Going Paid: Advice from Illyanna Maisonet, author of Eat Gorda Eat

We sat down with Illyanna Maisonet, who writes Eat Gorda Eat, a newsletter about the history and cuisine of the Puerto Rican diaspora, to share her reflections on launching a paid newsletter.

You've been writing about food for a long time, before you had a newsletter. What was the moment where you realized you had a significant readership?

I've been writing about food for ten years, and people still don't know who I am, or that I was a columnist at SF Chronicle. You never know how significant of a readership you have. You can't go by your social media numbers. And you can't really go by the fact that people you haven't spoken to in years call you out of the blue because they saw your name plastered all over the food publications. Sometimes they just show up to watch the drama unfold.

How did you know you were ready to launch paid subscriptions?

Is there a point when an artist should feel like they aren't worthy of being paid? I launched paid subscriptions the day I created a newsletter.

Walk us through your launch. How did you continue to grow your paid readership after?

I started my newsletter in May and by June, I had gone from 7K followers to 20K followers on Instagram. Obviously, the growth in numbers helped significantly, [but] it didn't matter to me because I launched the newsletter before I had the large following. I had a faithful group of readers that had been with me since the beginning, and their support is just as important. The day-ones are going to be your advocates.

You have to constantly remind followers about your newsletter; use social media to your advantage. People are too lazy to scroll more than a few swipes through your Instagram feed, read the captions in their entirety, and go to your profile to find the link they're asking you about.

If you're still writing new material, you'll still attract new readers. It's gotten to the point where my followers are more interested in my personal life than my work, and I reserve more of the intimate writings about my life with paid subscribers.

What advice do you have for writers who want to launch paid subscriptions, but are nervous about going all-in?

Nervous about what?! What's the worst thing that can happen from launching a paid subscription?

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