Millstones & Milestones
The state of the Wordloaf, mid-2022 edition
It’s been awhile since I’ve taken some time to reflect upon the state of this newsletter and shared my thoughts about where it’s currently at and where I hope to take it in the future. It’s maybe not obvious, but Wordloaf, the Newsletter, remains very much a work-in-progress, and is but a fraction of what I think it has the potential to be, once I have the time and resources to devote to it that I hope to one day.
While the newsletter is, from day-to-day, the focal point of my work, it’s hardly a full-time gig. Right now, the income generated from paid subscriptions only covers about a third of what I need to pay the bills, which is why I only spend about a third of my time working on Wordloaf. I make up the difference in income and work hours developing recipes, writing, taking photographs, and testing recipes for other venues—Serious Eats, King Arthur Baking, Edible Boston, and Anova, among others—and teaching workshops, online and in-person.
(While all the freelance work I am doing is something of a grind, if I am being honest, it’s also fun much of the time, especially since I am usually working on projects that I proposed in the first place. The problem is not so much the work itself, but the too-muchness of it right now.)
My goal is to one day invert that ratio, so that I can spend the majority of my time here and maybe the remaining third or so doing interesting freelance work. I’m not there yet, but I am getting closer, inch by inch, thanks to all of you who have been willing and able to support my work with a paid subscription so far. Recently, Wordloaf passed two key milestones in both subscriptions and income thanks to all of you:
First: We recently passed the 1000-subscriber mark. Right now there are 1012 paid subscribers, out of a total of 7439 on the entire email list. Of course, 1000 is just a number, but nevertheless crossing that line feels significant.
More importantly: As of last week, I finally paid back the $25k advance I received when I was chosen to be a Substack fellow in September 2020, which means that I now take home a much greater percentage of subscriber fees than I did before. Here’s why: normally, Substack takes a reasonable 10% off the top of subscriber fees, but until the advance was paid back, they were taking a whopping 50%1. Now that the advance has been paid off, I get to keep 90% of what you all send in, which will make a big difference in how much time I can devote to the newsletter.
I am enormously grateful to everyone who has chosen to support my work here with a subscription, and I hope you feel that you have gotten your money’s worth. As I mentioned above, I am just getting started here, so things are only going to improve, now that I can focus on it further.
While subscribers get a panoply of benefits here—subscriber-exclusive recipes, discounts on workshops and merchandise, a free packet of sourdough starter, and a chance to win a free ticket to the 2022 Kneading Conference—their subscriber fees get used to produce all of the content here, free or otherwise. Which means that if you appreciate what I am up to here and haven’t yet joined up, please do if you can.
As I did last year, I’ll be taking August off from publishing here for some much-needed R&R (and to work on that br#@d b*%k proposal I hinted at earlier, another possible source of funding for more newsletter content), but I have a lot of good things to share with you before I head to the beach, so stay tuned. (This year around, I’ll likely be sharing the occasional post even while “on break”, because there are some timely things I want to get out to you in August.)
To paid-subscribers: I know I am behind in sharing June’s subscriber-only recipe. I wanted to reassure you that it is coming, but I had some more testing to work out before sharing it. Which means that you’ll definitely be getting two subscriber-exclusive recipes in July, and probably even a bonus one in August, despite me being out-of-office all that month. So thank you for your patience with it, I promise it will be worth the wait.
I’m not complaining, mind you! I was glad the fees were so high, since it allowed me to pay back the advance as quickly as possible while still leaving me with something at the end of the day.