The Question I Keep Having 🤨

Considering what MidRange is going to become, and how that ties into what Tedium currently is. Real talk: I’m going to be honest about the road I see going forward.

(Hopefully not the awful Matt Walsh/Unsplash)

Now that I’m a full year into this process-oriented newsletter franchise that I’ve built for myself, using off-the-shelf tools rather than the custom tools that I’m better known for leveraging, I have some questions about what it represents for me as a creator.

When I built this, I wanted to get a better understanding of the newsletter platform process, so I could better critique it. I have traditionally had way better interactions with the Revue team than the Substack team, and I was curious about what the Twitter acquisition would bring to the table, so I went with Revue.

But there’s something I keep wondering a year in: Will I eventually merge the two newsletters I run together into one piece?

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(Adam Birkett/Unsplash)

The reason I ask this is because of two things that, together, worry me a little. First of all: In the rare moments that this newsletter gets a little mainstream notice or a media mention or a link-off of some kind, people just call it Tedium anyway, even though it’s a completely separate project with different goals. (The one big exception is Walt Hickey’s Numlock News, which did a nice feature on this newsletter.) That, to me, is a sign that end users (at least those not subscribed to it) are not thinking of this newsletter as MidRange. They are just thinking of it as Tedium. That seems suspect to me.

The other problem is a trend I’ve noticed with Tedium’s newsletter that MidRange seems to have done a significantly better job solving. Simply put, Tedium has a fairly consistent readership at this point, but because of the length of the newsletter, people naturally tend not to click to as high a degree as to make it sustainable. (Additionally, something happened about a year ago that put a real dent in my ability to monetize it using affiliate advertising: Amazon asked me to stop putting direct links into the newsletter, which I did.)

For an advertising-supported newsletter as Tedium is, this is a problem, because it means advertisers don’t get a level of impact that encourages them to come back. Additionally, I notice that Tedium pieces tend to blow up on the web when they do have an impact, well beyond the scope of what the newsletter itself can do. (I had two articles last year that got more than 30,000 pageviews, which is pretty wild!) Which makes me wonder: Do I need to rethink what a newsletter means in the context of Tedium?

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(Tim Mossholder/Unsplash)

I think the question I keep having is whether I need to make MidRange the Tedium newsletter, as the market has evolved away from the kind of newsletter the current Tedium is, and admit that the long-form Tedium articles are, ultimately, better consumed as a web product. And I don’t know how my readers will respond to that. But I have a relatively large newsletter that a lot of people open but not a lot of people click in, and I have a relatively small newsletter that proportionally draws significantly more clicks than the big one does.

And I think the reason that is has a lot less to do with Tedium being bad content as presented, but with newsletter economics evolving in a way that is not compatible with Tedium as currently designed. After all, I started Tedium years before most of the financial structures of the modern newsletter were in place. And those parameters shifted years after I started.

I have not decided what I’m going to do. The content of both newsletters will continue to be produced either way. But whether it’s under the Tedium banner or the MidRange banner is the big question I’m working my way through.

If you have thoughts on this, I would love your feedback. Lay it on me.

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Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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