how you win the race, blah, blah, blah, I still want more. More shares, more subscribers, more questions.
Maybe I could do that with by putting out the newsletter more frequently, but I’m not able to commit to doing that long-term. And I’d definitely need more questions coming in to make that work anyway.
I don’t have any plans to make this newsletter paid. (Unless, like, I have a new idea where that makes sense.) This isn’t about some game plan to monetize my platform or whatever the kids say. Like, I could, but I don't want to.
But I still want a wider reach. I genuinely enjoy writing this column, and I just want it to go to more people. See above, re: thirsty.
I feel like there has to be a way to combine this. To thank my readers for being so engaged, and also encourage them to spread the word?
Got any ideas for me?
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This talking to yourself contrivance is a little weird, but we’ll go with it.
First of all, congratulations on keeping this going for a year. Routine has never been your strong suit, and you’ve failed many times at blogging before (harsh but true!) so hey, look at you, making it work. But girl, if I knew how to make it big on Substack, I’d have done it already.
I googled like hell, and that gave me nothing, so I took your problem to ChatGPT, because like, why not? And it suggested asking your readers.
Yes, ask for help. That thing you avoid all the time? Your therapist would be proud of you. (Now stop wondering why your therapist hasn’t subscribed, the woman has professional boundaries, or at last, an email alias.)
This requires you to be vulnerable, yes, and also reveal that you are a thirsty bitch who looks at your numbers far more often than is necessary or healthy and that it sometimes makes you feel insecure even when (hello?) people are clearly reading and enjoying this consistently, what more do you want? But hey, you pride yourself on your authenticity, right?
(Damn, I am harsh when I am giving myself advice.)
But on a more proactive note, the ChatGSTAI-thingy also suggested having some kind of a contest. You said you can’t commit to writing more frequently long-term, but what about short-term?
Could you do some kind of a thing where you ask your readers to help you reach some kind of a threshold of shares or subscriber growth per month, and in return you’ll do a bonus column?
Like, maybe the same regular Dear Abby for Writers schtick, or maybe something like, Sonal reviews craft books and gives her honest opinion (it would give you deadline to actually read that shelf-full of craft books you own and have yet to crack open.) Or maybe, Sonal gives some general writing advice on something, like, revision, or structure, or publishing, or whatever? Or maybe Sonal tells stories about her writing life, especially since that whole tale of the rise and fall of Nemesis #1 was fun to do on Instagram. (Although really, what can top that story?) Or go podcast-y or video-y and read some of your own writing?
Maybe it’ll work. Maybe people will see it and think, “hey, that’s cool, I totally intend to participate” and then never get around to it. Maybe people will think “I had no idea Sonal was this thirsty” and quietly start deleting these newsletters unread. So much for your above-average engagement. Life is risk, and as risks go, it’s Substack, not tightrope walking over Niagara Falls.
The ChatGTSThingamajig suggested posting a survey for readers to fill out, so that they could quickly and easily let you know what they want. See if people are into it before starting.
I know it makes you nervous to ask instead of pretending like you’re some confident chill person, but like, there’s nothing wrong with owning up to the fact that you want to more. There’s a little dopamine hit every time you get a new subscriber, and who doesn’t love a little dopamine?
But hey, whether it works or not, keep going. You love writing this, and people seem to like reading this. There is something special going on here.
It’s been an awesome first year of Writer Therapy. Here’s to many more.