It’s ok to grow slow
Happy September! It’s good to be back at my hot desk with some entrepreneur energy, art, dogs, and stuff happening around me. I’ve missed it.
Coastal Currents art festival opens today – fully independent this year, with no Arts Council funding – go Tina & team! 👏
I keep trying to take August off like the Europeans do for proper rest and reset, but it doesn’t work at home. I slip back into the usual habits and routines.
To take the entire month off(line), I need to go AWAY and be in a different environment. So, something to work towards for next August.
Back-to-school vibes… Farrah Storr sums it up perfectly in her newsletter:
As summer fades, change at this time of year feels inevitable. One of the things that has always struck me about September is its capacity for renewal, especially creative renewal. I think it’s something to do with the summer months allowing our ideas to just sit and be, and in their being, that’s when they truly take shape.
September is the perfect time to give those ideas a little push out into the world.Farrah Storr – Things Worth Knowing
I like working in seasons/12-week sprints and setting small goals. Enjoyed this piece in Vox on why dividing your life into semesters, even when you’re not in school, can help with goal-setting, time management and motivation.
It gets us going and out of a rut. And it gives you something to aim for and look forward to – the next break from mid-Dec to mid-Jan.
Seems like a productive way to organise the year.
📚 The 12-week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months is about breaking down the activities that are most important and creating a sense of urgency to get stuff done.
Time to ditch the annual plan?
🛠 Substack Toolkit
So, I’ve been thinking about where to devote my energies this season and the ONE thing I want to focus on.
Growing on Substack and getting to know the community better alongside my 1:1 client work.
I’m compiling a toolkit of resources for Substack writers – industry trends, articles, experiments, opportunities, and folks to follow.
It will live here on Google Docs; I’ll update it as I go. Let me know if you have a link or story to share, and I’ll add your name and newsletter.
I see a lot of resources for general newsletter growth, so it’s good to find some support with a Substack-specific focus.
Substack has launched two new features this month. You can find and follow friends and AI-powered tools to generate transcripts and create social sharing assets (useful if you do interviews).
👉 Why New Statesman became the first major publisher to exclusively host newsletters on Substack | Press Gazette. Be interesting to see if other publishers follow suit.
I’m seeing a desire for cohort-based courses over standalone training/videos you do solo. People want to learn with others who are doing the same thing. Be part of a community and a challenge. Just keep ‘em affordable!
👉 Ready to kick-start your creative future? | Things Worth Knowing – Farrah Storr’s new Substack support channel and writing group dates. Pitch her (and get paid £200 – she’s now commissioning writers).
👉 Substack Soiree – Starts Sept 11 – a 5-week supportive group programme for anyone looking to start, grow or expand their Substack. Covers: optimisation, subscriber growth, sales, self-promo and community, what to write about, getting out of your own way, and sharing with love.
👉 Success on Substack: Craft a Subscription Newsletter Worth Reading | Marlee Grace. “Everything I know about writing a digital newsletter for over a decade, and specifically choosing to monetize it – sending it weekly to 25k subscribers, 1400+ paid subscribers, and a gross annualised revenue of over $80k a year.” (1-month free trial on Skillshare).
Marlee writes Monday Monday, a weekly Substack on creativity.
👉 Substack Course: The Ultimate Guide to Creating, Operating, and Monetising a Substack Newsletter | Casey Botticello (he also has a Facebook group for Substack writers).
👉 Grow – How Laura Kennedy made more money on Substack than anywhere else. On moving from Patreon and earning a steady income. Plus, updated resources, a workbook and creator interviews – one to bookmark.
👉 Bringing your LinkedIn followers to Substack | Linda Lebrun (and what to do with your LinkedIn newsletter).
👉 It’s OK if you grow your audience slowly | Inbox Collective. Claire Zulkey on why, for some indie newsletters, focusing on content – and community – is the right move.
I’m with her on this – a refreshing perspective and an antidote to all the 7-figure newsletter biz articles and podcasts.
Yes, most of us need to make money. But it’s not the only goal.
What about building for impact while you earn a shit ton of money? That’s my plan. I’d love to hear more stories about global initiatives, impact projects, celebrating cultures, and telling stories to build connection and empathy – Substack for Change?
After years of struggling as a freelance journalist in London trying to make writing pay, it makes my heart sing to read posts like Emma’s about earning six figures from her Substack.
I enjoy seeing writers flourish on the platform, building an audience, earning a steady income, and paying others to write.
Yes, you need to have your eyes open. Substack is VC-backed and under pressure to grow. But it’s exciting and inspiring to see what’s possible – and great to see people experimenting.
Platforms may come and go, but the humble newsletter isn’t going anywhere.
This week’s fave Substack post: We need more jazz vinyl cafes by Ted Gioia. Oh, for a trip to Tokyo to check out the jazz joints!
To your success! 🥂
PS, I’m doing Joe Dispenza’s Walk for the World on Sept 23. I love his work – inspiring stories of transformation.
His ‘You Are The Placebo’ meditation is 👌
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