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.

Announcing: LifeWay Social

In the last six months or so, one of the most popular topics in Christian conversations on Twitter, Facebook, and otherwise has been how Christians conduct themselves on the internet.

Should Christians care about being “verified” by Twitter?

Should pastors be paying social media consultants thousands of dollars to pad their Facebook page likes?

What is an online “platform?” What is “influence” in a world in which everyone can look professional and important?

A lot of the talk about Christians building their online presences has been negative, rightly dissuading Christians from building a platform on anything but actual expertise and experience in a given field.

But, unfortunately, in a lot of the social media discussion about platform, the overwhelming negativity has made it seem as though building an online presence is an inherently self-focused enterprise.

Without a doubt, too many of us sacrifice our humility on the altar of our online personas.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Self-Focused v. Service-Focused

The Church can engage in the digital space for the building up of the whole body instead of the promotion of the self. We have the ability to serve, not relentlessly self-promote.

God has given us all gifts and interests meant for the building up of the body of Christ and the proclamation of the gospel throughout the world.

Some of us have gifts of writing, speaking, or similar abilities that translate well into social media, blogs, podcasts, and other digital avenues.

It is our responsibility, as followers of Jesus, proclaimers of His gospel, and lovers of His people, to use those gifts for the service of others rather than the service of ourselves.

That’s why LifeWay Social exists.

The Aim of LifeWay Social

LifeWay Social is for hopeful authors, church communications leaders, non-profit social media directors, and anyone else who wants to discover more effective and efficient ways to use social media for kingdom good.

LifeWay Social does not exist to make anyone rich or famous. LifeWay Social exists to help people use their gifts in the digital space to serve other people. We aren’t promising riches, fame, or book contracts to anyone.

We simply see a need. We see Christians wrestling with how to use social media in constructive ways while avoiding prideful pursuits of baseless platforms and get-influence-quick schemes.

God has gifted a lot of people in ways that can be used online to shine the light of the gospel in a very dark place.

We just want to come alongside people in that.

5 Ways to Grow Your Online Presence Without Selling Your Soul

Along those lines, we’re offering a free PDF called “5 Ways to Grow Your Online Presence Without Selling Your Soul” to anyone who joins the LifeWay Social email list.

When you join the email list, you’ll just be receiving one email every Thursday at 9am CT/10am ET with social media, blogging, and video tips.

I’ve been sending this out for a year to some friends and colleagues, and we’re opening it up for LifeWay Social. The weekly email is called “Content Made Simple.”

Try it out. Unsubscribe if you hate it. I won’t be offended.

LifeWay Social launches in fall 2017, and subscribing to the email list is the best way to keep up with us as we near the launch.

Click here to learn more about LifeWay Social and get your free “5 Ways to Grow Your Online Presence Without Selling Your Soul” PDF. 

Connect With Us

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Feel free to reach out to me on social media @ChrisMartin17 with any questions.