A three part series giving writers tools to build an editorial strategy and a steady publishing drumbeat
Setting goals has been the biggest motivator and the best way to keep my schedule consistent and on track. I'm a fiction writer releasing a serialized novel, so some of this advice applies a little differently for writers doing similar work. But I have an overall goal of finishing the book within a year and smaller goals of chunking word count every 2-3 months and that makes everything far more manageable. Plus I reward myself with a mini writing retreat every time I hit my quarterly goal.
This is very good, but the biggest feature request I've pinged Substack with is exactly that: a workable editorial calendar.
Right now, between blog sections and podcasts, I have a mere list of manually created dates for scheduled publishing, etc. I then have to use my Google Calendar to manually create an editorial calendar on it so I can more easily visualize and make sure I'm regularly publishing content for the various sections and so forth. Ideally, you'd have a basic visual calendar, month view, perhaps, and we could drag and drop content and it would actually update the draft/publish date accordingly.
I've been blogging for over 20 years so I'm used to hacked and wonky methods to stay on track, but Substack is really pushing to be a comprehensive tool (and it is!!!); it absolutely needs even the most basic editorial calendar interface that updates the planning (draft) and publishing (scheduled) posts with visual drag-and-drop ease to make that final step.
This topic is so important!
-I thought and made notes and read lots of other Substackers for about a year before creating my own.
-I write because I breathe (born that way).
-I went paid from the jump.
-I publish 4 x week consistently; started August 2 of this year, so ~ 6 weeks in. Each publishing day is a distinct format, aka: Sunday essay, Monday quote, Wednesday Peeves Unleashed, Friday humor. I thought carefully through what I would be able to do, realistically, committed to the schedule. Three are pretty lightweight styles, and I use a template for now. The essay is the bigger lift.
-I put myself in my subscribers' inbox: what would I like to receive, how often, and on what day?
-I wrote a very clear intro about the why, my structure, paid versus unpaid, and subject matter.
-I am very much aiming for a "tangible virtual" community (see how my brain works? LMAO)
-I have 12 free and 0 paid to date, and I don't worry about it: All will grow organically through networking on SS, commenting and reading others' work, while discovering great stuff and people!
-I turned off any notices on un-subscribing.
-I write ahead, have drafts started with ideas that pop up, and sandbag an essay for a time when I run out of time.
-I try to write what inspires me for any given post, and will try to be aware of seasonal shifts, as well as ideas and world news.
-I remind myself not to take myself and everything so damn seriously, and fortunately have a once a week post that requires me to laugh.
-I think I will get one of those nose and glasses to keep on hand, and try to channel Groucho. His moustache is so much better than mine, though. But I refuse the cigar thing.
Cheers and lots of energy, everyone!
Oh! I forgot income! Yes, definitely income! Duh. From my About page:
"I can’t do it without you, because, let’s be honest, I need the income. I finally burned out in a flaming hot crispy pile of not-kissing-corporate-ass-any-longer-just-NO, leaving a regular job to restore what sanity I might aspire to regain. I’ve been and remain an entrepreneur at heart. Also, without you, I’m just talking to myself. It’s not a good look, walking around without any obvious signs I’m talking to another human, and the Bluetooth possibility only goes so far."
And a big thank you so much to the lovelies who <3 my contribution on this post. Back at ya!
Love how the Substack team provides such amazing resources for new writers.
We appreciate the effort 🙏🏻
What’s a goal?
Substack wants to be a movement. We have to make our own newsletters movements too! This requires incredible dedication, endless hours brainstorming, a good list of drafts and considerable discipline.
If you take this seriously as your full-time job, the simplest answer is revenue is your goal. That means not just quality writing the best you are capable of, but actual growth of your email list on a consistent basis and a business plan that makes it happen. This leads ultimately to a flywheel of digital products. You can one day live on.
Nobody can set your own goals for you. You need to set goals that are realistic and attainable and sets your consistency and niche in a good direction. This requires market research, collaboration and not just working for yourself. Overt time you find your goal is not just to be a writer but to be a creator.
It's not goals that you need, but a system and a bunch of tools to help you be more productive. It's more than just a writing habit when growth is your goal. You need to think of your newsletter as a startup and you are the first employee.
I think dreaming big here is extremely important. I wonder if that makes sense to anyone reading this.
I've written for years, but have failed to get into a groove here on Substack. I'm blaming the fact that The Good Husband retired and is always in town and in my house! (Yes, it's technically his house, too, but c'mon!) I'm also a grandmother now, which has changed my routines; but I'm feeling a void and I know I'm responsible. The people I love are not stifling my writing. That block was built by my failure to prioritize and set boundaries, unsurprisingly I think those two things create a lot of issues for many of us. So I'm taking back control and this three-part series is a good refresh and reboot for me to get back to what I know works.
My goals are simple:
1. Two-three regularly scheduled posts per week
- One original poem with background commentary
- One original painting or photo, accompanied by an essay or explanatory text
- In January, a weekly prompt with reader-submitted work and comments to build community
2. Build portfolio to prep for chapbook and manuscript submissions
3. Create audience and following
- 2,000 free subscribers
- 100 paid subscribers
Here we go, fellow writers!
All Best, KIM
I am 75 autistic and have learned how to write. I can't pretend to fit in but writing is about me not you.
I believe in evolution not devolution. Has anyone read Darwin? Survival of the fittest is not survival of the strongest. It is the survival of the luckiest. Fittest to fit in the best. The best at fitting in.
Natural selection is about beating the odds.
I write only for myself and welcome both distain and gratitude. I understand me and I like writing but I speak Moe and Moe is a genius at abstract mathematics and linguistics and not much else.
I have been watching a lot of Robbie Burns' On seeing a louse on a Lady's Bonnet in Church on youtube performed by a great Scottish Actor.
" O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!" Robbie Burns
If I am not me who am I? Should I lie to myself about who I am?
I don't know my price what is 30 pieces of silver in American dollars?
Goalsetting equals dopamine releasing -- brains are hardwired to love this, keep going keep going!
Habits are the building blocks upon which all the rest sits.
1) Create compelling, thought-provoking, and energizing content a large audience finds valuable enough to spend their time reading and spend their money subscribing.
2) Hone my authentic voice and crystallize who my reader base truly is.
3) Make my readers feel.
4) Go paid.
5) Continue to steadily and effectively grow my audience of subscribers, free and paid. My sights are to build a community of tens of thousands of free subscribers with a minimum of 10% paid.
6) Make a difference and set a good example for my children.
The tip is to make one word. Repeat until 10 minutes have finished. That’s the key to ignite the consistency needed.
This week begins my "get a post up once a week" schedule. I am building consistency again, which is critical to success on the platform.
Heya! If you’re in the mood to ponder the notion of goals, and why our goals often frustrate us, I wrote a post about it last June. This seems like a great place to share it.
I know this is a place to come and get information, but I'll throw this out there: I've written and published a piece for 150 consecutive days, and my stuff isn't lousy. Ask me things!
I have 3 substacks--my author newsletter, my craft newsletter for writers, & my Travel/paris newsletter. My challenge is keeping up with a consistent schedule on all of them. The most consistent is my craft newsletter THE caffeinated Writer, where I post the weekly “what to write this week” series.