I’m Moving All My Writing Behind a Paywall

Hey there.

For a while now I’ve been wrestling with writing online. Ever since I stopped writing MillennialEvangelical.com, I’ve struggled a bit with what to write. What’s my niche? Do I have one? Does it matter?

I’ve written the “Content Made Simple” newsletter for nearly four years now. It’s a weekly newsletter about social media trends and strategy….among other things. About 700 people receive that every week, and I understand that it’s helpful for a lot of folks. I want to write a lot more about social media strategy and trends.

…But I just have a hard time motivating myself to write here at this blog.

I’ve really struggled with writing generally. I love doing it, but about what? For what purpose? I don’t care about people knowing me. I don’t care about getting as many views as possible. Writing with a prompt is easy. Writing for various outlets that ask me to write and give me some direction is fun.

But, investing hours of time into a free blog just isn’t it for me anymore. It doesn’t really seem worth it.

So I decided this weekend to move any writing I do behind a paywall through Substack.

The new project is called Terms of Service.

Why the Paywall?

Honestly? Part of the reason I struggle to write is because I don’t want to give away my writing for free to the few hundred people who may read it.

As an example, right now, I can earn $250 for writing a column for a website. It’s a blessing! I’m grateful. This sort of professional writing pays real bills.

…It also makes it a little hard to motivate myself to write for free on my blog. If I’m going to be honest.

If I’m going to take an hour or two or longer to write a piece of content, I’d rather 10 people read it and pay to read it than 100 people read it for free and move on with their lives.

Also, I think that when people pay for things, they value them more. I get more out of my New York Times paid subscription than just about any free content I read anywhere. I think part of the reason for that is that I pay for it and I value it more.

I think that what I write is worth a small fee, especially the social media strategy content. So I think it’s time that I start acting like it’s worth something.

I also think this will lead to less tweeting about trends and strategy. I plan to move most of that behind the paywall too. I won’t be abandoning Twitter or anything like that. But I do think most of my commentary on social/internet trends will move from Twitter to Terms of Service as well.

How People Consume Content Has Changed

Once upon a time, if you wrote a personal blog like this one, you could grow a nice readership. Those early days of blogging were great.

These days, most personal blogs amount to little more than noise on social media timelines. It feels harder than ever to make a real impact.

Today, the content world is just a bit different. The massive amount of time investment needed to get a personal blog like this off of the ground just isn’t worth it. At least not to me.

Few people read when I write content here, and the feedback I get is minimal. Like I said above, I think I would rather have a devoted group of 10 people paying to read what I write, engaging with it, than 100 people reading what I write and never hearing from them again.

I don’t really expect the paid readership format to work. But I am willing to experiment with it and see what happens.

How Much Does It Cost?

It costs $5/month or $50 per year to subscribe. You can subscribe here.

My weekly “Content Made Simple” email will continue to be free as part of the Terms of Service project (you can also subscribe to that for free at the link above). It will be delivered through Substack, totally free to anyone who wants to subscribe. All other content will be behind the paywall, visible on the site and delivered via email whenever anything new is published.

What Is Included?

I am currently planning to write two posts per week, in addition to my weekly free newsletter. The content will vary between social media/online content strategy and commentary on social media trends. I plan on writing more posts like this or this or this.

This is my plan, for now:

  • Monday: New content behind paywall
  • Tuesday: Free Content Made Simple newsletter
  • Thursday: New content behind paywall

I want to give this a try for a year or so, hopefully. If no one subscribes, so be it. I’ll hang up the keyboard, and we’ll call it a day.

Thanks for reading, and perhaps I’ll see a few of you over on Terms of Service.