Discover more from Tarot | An Exploration Project
A Belated "Tarot Timestream"
Onward, at last . . .
If you’ve just arrived at EP, welcome!
Since tomorrow is the 11th, I’ll be sending out a regular issue of EP, typically featuring an extended essay and a deck or book review. For an idea of what those posts look like, check out August 22 and September 1.
Today, though, I’m following up on what’s ahead for the rest of the year. So please bear with me while I sort out some pending matters.
Regular readers know I’ve struggled to get this reset not only explained, but enacted. There are two reasons:
First: Substack is a blunt instrument. So after several experiments, I’ve settled on something simple. Which will be firmly and finally revealed below.
Second: I haven’t felt comfortable with the “paid Substack” landscape. I’ve sat through webinars, read about various approaches, and studied the strategies of Substack authors I like and follow. Here’s what I’ve found . . .
Paid Substacks often include a lot of promotion in every post—ranging from Upgrade buttons scattered throughout the content to long CTAs (Calls to Action) either at the head of the post or at the end. CTAs run the gamut from plaintive to aggressive—but to me, they detract from the coherence and authenticity of the content. No blame or criticism intended, just an explanation of my own thinking.
Paid Substacks often serve as a platform for upselling various products and services. So the post content—even if it’s really good—can seem overshadowed by invitations related to something else.
Paid Substacks rarely convert even 10% of free readers to paid status. Therefore a newsletter must appeal to many people in order to make “going paid” worth the effort. Since I write for a fairly small slice of a fairly small interest group, the prospect of building a huge subscriber base is—well, quite small!
Paid Substacks rarely succeed by publishing everything for free, and just asking for voluntary support. So the logic of going paid means I will be excluding some readers from some material—and I don’t like doing that.
As you can see, I’ve given this a lot of thought. Possibly too much. But every time I’ve started to move the Substack slider button to “Enable payments,” I’ve stopped to ponder the decision a little more.
If by now you’re thinking this is a minor matter in the great scheme of things, I agree. But it turns out that when you keep writing in a particular way about a particular topic, and people join the audience somewhat regularly in hopes of an interesting read, you end up with a deep attachment to the project.
So like most things, this decision is small by one measure, much bigger by another.
If you’ll bear with me a little longer, I’ll explain where I’ve landed on this—beginning with the purposes I care about in terms of paid subscriptions.
Many writers who do a lot of promotion hope to use Substack for full-time income. I’m not in that category—not because I wouldn’t like to have a six-figure Substack, but because nothing I want to write about would generate that kind of audience. Nonetheless . . . I would really love to compensate myself for some of the time that goes into EP.
As a matter of consumer psychology, when folks visit a Substack and see there is a paid option, they tend to think (consciously or otherwise) that it offers something of value. I’d like for people to think that about the in-depth, wide-ranging studies of Tarot I’ve tried to craft in EP.
Until recently, I just tucked in EP writing when I could—or when I’d accumulated enough guilt. And yes, I really do fret about missing self-imposed deadlines or postponing promised content. But the idea of asking people to pay for EP has made it easier to take a bigger picture view, and keep a committed schedule.
Writers spend much of their time throwing words into a silent void, with little to go by on whether they’ve pleased their audience. But with a paid option, there’s at least a chance of getting tangible evidence that people are interested and informed by what I’m writing.
I want to make my course available to whoever is interested, at a reasonable cost. Substack offers an easy way to do that.
Those are the reasons I decided to go ahead. And after all, this is the season that invites us to start new things! So I’ll give the “new” EP my best shot for the fourth quarter of 2023, and look over where we are then.
Here’s the reveal . . .
Big picture: I’m sticking with my inclination to keep one EP newsletter free each month, and make the other two part of a paid subscription. Slight tweak—everyone gets two Notebook Pages a month, and paid subscribers get one more.
More detail: Monthly subscribers receive all three newsletters (each with essay + deck or book review) each month, and three Notebook Pages (each with “Tarot Everywhere” + “Tarot Timestream”). They also get two issues of Tarot-Adjacent (tools I’m using + ideas I’m working on), along with access to two archives: “Tarot Time Capsules” and all the “Daily Notes” series.
Fair warning: Except for those two groups, and ten items of core content, there won’t be any other archived posts. I’m reorganizing all the content published prior to August 1, 2023, because no one ever looks at “old” posts, and I want to give new audiences a better way to see worthwhile content.
Summary: Monthly subscriptions will be $7. The Annual subscription—basically just a convenience, with a small saving—is $75. The Explorer subscription will be $225.
Deeper dive: Subscribers in the Explorer tier will receive everything sent to monthly subscribers, along with my Tarot | In Four Dimensions course, delivered in the form of an orientation on September 23, four monthly ebooks, additional materials, and email or chat support.
I’m planning some surprises for each group—but you’ll just have to trust me about what and when. I want to make them spontaneously relevant. (I’m also planning to offer a free trial, but haven’t done the fiddly bits yet.)
Meantime . . . if you’ve been keeping score at home, you might wonder “what happened to the new book?” Earlier on, I’d planned to include chapters of my new book for paid subscribers. But when I looked at the idea more carefully, I realized the book wouldn’t really serialize very well.
It’s meant to be innovative and accessible at the same time, and thought-provoking as well as practical—so I think a more holistic publishing approach will be better. In that spirit, I’ve decided to try it out as a Kickstarter project, to allow for more context, and further expansions.
I’ll let you know if/when I decide to go ahead with this.
In the meantime, doors are open for paid subscribers. And if the above was overmuch explanation, I think you’ll find the actual subscription options are clear and simple!
Since I’ve been so delayed in getting this underway, tomorrow’s newsletter goes out to everyone. And Notebook: Page 4 will be coming along soon afterward. Then, on September 22, free and paid subscribers will embark on different paths.
Thank you all so much for reading. Not just today but on many past days—and hopefully, many to come. C