How About This - the eighth month update
Reflecting on 8 months of this newsletter
Every month I publish an update about the state of the newsletter and this is the end of the 8th month of publishing How About This. The next detailed statistical update will be at the end of January 2023, where you can see the history of how this newsletter has grown since its beginning in May 2022.
This update is going to be more verbose and behind the scenes focused than usual!
By the Numbers
If you’d like a reference point for comparison, please refer to the month six update.
Traffic: views dropped significantly, from about 19 K to about 13 K (note that sometimes a visitor may generate multiple views against a single post, so the numbers are somewhat inflated). I don’t really know why the numbers are down this much but I have a few theories:
I posted four fewer times in December than I did in November, which was surely a factor.
I’m not getting much traffic from The Sample at the moment.
There weren’t any specific posts which received a lot of social media traffic (I received a lot of traffic and subscribers viaby in November, which was WONDERFUL, so this month will be a bit lower in any event).
I did less promotional and outreach work, plus I’m no longer using Twitter.
I have some other thoughts about traffic that I’ll share a bit later.
Subscribers: there are 758 subscribers as of the end of December, which is an increase of about 40 subscribers since last month. As I noted above, I received a large number of subscribers via Jillian Hess in November. I have a feeling that an average of 7 - 10 net new subscribers/week seems like normal growth unless there are more events like these.
Open Rate: my open rate ranged from 42% - 50% this month, down a bit but still good for a newsletter that posted 3 - 4 times per week.
Substack Recommendations: up to 45, one new one this month. Thank you!
By the Words
New posts reliably received 600 - 700 views. The most popular was the interview with Summerside, PE bookshop owner Nancy Quinn.
All of this month’s interviews were good but I want to call out the great interview response from DB (Dane Benko):
Of my own writing, I thought this post was fun and it seemed to resonate well with readers:
I also experimented a bit with the new Substack Chat function this month, posting questions or small bits of information. I’ll probably use the Chat a couple of times per week or when I think of something interesting to share. Thanks to everyone who has responding to any of the Chat messages!
By the Gut Feel
This is a new section where I’m going to share less quantifiable thoughts and feelings.
This felt like an off-month to me and I don’t just mean the drop in views. I don’t feel that I brought enough great material (plenty of adequate or good stuff, I think, just very little that really stood out) to the newsletter in December. If I look back on December I don’t think I published anything that matched this post, as an example, which I feel was my best post in 2022:
Behind the scenes, a few things were happening:
On the day job front I switched to a very dynamic new project (really more of a program) while trying to finish off key deliverables for another that I’d been working on for almost a year. In case you can’t tell (or if I haven’t mentioned it before), I’m a project manager. There were lots of new things in work life that took my time and energy. Plus I really need to finish my PMP recertification within the next two months…
I need to adopt some better habits (nutrition, exercise, etc.) - I’ve been neglecting this for too long and my mid-aged body is complaining. I also injured one of my big toes a few weeks ago and the recovery seems slower than I expected.
I found two new interesting sources of finding people to question and interview now that I’m not on Twitter anymore. It created a great pipeline but managing that pipeline took a bit more time and energy than I was expecting.
I finally had to admit that I need to SLOW DOWN and not publish 4 times per week. Effective Jan. 1, 2023, it’s going to be a maximum of 3 days of planned posts for week and I might even cut back to two.
Like many other people there was some of the rushing around that comes with the Christmas holiday season so that definitely had an impact, both in my writing but also my overall reading. I expect many other people were also experiencing this, too.
This may seem like a list of excuses and it’s not intended to be. I’m the person who decides whether or not to publish here so if I publish something that feels inadequate or half baked then that’s on me. But these things definitely had an impact on how I felt and that in turn would have impacted my output.
And perhaps I’m out of the “honeymoon” phase of starting a newsletter and hitting another of those plateaus that most of us experience.
The good news: much of this is normal and it’s OK! I’ve enjoyed Christmas and the days leading up to New Year’s Day (I took them as vacation days) and I’m feeling more rested and relaxed. I’m also going work on establishing better habits and nuking some of the bad ones (a few other people seem interested in collaborating on this, perhaps you will be as well?)
I’ve read the work of so many other great newsletter writers and while sometimes it’s daunting to be working in the same virtual space as them it’s been rewarding to get to interact with some of them and they always provide examples to aspire to.
Paid Subscriptions Update
I’m going to start experimenting with content for paid subscribers only in 2023. This will be in addition of the normal content that I’ll be publishing 2 - 3 times per week. It won’t be on a regular schedule and there might not be a lot but I’m going to try a few things and see how they go.
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere the nights are long but slowly, ever so slowly, the tide is turning and every day we’re earning back a minute or two of daylight. The festive season is ending for many of us in the Western world and a new calendar year has started (you’ll be reading this on January 1, 2023).
I’m looking forward to sharing more with you in 2023! I’ll be announcing the winner of the December MOO notebook draw very soon! And since January is Month 9 and the end of another H.A.T. quarter… yet another notebook draw: this time it will be a Dingbats* notebook! One lucky H.A.T. subscriber will win that notebook if they are a subscriber at the end of January 2023!
All the best to you as we start another calendar year!
That’s it for the month eight update. Thanks so much for your support, regardless if you are a new or long time reader. And, as always, it’s better to be a H.A.T.T.E.R.1 than a hater.
Once a month I will remind you that paid subscriptions are a great way to show support for this newsletter - this is your reminder!
H.A.T.T.E.R. - How About This Terribly Enthusiastic Reader