Another Sunday, Another Naive Weekly — Observations From The Internet Wilderness.
It is our last day on the road. Tomorrow we are flying back to our plants, bikes, bed, garden, and everything else that makes up our home. I’m grateful for the hospitality we have received over the last three weeks and feel ready to get back home.
One question for you, what is occupying your thoughts going into the second half of 2021?
ASK ME ANYTHING
I’m using the holiday season to answer your questions for me. Please hit reply to this email and I’ll answer your question within the next weeks.
Reader: What was the main reason for switching to Substack?
Kristoffer: I switched from Mailchimp to Substack three years ago because I grew frustrated with Mailchimp’s focus on marketing and sales. I understand Mailchimp’s strategy of making a product for small and medium-sized businesses to sell more products to their customers via emails, but I have never seen Naive Weekly as a business, so the new features were an annoyance. I did not want to resend newsletters to people who did not open nor create personalized emails to sell more.
Around that time, I came across a bold post describing the importance of investing in independent journalism and writers. The author was Hamish McKenzie, one of the founders of Substack, and it was the deciding factor to make the switch. A newsletter tool focused on writing was attractive to me, and I was happy to support a startup working on an alternative to the advertisement.
For the first year, I was an eager advocate, recommending Substack to anyone who would ask. I enjoyed the simplicity, and I felt part of a growing movement for each new Substack writer I discovered. And it blew my mind the day I got an email telling me that Mikkel was now a paying subscriber, I could not believe that someone would voluntarily pay for my newsletter.
Today, I am hesitant when it comes to Substack, primarily due to three reasons:
Substack’s Growth Imperative
The Substack writer program and the new features focus on growing the reader list and turning readers into paid subscribers. Rather than segmenting my readers based on open and click rates, I want to improve as a writer. I want to build up characters and storylines that stretch beyond one newsletter edition. And I want to find my voice and the topics I cover.
Over the past one-two years, there has been a newsletter boom where Substack has emerged as the winning tool to such an extent that it is almost becoming category-defining. Substack is becoming to newsletters what Google is for search. I don’t think I need to google why monopolies are wrong, and my worries grow when I follow Substack building a reader application. I am a fan of newsletters because it uses the open protocol of email, meaning you receive my words regardless of the email client you use. Creating a new reader application feels like a step towards closed systems.
Substack’s Editorial Policy
During the lockdown, I followed with half-an-eye the wave of writers deciding to leave Substack due to the lack of moderation policy. Substack provides financial advancements to popular writers for starting paid newsletters, and some of these writers have expressed controversial opinions, including anti-trans statements. Without going into whether Substack should have the editorial responsibilities of a media company, I am much less eager to support a venture-backed, Silicon Valley-based startup founded by three cis males now than I was three years ago.
Reader: Where do you want to grow old?
Kristoffer: In Europe, by Ana’s side. And while I don’t have a preferred country, I am rather convinced that I’ll be growing old in the countryside. I feel a strong pull towards embedding myself in the landscape and nurture the surrounding environment. I’d love to build a few cabins for visitors to stay over and to grow a garden providing food for dinner. So if you know of someone with an empty place in the European countryside, please let me know.
Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly — Observations from the Internet Wilderness.
Last week this letter was sent to 761 people. Thirtyone are crazy enough to chip in every month/year to support me making time to write. Logo by Studio Hollywood. Print by Luka. Photograph by Ana Santl.