Update on Our Big Summer Giveaway
The Last Permaculture Giveaway Winners, and Our Move to Substack

Brunette Gardens Moves to Substack

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By Lisa Brunette

I've been a Substack reader for more than a year now, as some of my most trusted independent voices have migrated to the writer-friendly platform. There I've subscribed to their weekly missives, which I can opt to read either via the Substack mobile app or as an email newsletter, like the one I send to Brunette Gardens readers. The experience has been overwhelmingly positive. There are no ads to vie for my attention, and the writers can relax and go about the business of writing, following their own innate sense of what we readers want.

The other aspect of Substack I appreciate is that as a reader, I get to determine for myself which content to consume, absent any flags, disruptions, or outright bans coming from some corporate team of content moderators or worse - an AI bot. Anthony and I both find Big Tech and government censorship chilling. We believe that the biggest test of freedom of speech comes with the desire to silence voices you do not agree with, and on that front, those entities have colossally failed.

Will Substack be different? Only time will tell. I'm one of those people you might call an "early adopter" of technology - I joined Facebook and Twitter in the early days, back when I was a full-time journalist in 2007. It's worth noting that I ditched both platforms three years ago and haven't looked back. So it's not without a healthy dose of cynicism that I approach this transition.

I'm hopeful about Substack, though. Their values align with my own:

Building a better future for writing

We started Substack because we believe that what you read matters and that good writing is valuable.

Substack is not a social media platform, though. It's a publishing platform, one that allows writers to publish on a web-to-email newsletter interface with remarkable ease. Writers essentially become their own publishers, retaining copyright to all content. They also own their email lists.

Now let's talk about something most writers don't like to talk about: getting paid.

Writing is how I've chosen to earn a living, and that's been the goal since graduating with my BA in 1994. We writers have been on a roller-coaster ride for these past three decades, with the advent of the web in the 90s, the collapse of the newspaper industry in the late 2000s, and then the rise of social media utterly changing the online publishing landscape. The net results for writers have been mostly dismal, which is one of the reasons I left journalism 15 years ago for the relatively-greener pastures of game writing. As I showed in this piece, writer pay has not only not kept pace with inflation, it's pretty much the same as it was in 1944!

The truth about Brunette Gardens? It actually costs us money. So Substack's business model - an experiment that seems to be working - is another draw:

We believe that writers, bloggers, thinkers, and creatives of every background should be able to pursue their curiosity, generating income directly from their own audiences and on their own terms.

When readers pay writers directly, writers can focus on doing the work they care about most. A few hundred paid subscribers can support a livelihood. A few thousand makes it lucrative.

Readers win, too. By opting into direct relationships with writers, we can be more selective with how we consume information, homing in on the ideas, people, and places we find most meaningful.

After I transition Brunette Gardens to Substack, will we force you to buy a paid subscription in order to read our words? Nope. Much of the Brunette Gardens content will remain free via the Substack website and to regular subscribers. But we will hopefully have a reason to amp up our content creation, and some of the new stuff will be paywalled, for paid subscribers only, as will all our giveaways from now on.

The other exciting thing is, this new stuff will be more diverse - articles, yes - but also podcasts, videos (we've been chosen for the BETA test), discussion threads, and more. Here's the first podcast!

There's nothing for you as a reader to do during this transition. I'll migrate your newsletter subscription from Feedblitz over to Substack, and the only way you'll even notice is that the email newsletter will look a bit different. They will hopefully come more frequently, and they'll arrive with each regular post instead of in a sporadically-delivered digest of three. As always, you can unsubscribe at any time. 

If you're like me, you live your life through email enough as it is and would welcome the chance to cut that back. If that's the case, feel free to download the Substack mobile app (I love it!), where you can opt-out of email and instead keep up-to-date through your Substack inbox. 

This transition will happen as soon as we close out the summer giveaway on the website. We'll keep www.brunettegardens.com live for now, as this is an experiment, and we realize experiments sometimes fail. We can always move your subscription back to Feedblitz in that case. 

But we're hopeful about Substack helping us build a better future for the writing we do here, as it's both a duty and a passion. Wish us luck.

Questions about the transition to Substack? Leave them in the comments below.