I'm going for it. Will you support Unmade?

We're switching on paid subscriptions. I hope you'll sign up

Welcome to Unmade, written a couple of hours ago on a bright morning at Sisters Beach, Tasmania. It won’t last. The rest of the day’s forecast is cloudy, followed by windy, followed by rainy. Sounds like a good day to be indoors.

And happy National Hot Mulled Cider Day. Sounds like a good day to be outdoors.

Today’s writing soundtrack: Hot Fuss, from The Killers. Mr Brightside turned 18 yesterday. It was their debut single. What a beginning, and what a band. Somehow I’ve seen them in Edinburgh, Rome and New York. Watching them at Adelaide Entertainment Centre in 2018 feels like a million years ago. I wonder when they’ll finally get to do their 2020 Australian tour.


Going paid

Today we reach a significant moment in Unmade’s early life.

Things have gone faster than I expected. Less than six weeks after launch, we now have 1,330 people who have signed up for the free email. Thank you for getting on board so early.

Pretty much from the beginning, people have been asking when I’d start inviting people to pay. When I replied that I thought it would be a while, some of them were kind enough to promise they’d sign up as soon as I switched it on. The audience has grown faster than I expected.

So today’s the day I start inviting you to sign up.

Get 20% off for 1 year

Soon, I’ll start offering additional Unmade content for those who have a paying subscription.

Some of it will be in written format - at least one post per week.

And some of it will be audio. Over the last fortnight, I’ve had a new routine. I’ve been starting each day by spending a couple of hours at the microphone, recording a chapter a day of the audio version of my book Media Unmade. It will be available exclusively to Unmade’s paid subscribers via podcast. With 167,000 words in the book and 26 chapters, there’s still a fair bit to go yet… I hope my voice holds up.

It will also be Unmade’s paid subscribers with whom I share insights on our own progress as a publishing business. And I’m hoping to build a small community of like minded marketing and media folk. Maybe next year, we’ll be hearing from interesting speakers over drinks in a pub somewhere.

I’ve been thinking about the reasons why somebody might subscribe.

If you’d asked me a decade ago, I’d have been sure that advertising-supported was the main model for most publishers. After all, that was how we built Mumbrella to something big.

But as I wrote Media Unmade, one of the trends that became obvious was the shift to a subscriber economy. Netflix and its peers persuaded the public that a subscription was good value for video streaming. Spotify and co did the same for music. And Rupert Murdoch proved most of us wrong when he insisted that newspapers could put the digital genie back in the bottle and introduce paywalls.

At the same time, we’ve also seen the likes of The Guardian gain significant reader support from an audience that wants to support its existence.

I may be fortunate enough to get some support in the early months for similar philanthropic reasons. The fact that you signed up already, without knowing a lot about the direction I would be taking, suggests you’ve already made a leap of faith. So now I’m asking for the next step in that support.

But in the long term, I realise that Unmade will only succeed if it genuinely offers value. If paying subscribers don’t gain information or insights that help them do their jobs better, or to think about their careers in a slightly different way, then they won’t stick around. I think I can deliver that value.

So that’s the rational appeal - subscribe, and you’ll get a business benefit.

I’ve set an initial price of $20 per month, or $180 per year.

Behavioural economists also like a bit of urgency. So for the next month, I’m also offering a 20% discount on the annual price. You can click this button to activate that price:

Get 20% off for 1 year

I doubt I’ll ever offer a better price than that. It means that you’ll get everything for about 40 cents a day.

One of the ways that my plan has changed since launch is that for at least the next year, you won’t see any advertising on this newsletter.

The reason is that after launching, I found myself talking to Substack - the platform this newsletter is built on - about the support they offer to some journalists around the world when they set out on their own. I’ve been fortunate enough to be among the lucky few to be accepted onto that program.

It means that the newsletter will have levels of professionalism I could not have previously hoped for.

Among the help Substack offers is professional editing services. For those who, in various diplomatic ways, suggested in recent weeks that I might benefit from a proofreader, the good news is that I will soon have access to one.

Just as excitingly, Substack is providing me with audio production support. Along with the audio version of Media Unmade, soon enough I’ll be back in the weekly podcasting game. I can’t wait.

I also get access to various professional subscriptions via Substack.

That includes premium access to Getty Images, which will be a game changer for the future look of this newsletter.

They have also provided me with access to the Rev transcription service, which has been a life saver for journalists looking to transcribe their long form interviews.

And I also get access to the Lexis Nexis data research platform.

It means that Unmade will be as well resourced with the professional tools as any journo in a big newsroom - and a lot better than I was when I started Mumbrella.

It will all help deliver value for subscribers.

Speaking of Mumbrella, I’m grateful for the continued partnership of Mumbrella and owner Diversified Communications in the early life of Unmade.

My Substack support also comes with an initial guarantees around subscriber revenue. As is usual with such things, the contract doesn’t allow me to disclose what that is.

As a one man band, a major benefit is that I am not facing the usual media startup distractions of needing to spend time seeking advertising support. I’m not against sponsorship and advertising as a principle - but finding it sucks up a lot of time. Instead, I will be able to put all of my focus into producing good content for the newsletter.

And for the organisations that have already been kind enough to enquire whether they can support me through some early advertising, there is an alternative. There’s also a “founder member” tier, priced at an initial $450. If you’d like to give Unmade some extra support, then you can do so in that way.

So it’s over to you now. Whether you do it because you simply want to support me, or because you think it will help you do your job better, please sign up. As I say, the price will never be better.


Time for me to get on with things. I’ll be watching the Foxtel Group Strategy Day stream this morning, and offering you analysis on it tomorrow. I think we’ll learn a lot more about the company’s plans and prospects.

As ever, I welcome your thoughts to letters@unmade.media, or via the comment button:

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Have a great day.

Toodlepip…

Tim Burrowes

Proprietor - Unmade