Updates for a New Year
You might have noticed some changes here recently. If I've done my job well, readers of Good Words should be receiving monthly issues of the newsletter in their emails as usual. Backstage, however, things have been busy.
The short version is I've moved Good Words and my blog from Substack and Squarespace, respectively, and built them a home on the internet with Ghost, an independent and open-source CMS. I've gone from renting to homesteading, in a sense. You can read more about these choices here. The longer version is I'm hoping to make my writing a self-sustaining enterprise to which I can dedicate more and more time to growing.
With this in mind, I've started offering readers a way to support my writing. Notice that I didn't say "a way to pay for my writing" – it's an important distinction. Instead of simply exchanging money for content, or labouring for free, I want Good Words to become a supportive community, which is fittingly a major focus of my writing. Tim Carmody, writing at Kottke.org describes this model as 'unlocking the commons' and it works like this:
Fans support the person and the work. But it’s not a transaction, a fee for service. It’s a contribution that benefits everyone. Free-riders aren’t just welcome; free-riding is the point.
Good Words works similarly. While there are benefits to being a paying subscriber, the best (and most labour intensive) bits of Good Words are available to free subscribers. Essentially, Good Words runs on a patronage model. Readers who value the ideas and words I produce might choose to pay not to gain access but as a way of enabling the work and extending its reach.
These subscriptions constitute, in the words of one of my favourite newsletter writers, "a non-trivail form of support" to me, the writer. And while I want to make the best work available to everyone, I'm not opposed to sweetening the pot for those who help me pay my rent.
Here's how Good Words gates content:
In exchange for an email address, Free Subscribers get the flagship Good Words email, a monthly essay on a topic related to faith, technology, or simply being in the world in 20xx. Freely available to all are occasional blog posts which I will sometimes link to in newsletters but otherwise live on the homepage.
The pieces I write for free are by the far the pieces I spend the most time researching and agonizing over. They're meant to be insightful as well as helpful. I hope to offer more than "takes" but rather mine all the reading, listening, and living I do to help readers live coherent lives in an incoherent time.
For $5/month, paying subscribers get access to a GoodLinks edition of the newsletter once a month. GoodLinks issues are roundups of worthwhile reading on the web, often related to Good Words' major themes but not always. The links come with a bit of commentary and I'll often include a photo shot on my old Canon AE-1.
In addition to curated reading recommendations, monthly subscribers also get access to a private Good Words server on Discord, where I'm doing my best to cultivate a thoughtful community. It's a space for asking questions and following rabbit trails of thought. So far it's been a place where readers and myself have sought to work through the implications of ideas shared in the newsletter and report on how we're applying them in our own lives. It's also a place where I'm not afraid to be wrong, which anyone doing things publically on the web knows is a gift.
These are best described as patrons, and I thank you all. Yearly subscribers pay the equivalent of $10/month for no additional bonuses, and I carry around a staggering amount of gratitude for their support.
Yearly subsribers receive all the benefits of Monthly subscribers with the minor convenience of paying once for the year.
Thanks for reading
Between paper notebooks and the internet, I wrote more in 2020 than I ever have. I have plans to write even more in 2021, and your support is a priviledge and blessing, both which I hope to steward well.