The Anniversary Edition: All the Fanfare Turns 1
Looking back, looking forward, and looking gooooooood 😎
I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started this newsletter.
I initially started the newsletter because I’d been collecting email addresses for a while and decided maybe I should finally reach out and touch someone. I don’t know how you are, but I don’t go around leaving my email address on bathroom stalls. It’s on a need-to-know basis, and most people don’t need to know. I’m very Ron Swanson with my personal deets.
I reasoned that if someone took the time to provide their email, it probably meant they wanted to hear from me on the regular. So I guess a latent sense of guilt was the initial motivating factor, which is pretty much my standard operating procedure. I was (briefly) raised Catholic, and that sense of needing to atone never really leaves, does it?
That’s not entirely true, actually.
What finally motivated me was a growing frustration with my inability to reach my followers with my latest stories. I’m not even necessarily talking about social media. I did most of my writing on Medium, a platform predicated on surfacing great writing. Minimally, it would seem to behoove Medium to make sure someone’s followers see their latest. But that’s not actually how it works.
I have over 40k followers on Medium. Don’t be impressed. It literally means nothing.1 Often, I’m lucky if 40 of those people show up for a story. It’s not that they don’t want to read my stuff, per se—though it’s possible they’re tired of lightsaber penis analogies—but more that Medium doesn’t make it easy for them to find or see it.
Frustrated that I was entirely beholden to a platform, I decided to finally do something about it. So I created a Substack—then cleverly called Eric’s Newsletter, or something equally lame—and imported my list of 37 subscribers.
The first few posts were more of what I’d been publishing: humorous pop culture essays. It dawned on me that a newsletter begs for a more personal touch. People sign up because they want more, and a sizable portion of that wanting is wanting more of me. The full monty, as it were. Thus, the first Friday High 5 went out on December 16.
It’s interesting looking at that post for the first time in almost a year. The format is largely the same, but newer editions are much longer. Like most writers, I like to hear myself talk. (He says as he notices this post is already pushing 500 words.)
It strikes me that this might be a good time for some quick feedback.
I’ve published 88 posts since starting this newsletter, which works out to about 3 posts every 2 weeks. I’m still not entirely sure what the ideal cadence is. When in doubt, I’ve leaned toward posting less often, and have tried to make those posts more meaningful. The last thing I want is to clog up anybody’s inbox or make reading these posts feel like a to-do.
In February, I purchased the domain allthefanfare.com and secured web hosting, and moved this newsletter to the new domain.
Initially, I thought the new site might be a varsity version of the Medium publication I’d been running. There are lots of creator-run sites popping up these days, and I envisioned something similar. Find a handful of like-minded people and blaze our own path. That idea is still something that gives me a great deal of excitement, but the work required to get something off the ground has cooled my initial ambition. It’s still something I think about, but for now I’m just going to be a company of one.
In the past year, I’ve tried different things with the newsletter to see what resonated. News. Previews. Reviews. Personal essays. Silly articles. Based on feedback (likes and comments), I’ve gravitated toward using the newsletter for 4-5 minute essays or reviews. Anything longer goes to the website. The other stuff didn’t really move the needle.
As I write this, I sit at 389 subscribers, a 951% increase from one year ago.
I was quietly hoping to end the year at a nice round 500, but that percent increase is pretty darn nice.
Before I pivot to look ahead, I want to take a minute to thank every single one of you reading this right now. I started the newsletter with the vague notion a few dozen people might like it. I’m genuinely awed so many people find value in my work. It really means the world to me.
Unlike year 1, I have plans for year 2. Schemes, even.
I’m starting to feel self-conscious about how long this post is getting, so I’ll try to hit the highlights.
One of my favorite things about Substack is the community of writers here. I wrote on Medium for 5 years and never really found anyone as Star Wars crazed as I am. I found 10 such writers in my first day on Substack.
There are a lot of crazy-talented writers writing about pop culture here. And I’ve
tricked coerced somehow become friends with many of them. Starting in 2024, I’ll be sharing guest posts on this newsletter from some real bangers.
Shoot me an email if you are interested in collaborating!
I’m starting a “line” of nerd clothing. Imagine a world in which you could buy a shirt with one / all of the Ex-President masks on it.
Or Nixon’s butt from Point Break, even.
One of the perks of having a paid tier means I’ll be able to offer discounts.
I need to do some legwork on this, so this is still months away. But it is coming!
Speaking of the paid tier: the referral rewards now have monetary value as they unlock access to paid content. I’m also sorting out the economics of offering free merch at the highest levels.
I don’t have concrete plans in this area yet, but I am planning on running some giveaways for subscribers. Vague ideas include prize packages around milestone subscriber targets and digital copies of movies related to pieces I’m working on. The latter will probably happen soon, maybe even this month.
Looking gooooood 😎
It’s only been a few weeks since I opened up a paid tier and I’m still rather awed at the initial response. I thought I might just get my parents signed up, which honestly would just make me feel guilty because they’re still in debt from feeding me as a teenager. 5 or 6 people beat them to the punch, which I guess just means my mom isn’t actually my biggest fan. I’d rather know that now then when the will is being read.2
Since I just so casually brought it up, a quick reminder that annual plans are currently on sale for $35.
In closing: Thank you again for your support and readership. I am bursting with ideas I want to write about. Whether you’re a paid supporter or not, my goal is to entertain you.
Thank you for trusting me with your inbox.
My Medium follower count is a function of longevity (5 years on the platform), a steady output of good writing, and a clear byproduct of running a fairly high profile publication. I can’t rank those variables exactly, but my guess is they’re driven by the publication first, then platform longevity, and then the writing. Which is kinda depressing.
There’s really only one thing I’m concerned about getting: the good stocking holder, as opposed to its unsightly mate. It’s my right as the eldest! It’s in the bylaws. (This is a family in-joke that 4 people reading this will understand. The gist is my brother and I “fight” every year over one stocking holder. It’s tradition.)