Creator Habits Podcast: Balancing Work & Creator Monetization with Sara Campbell, Tiny Revolutions
This week's episode features Sara Campbell of Tiny Revolutions talking about balancing work with monetization opportunities, "shiny new toy" syndrome around new projects, writing a book, and more.
Every other week we feature highlights from our podcast, which covers more tactical insights on being a creator.
Back in January, I featured Sara’s insightful thoughts on the craft of writing as it relates to her newsletter Tiny Revolutions. Started in 2018, Tiny Revolutions is an email newsletter about becoming who you are. She is one of the most talented writers on the internet, and I’m grateful to have gotten so much insight into her writing process. If you haven’t heard that episode, definitely check it out.
In this episode, our part 2, we talk about the other side of being a creator - sustaining yourself. We discuss how she’s made the choice to keep her day job, how she evaluates monetization opportunities, and more broadly how she balances the shiny new toy syndrome of new projects while continuing to produce a high quality newsletter. Finally, we dive into the process of going from newsletter to book! Check it out, it’s a fun one.
The following includes some short excerpts from the full interview:
Different creators have taken different approaches to monetization. Some go all in on monetizing their content and some keep their day job as they’re navigating monetization. Where do you fall?
I'm aware of the fact that I am in a better place to be able to create my art if I am fed and secure and not freaking out about making rent. There are lots of people that are like, I'm going to write this newsletter, create this big audience and resell a course. I'm going to make a hundred thousand dollars a month or a year, whatever it is. And that's an absolutely fine way to go because that's the way that you could be fed literally right.
But for me money is not priority number one [in my creator pursuits], because I have another way to make it. So it frees me up and that's a choice that I've made deliberately.
For a number of years you provided your newsletter for free and you just started, in February, to experiment with monetization. What prompted you to make the switch?
There was part of me that was just like, you know, let's just see what happens. I've been building this audience for a few years. But another thing was that in the issue before the one where I turned on subscriptions, I had revealed the title of my book that I'm working on and someone reached out. It just took that one person being like, I want to pay for this, that I was like, all right, screw it. I'm on sub stack. I had set up Stripe before. I just needed to flip the switch and talk about it.
You’ve been writing Tiny Revolutions since 2018, how do you keep going even as new interests and pursuits arise?
It comes back to the shiny toy syndrome, right? Where [something is] the shiny toy in my life right now and it's really fun and it's really interesting. And if I'm honest with myself, it probably has eaten up some of my [enthusiasm] for the newsletter, but I'm not conscious of that being the case when I’m doing it. It's like when you get a new boyfriend and you start neglecting your friends.
[But now] I'm just way more aware that these passing interests are not always going to [stay] front of mind. And I think that's kind of a maturity thing where now I can say, okay, yes, the shiny toys are there, you love them, you can play with them and it's fine. But the wiser part of me is like, let's not just let go of everything else. You've worked on your platform and your brand for a long time and it's still totally relevant.
Some creators have turned their content into books, either culling from their previous work or, alternately, taking their previous work as a point of inspiration for new content. How are you approaching your next step of writing a book and how do you balance writing your newsletter with writing a book at the same time?
I will be totally transparent and say that I'm not doing an amazing job of balancing, but they do feed into each other.
I have an ongoing list of topics and notes and kind of like a loose structure [for the book]. I'm working on an outline basically. What I would like to do at some point this year is have a few days long sort of retreat where I go through and not just write, I mean writing will be part of it, but really take stock of all my work that I've already done, both in the newsletter and in my existing essays that I've written to try and organize a little bit of that. But in the meantime, I generate stuff where I can, and there's a lot to work with that I've already done.