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.

A New Project: Learn to Navigate the Scary World of Social Media

Social media is like a black hole. It’s this mysterious gravitational force that absorbs everything around it at a frightening speed. Because of this, it can be really scary to start a blog or be very active on social media. We fear looking foolish, being criticized, and more.

I write about social media on here quite a bit, and I do it because it really does fit the scope of this blog. When I started this blog in May 2014, just over three years ago now, my goal was to help pastors better understand Millennials, reach unbelieving Millennials, and equip Milllennials for gospel ministry. Learning how to use social media is a big part of that, which is why I spend a lot of blog posts exploring it.

But, now that I’m out of school and have some free time on my hands, I’m beginning a new side project that I hope will equip Christians to engage in the digital space with confidence so that we can make the gospel known in this online world even more widely than it is now.

This blog is not going anywhere anytime soon. I am going to continue posting here, hopefully more often than I have been the last month or so. I have been a bit MIA due to graduating school, going on vacation, etc. I am finishing up the manuscript for the book along the lines of this blog, so more on that later!

My Vision for Christians on Social Media

I believe God has gifted us all in a variety of ways. He has gifted many of us with the ability to communicate with effectiveness and clarity. One of the ways we can use this gift is in the digital space (blogging, social media, etc.).

Many Christians are active in the digital space creating content that points people to Jesus. Some of us are only on social media, some of us blog a lot, but don’t hang out on social platforms much, and a good number of us are blogging and posting to social media often.

At LifeWay, my job is to work with about 15-20 authors and help them connect with their audiences online. I’m not in book marketing, really, meaning I am not helping authors market books.

Obviously I hope the authors I help can sell their books, but that’s not the focus of my work.

My job is focused on helping authors serve their readers online with the gifts God has given them. Ultimately, my prayer is that I serve the Church in her mission of making disciples by equipping gifted authors to proclaim the gospel online.

But I want to do that for more than just 15-20 authors because I love it so much.

Here’s Where You Can Join In

For the last year, I have had a super secret social media insider scoop email that has only been available to the 15-16 authors I coach and people associated with them.

But now I want to make that available to anyone who wants it.

Click here to see an example of the weekly email.

The first section includes some weekly introductory thoughts from me about any changes in social media policy or technology in the last week, and often any personal life updates I want to share with my authors.

I see the authors I work with as brothers and sisters in Christ, co-laboring in Great Commission work, before I see them as “business associates” or whatever. So, I often share about personal life happenings when it’s appropriate.

The second section is made up of three links of articles related to creating digital content that I think are helpful and have read throughout the last week. The topics vary and can include tips about using Facebook Live, strategies for titling blog posts, or mistakes to avoid on Twitter.

The third and final section is a list of trending events, upcoming holidays, or other timely items that may be used as fuel for timely blog or social media content. This section is important because timely content is helpful for many readers, but it can sometimes be difficult to pay attention to all of the timely events or happenings that may be worthy of a blog post.

Just the First Step of Something Bigger

There is absolutely no pressure to sign up for this weekly email. I just get a lot of questions from readers and friends of the blog about social media trends or strategy tips, so I thought I would make the once-super-secret social media strategy email available to everyone.

Opening up Content Made Simple to everyone is the just the first step of a bigger project coming soon.

Those who sign up for Content Made Simple will hear about the new project first!

So, if you’re interested, you can sign up by clicking here or filling out this form:

[yikes-mailchimp form=”2″]

3 Things I Learned on Vacation

Thursday, July 30th, my wife Susie and I left Nashville for our 2015 “vacation,” which consisted of me speaking at a conference in Peoria, IL, a couple of days in Fort Wayne, IN, a day at the Indianapolis Zoo, and about four days in Chicago.

It was a whirlwind of a vacation, but we both thoroughly enjoyed our much needed time away, and the time we had with friends and family was refreshing. The highlight for me was probably the Cubs game on Thursday night. Here’s a picture from our seats in the bleachers as the San Francisco Giants took batting practice:

image1 (3)

Everything about vacation was awesome, but getting to Wrigley is always special.

Here are three things I learned while on vacation:

1. The world doesn’t need me.

Shocker, right? But seriously, when I was on vacation, I was reminded of my minisculity in the grand scheme of work and life. Sure, I understand, the Lord has a purpose for me and knows the intricacies of how I might use the gifts he’s given me to show and share the gospel. At the same time, it is humbling and relieving to be reminded of how small of a role I truly play.

Americans take a horrifically small amount of vacation compared to the rest of the world, and while some of that is undoubtedly due to overwork, a good portion of it could be attributed to our idea that our business, organization, ministry, or otherwise would fall apart if we left the office.

The world goes on without me, and I am thankful vacation reminds me of this.

2. Life is best lived with email notifications turned off.

It’s tough, especially when you work in social media and blogging like I do, to get away from the “office.” Life goes on on the Internet even when you’re on vacation, which can make unplugging tough.

When I’m on vacation, I’m pretty good about not checking email unless I want to check it here or there. But, I never turn my email notifications off on vacation—I just ignore them.

This time around, though, I turned email notifications off, so I had to go into my Mail app to see any email. This was the best decision I’ve ever made on vacation. I still had the freedom to check email on occasion if I wanted with a minute to kill here or there, but it was kept from invading my vacation on its terms.

Turning off email notifications allows you to check email on your terms, not someone else’s. This is how life, not just vacation, was meant to be lived, and while I have turned email notifications back on for the time being, I may turn them off again soon.

3. The Sabbath was made for man, and it is good.

I usually do pretty well making time for a weekly “rest” Sabbath. Often, this is on Saturdays, as I try to spend Sunday evenings getting ready for the next week of schoolwork, etc. Saturdays are when I attempt to do no school or work tasks. Though, I admit, I do struggle with maintaining a “rest” Sabbath in certain times of year, primarily toward the end of a school semester.

Throughout July, I was finishing up two summer classes in my master’s program, doing two different contract work projects, writing for this blog three times a week, and a number of other random tasks. Between the mini-vacation over the Fourth of July and the end of the school semester July 31, I was really starting to feel burnt out. I needed time off the grid. Badly.

This is why I am not only in favor of a weekly Sabbath, but a yearly, or twice-yearly “Sabbath” of sorts. This is easy for me. I take a “vacation” or “Sabbath” of sorts at the end of each school semester. I don’t take time off of work necessarily, but I do try to disengage my mind as much as possible outside of work and make intentional time for rest and relaxation. This is nothing less than required for me as I juggle full time work, full time school, contract work, this blog, and other such tasks.

Vacation this past week reminded me that the Sabbath was, indeed, made for man, and it is very good.

I’m happy to be back in the saddle at work, here on the blog, and in school starting next week. Thanks for sticking around the blog. I hope to keep writing some helpful things here and there.