My track record makes me nervous on this one.
Gentle reader, I am a champion at starting new blogs or newsletters fresh with good intentions and ideas only to let them stagnate in a few short months, promising to update more and on a schedule only to have life get in the way. The dormant websites I have left in my wake probably only number in the tens, but it's still not ideal. I generally prefer treating blogs and newsletters as time-constrained efforts with a clear end date: over the course of a residency, for a particular project like serialized fiction, things like that. It feels more honest than the weird ongoing-ness of writing online now where I have to pretend that I am a publication (when I am, in fact, just me with no fact checker or editor or anything) and that it's somehow sustainable in the long-term to just have an ongoing solo publication on a platform that could come or go or become an untenable platform to use.
This website--named by using a domain I bought in one of my many late-night impulse domain name sprees over the years--is partly an attempt to set clear parameters on the more commerce-y side of my life, the one where I make artwork and write for money and things. I'd been doing this on Patreon for about five years prior, and had briefly flirted with doing a Substack last year for one of my niche research interests. I decided to set up this website, which is a self-hosted instance of Ghost, partly because of misgivings with both of those platforms that probably don't need to be repeated here. But the ongoing collapse of Twitter motivated me to finally actually set up a new site. I don't really expect a blog to help me stave off the professional losses of Twitter's diminishing relevance, but it does give me something else to do with my time instead of doomscrolling and wondering if I'll ever sell another book now that having a high follower count isn't a meaningful metric to publishers. (Also, publishing is fucked, this is another story and post to be written.)
What we'll be doing here:
- Selling wares. As of right now the wares available are relatively limited to stuff from my back catalogue and a yearlong mail art project. I'm thinking of adding one extremely expensive product that I honestly will kind of worry if someone wants to buy it, but who knows?
- Extremely low-key newsletters. There are two ongoing newsletters: one weekly (on Sundays), one monthly. They're both pay what you want.
- Later, short-term newsletters. I have some projects that I don't want to put out as open-ended things and would rather publish over time. This is a way to do that.
- Blogging. This will likely be irregular "everything else" type writing or process stuff. That's why I have a separate blog for my grad school work (which is not subscription-based but does have a tip jar, FWIW). I might do some posts about self-hosting Ghost and things I've learned in the process and some other technical posts? That's about it.
I've noticed that a lot of subscription-based online creators increasingly emphasize community as a value-add to their platform; no disrespect to that approach (I have a whole other blog post in drafts about this tendency) but I am really not inclined to take that extra step with this website. I already co-manage a Mastodon server for my friends; I do not really have the time or energy to be a community manager in my work life.
So, let's see how this goes.