93 Comments

This interview speaks for itself, but Erin is truly awesome. I recently realized that whenever she suggests a theme for a post, it outperforms my other posts. She's got a spidey sense!

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Wow, thank you Amanda!! Such a great interview and the responses from Erin are so helpful. I’ve been looking for a Substack editor/collaborator and it appears there is such a thing! Sent an email to Erin via her site and hope she sees.

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Aug 22, 2023Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Thank you for reading and reaching out, Debbie! I really appreciate it. I will be responding to email inquiries in the next day or two :)

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I'm so glad this was helpful. I felt energized just in working on it together (a role reversal from our usual collaborations!) and I just had this gut feeling that her perspectives will help people. So thank you for chiming in here and letting us know.

Erin is such a light. I told her once she has the gift of "sightedness": she sees with heart AND mind. Be sure to follow her on Notes, too. Her gems are worth the follow. ☀️

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This was really thought-provoking. Thank you! I just worked with an editor on my most recent newsletter and it was an illuminating experience. She did such a good job of adjusting flow/sentence structure while also preserving my voice. She also filled in all of the words/bits of ideas that were so clear in my head that I couldn't see they weren't on the page.

The added piece that Erin brings of thinking about branding and marketing must be such an incredible add-on to that editing relationship, but I have to wonder what it costs. My editing friend is a professional editor, but we're doing a work trade, which is what works for right now. I can't help assuming that the comprehensive nature of what Erin is offering is not cheap. Nor should it be, to be clear. But I can't help but think immediately about that piece.

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I think one of the things I struggled with the most was knowing when it was time to invest in my writing. It had shifted so much in the past (sometimes not amounting to more than a monthly hobby) that I knew paying for one-on-one support wasn't a good investment, if that makes sense. The stars kind of aligned earlier this year and I just had this feeling in my gut: "GO for it. Get the help. Stop stringing your writing along and treat this like it actually has potential." So without talking specific numbers, I can say that I hustled (in my own, slow, autistic way) to line up two other freelancing gigs that help me pay for Erin's expertise each month. It's a bit of an ecosystem for how I work to pay to write to edit to work to write ... lol

I hope that's specific enough to be helpful! I'll also say that part of the reason I invited her to this interview is precisely because I think her perspectives can help even if someone doesn't have the money to hire her directly. She's really generous and wants to be a light for people, even if they aren't clients. So, stay tuned and maybe we'll have an Ask an Editor with her in the future where we can get into the nitty gritty on branding and things. I deeply feel the weight of doing all the heavy lifting in my writing and needing just a little boost to help me keep going. I want this to be a place where writers can be supported even when their budget keeps things lean.

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Yes. Talking about money is always a little complicated. But I do think that if Erin is willing to offer some general information about ranges of prices for the kind of work she does it would help. For me, anyway. It's very vulnerable to think about reaching out to someone because you want to invest in your work to find out that it's WAY out of the possible. Like they might be like, why are you even contacting me? And then I would feel like even more of an amateur (which I'm not technically, because I get paid for my writing) than I do already.

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Hi Asha - great question re: money. I can definitely relate to the fact that it's tough to reach out to someone without knowing if their services are even remotely in your price range. It can feel like a very vulnerable position to be in. I will be transparent with you and say that I work with people who have quite varying budgets. If I believe in the work, that is the most important thing to me, and I suggest services that fit within their budget. Right now, I have some slots open for one-time consulting calls that are 90 minutes long and cost $250. I give my very best, most specific, impactful advice during these calls. Ongoing, one-on-one work starts at $750 for onboarding (where I do a complete audit of your Substack, deeply familiarize myself with your work, and come up with an initial plan for growing your Substack), and then there is some flexibility when determining a monthly fee, depending on how frequently we communicate, how often you publish, and other factors regarding your needs and the time and depth of our work together. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me at eeshetron@gmail.com. Money may be difficult to talk about, but the more we do it, the more comfortable we get! And, if it helps at all, I approach this subject with Jen Armbrust's Feminine Economy Principles in mind. You can read about them here: https://sister.is/proposals-for-the-feminine-economy

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Thank you, Erin! That was exactly the amount of detail I was looking for and very gracefully done.

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Oh good! I'm happy it was helpful :)

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Aug 23, 2023Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

I can offer some insight from my perspective of receiving requests from various types of potential clients. I always appreciate if a potential client can name their budget upfront. If you’re concerned about looking professional, start there: Determine a range you’re open to spend on a service, and mention that in your outreach. Even if it’s a broad range.

It’s rare for prospects to do that, but I appreciate it, because it helps me support them appropriately, whether they end up hiring me or not. I can respond with whatever services I could offer in their price range, or I can refer them to other resources that fit. Stating that number upfront helps avoid getting too deep into the conversation and having that awkward moment of realizing it’s not a financial fit. It lets the service provider spend their entire engagement with you looking for the best ways to serve you, rather than worrying whether they should try to make a sale.

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Dana, thank you for chiming in with that perspective! I really appreciate that, and I totally agree that it's helpful when people tell me their budget upfront for the reasons you outlined.

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What a fun and insightful conversation into a really thoughtful process and collaborative approach. I have scribbled down copious notes! I especially love how Erin marries creativity with strategy in such a flexible, intuitive way.

@Erin (if you're still answering questions in here): If Substack* hired you to write one article (or one series of articles) to help writers using your expertise and experience, what topic would you tackle and what would your headline be?

*Full disclosure- this is a purely hypothetical question. I don't work for Substack 😉

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Thanks, Tami! I'm so flattered you liked it and even jotted down some notes. I gotta say, I'm totally stumped by your question. How to choose just one topic?! If I had to, I think I would choose a series of articles on crafting a cohesive free and paid subscriber offering. The headline would be, "How to Turn Your Writing Into A Subscribe-Worthy Newsletter." Yeah... I feel like that would definitely be broad enough for me to be able to nerd out about subject lines, formatting, content cadence, and value props :)

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I may have been a bit too clever about my question–sorry about that! But, a tribute to your keen eye and talent for editing, you managed to sift through it and still answer the thing I was most curious about. ☺️

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Aug 29, 2023Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

No such thing, love a clever comment/question ❤️

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Aug 22, 2023Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

This is so helpful! I started sharing my writing on Substack a month ago. Definitely going to put all of this advice to use.

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It was my hope that this would be helpful to folks just starting out on Substack. So glad you got something out of it!

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Really interesting interview thanks, lots of food for thought here. I especially love the idea of branding as heart work.

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This was really interesting to read. I luckily have a good friend who's much better at branding than I am who gave my substack a little polish, but I feel like I'm still groping around in the dark trying to find my voice here, my USP if you will. I've been a staff columnist for years on a niche website and I feel like I have a decent voice there, so its weird to me that I don't feel like I have that here yet (after writing weekly for almost 2 months).

But I bring that up because I think a huge part of branding is the voice -- and I wonder if there's any suggestions on how to zero in that as like, a first step in branding?

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I think you're asking the right questions here ... visual branding is a hurdle for a lot of folks, not so for others. And Substack is a great platform for not really being "highly branded" and still letting your voice shine and finding readers.

My curiosity immediately goes to how long and how many editors you've had to write FOR as a staff columnist. The reason I ask is because it took me quite a few years to shake off all the other people I had been writing for in my publishing/marketing work. Our professional writing lives definitely work certain writing muscles, but not all. I didn't have much practice in trusting my instincts on the page (see again: many editors, many people to answer to... it's just hard to have your own voice when everyone gets to censor it in one way or another). So, I guess my best encouragement is to find some good writing company and start letting your writing get messy, go in lots of directions and see what starts to rise up as your writing voice starts to trust a new way of coming onto the page. 🫶

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I'm so glad you mentioned that you are working with both Rae and Alex. Two completely different styles....both wonderful. That speaks to your magic, Erin. (And to these two talented writers!) Thank you.

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Thank you for that incredible compliment, Heather!

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Great interview....does Erin know she looks like Uma Thurman? Same eyes and smile.

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I’ll take it! I love Uma ❤️

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What a wonderful interview!! I loved learning all of this about Erin! She's absolutely the best. I feel so (so!) lucky to have her in my life!

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Thank you so much, Jane 🙏🏻❤️

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It’s both a relief and a little intimidating (if I’m being honest) to know that many successful Substack writers have this kind of help. At what point do you know it’s time to think about it?

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Aug 23, 2023Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

That’s such a good yet personal question, and one that I’m sure Amanda will be better at answering than me. I would say, if you’re deeply committed to the work, believe in its potential, are open to guidance, and have some money to invest in it, then hiring help might be a good next step. Hiring help is not a guarantee or silver bullet, but it can offer a great sense of relief to have a partner who is thinking strategically about your work and who can recommend the strongest paths toward growth.

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Erin's wise to point to the personal nature of getting help for your writing. I think there are a lot of factors and points of reflection to take into account especially because I see a lot of writers use marketing and branding as a way to avoid the truth of what a Writing Season is trying to cultivate.

Perhaps they really need to be tending to their craft, tighten their writing or expand creative mechanisms; or they need to be resting and not wrestling so much with writing at all. If the timing isn't right for writing investment, it will feel exceptionally frustrating to spend money on things like marketing strategies and branding.

I hope you'll stay tuned and chime in on the Writing Seasons essay that's coming soon — I'm culling this to help writers asking this exact question around what their writing really needs next? 🫶

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I think I'm totally that kind of writer haha. Looking forward to this piece!!

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I absolutely will stay tuned. 😊

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Wonderful interview. Intrigued mama here. Love the idea of collaborating with her.

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Hi CK! I’m so glad you liked the interview. Thank you for reading :)

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Aug 22, 2023Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

Wonderful interview and so thought provoking. This really resonated with me.

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I’m so glad to hear it resonated with you! Thanks for reading :)

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As someone who is filling every single role to grow their newsletter and grow as a writer, I found this to be an incredibly helpful interview. It gives me so much more faith in myself to accomplish my goals. Plus, I picked up on some new tips. These authentic exchanges are so much more valuable than your classic "23 things to get a bizillion subscribers in three days." Thanks for sharing!

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This is so kind, wow. Thank you for reading and thank you for this comment!

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I'm so late to this party. It's been marked as unread and starred in my inbox since it came out. To your point Amanda of waiting for the right time, this felt like it finally came into focus when it needed to. I'm still reading through, and then reading through again. So much goodness here. Having just launched my Substack yesterday, and also being a fellow marketing and branding gal, this is incredible wisdom and guidance. Thank you Erin and Amanda!

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Oct 6, 2023Liked by Amanda B. Hinton

This was really helpful, thank you. And Erin, I’m sliding into your DMs soon (email). 😁

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Laura, thanks for the “pinch me; she’s reading my writing” moment.

Your first book planted the seed several years ago for reimagining what a life well-lived could look like. Deep bow of thanks to you. 🧡 And if you’re ever interested in filling out the Cave of the Heart questionnaire, I would definitely be over the moon about that as well. ☀️

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Hi, Amanda!

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I'm excited to chat with you, Laura!

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