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State of the Newsletter: January 2022
Gaining subscribers and making Twitter less relevant
First, housekeeping (don’t you hate it when podcast hosts use that phrase?). Callins this week: NBA Take Master Spike Eskin on Wednesday at 8 pm PST and Sports TV expert Ryan Glasspiegel on Thursday at 8 pm PST. Okay, now for the post…
Forgive the self-indulgence, but I do think that some of you want to know what you’re paying for and how it’s going. First, here’s my favorite stat from this young venture.
That’s an overview of the traffic from my article on LeBron’s failed grandiose ad campaign, a post that was a hit for me. The relevant stat is “1% twitter.com,” meaning that a mere 1% of readers arrived at the post from the medium that obsesses media. Why is this my favorite stat? Simply, because I hate Twitter and any sign of its marginalization fills me with hope.
It wasn’t always this way. Back before it became a tool to destroy one’s enemies, and back before the widespread understanding of such power chilled conversations, the website was a vibrant digital water cooler. No more, unfortunately. Twitter has its good points, but those are outweighed by its function as an engine for mass media psychosis. It’s still useful as a content port, so I tweet my House of Strauss links there and retreat back to the Internet hinterlands. I am heartened to see that Freddie DeBoer succeeds without tweeting at all. That’s a very positive sign to kick off the new year with.
Success and Self-Branding
Okay, here’s the other relevant stat for this post, and thanks to all who’ve subscribed over the last 19 weeks.
Currently, my annualized revenue from this site is over 162K and it has steadily risen (I’m on a pro deal, with a mostly fixed income in Year 1, for what it’s worth). I debated over whether to share that stat because I have a friend who’s gotten modestly wealthy off subscriptions and he advises against doing so. He’s gone so far as to warn me about sharing any photos of his nice car when we’re out together. You can make fun of him, but in his anxiety, I see a vision. I used to conceive of his operation as purely informational, but now I know that there’s a story attached: I’m not just giving you good stuff, but I’m also the underdog.
At a certain revenue amount, you’re no longer the underdog, though it varies depending on customer. So why am I sharing my stats? Personally, it’s just easier to put cards on the table. I’m not smart enough to operate in a somewhat confessional capacity while hiding information about myself. Give me that catharsis of honesty, please.
Some have asked why I have a higher price than most Substackers. The answer is a) I pay for a lot of sports business newsletters to inform my reporting and b) I burn a new sports media bridge every month. Per the latter, there’s no going back, I think. This site is what I do, perhaps till retirement. And, for the first time, such a prospect doesn’t scare me. I love running HoS and might wish to do it forever.
You’re all a big part of the “why” here. The best part of running a site according to the “whatever I’m interested in” heuristic is that you get along with your readers. I do these Founding Member calls with subscribers and they ask if it’s a chore to put in face time like that. Not at all, because my subscribers tend to be cool, curious people. Perhaps that’s a pander, but I mean it.
My readers are not only entertaining in the weekend threads, but they also give me valuable feedback on what works for the site. I’m now doing Narrated Articles every week because enough of you requested it and I’m happy to say that those are connecting with a core audience.
I especially want to thank my editor, Royce Webb, even as it occurs to me that this is another branding error. The newsletter underdog should be one man against the world, in theory. You, the lone genius, outflank your media enemies by grit and gumption.
Ah well, whatever. No man is an island. Royce has been crucial in providing astute advice, in addition to editing these posts. Without him, I would have been lost. So thank God for Royce, and thank you for reading.
What is House of Strauss?
Is it about sports media? Is it about the NBA industry? Is it right wing? Is it milquetoast liberal? I still don’t really have an elevator pitch for what this site is, which is a sales weakness, I suppose. One day I’ll figure it out, maybe. Perhaps with your help.
I’ve seen HoS disparaged in media spaces as about “cancel culture,” or “anti-woke,” which, well, fine. I don’t think those terms are bad, even if they aren’t exactly accurate in describing the site. Part of the issue in modern media is that there’s such an intense conformity that anything outside narrow boundaries gets dismissed with these phrases.
The effect of such narrowness is that readers are hungry. For what, I’m not totally sure. My next big article will be on a recently deceased NBA power agent who made a habit of ranting about Winston Churchill to his clients. Is that what readers want? I’m also writing an article on a flashy Floridian Scientologist real estate mogul whom the athletes love. Is that what readers want?
I don’t know. I just know to make it good and keep going. Thanks to all who gave me a purpose here and I’m looking forward to providing you with content in 2022. Let’s go.