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Batch Processing is Now Free
Batch Processing is changing from a reader-supported publication that I spend the majority of my time on to a free newsletter I update occasionally.
Last month, I took a short break from publishing to finish up some consulting work and make a few changes to Batch Processing. I assured subscribers I would be back in April to spend “the majority of my time on Batch Processing.”
I was wrong.
What to expect from Batch Processing going forward
Batch Processing is changing from a reader-supported publication that I spend the majority of my time on to a free newsletter I update as I have the time.
I can’t share specifics yet, but during my hiatus, an opportunity emerged that I did not want to pass up. All I can say now is that I’ve decided to take a full-time job, which I start next week. Going forward, I won’t be able to publish essays as frequently as I once did, so I’m making some important changes to Batch Processing:
Posts are now free and available to all
Free subscribers don’t need to take any action
Paid subscribers that joined on or after March 6th, 2023* will receive a full refund and will be automatically moved to the free subscription tier.
Paid subscribers that joined before March 6th, 2023 will receive a prorated refund and will be automatically moved to the free subscription tier.
You can continue to pay for a subscription ($5/month, $50/year) if you’d like, as a form of patronage, but this is not required nor expected.
Publishing cadence will decrease
Going forward, I hope to publish a new essay about every other month. This cadence will increase as I have the bandwidth.
* March 6th, 2023 is when I announced a brief hiatus and gave all paid subscribers a three months complimentary subscription.
Batch Processing Retrospective
As I close this chapter of Batch Processing, I want to share some stats about the publication in the hope they are helpful to other writers. I spent about six weeks actively writing Batch Processing and achieved the following numbers:
1,782 total subscribers
126 paid subscribers (excluding those I gave complimentary paid plans)
7% free-to-paid subscriber ratio
59% average email open rate
Subscriber Growth & Retention
When I first started writing, I assumed that the posts with the most reach (i.e., free posts) would lead to the most paid subs. But it turns out that simply publishing quality content behind a paywall leads to more paid subscribers. Each of the upticks in paid subscriptions you see in the graph below came after publishing paid subscriber-only posts.
At first, I thought this paid subscriber growth was due to writing about newsworthy topics like Stripe’s partnership with Amazon or FIS spinning out Worldpay. I saw a few people accept a free 7-day trial, read a post, and immediately cancel their subscription. So, I decided to test this theory out by writing an evergreen post no one could possibly be interested in. The result: a 3000-word essay on how to increase payment authorization rates is my 3rd-largest driver of paid subscriptions and 4th most popular post overall.
Consistency and frequency seem to be the main drivers of retention. My top unsubscribe reasons were “Low volume,” “Price,” and “Autorenew,” indicating these readers weren’t getting enough value for their money. But for the most part, I believe I did a good job setting subscribers’ expectations and meeting them as evidenced by the 99% subscriber retention rate Substack calculated for Batch Processing.
Traffic Sources & Discovery
My plan was to start with a paid tier from the beginning to gauge how valuable my content was and use my free posts to increase reach/exposure. This balance seemed to work pretty well. My most popular posts that have driven the most traffic were free posts about Square/Block, Adyen, and Stripe which have been shared widely on Twitter and included in other publications like Every. Special thanks to Francisco atand Michael and Nik atfor regularly including Batch Processing posts in their newsletters. I was also geeked to find out my Worldpay post was mentioned in Net Interest a few weeks ago!
Twitter has been a huge driver of traffic and subscriptions for Batch Processing. I already have a decent following there (9K+ Twitter followers) so my numbers are likely a bit skewed but I imagine most Substack writers get meaningful traffic from Twitter. I am doubtful Substack Notes will “kill” Twitter any time soon but I’ve been enjoying it so far.
I don’t have many takeaways from this data except that maybe I should write a guest post for. 🤔
Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far! I’ve REALLY enjoyed writing Batch Processing and believe one day I will spend the majority of my time writing on the internet…just not today. I will share more about what I’ll be doing next as soon as I can. In the meantime, feel free to subscribe to (the now free) Batch Processing. I’ll see you in your inbox!
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