88 Comments

As a longtime fan and fellow Substacker, I'm pleased to hear that your version of the five-year plan is proceeding apace.

My feedback, since you asked for it:

- While I read some of your stuff in other venues, this page is now my main Hamilton spigot, so I hope you'll keep the essay/article style and not shift into a more newsletter-y tone.

- Regarding a paywall, put it up but make it "pay what you wish," with a suggested amount. That way everyone pays *something,* but they can pay just a dollar (or whatever) if that's all they can afford. Seems like a good "from each, to each" solution.

Keep doing what you're doing -- it's awesome.

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Thank you my man I really appreciate your support for many years now.

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

I have always loved your writing from deadspin, in these times and on, and would love to become a paid subscriber, but I then had to think through all the other news subscriptions I'm paying for and wondered what your thoughts are on folks subscribing to individual substacks for every writer they follow rather than say pay for the one newspaper or magazine subscription and get many... What impact does this model have on shrinking or expanding the number of perspectives we're able to read or are exposing ourselves to on a regular basis? That said, get paid as we all must under capitalism

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I very much sympathize with not being able to pay for a subscription to every damn substack you read. Long term I would love to see a lot of individual publications coalesce into bigger publications.

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Lol not unlike a magazine? Reminds me of all the "cutting the cord" and then all the channels want their own streaming services and then they start bundling together because there are too many... And so capitalism eats itself...Also I would add that in terms of the type of stuff you're writing, I like newsletter stuff I like long form stuff but isn't the point of the platform to write what you want?

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I second this. I am paying for several substacks already whose writing I find as important as Hamilton's, along with several local news subscriptions (including the dying embers of our local paper) and the Post. I feel guilty for not paying yet but also don't know where to draw the line. Like Laura, I equated this to streaming-just-replaced-my-cable-bill, and have wondered if Substackers have every thought about advocating the platform to offer something akin to bundled subscriptions - like pay a higher price but get several subscriptions with it. Could increase subscribers while also increasing readership due to network effects.

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

Hamilton, I discovered your writing a couple of months ago and really enjoy it. It is, however, challenging to pay for all of the many Substacks I follow. I know this is beyond your control, but I do wish Substack would allow prolific subscribers and voracious readers to select a package of writers they could purchase at a small discount, rather than paying full dosh for each one separately.

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I agree this sounds like a good idea, maybe I will raise it with the Substack people.

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Oct 30, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

I discovered your work earlier this year and really appreciate your writing. As a Gen Xer I've come to see that my education was sorely lacking on the topics your write about, and I'm now an eager student. I'm a paying subscriber because of the quality of your work and also because of your "everything is free" model. It's refreshing. I subscribe to numerous substacks and I really dislike the strategy of sending essays to their free subscribers that are paywalled partway through - it's just kind of mean to offer something and then take it away. Also, you write the absolutely best asks for readers to pay that I've seen - a pretty nifty skill for someone who doesn't like to self-promote. So, to your paywall question, it worked for me to not have one. To your other questions, 100% no to the conversational updates - I don't need to know what you had for breakfast, what your outfit of the day is, how your plants are doing, etc. I don't know why this is a thing - other than generating parasocial relationships with readers, but I think it also becomes unhealthy for anyone to have to perform their life for subscribers. The red gator - is there a story behind how it came to be your logo?

One last note - this piece was not too long. Appreciated a look behind the scenes.

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Don't "maximize revenue" that's what the fuckers I write about do. It leads to genocide.

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Hamilton, like you, I've read so many recommendations and 'how to' notes on Substack and published elsewhere too, I share some of your experiences and angst, but I don't share your skepticism.

I've been on here since March - I moved two publications Musings (daily for 20 years) and Monday Morning Minute (5 years) to this platform. I'm thrilled, as I have from the beginning, about this platform flexibility for me, for the writer. The reader experience is harder to gauge - I've previously published on Medium and have used several 'systems' for distribution (Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, etc.) ... and both the Substack and Stripe Bank systems are slick, clever and deliver way more analytics than I have the time or capacity to digest - but I'm glad they have it.

Like anyone with 'encouraging early results' I was encouraged about 'loyal readers converting to paid', new readers subscribing. Some of those and some very kind friends were early adopters and supported my wallet and my ego with their paid subscriptions and donations. Finding also, that many friends and long term avid readers, are mostly happily continue to get my work for free. I'm torn on that point, because I would love their support however modest as an acknowledgement of the value.

I've not tried the 'double-authentication' process you have - and I don't recommend it.

The 'firewall thinking' is tricky, because you have to make effective strategic choices. I'm dabbled in that thinking and have returned to 'anyone can respond with comments' and I wish more would. If people want to respond but can't unless they pay, I think that is coercive. If I'm not getting someone's money, I still want their feedback and/or critique.

My conclusion after more than six months - and after many years building my audience, and recognizing the volume of material/options coming at readers from every direction and I don't expect the A.I. world to not accelerate that, so I'm committed to this:

- every paid subscriber is welcomed, thanked, acknowledged and revered

- every non-paid subscriber is welcomed, thanked, acknowledged and revered

- I'm committed to writing more, writing better and delivering the consistency my readers have come to know and value

- there are other avenues on Substack and via other venues and platforms to be paid for my words

- the key for me is to not lose faith in myself and write my feelings and opinions

Worthy work will attract a following, but that doesn't assure me of revenue in tandem ...

Best of luck to you sir.

Cheers,

Mark

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Thank you for the insights Mark. All things considered I am actually very optimistic about the viability of making a living here.

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Don't quit your day job just yet!

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Pretty good summary of the challenges. Every writer wants readers more than anything, but everyone needs to make a living too. I wish your “socialist” approach on payment would work, but doubt it will. Our society worships money too fully as the arbiter of success and quality. We lack an instinct for quality without pricing as an aid. But good luck, I hope this works. And keep writing no matter what.

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To be clear the current model is working so far! Although it is not *maximizing* revenue I am optimistic that it can work. It's not a pipe dream. Thank you for reading.

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Oct 30, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

-I’m a paid subscriber, but I like the philosophy of not implementing a paywall.

-keep your format; newsletters are made to be discarded

-I would totally rock a HTW t-shirt

Thanks for all you do, HamNo. Your work is a bridge to sanity.

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

If you put that gator on something I will absolutely consider paying the frankly criminal rates delivery services charge for international shipping so that I can have a cool gator logo on a t-shirt or hat or mug or whatever the fuck. Just do me, personally, the favor of making sure the shit is good and long-lasting so it's worth it when the only international shipping offering you can use is DHL for like €40 or whatever the hell. It's cool, I will spend the money gladly, I promise, this is what I signed up for when I decided to move to a different country.

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What I'm hearing is that you have incredibly good fashion taste. Thank you.

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

if you do merch, don’t eat the printing costs upfront. i once spent 100 of my last 200 dollars pre-printing shirts for my (quite popular, traffic-wise!) website and it was the worst financial decision of my life lol. also i found shipping orders incredibly tedious. presumably there are third-party vendors that address both of these problems.

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

This piece is too long. By the time I finish reading it, I am ready to click away. Nonetheless, I am going to upgrade and pay. i also pay to read Chris Andrade and Seymour Hersch, by the way. I am very glad that you are setting yourself to be an outspoken labor journalist; Steven Greenhouse without the NYTimes looking over his shoulder.

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Helena... I love this comment including the editorial feedback. thank you.

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I agree his was too long, so you'll probably think my response was too long too. I applaud you giving his credit and cash. I know how valuable that support can be!

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I, for one, applaud your desire to keep everything available to everyone and get money from those who are moved (and financially able) to support you. That’s how I roll myself and it suits me and my conscience the best of all the options. I think we each have a star to follow and you seem to be following yours quite nicely. Including the personal, newsletter-y stuff would be silly.

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

Just subscribed. I found your work through Substack and you are the first “labor” voice that explained to this white-collar worker why labor and unions are so important to all of us. I love how you connect various topics into a broader understanding and articulation of society. Keep the current format. Like you said, i may not agree 100% with everything you say, but I vastly prefer you explaining How Things Work then giving me another listicle.

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I appreciate it very much Timothy thank you.

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

I’d buy merch! And as a subscriber, I like the idea of you keeping everything 100% free. Write on ❤️‍🔥

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Oct 29, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

Hamilton, We might be "great", but so are you. Keep it up. Olde Henry

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Shout out to you Happy Henry.

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Bring back "I, Of The Tiger"

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If only I had an editor...

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