The State of the Writ, Year 2
How things are going with The Writ after two years
Next week, The Writ will celebrate its second birthday.
We’ve gotten through the precarious and awkward early years and can now look confidently toward the future. And that’s all thanks to you, the readers, listeners, viewers and subscribers to The Writ.
Yes, it’s time for the second annual State of the Writ, my update on how things are going (so far) in this adventure.
I’ll start off by repeating what I said a year ago, which remains as true today as it did then: it’s gratifying to share my passion for elections and Canada’s political history with others who are passionate about what makes, and has made, the pulse of our democracy beat. In a world where it increasingly seems that the only way to be successful in independent media is to delve into opinion or partisanship, it’s good to know there is still an audience for non-partisan political analysis.
So thank you.
I feel that The Writ has matured as it has aged and has settled into what it is going to be — a place to keep tabs on all the latest in Canadian electoral politics with a generous helping of analysis, history and fun. (Or, at least, the kind of things we political nerds consider to be fun.)
Personally, I’ve gotten into a good groove when it comes to The Writ. To give you a little insight into my process, my weekly schedule goes a little something like this:
Monday: Write the News and Riding of the Week sections of The Weekly Writ and invite my podcast guests for the week’s coming episode.
Tuesday: Write the Polls section and the opening thoughts for The Weekly Writ and get the rest of the newsletter finalized and ready to be published.
Wednesday: Prepare questions for The Writ Podcast and get started on the #EveryElectionProject section for the next Weekly Writ.
Thursday: Record the podcast, edit it and get it ready for publishing the next day.
Friday: Have the #EveryElectionProject and Milestones section of The Weekly Writ completed for the following week. Complete research for and writing of any Monday analysis I have planned.
I maintain a publishing schedule that looks ahead about a month and whenever I complete my day’s regular work I try to get ahead on anything scheduled for the future, while fitting in some media interviews when they are requested. It all makes for a busy week, but not one that is so overwhelming that it prevents me from writing with (hopefully) some thought and nuance.
While The Weekly Writ is the centrepiece of this site, it’s the other analyses that can get the most attention. My top three posts of Year 2 were my re-imagining of the Ontario election under Baden-Württemberg’s nearest-runner-up proportional representation system, my deep dive into Pierre Poilievre’s leadership victory and my look at the exclusive poll conducted by Pollara on who Canadians’ feel was our best prime minister.
This past year, I also launched the Grenier Political Report, an in-depth analysis of upcoming election campaigns inspired by the Cook Political Report. This is a regular offering for paid subscribers. In the coming year, I’ll be launching a twice-yearly If The Election Were Held Today report, expanding on the abbreviated version that is in the Weekly Writ every Wednesday.
More recently, I’ve worked on improving the look of the website, with cleaner title graphics and a consistent chart style. It’s a small thing, but I hope it helps make the site look a little more professional.
Podcasting and broadcasting
I’ve also worked to improve the look and sound of the podcast. Starting last summer, I adopted the Riverside platform for recording podcasts. Before that, I relied on Zoom but that produced lower-quality video and audio. Riverside, while a little more expensive, records higher-quality audio and video, which I hope has made a noticeable difference for both listeners and viewers.
I’ve tried to get a more regular cast of guests to come on the podcast, too. My aim with that is to build a level of familiarity not only between myself and my guests but also for the audience. When the topic demands, I’ll continue to invite new guests onto the podcast.
The audience peaked during the Conservative leadership contest and the recent Alberta election, but has generally been a little under 3,000 for the combined audience of podcast downloads and YouTube views.
The YouTube Channel has grown over the last year and now has about 1,800 subscribers.
A lot of that growth has come from my livestreams, which are among the things I enjoy doing the most. There was the Mississauga–Lakeshore federal byelection (which took forever, but that was part of the fun) and the provincial byelections in Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario, along with the provincial election night livestreams in Prince Edward Island and Alberta. The Alberta livestream with Philippe J. Fournier was a huge success with over 17,000 views, by far the best-performing livestream or video on the channel to date.
It’s great to do these livestreams because it puts a spotlight on byelections that do not get live coverage from established media. For the provincial election livestreams, they provide an alternative option — and one for political geeks to gather around. The chats have been lively!
So, another thank you to those who have watched or participated in the livestreams. Going forward, I might be a little more selective about when to put on a livestream when it comes to provincial byelections that are not expected to be very competitive, but I will continue to put these on when I think there will be interest.
Now for the numbers
I’ll now be sharing the number of total subscribers to The Writ, which includes both those who have paid subscriptions and those who are free subscribers. The total number of paid subscribers will be revealed — but only after the paywall.
I’m revealing these numbers for transparency, but also because the success of The Writ is entirely tied to readers wanting The Writ to succeed and continue, as well to want to be part of a community of election nerds, junkies and afficionados.
The total number of subscribers to The Writ is now around 5,170, a growth of about 1,500 subscribers over the last year.
What I’m most pleased about is the consistency of the growth since May 2022. The site hit a plateau between the end of the 2021 federal election and the beginning of the 2022 Ontario campaign, but there has been no repeat of that plateau since. Growth has been steady, which I take as a promising signal that the success of The Writ is no longer only tied to election campaigns.
You can see in the chart above that each of the provincial campaigns have increased the subscriber base by about 150 to 200. But the site also gained nearly 500 subscribers between the Quebec and P.E.I. elections, when there wasn’t all that much going on.
I ended 2022 with about 4,300 subscribers. My goal for 2023 was to end with at least 5,000 total subscribers. That’s been achieved — so why not swing for the fences and hope for 6,000 by the end of this year? You can be a part of reaching that goal. Share The Writ with a friend!
If you’re a free subscriber who has yet to take the plunge to become paid, thanks for your interest! I hope you’re enjoying the podcasts and everything else that is kept outside the paywall. But to get access to everything, including the full Weekly Writ every Wednesday, analyses like the Grenier Political Report and to participate in the comments sections and chats, I hope you’ll consider converting to paid!
There will be lots to watch over the next 12 months, including a provincial election in Manitoba and the run-up to campaigns in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick (and potentially elsewhere or even nationally — who knows?). There will be plenty of byelections in store and leadership races in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, and perhaps more that we don’t even know will happen yet.
Most importantly, your support means the world to me in demonstrating that there is room for this kind of project here in Canada.
Now let’s talk turkey.