12 min read

TLDR

homeculture is moving to Substack. There are community features!  (We’ll be able to talk to one another!) and lots more content.

(Please read the whole post, to find out why, how and why I agonized over the why and how.)

Here’s what this means immediately for your unpaid and paid subscriptions!

I get to keep my email list. So everyone - free subscribers and now formerly paid subscribers - will keep getting my newsletters.

If you are a paid member of homeculture, your paid subscription has been canceled. I can’t move paid subscriptions across platforms. You'll need to get a new paid subscription at my Substack. I canceled each sub individually to make sure they were all REALLY canceled. Which was incredibly scary - saying goodbye to your living $5 at a time. lolsob. If in the next month, it seems that I missed yours! Email me! meg@megconley.com

Free subscribers: You keep getting the free weekly newsletter. (Except for now, it’ll actually be every week.)

Monthly Paid Subscribers: You get all the free content plus a free month of paid subscriber access to the new site. Just a tiny token of my appreciation for your help. You’ll get an email with the link for the 30 day trial later tonight.

Yearly Paid Subscribers: It doesn’t matter when your year-long subscription started, you are each getting a new year-long subscription with today as the start date. It’ll go live tonight. Thank you so much for your support.

Okay now the L part of the TLDR

When I started homeculture, I thought it’d probably end up being a party without guests. I thought I’d send out the invitations, get all dressed up, have the flowers on the table and the balloons tied to the stair banister and then…no one would come. I was ready to be left alone with a couple sandwich platters and a three-tiered cake. But then you came. You filled this place. Some of you walked in alone, some came skipping in with linked arms. There are over 7,000 of you subscribed to this newsletter. I can’t believe it.  And there’s still more coming in all the time.

I was ready to be left alone with a couple sandwich platters and a three-tiered cake.

As we’ve all settled in, I’ve realized we’re missing a few things.  I love the platform the newsletter has been on, but it lacks robust community features. I can’t afford to build those features. You can’t talk to one another. There’s not a good way for me to have a conversation with you. So it’s not really a house party like I envisioned, it’s more like a lecture hall. I send out newsletters and you receive them.

There’s nothing wrong with lecture halls. But I always wanted this newsletter to feel more like a living room. Sometimes I just want to tell you a funny story about my life and ask you about your life. And I want you to be able to do that for each other too. I want homeculture to be a collaboration between you and me, you and everyone else. It's been hard to keep producing content without you to challenge and collaborate with me.

Without community built into the newsletter, I’ve had to rely on social media to be in a community with you all. I can’t keep leaning on Meta/Instagram and Twitter for community features. Meta and Twitter are built on virality and algorithms - the opposite of community building.

I want to publish more conversational posts and more vulnerable posts. And more tongue-in-cheek commentary on the home.

The first newsletter going out from my Substack next week is a great example of what I mean - a treatment of the Christy Dawn Spring catalog. I am both repelled by and totally entranced by this brand. I hope interrogating this catalog as a cultural artifact will help me understand why I feel so...mixed up. I hope comments from paying subscribers help me understand too! (WE'RE GOING TO HAVE REAL LIVE DISCUSSIONS ON NEWSLETTER POSTS I AM STILL SO EXCITED JUST THINKING ABOUT IT!)

(And yeah. Riley accidentally threw the catalog away yesterday. I started crying when I realized that because I thought it’d been picked up in this week’s trash collection. I hadn’t taken the photos for the post yet. He went through the trash bin to find it. It was there! Newsletter saved!)

Let's Talk Newsletter Numbers with Real Transparency

This newsletter has over 7000 subscribers. It moves between a 70% and 75% open rate. Which means almost 3/4 of my subscribers open my newsletter each time it hits their inbox. Oh my gosh. Thank you. That's really quite high!

548 of my subscribers are paid subscribers. (They haven’t gotten anything extra for all that support in this iteration of the newsletter. And I just can’t let that keep going.)

Until yesterday, my monthly recurring revenue was $2581. (That’s a little more than I need for childcare each month! It was amazing to hit that number!!!)

To make this move, I had to cancel all my paid subscriber’s payments, so my monthly revenue is now $0. This is terrifying! But the people supporting my work financially deserve to get more for their support. Sometimes we need to do terrifying things to build better things.

Here’s what everyone - paid and unpaid - gets at the new home of homeculture

Every subscriber keeps getting the free weekly newsletter! It’ll just now come from Substack.

The free weekly newsletter will continue to be a mix of reporting, research, memoir, odd home-based fixations, and home history narratives. When you read my work and share my work, you are supporting me. Thank you.

You can now read the newsletter in this accessible app, which is something many of you have asked me for in the past. I could never have developed something like this on my own. I also love how the app allows me to create a reading list of my favorite Substack writers like Roxane Gay, Anne Helen Petersen, Darrell Owens, Virginia Sole-Smith, Lyz Lenz, Chris La Tray, Ashley C Ford, Brandon Taylor, Allison Lichter and Lane Anderson.

A second weekly essay with recommended links, book reviews, recipes, and my thoughts that are too messy or vulnerable to just send out to just anyone. Rants, raves, reviews and recommendations.

Full access to the newsletter archive.

A Monthly Ask Meg Column!  I'll use reporting and research to answer your most random, earnest, wandering wonderings about the objects, tradition, science, history, and stories of home. And yeah, you can ask questions about me too…if that’s something you want to do. I’ll always be as frank as I can be.

I am so excited about this...want to submit a question right now?! GO FOR IT!

Community in the form of weekly discussion threads and the ability to comment on posts.

It’s this community building that matters the most to me. I have large communities on social media. I can’t write about the systemic extractive exploitation of home while making my readers vulnerable to algorithmic extractive exploitation in their homes.

As the letter community grows, I’ll be able to become less dependent on social media platforms. Every subscription - paid and unpaid - make my work less dependent on social media platforms.

I can’t wait to talk with you in this space. I want homeculture to be a place where you find one another, not just me. I can’t wait to see what you make and unmake together.

If you can't afford to be a paid subscriber because you are an unpaid or underpaid care worker, gig worker, or student? Or experiencing economic insecurity for other reasons? It’d be my pleasure to gift you a paid subscription. Just email me and we’ll get you set up.

If you’d like to gift a paid subscription to someone you know, you can click here. To donate a paid subscription to to one of my readers experiencing economic insecurity, click here. Thank you.

Why become a paid subscriber?

Work in the home and work about the home has value. But our culture teaches us that both should be underpaid or unpaid labors of love. I love the work I do here. And. I need to pay for the childcare, housing, food, utilities, and mental health support that makes my work possible.

The other day Instagram offered me the option to start making money from my Reels. They pay you based on the number of people who watch your videos. It's all an incentive to make videos that will go viral. And it was tempting! But I don't want to earn a living with reels and other monetizations of virality.

When you decide to become a monthly or yearly paid subscriber, you pay me for my work, not my ability to go viral. That makes my best work possible. I promise to keep working to make your work - in and out of the home - possible too.

This wasn’t an easy decision.

I’ve searched for the past two years and can finally report there is no perfect place for my work to exist. Still. I really agonized over this decision. I think this thread sums up some of my feelings.

Here it is on Twitter -

Here it is in plain old text -

Desperate to stop using social media (IG+Twitter) to build community b/c surveillance capitalism. Currently publish w @Ghost - doesn't support community building. @SubstackInc has the best, least easily abused in-newsletter community tools. I was up all night fretting.

All platforms are bad. The ones driven by viral-seeking algorithm, like social media, are worse. In the next 5 yrs (or less) I will not be able to justify being on social media in any form. But a girl has got to get her work read to you know...keep working.

I left @substack a little over a year ago. I really love the @Ghost mission. I've struggled along with it's technical complexity (complex for me, I'm a luddite) because I didn't want to be on someone else's platform.

But I can't afford to code the things I need into it, and it doesn't seem like they'll be offering those things anytime soon. So staying on @Ghost means I'm becoming MORE reliant on Twitter and Instagram. Which is unacceptable.

People gather around my work on IG. They talk about care work, capitalism, social justice. But because the conversations happen on that platform, they're all being mined for predictive behavioral products, while they are really just trying to commune.

They're also being subjected to an algorithm that is the enemy of even the potentiality of a socially just world. Harassment of girls, women, trans people and non-binary people is turbo charged by IG and Twitter algorithms.

I haven't been able to write on my newsletter for a month because I am so torn up about it. My newsletter is the place where I am the most likely to make money in a way I think is ethical - for my words instead of data mining or virality.

I think I need to move to a platform with community features to make that  sustainably true. But there's no non-problematic platform that has that. (There's no non-problematic *anything* in a capitalist system, tbf. And like, what the heck capitalism.)

When I publish in a legacy publication, I don't expect to agree with all of the writers/editors. And those publications perform SO MUCH data mining while using my work for clicks. All while paying writers much, much less.

So I'm trying to understand why moving away from @Ghost is fraught. Substack has many real problems, but not more than Meta-owned IG. Their shitposting doesn't help. Like that Elon Musk tweet from their VP of Comms. @SubstackInc is playing the viral game I am trying to escape.

Summer Brennan is a great writer, btw.

Still. Over at @Ghost I depend on exploitative platforms - my payment processing system, social media, and the internet itself - to do the writing work that asks us to confront those systems.

It's possible I am recoiling at publishing in a space where I have to more transparently deal with the problem of platforms in relation to my work. Is that a price I am willing to pay to get OFF of social media so that my readers are no longer exploited by Meta and Twitter?

I think that's the right thing to do. Or maybe the ethical choice is to produce nothing because capitalism platforms everything! But when I cried that to Riley this am, he said, "Maybe you should go to bed since you haven't slept yet + we'll try this conversation again after."

One reason I want to move BACK to @SubstackInc is that I can't rely on the viral toxicity of Twitter for community. Elon Musk being appointed to the board sealed that. I was looking up how to move back to substack when their comms person...tweeted.

Your product and enforced terms of service are enough, @SubstackInc ! I get your edgy branding effort here! But it's not necessary. You can be disruptive just by being a private company with an actual product that is actually good. That is almost impossible to find in tech.

After I posted this thread, I got a dm from an organizer and writer I really, really admire. They said,

"One of the things that comes through really strongly in all your work is the depth and rigor with which you think about making moral/just individual choices in the midst of oppressive systems. And that's amazing! Truly! We'd be in a better place societally if that was the norm!

ANNNND.... it's also clear that (like all of us) you're running up against the impossibility of making those choices (again, b/c of all those oppressive systems!). The one thing I'll kindly offer (which I'm sure you've thought about, but just to co-sign) is that if the systems are massive (and therefore require collective action- locally, regionally, nationally, globally, etc.), there's an opportunity cost in trying to perfect our individual choices (especially as busy parents)-- the time we spend debating Substack v. Ghost, for example, is time taken away from lots of other important things (rest, family, etc.)... including going to a neighborhood meeting, getting on an organizing Zoom, etc.

That isn't to say you only deserve grace in making a morally fraught consumer choice IF you spend your time organizing (we deserve grace all the time!).

But, it's so clear that one of the many things you're exceptional at as a writer is building and sustaining community and I just imagine that you and your readers could likely develop some really incredible answers to the question "this world sucks-- what can we do together to agitate/fight/build something better" and that the likely answers(s) to that question would be way more powerful and impactful than the negative moral impact of your presence on one of the many, many shitty internet companies. That's all to say, here's one vote for saying it's ok to go back to Substack (and an enthusiastic side vote for thinking creatively about collective rather than individual actions)."

I felt real shame after getting this message. The good kind of shame. The kind that makes you a better person. My readers and I could be in community with one another, making their lives and the world better. Or I could hyperfixate on the platform and deny us that space while also relying on MORE predatory algorithmic social media platforms for community and readership.

Substack is a place where I can publish in a way that is accessible, where we can form a community without you being subjected to Meta or Twitter’s design. Still. It’s not enough. And it’s what there is. The inevitability of imperfection is no excuse to not work for something better. Every month, 10% of my Substack income will be donated to locally run organizations helping marginalized groups. I’ll share the group’s name and mission in a newsletter at the beginning of each month.

I know some of you may want to financially support my work without financially supporting the platform it’s on. I get it. You can buy me 9 minutes of childcare instead. However you support me, thank you.

Thank you so much for showing up when I invited you to this little house party. I promise it's about to get much, much better.

(PS. I still think Ghost, the platform this newsletter has been on for the past year, is amazing. If I had more technical know how or less need to focus on community, I'd stay. I'm going to keep a landing page through the platform and hope to eventually build something amazing and totally not newsletter related in this space. I think if you need to build a website for a business, non-profit or anything else, you should consider Ghost.)

Meg

Meg

Writing in the spaces between women's work, economic justice and home culture.