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When I wrote to you a month ago, I was a bit nervous.
You might remember the email. I explained how much I enjoy writing essays and takes on this Substack, and how I’d love to write more.
The challenge, however, is that writing takes time. And though I was mulling launching a premium subscription tier, I wasn’t sure whether or not the numbers added up, from a business perspective.
I was nervous because when sending that last email, I was doing something dangerous, and expressing something approximating sincerity on the internet. That’s very rarely a good idea.
The “dream”, as I called it, was that I could find enough people to pre-pledge their subscription to pay for, essentially, one day a week of my time so I can spend it writing here.
And now one month on, something has changed. It turns out, my readers are amazing.
I’ve been slightly overwhelmed to see that on seeing my call for pledges, a whole bunch of you have stepped up and put your money where your clicks are.
It’s weirdly both humbling to know that so many of you value my writing enough to pay for it, and yet at the same time, a massive ego-massage. Particularly as pre-pledgers are able to leave a message when they pre-pledge, so for the past four weeks I’ve been receiving pledge notifications from people saying how they like my work.
And it is only because of your incredible support, I can announce that next week I’ll be launching a premium-subscription tier. So you can expect more blazing hot takes, and essays with clickbait headlines and annoyingly sensible opinions below, on a much more regular basis.
I’ll be covering the same extremely wide-range of topics I do now, but roughly centred on politics, policy and nerdy details. Over the last few years, I’ve written about transport, housing, the media, energy, and much more. And I intend to continue advocating for the increasingly unironically named O’Malleyist view that we need to actually build our way to a better future.
So basically, if you like my stuff – then I’m going to do more of the same. And I’d really like you to join me.
How it’s going to work
Here’s the plan going forward. You might have noticed that over the last month, I’ve been writing one big essay a week. In this time, I’ve written about:
This is a posting cadence I intend to continue. And my thinking is that it’ll be alternating week-to-week between paid posts and free posts.
In addition to this, premium subscribers will receive my newsletter-within-a-newsletter, Odds and Ends every week, rounding up interesting links, stray smaller takes and other ephemera. This will be premium only going forward. You can read the first three editions here, here, and here. There will be one final free one tomorrow.
In terms of small-print, I reserve the right to not quite stick to the weekly schedule, if something dramatic happens and I want to wade in, or circumstances dictate that I can’t finish that week’s post in time. And I’ll also be taking a few short breaks throughout the year, like any normal person who takes annual leave might. No one wants to read 2000 words about postcodes at Christmas, anyway, right?
Also no promises, but I will also attempt to irregularly throw subscribers other bonuses, such as interviews with my favourite nerds, and maybe some guest posts down the line. And if I ever get to a point where I host any events, premium subscribers will get first dibs on any tickets1.
Oh, and one final thing. I’m going to shamelessly steal an idea from the excellent Jonn Elledge. Though I am turning on the paywall on half of my posts so I can earn (part) of a living, I also recognise that not everyone is in a fortuitous financial situation. So if you’d like to continue reading my stuff, but can’t afford to pay (if you’re unwaged, or just struggling and want to make your life worse by reading long politics takes), just email me and I’ll give you a year for free. No questions asked2.
So that’s where I’m currently at. I’ve now got, approximately, enough pre-pledges for a minimum-viable operation, where the income amounts to what I consider worthwhile to do for one day a week. And on Monday, I’ll be pulling the trigger officially and pressing the scary looking “activate payments” button in my Substack settings.
And I hope that if you haven’t pre-pledged yet, that I’ll eventually persuade you to subscribe too. In fact, why not give yourself the gift of my content right now, by clicking this subscribe button and signing up?
And whether you pre-pledge, subscribe or not, I want to once again thank you for reading my stuff. It’s very exciting to write my opinions on the internet and have people take them seriously. And I’m looking forward to doing even more of this in the future!
I’ve somewhat seriously looked into holding a one day DIY O’Malleyism conference some time this autumn. I’m not sure it is going to happen for various reasons, but you never know down the line.
Though I will judge you if you’re a retired home owner or a buy-to-let landlord.