Why I chose Substack to document 12 Products in 12 Months
Why not a Wordpress blog, a notion page or a medium account
I like what I'm doing, releasing 12 Products in 12 Months.
But it will be so much better to do it with good results, of course.
Recently I have been dealing with a dilemma that seems simple, but that must make all the difference between working on "a cool idea" or "making a living from my art".
The dilemma is:
I want to document what I'm learning in the process and this behind-the-scenes view. I know it's valuable.
Should I do this through a blog or through a newsletter?
You already know the answer to this, but come and understand why
Lists and Checklists
I thought a lot about it. I started with a small list of pros and cons but quickly realized that this was not very structured. I evolved the list of pros and cons to an evaluation checklist, with specific criteria to consider:
Set up and maintenance
public Notion page, Mailchimp [and similar] or Substack
Content management for multiple projects
Notion did well again, Wordpress was fine, Substack was not very impressive, but still doable
Substack takes the cake here, give it's discoverability features
This was a tie between Wordpress and Substack. WP is not easy, Substack can get expensive when large. A luxury problem I'll solve later on
Funnels and Automations
Mailchimp and similar are the best here. Too bad they don't score much in any other category
The only criterion where Substack clearly won was Growth Focus. And you're reading this on a Substack page, so you know what happened. But let me show you the thinking behind it.
Walking with Lions
Distribution is an essential part of this whole venture. It is absolutely necessary for me to be able to get my ideas to people who are interested in them. In fact, it is perhaps the most important piece: a crude product with excellent distribution will always get some sales. An excellent product with amateur distribution will not get anywhere.
Unfortunately, the logical conclusion of this observation is to understand the reason why there are so many businesses that are 80% marketing and 20% product / service. It simply makes sense if the goal is just sales.
However, my goal with the 12 Products in 12 Months is to demonstrate to the market that I am good at Product and not just selling random things. *
That's why I need to find a balance between excellent products and at least competent distribution.
Social networks and content platforms (e.g. Medium or Substack) depend on content creators to feed them. And as they want users continue to spend as much time inside (consuming the content of the creators), the platforms and social networks have an incentive to match content and audience.
When you have the goal of finding an audience for your content and at the same time there is a billion dollar company that has the goal of finding content for an audience, the incentives are aligned.
Creating content on a platform or social network is therefore the best way to get new readers / followers.
But there is a trade-off: LinkedIn gives you access to millions of people, but it is the owner of the relationship. LinkedIn can penalize your posts, showing them to fewer people or even deleting you. All platforms and social networks are like this.
Then it all becomes a matter of timing: at what moment am I with my project to launch 12 Products in 12 Months? Is it growth time or is it go pro time?
The first 3 criteria are related to putting the distribution machine in motion, reaching more people and gradually understanding who is interested in what I'm doing.
The last 2 criteria in are about scaling something that has already been proven. It doesn't make sense for me to waste a lot of time setting up big funnels, when I'm still launching products that I need to understand if they make sense.
At this moment, the top three criteria are the ones that can help me most to increase my reach. And at this time, they are more crucial for my success.
What is Substack
Substack is this, where you're reading this text. A tool designed for content creators. It has the following characteristics:
it is part newsletter (people sign up and put their email, which you have access to and can export, if you want to leave substack)
it is part blog (you can leave previous editions of the newsletters, available to those who came later. They can also be organized by sections)
it is part social network (people can comment on posts, follow authors and share)
very important it is part distribution engine (substack has hundreds of thousands of newsletters and allows people to find newsletters that are aligned with their interests).
Possible future headaches
No decision solves all problems forever. In the current context, my decision is Substack, but this brings some future challenges that I still don't know how to solve:
how will I integrate email collection on the pages I created on Carrd with the Substack mailing list (the tools I use today don't talk to each other)
As soon as I have multiple products going on, can substack handle it?
Substack is clearly more famous outside Brazil. Will I focus on English content? What about things that probably have a more primed audience in Brazil?
The irony of writing this on Substack is not lost on me. In this sense you can already see that I'm treating it as blogging tool, documenting my decisions and I've made them.
Thank you for reading why I chose Substack as my home on the internet. Hope to see you around!