🎙️ | 33 | Michael Fritzell - Asian Century Stocks
Life as a Creator
And we’re back! After a wild 6 months or so I’m back on the bandwagon. And what better way to kick off the reboot than with my first-ever podcast guest and good friend, Michael Fritzell (@Fritz844). Michael is the author and owner of Asian Century Stocks, a newsletter providing financial journalism for companies and stocks in the Asia-Pacific.
In this long overdue conversation, we cover life as a creator, balancing readers' wants and authors' needs, and the marketing needed for a successful newsletter.
I hope you enjoy the return of the podcast my conversation with Michael Fritzell!
Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or on your favourite podcast platform.
My takeaways and lessons:
Creator life can be a cruel mistress
“I write on a Substack that I'm going to take four weeks of holiday each year. Now I'm not actually sure if people read that. […] I remember, last October, I went on a trip to Germany for six days or something and I took a picture of that and posted it on Twitter. And I don't know if it was coincidence or not, but immediately within a few hours, I got 4 unsubscribes. People, I guess, they were shocked that I wasn't working for them.”
Beware of people’s anchoring to prices
“the top 20 list of grossing Substack, the median pricing is about 35 USD per month. And I thought, okay, mine is probably equivalent in terms of the content, so I should be able to charge the same. That should be the number that maximizes the revenue. But it's very difficult, I think, because people, they anchor to the previous price and they think, "Oh, it's worth $29 and now you charge $34. Then it feels costly somehow paying the extra.”
[00:00:13] - [Intro] - What’s new?
[00:03:07] - How to convert a free reader into a paying subscriber?
[00:05:11] - The pressure of timeliness
[00:06:16] - Life Outside Content
[00:09:48] - Michael’s Workflow
[00:11:26] - The Substack Fellowship
[00:14:21] - Reflecting on Subscription price changes
[00:19:06] - Asian Century Stocks Business Plan?
[00:23:33] - Balancing Reader Wants VS Author’s Sanity
[00:31:29] - Michael’s Approach to Marketing
[00:36:49] - Wrapping Up
Connect with Michael:
Kalani Scarrott (00:13): My guest today is Michael Fritzell. Michael is the author and owner of Asian Century Stocks, which is a newsletter providing financial journalism for companies and stocks in Asia-Pacific. In today's conversation, we cover life as a creator, balancing readers' wants and authors' needs and the marketing needed for a successful newsletter. So, please enjoy my conversation with Michael Fritzell. Michael, thank you so much for being here. We've gone from your first ever guest to now. What’s new and what’s creator life like, I guess?
Michael Fritzell (01:03): It's good. I think last time we spoke must have been about a year ago or something. And that much has really changed, just grinding it out, and I think competition now has been a lot higher than before. I was one of the few finance Substacks that one of the few people that focus on Substacks full-time. And now, there are quite a few. But at the same time, growth is still continuing slowly but it's going up. So that's pretty much an update. But personal lifewise, I think everything is almost the same.
Kalani Scarrott (01:41): Yeah, no, fair enough. And it's one thing I was going to ask about because you sort of rode that Substacks wave, I guess, got on pretty early during COVID. How do you balance finding growth, committing to that, and maybe trying new things? Because I know you've tried a few video sort of things with your Substacks as well. How do you balance committing to what you already know and what you've done well, and what's worked in the past and what's going forward, I guess?
Michael Fritzell (02:03): This is going to sound stupid, but in the beginning, I had no idea what people wanted, and I just experimented with all sorts of formats. I tried interviews with other people to try to get them to share my Substacks with their audience. I tried just general articles and sharing that with journalists, stock research, industry research, basically everything. I mean, it probably sounds stupid, but I didn't think about just asking my subscribers. And after half a year, I did a survey, and I realized that people didn't care about all those other things, stuff other than stock tips. People want to have ideas. And they want to have to know about specific companies that they could invest in. Looking back, I think I could have worked a lot more efficiently and just focus on what people wants, which, in my case, was really about specific stock ideas and specific reports by companies in Asia.
Kalani Scarrott (03:07): Yeah, fair enough. And especially for your type of work, I don't know specific numbers, but you got at least a few hundred paying subscribers and that's like how you rely on income. How do you convert someone from a free reader into a paying subscriber?
Michael Fritzell (03:21): There are many different methods. And I think I really admire this Edwin Dorsey, the Bear Cave. He also has another Substack called Sunday's Idea Brunch. And to talk about that, Substack, specifically, he does that really well in Sunday's Idea Brunch, because he just churn out the same formats content over and over and over again. That's one way of doing it because then people realize exactly what they're getting. There's no confusion. They get one interview every week. For him, I think that worked really well.
In my case, I've used a different strategy. With my Substack, I have a weekly newsletter which is completely free. And in that newsletter, I try to provide value, of course, to those who subscribe for free, but I also mention my own paid content. And I try to get people to at least pay attention once a week. And I write about specific stocks. So, in that weekly newsletter, I will have a link to those stock reports. And if people have interest in Samsonite or whatever company that I speak about, they click on it, and then it will show up paywall, and hopefully, they'll subscribe.
Yeah, I got to say though, I mean it has become more difficult. My free email list is about almost 8,000 now, but they paid less than 300. It's probably 260 actual paying, which is okay, but it's getting harder to get people to convert. I understand that as well. It's been a very tough period for everyone, I think, with high inflation and high energy prices, so I can understand that, too.
Kalani Scarrott (05:11): Yeah, fair enough. And same thing with what you do, there's sort that pressure of timeliness, I guess. I can write about the great Emmy Award tomorrow. I can do it in a year from now. History doesn't change. Whereas for you on stock and ideas, there's sort of a bit of timeliness about it. So, how do you deal with that pressure of what you write about, I guess?
Michael Fritzell (05:29): That's an interesting question. I know that some others, they don't have deadlines. Specifically, Doomberg who's been widely successful, he just writes, he just published something when it's finished. And that's a really good strategy. On the other hand, I know that people have a lot of emails in their inboxes. And you would want them to open your emails at the same time every week, so it becomes part of their habits. That's what I've been striving to do. So, that's why I send out emails every Sunday morning, every Monday morning. Hoping that I'll be part of their lives, and my emails won't just kind of accumulate in the inboxes and become something that they have to do. I think there are pros and cons with each approach.
Kalani Scarrott (06:16): Yeah, no, there's plenty of ways to skin a cat. Like investing, you can do many different ways, and I suppose whatever works for you, I guess. I know we've spoken about this before previously just through WhatsApp, but how do you deal with taking personal time or holidays and dealing with what readers expect of you as a creator? Because, I mean, we all have to have lives as well, but sometimes, yeah, how do you deal with that?
Michael Fritzell (06:39): I write on a Substack that I'm going to take four weeks of holiday each year. Now I'm not actually sure if people read that. Do they actually go to About section and read what my holidays plans are? So, some people, they may be surprised when I do take a holiday. I remember, last October, I went on a trip to Germany six days or something and I took a picture of that and posted it on Twitter. And I don't know if it was coincidence or not, but immediately within a few hours, I got 4 unsubscribes. People, I guess, they were shocked that I wasn't working for them.
Kalani Scarrott (07:19): Yeah, we got to have lives. And it helps in the long run as well because you get refreshed and you get new ideas.
Michael Fritzell (07:24): Yeah, exactly. You just get to set your expectations. Some people, they will take longer holidays, and they're just post subscriptions. And maybe, that's the right way. I mean, it gets a bit tricky when you charge every month and then you take a one-month holiday. I mean, that's not really fair. Yeah, I will take Christmas holidays. I got to say though, this has been a very special period both for myself and for everyone else. Singapore has been almost locked down for the large part of the last two and a half years, so it wasn't impossible to travel anywhere. I took some staycation, but yeah, so we'll see. Yeah, maybe, I'll take more holidays in next year or so.
Kalani Scarrott (08:06): I feel like I know the answer, but your work doesn't really lend itself to having a backlog. I know, for example, Asianometry with his videos, he has a backlog of over 10 videos, so he can take those months off. Whereas for you, is that even possible?
Michael Fritzell (08:18): I find it's really annoying when you write about something, and you spend a lot of time on it and then the stock price runs away. Not to say that I'm not making recommendations, but it's still annoying because I know what people want me to write about. And a lot of times is because China is unpopular at the moment, for example. That's the time that people want to learn about chain stocks. Then, if I have a pipeline of 10 stocks and then they just run up 30, 40%, I will have them missed that opportunity. So, my approach is I have deadlines. And literally, I stopped writing about something maybe three or four days before the deadline, and I just kind of panic. And I just go through everything in panic mode. And then I try to hit the deadline as good as I can.
But that's just my approach. I'm thinking about changing to a more slow pace and just send things out when I'm ready and perhaps also bit work on ideas bit by bit. That said though, I should mention as well that I started to work in Notion. I have a full list, a whole database of ideas that I looked at in the past, and I'll probably go through 10 ideas for everyone that I choose. So that's another process. I go through that list and I work back and forth on all of these stocks, just researching back and forth.
Kalani Scarrott (09:48): Yeah. Oh, cool. So you talked a bit about your approach, and you panic a few days before the deadline. So, if reports getting sent out Sunday, could you talk to me about the few days before? Yeah, what's your workflow look like? Do you work in the mornings? What are you doing and what are you looking at?
Michael Fritzell (10:02): I would say my workflow isn't particularly good. I'm not a role model in any way but... So, basically, weekends start to be family time for me. So, I have five-year-old son, and I try to spend much time as I can with him. So, Saturdays, they pretty much go out. I don't have time then, so I have to finish it on Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday.
But by Saturday morning, I will write the summary email. And on Sunday, I would have this checklist. I've worked through this checklist. I've done so many mistakes over the past year and a half, that I know what I will do wrong like spelling for example. I'm not a native English speaker. I will go through the spelling in great detail as well as checking on the links, stuff like that, like checking the headlines and everything. So, Sundays, I would check all these things just before I send it out. So, that's pretty much the process. It forces me to be finished by Friday. And sometimes, I can do it during the week, do work hours. And other times, I'm just kind of panic and work out too late. It's kind of a grind, to be honest. Yeah.
Kalani Scarrott (11:26): Damn. And from beginning to now, you spoke about asking your readers what they wanted and figuring that out, but also, I think you were part of the Substack fellowship. Was it? And Bill Bishop was your mentor? What was that like and what did you learn?
Michael Fritzell (11:37): Well, I got to speak to Bill for an hour. He told me a lot of tips, and he's just so savvy. He knows exactly all those questions that I've had about pricing and everything. He was really spot on with his advice. So that was helpful. He is also been very nice sharing my content and also gave feedback on a number of... I've written a number of essays like plans, I guess, you can call it, like business plans, and he had comments on them. So that's pretty much been the process with Bill. And in that fellowship more broadly speaking, we had, I think, 8 to 10 different content creators in completely different areas. I learned a lot from them. Everything from design to community building, just how they organize their work with to-do list and databases where they put the ideas and stuff like that, that's been extremely helpful.
And frankly, through that process, kind of comparing all these successful Substack, you realize that it's not so much about the content. People, they don't subscribe for the content. They want to hear a voice. They want to be part of a community. I know everything about Multi Bintang in Indonesia. That's fine, but they can also Google for that information. What they continue to subscribe for is, if they lack you as a person, if they want to have your perspective, perhaps guidance, and also if there are a bunch of other people that they also like to interact with. So, I think Substack is moving that direction, becoming more community, having more community focus. And that's exactly what you should do, I think, as a content creator as well. Focus on those aspects.
Kalani Scarrott (13:35): Yeah, it's interesting you bring that up because I remember, I think it was Noah Smith mentioned that as well for his tips for Substack readers. People actually care about you and put some personal photos and stuff in. I try and do it in my monthly emails, but yeah, it's a...
Michael Fritzell (13:49): Exactly. People have different approaches and I'm such a private person, so I think people cringe a little bit if I put too much many of my personal pictures. Especially since in the past, it's been very neutral. I hardly have any opinions of my own on the Substack. I try to keep professional. I guess, I can't just suddenly just post a lot of family pictures, but each to their own, yes.
Kalani Scarrott (14:21): Yeah, it is tough and I suppose it works better for certain creators than others. But if I can ask as well, you went through a price change, I guess you updated a pricing. How did you approach that? Because it's a pretty interesting topic and not many people know about and would know how to navigate it. So how did you go about it? How did you think about it and how do you think it's turned out?
Michael Fritzell (14:40): My thinking was that, yeah, I looked at all the other successful Substack. And the top 20 list of grossing Substack, they on average or the medium pricing is about 35 USD per month. And I thought, okay, mine is probably equivalent in terms of the content, so I should be able to charge the same. That should be the number that maximizes the revenue. But it's very difficult, I think, because people, they anchor to the previous price and they think, "Oh, it's worth $29 and now you charge 34. Then it feels costly somehow paying the extra." Plus, I guess $35 a month, or no, 35 a day, it's not a small amount. And people, they do compare with Netflix. A lot of people, they pay for Netflix. They pay for Amazon Prime or Google drivers or things like that. And in comparison, it might seem quite high to pay for $35 for a Substack.
At the same time, if you write niche content, if I were to charge $10, I would starve to death. So, I don't know if it would probably not exist at all this kind of content. Maybe, I can find 500-page subscribers who are interested in Southeast Asian and Asian stocks in terms of what I do. But yeah, it's difficult. If I could get scale, I would charge $10 a month. But it's so early now in the development of Substack that we don't know how many are potentially interested. So, if I had conviction, I could get a few thousand paying subscribers. I would charge really cheaply, but we'll see. So, yeah, to ask you a question, it was a 100% just copying all the Substack. And we'll see, I think two or three years from now, we'll see where the chips fall, what the appropriate pricing is.
Kalani Scarrott (16:46): No, it's tough because you mentioned that sort of anchoring with pricing. But I was talking to two investors in Singapore when I was there last time. And we're talking about your work, and it's like it's insane value for what you provide and there's no one else doing it. But again, people just get anchored. It's insane.
Michael Fritzell (17:00): It's weird. Yeah, some other research services, there's one called VIE, there's one called KEDM. They charge three or four thousand dollars, I mean, a lot of money. So, comparatively, I charge maybe 110 for that. It's odd that there seems to be no standard for what things should cost. So, we'll see where we end up. I like the idea of democratizing information. Maybe, that's idealists. Frankly, Bill Bishop, he told me that he thought that my Substack was probably too cheap with what I'm providing. I should probably charge a lot more. But yeah, I think, at the same time, when I did that, when I increased the price, people might have stopped basically. And that may have been a coincidence. Yeah, I think it was a very negative effect on growth.
Kalani Scarrott (18:02): It's an interesting. Obviously, I don't know, I'm just spitballing here, but maybe it's just one of those cases to rip the band-aid off, double it, you know what I mean? Don't even bother increasing five dollars, which is I don't know how many percent, but yeh just double it. Just rip the band-aid off. Commit to it. Yeah, I know some people like Jeremy Raper as well, he charges and insane amount. He's closed off to new. I just assumed, I don't know, less hassle, the more people you bring in, the more complaints, the more... I don't know. I'm not sure what relationship he has with his clients and customers, readers, whatever.
Michael Fritzell (18:30): One difference is, on My Substack, I don't provide recommendations. And the reports, they're not meant to be taken as investment recommendations. Whereas I think he does, his write-ups are very much... This stock is going to go up in the next six months. Whereas I'm certainly not. I'm more providing just information and inevitably my pricing will have to be lower because people don't discount. They don't think they're going to make X amount of money within six months. They just subscribe because they want to get access to the information and the research.
Kalani Scarrott (19:06): Cool. You've spoken a couple times about next few years business plans. So what is the business plan? In a perfect world, what does Asian Century Stocks look like?
Michael Fritzell (19:14): I actually don't really have a long-term business plan. My plan is to basically pay for my expenses like personal expenses. Right now, I'm still relying on capital gains a little bit and not having that kind of weight would be amazing. If I can just finance all my expenses using the Substack, that would be great. I mean, it is my full-time job, so that is the goal. And once I reach down, I think I'll just keep churning. Over time, of course, I will continue do surveys. And something I also like you is to speak with specific subscribers and ask them what problems I can solve for them. And I'll definitely do more of that, more surveys and try to get more feedback and just try to meet their expectations and demands and wishes.
And with this another thing though, a few weeks ago, I started doing videos. I love YouTube. For me, video is the future. I'm 100% certain of that. Personally, I'm not very good at video production, so I'm still working on it, but that is the plan I want to do. Any report that I write, I'm going to do the summary using video. So, that is really the plan. And then, hopefully, how much the paying subscriber, how much that number goes up, I have no idea. Maybe it will be flat. Maybe it go up. It will double. But that's just for hope. That's just hope. In terms of execution, it's all video, continuing writing reports on stocks. And so I'll do a few more tweaks. Actually, I decided to do focus primarily on markets that you can access from interactive workers and not so much Southeast Asia because I know that very few people have access to Indonesia and Malaysia. So that's one plan and maybe more stocks in Australia. That's it. I mean, that's pretty much... That is the plan.
Kalani Scarrott (21:26): Yeah, no, fair enough. And join the club. I’m massive on video. Especially chatting to Asianometry, he's got me so keen, but it's a tough slog and it's a big learning curve, I think.
Michael Fritzell (21:37): If you are getting into editing and all this stuff, which is frankly, what you should do, I mean, his production qualities is excellent and yours as well by the way. It's fantastic. So, I guess, it is a learning curve. I'm really positive with what Substack is doing. They're offering all these different ways of interacting with your subscribers and also the way that you can provide content. So, these days, Substack is not so much a newsletter anymore. It's become more of a paywall platform, a cold platform where you can put up a paywall easily. And within that, I think video is, for sure, the future.
Kalani Scarrott (22:20): And it's an interesting one, I like it because it's sort of a combination of writing a bit of audio to get the quality right and then via editing. But it’s like at the moment, I feel like jack of all trades, master of none, I’ve just having... Nothing’s quite taken off.
Michael Fritzell (22:31): But exactly, you just got to keep experimenting. And then, you look at the numbers, and you see what people do like, whether they will press like. And now, I have these polls where I ask people to rank the posts from one to five. I look at those as well. So, I try to get feedback. And so if you just keep experimenting with different formats and you try to get feedback, you will know what clicks. I guess, that's my advice. But speaking about that, I mentioned the voice thing, people want to hear your voice, and they subscribe to you rather than the content. So, if you're on the screen in a video, they will get to know you a little bit better. At least, that's my theory. So that's another reason to put on the webcam and record something where you just talking to the camera. I think that's probably a good idea to create that connection with your subscribers.
Kalani Scarrott (23:33): Certainly helps put a name to your face. But yeah, you make a good point. Same thing with Johnny Harris. I don't know if Johnny Harris on YouTube. He does video essays, but a lot of time, he's on camera as well on the ground. So it's like it's a good balance. Obviously, this is different for me and you because I sort of just follow my curiosity, because everything's free. I can interview who I want. I can make videos on whatever I want. But you sort of need to take on reader's advice and their feedback but also how do you keep yourself interested and choose what you want to cover.
Michael Fritzell (24:00): I can tell you how many times, basically at least once a week, people would tell me, "Write about Alibaba or write about Tencent," those two stocks basically, or the EV stocks, BYD. I get that every week. It's just nonstop. So, to me, I'm already focusing on what I think is interesting. I had this idea of who I want to target, is basically someone like me. I picture that my subscribers is someone maybe 40, 50 years old. He is running maybe a family office or value fund and focus on not necessarily the big companies. He's willing to invest in stuff outside the index. So, I'm kind of optimizing for that person. So far, I've ignored that advice, but I do get tons of feedback that I need to follow. Actually, in last few months, there hasn't been much talk about Alibaba, but one year ago, for sure, every week.
Kalani Scarrott (25:10): That's so funny because why would they want research on it when there's already hundreds of research reports already done before as well?
Michael Fritzell (25:16): Yeah, so I have literally saved down all the Alibaba research reports. And every time someone asked me, I just send them the same stuff because I got the same question over and over again. I just send them five links of excellent write-ups on Alibaba from Packy McCormick and all these guys. Really good stuff. So, that's the thing. So, in theory, if I write about Multi Bintang, for example, I know that... Nobody else has done that. So, in theory, I should add all value. But what's weird is that in investing people, they don't want to read stuff that no one else read. They want to read what everyone else reads. So, it's odd, but eventually, hopefully, they will see the value in what I do.
Kalani Scarrott (26:03): And even then, maybe, a bit of confirmation bias as well. If someone's invested in TSMC and you write a report that's glowing of them, maybe they enjoy it.
Michael Fritzell (26:10): That is true. I mean, a lot of times, those are the stocks they own, so they want to learn more about those stocks they own and that's fair enough. I just think that there are enough Substack who do that. There's one, Kevin G, or something like that who write the Substack called DJY Research. He's covered the Chinese tech stocks so well that I send them his way because he's done that extremely well. So, it depends on what you focus on. Inevitably, I think if you focus on stocks that no one talks about, that would be an niche product. It would have to be a little bit more expensive. It's just a chosen niche, I guess.
Kalani Scarrott (26:41): Now, Kevin does great work. I've tried multiple times to get him on the podcast. I'm asking him again if somehow is listing. But yeah, is there anything you think people misunderstand about your work and what you do?
Michael Fritzell (26:51): I guess, from a content creator's perspective, I'm not sure if people realize there's a lot of negativity. You get that as content creator. I think most people probably do. Especially on Twitter, you get a lot of negative stuff. And somehow, that sticks with you. It's a little bit hard to deal with them. I guess, I'm learning it slowly, but that is something... I'm not sure if people realize this. You do get a lot of negative stuff or just reading the unsubscribes. I don't know. You can just ignore it. But once you put yourself out there, if they... And all with anything that you do, they might just send a message and pointed out to you. I saw there was... Edwin Dorsey just a few weeks ago, he had someone sign up with an email called firstname.lastname@example.org just to get back at him.
Kalani Scarrott (27:57): The length people go to. And it's interesting as well, I think there's a shift as well if you write and you have his little side blog on the side, a little Substack on the side, I don't know, it's cool, it's fun. But then as soon as you say you're a content creator or something or it's like a core part of your identity, it's like, I don't know, people think you're selling out or... I don't know. There's a big shift, I think.
Michael Fritzell (28:15): Yeah. Do they think that?
Kalani Scarrott (28:17): I don't know. That's sort of what I found. Especially once I've started traveling, I've committed to this content thing and I've sort of not advertised a bit more, but I don't know, that's just what I've found. It's a bit... I don't know. People look down on me. Maybe, I'm just thinking things in my head. I don't know.
Michael Fritzell (28:32): I think that's a phase. At least, that's my base assumption, is that people haven't made money yet that much from writing online. Let's say on YouTube, they do make a lot of money. People like Marques Brownlee or whoever, they've made it big time. I don't think that's necessarily going to be the case for small time for newsletter writers on Substack, but some do. Bill Bishop does. He's doing it really well. And he's not the only one. There are many of them who do really well.
So, in fact, if you can get scale, I think you can do very well by writing online just because you can send out those newsletters to tens or hundreds of thousands of people. And the incremental margin on those subscribers, it is like 85% after Substack fees and Strike fees. So it's extremely lucrative, I think, if you do get that scale. But we'll see.
I think this is just the beginning. I know some fund managers or CIOs who subscribe to 10 Substack, that's still very unusual. But I think maybe in the future, it'll be common for most professionals to just have 5, 10 favorite Substack that they subscribe to and get ideas from. So, if that's the case, 400,000 people have Bloomberg terminals or something like that, half a million maybe seeking offer... I don't know how many positions they have each month, maybe 50 million huge numbers, like massive numbers. So, if you can get that scale, it can become really lucrative. So, if they look down upon that kind of business, I think they're probably wrong because at some point, you're going to have really successes among new study writers who are on the Substack platform, I think.
Kalani Scarrott (30:35): Yeah, that's an interesting point about the institutional side coming to Substack and becoming the norm. I never really thought about that. Yeah, good point. And just a fun one, how do you introduce yourself then at parties or something? Are you a writer, analyst, content creator? How do you...
Michael Fritzell (30:48): At parties, I say I'm a Substack author. That's really what I do. I'm kind of journalist now Like a French journalist. I'm not an analyst because an analyst is someone who makes financial advice, who provides financial advice and I'm not that person. So, yeah, I'm an author now, but there's no good word for it. And I think people try to put you into this buckets and I don't belong in these buckets. I never watched for a newspaper. But I guess, is it a newsletter? I guess, it is in a way.
Kalani Scarrott (31:29): No, it's cool. It's just interesting how people sort of view themselves, I mean, how they... I don't know. I'm not even working at the moment, I'd say. Yeah, I'm just farting around, I guess. We've spoken about this before and I think we're kind of similar on this topic, but how do you approach marketing for your Substack? So, obviously, Twitter is a big driver and then Twitter threads is obviously a painful but maybe required part of marketing. Not the most fun, I think, for me. I don't want to do it, but how do you approach marketing?
Michael Fritzell (31:57): I'm actually really bad at it, so I don't think you should take my advice. I think if you want to become good at something, you focus on one thing and you do that really well. And in my case, I focus on the research and I try to make that as good as possible and I really haven't figured out yet how to mark myself effectively. My Twitter followers has flatlined. It doesn't go up anymore unless someone... So, somehow, I don't show up in people's feeds. I'm not sure exactly why that's the case, but maybe I don't write enough threads. I guess, you got to do that. And I haven't really made much effort in that respect yet. So, there are others who do this much, much better than I do. Like Dunbar, this one called Compounding something, I forgot his name. But other people do that much better than I do in terms of growing on Twitter.
I know that some people have had great success with LinkedIn, especially people who are more perhaps bit more mainstream somehow. It seems a lot easier to grow on LinkedIn these days. Something must have changed with the algorithm. But for me, I've been lucky that I've been recommended by other Substack, so I grow the free list that way, and then I try to convert them. In terms of what I do myself, I have done interviews with people. And then they've shared my interview with them on my Substack with their audience. And that's brought in some subscribers, but I guess not that many. And then, sometimes, I just write about stocks on Twitter and hopefully people retweet them. But I got to say, yeah, like I said, I'm still working on it.
Literally, just yesterday, I bought a book about finance, how to create online marketing funnels. I'm not sure. Something I did do recently though that did help a lot was that I pinned my latest post on Twitter. Silly thing is nothing, but at least it will get people to click. It's something new. You put the newest post, paywall post, by the way, on your Twitter profile. Then, when they go to the profile, they'll be interested and they might click it. If it's the same post all the time or if there's no pinned post, they may not even click on the link. So, that's something I did.
And on the Substack itself, I used to have a table of contents, just pinned to the top of the Substack. Now instead I have... It says a tagline, "What You Get From the Substack," and I think it says Asian value stocks straight to your inbox. It's like, "Yeah, this is what you get. You get reports into your email inbox." And then it says why you should subscribe. And since I did that, I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but growth has picked up, for sure. Conversion has really picked up. And I got, the week after I did that, probably seven new subscribers, which, for me, is a lot. So somehow it's all about that funnel. The people discover you maybe on Twitter or any social media, and then you need to get them to go to the next step, which is to go to your Substack. And then finally getting to subscribe. And to think about the process and reducing friction in each of those steps is probably really worthwhile, but yeah, I can't really say that I crack the code or anything but I try.
Kalani Scarrott (35:51): No, there's a couple good points there. And that's part of for me why video is so appealing because you get that... If you just put enough good content out, it refers you alongside other good videos and then that's how you get that growth going. Whereas for a podcast or writing, we don't appear next to other people's episodes or writing. You know what I mean? Yeah. And for LinkedIn, I don't know, maybe there is a opportunity there because let's face it, a lot of people don't post on LinkedIn because they have jobs and stuff. Whereas anyone can shitpost on Twitter under anonymous accounts, that's who you're competing against, whereas LinkedIn...
Michael Fritzell (36:22): That is very true. I mean, you have less competition. And frankly, investing in that way as well, you want to avoid the competition. And same thing with producing content, you've got to have some kind of niche. Otherwise, you go where you have some kind of advantage. And that's actually very true. It is true. The key difference there is that people use, they're anonymous on Twitter, whereas they're not on LinkedIn.
Kalani Scarrott (36:49): No, it's something I've certainly thought about because, yeah, everyone still spends time on LinkedIn because they need it for work, but they don't necessarily post. So, as long as you post, you have sort of halfway chance of appearing up. And so yeah, just thought, I think that's probably a good place to wrap. Is there anything else you want to cover, mention what do you want to plug?
Michael Fritzell (37:05): Yeah, sure. Absolutely. I mean, I write about stocks in Asia and tend to be what normal investors who perceive to be value stocks as in pretty conservative, not necessarily old economy, but just normal companies that maybe interesting for one reason or another. Typically, I write at least 20 reports per year. It might be more than that. And yeah, I also have a free weekly email where I try to summarize the key stuff that has happened over the past week or the key podcasts that I've found, a key writing that I've paid attention to, and also like stock write-ups. So it kind of summarizes everything you need to know if you're covering the region, at least that's the ambition.
Kalani Scarrott (37:52): Yeah, no, I cannot recommend you work enough. I love it. So, it's honestly one of my favorite things to read. And yeah, I love it. So, thank you so much for coming on today. I really appreciate it. And yeah, cheers.