Update: How Extra Points is doing, and what comes next

It's been a few months since the last check-in. Here's what you can expect next from Extra Points.

Good morning, and thank you for spending part of your day with Extra Points.

Thankfully, several of you have spent several mornings with Extra Points.

I’ve been doing this newsletter for about a year and a half now. I’ve been charging for it for about five months, and it’s been about four months since my last check-in with everybody.

I think regular transparency about how things are going on the business side here is positive. If I’m going to ask you for money, and rest assured, I will once again ask you for money in this newsletter, I think it’s reasonable for you to have an idea about how I will spend it, and how sustainable this operation is. I also understand many of my readers are journalists themselves, or may be interested in the newsletter model. I hope that my regular transparency might be useful for those folks!

I also have a few announcements I’d like to share about where I think this operation is headed next. Let’s dig into everything.

How many people subscribe to Extra Points?

As of 9:15 PM, God’s Time Zone on September 15, 3,421 people subscribe to Extra Points. Of those 3,421, 504 are paid subscribers.

That means since May, Extra Points has more than doubled its paid audience, and early doubled the free audience. The paid subscriber base has grown by at least 10% every single month.

I’m not a Serious Professional Media Genius, but my understanding is while I may not be able to expect to double again that quickly, growing 10% month over month is really good. I have you to thank for this growth! I couldn’t do it without your readership and support.

How much money does Extra Points make?

This has become a bit more of a complicated question.

As of today, according to Substack, my Gross Annualized Income from subscribers is about $34,000. My monthly income from subscriptions is about $3,000.

Nailing down exactly how much Extra Points has made is a bit tricky, since I was awarded a Substack Fellowship earlier this summer that floated me a pretty significant advance against future subscription earnings. We’ve also made a small amount of money from selling stickers and t-shirts (a little more than enough to cover the costs), licensing, and a few other odds and ends.

I’ll say this: in 2020, I anticipate making about as much gross revenue as I did in some of my early writing jobs. It’s not anywhere near what I used to make, but I think there’s reason to think this could become a real job.

What are some new things you’re looking to add to Extra Points?

The biggest thing I’ve been thinking about is community. I get great feedback on most of the newsletters I write here, but that feedback generally shows up in my email inbox. I promise I read every single one, and try to respond to as many as I can.

But folks can’t talk to each other in my email inbox. And while Substack’s commenting system is nice, I think so many people have been conditioned to not read comments at the bottom of anything. At most places, those comments generally aren’t very good.

I have smart readers! Some of them are high level athletic administrators. Some are journalists. Some are academics. And plenty are just regular ol’ college sports fans, folks who are just really interested in the nitty-gritty of how all this stuff operates. All of these groups have things to learn from each other.

To help facilitate those conversations, I’m excited to announce that we’ve partnered with my old buddies at Moon Crew, my former college football colleagues at SB Nation. Moon Crew produces some of the most interesting college football content, be that on podcasts, newsletters, books and other media. They also run an absolutely excellent chat room. It’s a must-have second screen experience during game days. Or work days. I enjoy it more than Twitter.

All paid Extra Points subscribers will soon have access to the Moon Crew Discord Chat Rooms. I’ll announce exactly how you can opt-in over the next few days, but Extra Points will have its own special chat room on that server. We can use that to discuss newsletters, other sports business topics, and to facilitate conversations about stuff like college athletics, finance and history. I’m really excited about it.

I also think that generally, moving forward, Extra Points mailbags will typically be behind paywalls. I’m going to continue to write free stuff for everybody to read, but more of the participatory stuff will be limited to subscribers.

How do you subscribe? Glad you asked!

You can subscribe to Extra Points for just seven bucks a month, or $70 for the entire year. If the spirit moves you, you can also sign up for a deluxe membership, which runs $150 bucks. If you do that, I’ll throw in an Extra Points shirt and some stickers, and any other merch we decide to produce this year.

You can subscribe by clicking right here.

But if you’re a college student, I might be able to give you an even better discount.

I really believe that businesses, even tiny ones like Good Spot Publishing, should have some level of social responsibility. One way I’ve tried to give back is by working with college classes.

Several colleges use Extra Points as a textbook supplement, or as a tool to facilitate classroom conversations. For schools that do this, I offer big discounts, around 60% off, and chat with their students over Zoom. I think this is a win for everybody, honestly. I get more predictability in my subscriber numbers, students get a chance to talk through some issues in college athletics they might not get to talk about otherwise, and Zoom school can become a bit more interesting.

If I broker an agreement with a school, that discount is good for anybody with a .edu email address at that school. Currently, I can offer discounts for students and staffers at:

Alabama

Arizona State

DePaul

Kansas

Kutztown

Ohio

Ohio State

South Carolina

West Georgia

If you attend or work at any of those schools, shoot me an email, and I’ll send you the special code. If you’d like a discount for your school, contact me to set up a discounted page for you, and we can discuss how Extra Points might help your institution.

This offer is also good for athletic departments and college conferences. Growing bulk subscriptions is a business goal over the next few months.

Another business goal? Hire some help

This isn’t entirely a one-man operation. I’ve partnered with The Intercollegiate, and Daniel and Luke have both helped edit newsletters, formulate newsletter ideas, and have even occasionally written newsletters here. They do great work! They’re also compensated for those efforts, lest anybody think I’m getting filthy rich alone here.

If I’m being totally honest, my wife Taylor also occasionally edits these newsletters and acts as a sounding board. Despite us sharing a bank account, she is woefully undercompensated for her effort. She was my only editor for a long time and ruthlessly excised my grammatical and syntactical sins.

But the bulk of what you see on Extra Points, and a bunch of stuff you don’t, comes from me.

Normally, that’s fine. But these are not normal circumstances. As I’ve tried to publish this thing four times a week, with most of those newsletters involving level of reporting, plus doing business development, and tweeting, and radio, and community building, AND running 1st Grade Zoom School AND watching over a two-year old…let’s just say I’m realizing that I can’t do everything alone.

I could really use some limited, PT help on a project-basis. Especially, I could use help going through some of the larger document troves I get from public records requests, to help best suss out what is really interesting. I could also use some help reaching out to various colleges to pitch potential partnerships. Something in the 4-8 hours a week sort of range, $15/hr, plus commissions. It probably wouldn’t be a ton of writing, but if you have ideas, we may be able to find some freelance spots.

If that sounds like something you might be interested in, send me a resume and a note to MBrown@TheIntercollegiate.com. The more this operation grows, the more work I may be able to give.

On that note though, while I will continue to commit to writing at least one free newsletter a week, I do think it’s possible I will scale back the frequency. I will continue to do my very best to hit four newsletters, but depending on how Zoom School goes, I may need to re-calibrate. If I have to drop a weekly newsletter, it would be a free one.

I’m thinking of maybe starting a newsletter. Could we chat?

Sure. Shoot me a note at MBrown@TheIntercollegiate.com and I can go even more in the weeds. And hey, if you’ve done this yourself and have advice you’d like to share with me, please, I’d love to hear from you. This new media landscape sucks. I think we all ought to help each other if we can.

Okay, this is a long email! What’s the TL;DR?

  • Extra Points has doubled over the last five months, and continues to grow at a healthy rate, thanks to student subscription packages, a solid free-to-paid conversion rate, and word of mouth from readers like you.

  • Very soon, Extra Points subscribers will have access to live chats on Discord with our friends, the Moon Crew. Stay tuned for instructions on how to set up your account. Live discussions about Extra Points content, and a bunch of other stuff, will occur on that platform. Discord…it’s like Slack, but not for work, so doesn’t bum you out!

  • I’m looking for some very part-time help to assist me with business development emails and some FOIA stuff. Few hours a week, $15/hr, plus commissions on any bulk sales. Drop me a line at MBrown@TheIntercollegiate.com.

  • This is almost entirely a reader-supported business. I am deeply thankful for all of your support. If you find these newsletters useful and interesting, I’d encourage you to subscribe. You can do so for only seven bucks:

Thanks again for all of your support. Any other business-type inquires, fire them away to MBrown@TheIntercollegiate.com.

Here’s hoping for a less apocalyptic next few months!

-Matt