A model for Twitter

I’ve been thinking about business models for freelancers using Twitter.

Everyday for a while now – and I think it’ll be for the rest of the time that I’m on Twitter because it starts my writer brain early – I’ve been posting ‘3 word poems’. They’re simple, imagist things with occasional wordplay and fun, sometimes even satirical twists. There’s a small amount of effort put in once every morning and whenever I feel like it – I say a small amount of effort because the reward is big, they keep me firing over. Stay with me, this is related.

I’ve only been on Twitter a short while – about 4 months – so I’ve not many followers and, if I’m honest, I’m not going out of my way to get more followers but I like being on there because it’s an intriguing medium and it helps my Bottlenose out.

Why it really intrigues me is because it’s a whole new medium for writing. Initially a ‘micro-blogging’ site, writers and comedians have taken to it so much that it’s becoming a place to float sentences and test them for response.

However there are some things on Twitter that people used to pay for.

Now I know everyone of my age and of the internet-comfortable age hates the word ‘pay’ when it comes to online stuffs and I’m inclined to agree except when it comes to subscriptions.

Subscriptions in literature have been, once again, proven to work by And Other Stories. Tom Humberstone, now of the New Statesman, has a subscription model for his ongoing comic series. These models aren’t new – see Edwardian Theatre and funding George bernard Shaw’s first plays on the London stage – but what’s intriguing about them is that they’re existing within the 21st Century.

That is to say, they’re surviving well enough in the 21st century to keep going. On subscriptions.

The 21st century is a place where you can – if you’re feeling horrible enough – get most cultural artifacts for free.

My twitter stream is public and free.

What if I made it private and then advertised it separately as a subscription Twitter feed providing a 3 word poem everyday? Let’s say that one poem is worth £0.10 and you get one everyday: that’s £35.60 per year. For a poem to chew over every day. That’s every day. Would you pay for poetry every day?

What if that subscription also came with an annual book produced?


Bruce Sterling is an individual other individuals love to love. It helps that he’s smart. His Twitter stream is private but he has something akin to 25k followers. He’s a writer for various interesting publications however were he to charge for his Twitter stream, I’m inclined to believe that people would pay for it.

This is only really the biggest possibility – there are a few more that I’ll detail soon – but I wanted to write this one out as it’s glaring at me.

Edited to add: what I’m getting at here isn’t using the subscription business model for a twitter feed so much as developing a community – similar to that of the app-community that has built up around Twitter – of writers and makers who are making specifically for the twitter medium. We have novels, poems, stream of consciousness monologues, plays, what about…twitterlogues? [Or a better named Twitter-specific-literature.] And why not a community of people who use their streams to provide content worth paying for?

What do you think?


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