Apr 20, 2021 - Economy & Business

Writer collectives gain steam amid a strengthening creator economy

Illustration of people climbing a ladder made from No. 2 pencils.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Independent writers are joining forces to create networks of shared resources to make it easier to strike out on their own.

Why it matters: Writer collectives create a sweet spot for journalists and pundits looking for the support of peers but more autonomy than a traditional newsroom offers.

Driving the news: A group of tech, media and culture writers recently launched Sidechannel, a server on the chat platform Discord. The group shares exclusive content with subscribers to the writers' individual newsletters.

  • Yesterday, Casey Newton, author of the Platformer tech newsletter and a member of the group, hosted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for a live chat on the platform.

The big picture: Other writer collectives are gaining momentum as the creator economy grows stronger.

Every, a newsletter bundle that launched on Substack last year but has since moved to its own platform, has 12 publications and 21 writers.

  • The collective splits pay between the writers based on reader surveys that indicate who they sign-up to read, co-founder Nathan Baschez, a Substack alum, tells Axios.
  • Baschez co-founded the collective with Dan Shipper, an enterprise software entrepreneur. The collective has 2,400 subscribers paying $200 per year.

Study Hall, a subscription newsletter, listserv, and digital community for the media industry, relaunched in 2018 and now has over 6,000 subscribers, co-founder Kyle Chayka tells Axios. Chayka launched Study Hall in 2015 with P.E. Moskowitz as a co-working space.

The bottom line: "The personality cult model isn't the only viable model," Chayka says. "The goal of this is to show that newsletters and small-scale media operations aren't just one person."

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