Monday, March 5, 2018 

Outside partners with Substack for a newsletter about women’s gear

Today, Outside magazine is launching the first of a series of paid newsletters on Substack. It’s our first partnership with a major publication, and we’re hugely excited. The new newsletter is called Dawn Patrol and it’s about outdoor gear for women. Go ahead and subscribe.

Outside is launching Dawn Patrol as part of an effort to bolster its coverage of women’s products, but it also stands to be a handy new revenue stream. Subscribers get the newsletter for $5 a month or $60 a year (and early sign-ups get discounts from Moosejaw). Outside will invest every dollar earned from the newsletter into furthering its coverage of women’s gear.  

This partnership originated when Scott Rosenfield, Outside’s digital general manager, got in touch to see if we could help the publication launch a paid newsletter quickly and easily. We couldn’t have said yes faster. We love the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based Outside not only because of its storied history in journalism—it has been a home to Jon Krakauer, Annie Proulx, Sebastian Junger, and many other great writers—but also because of its fiercely independent attitude.

In recent times, Outside has taken positions that may have lost it some readers but certainly won it respect. In November, it posted a survey asking readers to report their experiences of sexual harassment in the outdoors, which led to a mix of mockery and criticism from some respondents but prompted it to publish a follow-up story with the headline, “Don’t care about sexual harassment? Don’t read Outside.” A week later, it called out US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke—fresh from shrinking Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument to allow for oil and gas exploration—for rigging his fishing reel backwards ahead of a photo op. It is also hell-bent on diversifying its pool of writers and coverage to better represent its readers, which means more emphasis on issues that matter to women. “Women aren’t banished to their own vertical,” wrote Nieman Lab in a recent profile of Outside, “they’re just everywhere, in a way that drives home how unusual it is to see actual gender equity in a publication.” Dawn Patrol is part of that push.

“We thought a lot about launching Dawn Patrol first,” says Rosenfield. “Our audience really wants more coverage of women’s gear, and we want to give it to them.”

The paid newsletter is more than a money-maker for Outside. It’s a new platform for storytelling that sits alongside its website and the magazine. “It’s an opportunity to tell stories in an email format that wouldn’t necessarily make sense on the web or in the magazine,” says Rosenfield.

While Dawn Patrol is written by Outside staffers, the publication plans to launch more Substack newsletters with freelance and contract writers with whom it will share revenue. That’s a neat match with Substack’s commitment to supporting independent writers, and it’s a reflection of Outside’s eagerness to embrace new ideas that serve its readers, contributors, and its own business similarly well.

“We’re a single-title publication and independently owned,” says Rosenfield. “Yeah, we’ve been around forty years, but if we want to be around for more than another forty we’ve got to be fast and smart.”

Subscribe to Dawn Patrol