Remember that a huge portion of the "rest of the newspaper" is straight-up overhead relative to the goal of "produce the most compelling possible writing about X."
If you do Substack (etc) you aren't paying for the ad sales reps, HR department, capex on the facilities, etc.
This isn't a problem unique to newspapers; only a quarter of every dollar spent by a software company makes it into the product, if that. Marketing, Sales, G&A don't come cheap.
Granted, as a Substack/etc writer, you get to do your own marketing/sales. The expectation that a lot of people have is Just Write More And Better and this takes care of itself.
I would bet against that, having done marketing/sales for software for a long time.
But I bet anyone capable of writing a newsletter people wants to read is also capable of e.g. organizing a podcast tour without having to have a team of brand professionals on deck to help with messaging for podcast tours, etc.
You can get an awfully long way as a public intellectual without having a more complicated marketing strategy than:
95% of time: increase surface area of public intellectualism
5% of time: figure out how to get your biggest fans to pay a lot more money.
You can follow @patio11.
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