All freelancers have gaps between projects. Some bigger than others. If you’re a freelancer I imagine you know these well. You attempt to save a buffer of cash to pay the bills in anticipation for these times. But it can only take an unexpected cost to throw a spanner in the works and have you a little more flustered than normal.
Thanks to some advice from one of my mentors, the late Graham Wiseman I feel I can ride out these lulls. He told me as a photographer to always keep three months of cash in the bank and forget about it. Then even if the well paying work isn’t coming in, do what you can for what you can.
Recently I decided to experiment with subscription models. Patreon confused me. As did ServiceBot. So I took a look at Substack.
I’m glad I decided to focus on the writing part of what I do because this has sustained me recently. Not financially. That’s the dream. But mentally and intellectually.
It’s still early days, but I have a handful of paying subscribers and my newsletter brings in around £200/month. This works out about £5/hour while I write the four issues a week. Writing does not come naturally to me and each issue takes me about 8 to 10 hours. But with every new paying subscriber I get a tiny pay rise. Thank you.
I have a love/hate relationship with subscription models but can’t fail to see how valuable they can be to a freelancer. Especially the hand-to-mouth kind. Subscriptions are also chunk of my regular monthly outgoings and I’m happy with my choices. I have a coffee, data, entertainment and online and offline news subscriptions.
I think it’s harder for people to see why paying for content might be a good thing with so much of the free stuff about.
Still, I enjoy writing stories and sharing links this way. The more subscribers the more value I can comfortably offer. Is any of this sustainable? You tell me. Maybe you have managed it without selling your soul or burning out. I hope so. For me this is fun at the moment. And long may it stay that way.
These are my condensed thoughts (copied from my newsletter) as to why I think it’s good to pay for content:
- It can save you screen time.
Let me make my corner of the internet accessible to you. The links I find, reviews I write and stories I share. All in one place. If you only read one email this week make it mine.
- Invest in a credible source.
I don’t have to be some stranger on the web telling you stuff. As much as I hope you question everything you read, get to know me and my motivations. Interact and discuss these topics with me. Correct me if I err. Let’s learn and grow together.
I share more content in a single newsletter that we could possible explore over a single beer. Yet for less than the price of a beer you get four weekly instalments. Then there is the content that is not posted everywhere else. The invitations to retreats, meet-ups and events specifically for paying subscribers.
As you are supporting an independent writer and content creator, you are a part of a community of like minded individuals. Ask to join the backchannel and network with others. Meet at events or connect through the newsletter by sharing ideas.
- Enjoy a certain style
If you love learning like me, love learning with me. I spend a lot of time curating the content I share to my newsletter and do so with a voice I hope ties everything together. But my funds are limited like my time. If I had unlimited funds I’d do this more. Your support means a lot to me.