I’d been a subscriber to SI’s weekly print magazine for the past several years and a casual reader since I was about 9. (I think I still have my first issue, which was from 1995 when the Braves won the World Series.) I loved Tom Verducci’s tug-at-the-heartstrings baseball stories, Joe Posnanski’s wit and sarcasm, S.L. Price’s tales of sports in faraway places.
But at some point, the pile of unread issues that would inevitably end up in the recycling bin started becoming a guilty burden. A print magazine is not the place to keep up with breaking news, and you can access all of the articles for free from SI Vault about a week after the magazine comes out. So having the physical print version became redundant and more of a symbol than anything else. (I also enjoy discovering content, and I think “SI overload” became an issue once I started writing for the website’s breaking news blog.)
There’s a lot of stuff out there and a lot of competition for people’s attention. I recently sent out a few friends-and-family emails about The Rundown’s newsletter, this time with a much clearer and more direct message, no caveats or waffling. And grew my list considerably as a result. New subscribers included close friends who had been very supportive of the idea but not subscribed.
Takeaway? Taking a “good content will be found” and “if you build it, they will come” approach is not effective. With so many distractions and so much content out there, a couple of casual mentions won’t do it. You have to put just as much effort and thought into the marketing/promo process as you do creating the product/content itself.