When I introduced Club MacStories three years ago, I had no idea our crazy plan for a members-only newsletter would eventually grow into a key component of MacStories that now makes up for roughly half of its annual revenue. I remember reading a final version of my announcement post and telling my girlfriend we'd be lucky to hit 100 members in the first month. It took less than 30 minutes to surpass that number after the announcement went live. I couldn't be more grateful to all the readers who signed up, keep reading Club MacStories to this day, and spread the word among their friends and family.
In hindsight, while my initial calculations were dramatically (and almost comically) wrong, I still stand by the underlying sentiment I shared in my introductory post:
The MacStories you know and love will continue as long as I have the strength to write. I want this website to be my legacy, as it's all I've ever learned to do sufficiently well in my adult life so far. I love MacStories too much to imagine not having it. Most importantly, MacStories will continue to be a free and open website because we want as many people as possible to read our stories.
But, at the same time, I'm also ready for more – something a bit more focused and dedicated to our biggest fans, built with care every week and delivered with the same passion that we put into MacStories every day.
If I were to introduce Club MacStories today, I would pretty much use the same words. MacStories is all I've ever created myself as an adult, and I can't even imagine the possibility of having to do something else as a job. One way or another, this is what I want to keep doing for as long as I can. And while I've been fortunate enough to keep growing MacStories with the help of John, Ryan, Alex, and the rest of the team, I also feel like there needs to be a dedicated, more focused space for readers who really like what we do at MacStories and want more from it every week. That's where Club MacStories comes in, and it's exactly what we've been trying to do since September 2015.
In the past three years, we've delivered a total of 178 newsletters (142 issues of MacStories Weekly, plus 36 Monthly Log issues) to thousands of members who, in the process, also received access to free eBook downloads, discounts on Mac and web apps, and other exclusive perks.
MacStories Weekly, the main offering of a Club MacStories subscription delivered every week on Friday, has grown a lot since its humble beginnings in Issue 1. Now in addition to app favorites, app collections, and tips and tricks, MacStories Weekly features:
- A regular Workflow Corner section, in which I share advanced automation techniques and downloadable shortcuts for the Shortcuts app (née Workflow). There is an archive where you can see the dozens of shortcuts I created for Club members over the past few years;
- Longform interviews with friends of MacStories, including designers, developers, podcasters, and other interesting people;
- The Extension, a regular column that acts as, well, an extension of MacStories with opinion pieces and editorials.
The success of Club MacStories has allowed us to expand the sections we produce on a weekly basis while also keeping a focused approach. For example, we've been able to bring in Stephen Hackett with a regular column for the Monthly Log, answer questions from members in a regular Q&A section of Weekly, and experiment with iPads Around the World – a member-driven section to highlight interesting use cases for the iPad in different work contexts.
Of course though, we're not stopping here. In addition to refinements and new sections we're considering for the future of MacStories Weekly, we've been busy planning an extra-special anniversary month to celebrate three years of Club MacStories. While we had "anniversary month" events in 2016 and 2017, neither of them featured the amount of exclusive content and perks we've put together this year.
Here's a preview of what is coming to Club MacStories in the month of September, starting later this week:
- This Friday (September 14), Club MacStories members will get exclusive access to a selection of discounts on great Mac and web apps. We've assembled a collection of over 50 deals from 30 developers that will be available for two weeks for every existing Club member;
- My iOS 12 review, due to be published the day iOS 12 launches to the public, will also be offered as a free eBook for Club members. Just like its web counterpart, the eBook version supports inline footnotes, image galleries, and embedded videos, which look great in Apple Books;
- For the first time, my iOS review will also include a variety of Club-only shortcuts (i.e. workflows) for the new Shortcuts app. There will be example shortcuts available free for everyone, but some of them will be limited to Club members;
- Following the release of my iOS 12 review, we'll upload a new episode of the members-only AppStories Unplugged podcast, featuring a discussion about my process for researching, writing, and editing the iOS 12 review;
- The issue of MacStories Weekly publishing the week of iOS 12's release will also feature an in-depth look at my setup for creating the iOS 12 review this summer, including apps and scripts I used;
- Finally, there will be at least another surprise related to my iOS 12 review, with a special discount for Club members.
I'm incredibly excited about the Club-only perks we've put together to celebrate its third anniversary this month; I can't wait for members to see what we've been working on since June.
The Next Three Years
Over the past three years, the support of Club members has allowed MacStories to expand and given us a renewed enthusiasm for everything we do in our corner of the Apple community.
Club members have pushed me to learn more about the apps I use every day, giving me the freedom to experiment with advanced iOS automation and go beyond the topics I'd normally cover on MacStories. More than ever before, the success of Club MacStories means MacStories as a whole can continue being an indie, self-funded, profitable operation that covers apps, Apple news, and developer stories with passion and integrity. I couldn't be more thankful to anyone who signed up and tried Club MacStories since our journey began three years ago.
If your annual renewal is coming up, I hope you'll consider remaining a Club member – we have a lot of content planned for the future, starting this week. And if you just learned about Club MacStories and are intrigued by the idea of exclusive weekly perks, I hope you'll give it a try, even if just for a month. Putting the newsletters together every week is a lot of work, but we love every minute of it; our goal is to make sure that everybody finds the Club a good investment, and we always welcome any kind of feedback on the content we produce. You can find some free samples of Club MacStories content here.
Three years ago, I wrote that my goal was to keep writing MacStories for as long as I could. That hasn't changed, but today I can also say that I can't imagine MacStories without the Club. We learned a lot in the past three years; we want to keep learning, creating useful content for our members, and expanding MacStories and Club MacStories together.
The future is bright, exciting, and full of shortcuts I can't wait to create for MacStories readers and Club members.
Thank you all for supporting Club MacStories so far. Here's to the next three years.