Should You Start a Newsletter?
On Substack, Patreon, Medium & more
Hi all. Welcome to your weekly dose of SARATONIN, a newsletter that may need a different name (feel free to drop suggestions in the comments).
This has been the most hilarious week on Twitter, and I’m thrilled to not be there! The screenshots have been beautiful, terrible entertainment. Some of you are really doing The Work over there.
Let’s get into your recommendations for the week, followed by my response to a reader who wants to start a newsletter. I’ll send this week’s essay separately, only to Patreon patrons and paid subscribers. It’s about SEX. What? I knoooow.
Recommendations aren’t sponsored. A fun way to sponsor me is to get a paid subscription to this newsletter, like the other winners out there!
Epsom salts - Have you heard? They’re all the rage with people whose backs hurt, and they’ve been very popular for probably centuries, or at least decades, who can say, I’m no BATH HISTORIAN. Mmm I love them. Let the Cleveland Clinic teach you more: “The name ‘Epsom salt’ is a nod to the town of Epsom, located a stone’s throw away from London in England, where the salt was supposedly discovered about 400 years ago.” Wow, could this newsletter get more British? (Yes. See the writing advice column below.)
Exercise mats by Cassey Ho - I barely exercise (and just sold my Peloton) but when I do, these soft and colorful objects are most enjoyable. I look at them while screaming inside. There’s usually a 15% off special running if you sign up for their email list. Here is a 2023 Fit Planner if you want it. Or you can staple together recycled paper or just scribble FUCK! I WORKED OUT! on paper grocery bags, I suppose.
The Modern House - This real estate firm in Britain has pulled off the most glorious corporate trick, which is to make its social media advertorially compelling. Look what these hot fuckable youths are doing with their home in their rainsoaked homeland! Listen to the deadpan way they say things like “Our favorite thing to do is to host parties” and “That’s when the space is most alive.” Then they talk about how they love the Big Brother house.
Their names are Alex and Elle and I hope they need a trashbag American third to liven things up. I only do guest star! Is the Concord still a thing? Fly a bird over, honeys!!!
I mean, I didn’t finish watching the video, but I felt you should see it.
Okay, now watch this one, which I actually did finish. THEIR HOUSE FUCKING SLIDES OPEN! It de-gloves like it’s got trenchfoot (do NOT Google this). Absolutely open to being flown over on my invisible carbon-neutral private jet to schtup these elder wealthies, too.
Your Washington Post - I enjoy this newspaper, usually.
Your Los Angeles Times - I enjoy this newspaper, too, usually.
My Instagram - If you’re not there, you’re missing...not much, actually. But it’s a good time.
Drink some water - Are you drinking enough water? I know you’re not sleeping right, but Mommy needs you to drink some water anyway, okay? I worry.
Gratify Gluten-Free Everything Thins - These are addictive pretzels. You will need to drink water when you get them at Wegmans or a lesser grocery store.
Writing Tips: How to Get Started on Substack
You’re always welcome to email me a question at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t be shy (or rude). We love boundaries. Out of respect for yours, if you ask me a question, I’ll assume you want me to keep you anonymous unless you tell me otherwise.
I write to you from Britain and as a new voice on Substack. I have so much to say, so much to learn and so many experiences to share. I find your writing addictive, exciting and challenging. How do l begin to write on Substack? Sounds simple enough, l have a verified account but whilst being “skilled in many areas” tech is still developing. Any assistance you can give me will be gratefully received.
My dearest Cadbury,
Thank you for your kind words! You are a good egg indeed. I’ve had a Substack account for only a few months, and just began publishing this newsletter weekly. I’m not an expert on Substack - I would turn tofor that - but I can share some info about my own varied income streams and how Substack fits into my financial plan and my creative life.
I imagine that you, like me, simply love to write. But I am guessing that you and I both have bills to pay. So how do we make this worth our while?
Substack allows me to share the stuff that I love with as many folks as possible, and then to make some income by experimenting with crafting essays that may or may not end up in a book or on a public platform one day.
This is the fourth issue of this newsletter. SARATONIN is devoted to enhancing your mental health by a.) making you laugh and b.) helping you feel less alone. So far, I’ve got 306 (brilliant, sexy, genius) subscribers, of whom 20 pay for the full newsletter. Most of each issue is free to everyone. Paying subscribers also get an essay each week, either attached to the end of the newsletter or sent separately (this week, it’ll be sent separately).
I consider this work, because it is. I enjoy it greatly, of course. But to give you a fuller picture of my work life, my other gigs include a full-time job in digital marketing at a nonprofit; a little bit of acting (I’d certainly like to do that more); and freelance writing (ditto).
I also make some income from Patreon (about 400 patrons, most paying $1 or $5 a month) where I do this same weekly newsletter (the full version) plus a weekly private podcast, just for patrons.
Finally, there are my essays on Medium, where I have 38,000 followers. They do not pay to follow me. Once in awhile, somebody will purchase a Medium subscription through my link so I’ll make a few bucks, but not often. I think last month I made $57 there.
I do end up with certain TV writing gigs now and again - I wrote on Mystery Science Theater 3000 last summer - but that hasn’t been consistent. One of my books is called Real Artists Have Day Jobs (And Other Awesome Things They Don’t Teach You In School), so - yeah.
Oh, and I sell things I don’t use or no longer need or want. Once in awhile I receive a very tiny residual check from acting or from one of my audiobooks.
That about covers how I make money. On to the advice!
My first piece of advice: be reasonable. Don’t overtax your mind, body, soul, etc. I do a lot of different things, but I don’t have childcare or eldercare responsibilities. My Prozac mostly works. So does my therapy. You know? Go easy. When I’m struggling with illness or mental health issues, I take breaks and sometimes disclose as much as feels appropriate to me.
My second piece of advice: be consistent. On Patreon and Medium, I am more inclined to do random one-off things when I feel like it (for example, the fiction-and-photo projects Irina Was a Scorpio, The Only Goat Girl, and It Worked for Jonah). Of course, on Patreon, my patrons also expect - and almost always get - a regular series of offerings. The cadence varies depending on the demands of my other job, but if I say I’m doing four patrons-only podcast episodes a month, I (usually) do it.
People come to Substack for newsletters. If you want to just offer an occasional newsletter, you can incorporate that into your description of it. When you create something and it pops up in someone’s inbox, they’ll be delighted and surprised!
But if you want it to be monthly, or weekly, you should say so - and then deliver on that, even if you can’t settle on a steady pub day. (I haven’t settled on one yet myself.)
My third piece of advice: draw inspiration from other newsletters here. Look for best practices you can implement, as well as stuff that doesn't resonate with you. Check outandNow That I Mention Itfor two newsletters that are delightful and compelling. I also love The Audacity.by . And don't miss what or are up to, either.
My final piece of advice: create the newsletter you would like to read. Maybe not the you who already knows the things you are going to put in it, but the you who exists on an alternate timeline and needs to know these things. Have fun with it. I enjoy using Patreon, Medium, and Substack. I love getting to interact with folks on all three platforms. You'll find the best option(s) for you.
Writing this newsletter excites me, soothes me, and helps introduce me to commenters and their art and work. It also helps bring in a little money. Maybe eventually it’ll bring in more money. But I quite enjoy it.
Essay - The Weirdest Sex Stories I’ve Ever Heard
This will be sent separately, to paying subscribers and patrons only.
Thanks for being here, and have a great week!