Going Beyond the Algorithm.
A Letter from Jess: We’re making some big changes. Here’s why they’re important.
Last October, I launched paid subscriptions for The Love List. An optional tier, it allows those who want to support our work to do so in a more meaningful way, and in turn, get a little something extra. I expected a handful of people to opt-in, maybe 20 or so. I was beyond moved when the number turned out to be in the hundreds.
There is no better way to feel at home than by simply living in your space. I’ve lived in our premium offering for almost a year now. Some things have worked, and some things haven’t. And it’s given us (yes, there are three of us) some time to work out the kinks, wonder what’s next, and firm up exactly who (and what) we are.
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The Love List is a newsletter about shopping.
I like to say it’s for the curious and deliberate because those of us who like to express ourselves through our personal style spend a good amount of time thinking about it. We ponder, we scour, we vacillate, we act.
Not everyone is like this though. To another lot, any old couch will do. Soap is a bar in the shower. Clothes are a means to an end. And that’s perfectly fine. But that’s not us.
So while our core offering is the newsletter you’re reading right now, it has always been my intention to build more community around it. Because people like us like to shop together.
We originally tried an ancillary member chat on Slack, but it felt to many like an extension of their office. So I looked into Discord and Geneva, but the feedback was primarily that subscribers didn’t want to download another app to keep up with. And then I wondered if Facebook Groups was a good solution, but I never actually go on the platform, so it felt disingenuous to our band.
And then it hit me. The community was already built, it was already active and thriving — and it was on Instagram.
I’ve always sort of resented the need for a personal Instagram. I own a creative agency, and we do social media for other people all day long. Doing my own is the absolute last thing I want at the end of the day, and often my half-ass, sporadic content reflects that. While I like to lurk on the platform for inspiration and connect with friends, I don’t enjoy the performative aspect of it. I see a lot of social climbing and other stuff that gives me the ick. And I’m not one who expresses myself through pictures — I’m a words gal, obvi!
The platform itself bullies people, which also bothers me: prolific content production or perish into obscurity! I see small businesses struggle to keep up all day long. And now, Reels? You’re telling me I have to make corny videos to please an algorithm so that the people who have already opted into my account will see my business? Hell to the no, no, no.
So here’s the skinny: we’re going private.
We’re not playing the IG game anymore. We’re taking my Instagram community and making it private.
Moving forward, my Instagram account @jessnellgraves will be for subscribers (free and paid) only.
If you’re already following me, nothing changes. If you’re a new follower, you’ll have to request to follow after subscribing to the newsletter to participate in the community.
This gives us a safe space to connect and be candid!
Starting in October, The Love List NEWSLETTER will also be going private. New subscribers will have to request to be manually added to the list.
This isn’t to be elitist. This is to keep our community intimate, safe, and cozy.
I would rather have a small, active community than a huge, hollow audience.
I would rather grow slowly and meaningfully.
Also in October, premium subscribers’ privileges will change. They’ll get The Love List’s Little Black Book 3x/year. This is an airtight record of all the best trade secrets: the best discounts, aestheticians, events, interior designers, hair stylists, photographers… sure. But we’re going beyond the best restaurant, we’re telling you what table to ask for and the bartender’s name. (Plus, unbridled opinions about what truly stinks and what to skip.)
I need your help to grow meaningfully.
Do you know someone who works at Substack? Tell them what I’m doing. They’re trying to lure people like me away from Instagram exactly like this.
Do you write a newsletter of your own? Please share The Love List with your readers! I would be happy to return the favor.
Are you a writer, editor, or publisher at a large media outlet? Please include The Love List in your newsletter roundups. Please consider me for quotes or as a source!
Do you love this newsletter? Share it with a friend.
Or gift a subscription!
Maybe for the group chat?
Consider upgrading to our paid tier if you have not already. For five bucks a month it keeps me from having to crank out the cash-grabbing drivel you see everywhere else. And even better, you help keep me from having to play the Instagram game, which is the greatest support anyone could ever offer.