SuperHelpful Letters is moving to a membership model

(Reading time: 3m, 23s)

TLDR: After nearly three years of writing to this mailing list, I’m switching to an optional, paid membership model through Substack. I’ll be sending from a new address, so please be sure to add to your address book to ensure future emails reach your inbox.

What will paid members receive?

  • Four letters on design research and audience development for cultural organizations each week.
  • Access to all issues in the archives. (Starting next week, most letters will be available online to members only.)
  • Ability to participate in subscriber-only comments

What does a subscription cost?

$8 per month or $72 per year.

If you sign up by October 1st you’ll get 25% off your first year — So, $54 for an annual subscription.

Some of you work at organizations where several of your colleagues are subscribed to this mailing list. You can order and manage multiple subscriptions for your institution at half the regular price over here — That’s $36 per person per year, forever.

When is this happening?

Next week, I’ll begin publishing exclusively from the new email address

But I’m already publishing on Substack, so you can sign up any time. If you decide to buy a discounted subscription during this transition week, I’ll make sure you don’t receive duplicate emails.

What if I don’t want to pay?

No problem. Starting next week, you’ll just receive one letter a week from me.

Does this mean you’re putting your research behind a paywall?

No. Everyone will receive a final report on what I learn from my current research project, as promised to all of you who participated in my current survey of organizational leaders.

However, members may receive additional posts on the research I’m doing. I tend to write about what I’m working on at the moment, and I can’t see that changing.

Why switch newsletter providers?

Lots of reasons, but here are a few that might matter more to you:

  1. Substack offers interesting new ways for subscribers to interact with one another. Under the current system, I play gatekeeper — Readers reply to emails, and I sometimes ask if I can share their comments with the group. Substack will still allow people to reply and have private email exchanges with me, but full members will also be able to participate in private threads and discuss posts without me standing in the way.
  2. The email service provider I’ve been using (Drip) has been unreliable. Sometimes emails are inexplicably delayed for hours; other times some of you just won’t receive the email at all, and I have no idea why. Substack seems to offer more reliable delivery.
  3. Substack offers integrated podcast features. Next year, I may begin creating audio content (interviews) that will be available to paying subscribers.

Why switch to a paid model?

Are you sitting down?


Now, take a deep breath and listen to what I’m about to say, but try not to scream.

Not everyone wants to receive four emails a week on design research.

I told you not to scream.

I know. It’s hard to understand. I mean, doesn’t everyone want to read about about value propositions for children’s museums for days on end? (I’ll be writing more on those value props for children’s museums in the days ahead, by the way.)

So, even though the recommended dose for readers is four days a week, I want to make some concessions for newcomers who need time to adjust to the four-day-a-week treatment plan. Substack gives me a super simple way to segment the list and let people choose how often they want to hear from me. Substack also lets me spend more time writing and less time fiddling with the technology that supports my writing.

Sit back down, please. Thank you.

I’m also curious to see if some of you might value these letters enough to support them in some small way.

While there are some excellent blogs out there about the challenges cultural organizations face today, I haven’t encountered anyone else writing a near-daily newsletter on design research and audience development for cultural institutions.

If you feel these letters provide some unique value, a paid subscription is a way to support the effort and care that goes into creating them.

Summarizing your options

  1. Sign up by October 1st and receive 25% off a paid subscription — You’ll continue receiving four letters a week but from the new address
  2. Purchase a group subscription for your organization for half off the regular price.
  3. Do nothing and pay nothing — You’ll receive three more letters this week; After that, you’ll get one letter a week.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming. Till then — Thanks for reading,


PS. You can share your thoughts on this new membership model here or just reply to this email. I’d love to hear from you.

Kyle Bowen