Introducing More Birchtree

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read
Introducing More Birchtree

More details below, but brass tacks, More Birchtree is a way to get more Birchtree writing, ad-free browsing, and the fuzzy feeling of supporting indie writing. Member posts will be more personal pieces, as well as more raw feelings about the tech news of the day before I’m ready to share with a wider audience. I’ll also have little sections shouting out other creators I love, apps I’m loving, and more.

I’d like to do more (ha) with it down the road, but I’m not going to commit to anything else now until I know I can keep up with what I’ve said already.

More Birchtree is $5/month, and I’d be honored if you joined. The first post will go out later today, and I plan on doing approximately 1 post per week.

A couple FAQs:

  1. Payments are processed via Stripe and no one else takes a cut. Your relationship is with me and no one else, we don’t need to get a platform in between us 😉
  2. You will be billed $5 today if you subscribe.
  3. I believe Stripe will handle currency conversion for non-US checkouts, but I'm not 100% sure.
  4. I don’t have a yearly option because this is brand new and I don’t feel right asking for a year’s worth of payment up front for something new and unproven.
  5. “More” posts will appear in the standard RSS feed, but you will need to open them on the web and be signed in to read them.
  6. You can choose to get exclusive posts as email, or opt out if RSS is fine for you.

Any other questions, feel free to email me and I'll be happy to help.

Over the past year I’ve really become enamored with the idea of more people taking back their corner of the web. Of course I’ve been doing this for 14 years at this point, so I’m not new to the party or anything, but I’ve been encouraged by two trends we’ve seen develop quite quickly: writers leaving closed platforms and the rise of federated social media.

I’ve gone from skeptic to enthusiast when it comes to federated social media in 2023. Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter really kicked that off for me and a bunch of other people, and despite its challenges in going fully mainstream, I really enjoy Mastodon and the larger fediverse. I like that I can own my own server and domain and have a social media presence that I control more than any big company. And it’s not like I even took a hit on audience by moving to Mastodon, it took less than a year for me to go from a couple dozen followers to just shy of 3,000, which is more than I ever had on Twitter.

There there’s been the great "Leaving Substack of Late 2023 and Early 2024." Substack did a lot to make blogging and newsletters cool again, and they deserve credit for doing so, but that doesn’t earn them a free pass for everything, and over the past year they’ve shown a disconnect with a portion of their audience, and that’s made quite a few big writers question if they need Substack more than Substack needs them. Casey Newton’s Platformer and Molly White’s Citation Needed are some of the big names who made the jump to their own site (both using Ghost) and I think it’s great: these aren’t “Substacks” anymore, they’re nice websites built on and contributing to the open web. You love to see it.

Then there’s the surprise third thing that’s hit me, and that’s the crashing ad market. For my entire run making things online, I’ve made every blog post and video free to everyone, and I’ve made all of my money from them using ads. In the case of this blog it amounted to basically offsetting my server costs, and on YouTube it meant a few hundred dollars per month (raw numbers in this video). These numbers have come down massively in the past 6-12 months as ad rates have plummeted. My readership and viewership are up, but my revenue is way, way down.

As I mentioned in my SaneBox video last week, I get flooded with offers from companies to sponsor videos and blog posts, and I say no to basically everyone, even brands I like. I am convinced that one of the major appeals that my work has is that whether you agree or disagree with my opinions, you know that you’re always getting my actual thoughts. For god’s sake, I made a desk setup video last fall where no bit of tech on the desk was from a sponsor, that might be a YouTube first!

Anyway, I think that a direct relationship with an audience is a more clear relationship, and I want to give it a go.

Once again, if you’d like to subscribe, click here and I’d love to have you along for the ride.