The tl;dr version of this week’s essay is that I have a few new projects and a parent-company to house them called Understandary—and you can learn more about all that, here.
For what feels like ages, I’ve been trying to figure out how to unify my many and diverse projects into a more sensical whole, without stifling the identity and benefits of each project, individually.
I’ve also wanted a sort of brand-container where I could put new things—experimental undertakings, one-off books or recordings of talks, pop-up projects with a pre-defined beginning and end—where they would continue to be discoverable and valuable without requiring endless promotion.
A library, not an archive, basically.
One that would allow me to start new projects with less friction, add new life to old projects when warranted, and store existing projects in an accessible, ideal-for-the-needs-of-that-project format.
This process has been the work of nearly a year, and though that genesis was slowed by some health issues and the complexities of moving, much of that time and effort was spent just trying to figure out what tools would allow me to do what, which tradeoffs were the right ones to make, and how I might set things up so I can focus most of my time and effort on the things I want to make and less on the intricacies of platform-management.
After all that mulling and testing and building and scrapping and rebuilding, I’ve landed on a setup I think will work pretty well, and which aligns with most, if not all of my weird priorities.
Here’s what it looks like:
I’ve started a company called Understandary which now houses all of my projects.
All of my projects now have a “membership” option for folks who want to support them: the vast majority of what I make will still be available to everyone for free, and this option basically makes it easier to make a regular contribution if you care to.
I love the “buy me a coffee” model, and these memberships are set up so that a “membership” just means buying me one coffee a month. And folks who commit to a monthly coffee gain access to bonuses that vary from project to project.
There’s also an “all you can eat” option available through Understandary for those who want it.
So you can now more easily support each project individually for about the cost of a cup of coffee a month, or you can support all the projects, all at once, for about the price of an inexpensive lunch: $9 a month (or $99/year, which is $8.25/month).
This should work out better for me in that it supplies consistent financial support for my work, while also allowing me to give little bonuses and gifts to those providing that support.
Also: the option to make one-off, periodic donations (“coffees”) remains as an alternative for folks who would prefer not to commit to the monthly or yearly setup, or who just prefer that contribution method.
Variety in income sources (and thus, more financial stability) is what I’m aiming for, so whatever works best for you is very much appreciated by me.
Importantly, this setup also means that if you like things the way they are, nothing will change for you.
This was important to me in building a new publishing setup, because the world is super-uncertain right now and consistency can be a stabilizing, calming force for some people. I don’t want to accidentally rock the boat if you’re just trying to keep things from capsizing.
So if you’re keen to just keep engaging with my work the way you always have, that’s okay—nothing is changing in that regard.
Each project is still also its own thing and can be accessed independent of any other project. There’s a new way to support those projects, and to support them all with a single membership, but that won’t interrupt your existing engaging-with-my-work habits if you’re keen to keep them the same.
I also want to make clear that if you’re not in the position to financially support my work right now, that’s okay and I’m very glad to have you here.
This progression won’t result in a lockdown of work: it’s intentionally structured to help fund the creation of more, and more accessible, work. That’s always been a priority for me, and it’s baked into the foundation of this new setup.
This iterated model of publication—like most things I do—is an experiment as much as it is a plan. It will continue to evolve as I learn more about what works and what doesn’t, and I’d love your feedback along the way. Please tell me what seems to be working, what seems to be broken, what you’d like to see more of, and what’s confusing or incomplete.
Fundamentally, I’m a person who’s learning in public and this is one more opportunity to learn.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes, and am honestly relieved to finally have it out in the world (despite all the glaring flaws and flubs I know will become evident only now, after I’ve hit “publish”).
If you’d like to learn more about the project, read about the philosophy and intentions behind it, and/or sign up for some of the projects included in it (or become a member and get access to All The Things), visit the Understandary website