Forbes Launches Paid Newsletter Platform to Rival Substack, Seeks Journalists With Existing Audiences

Forbes has announced that it has created a paid newsletter platform that will allow journalists to launch their own paid newsletters, in what appears to be the business media publication’s entry to compete with Substack and other paid newsletter platforms. Axios was the first to report the platform launch.

According to Forbes, the “Journalist Entrepreneurs” program will help writers “create deeply engaged communities around their subject-matter expertise and build enduring businesses across Forbes platforms, including premium newsletters.”

Axios reports that Forbes will initially hire 20 to 30 writers who already have big followings. So far, Dwight Silverman, the former tech editor for The Houston Chronicle, and travel writer Suzanne Kelleher have signed on.

“Journalist Entrepreneurs” will be considered staff at Forbes, with salary and benefits, and a cut of the revenue they generate – a 50-50 split of subscription revenue, and a portion of ad revenue based on page views and recurring visitors, Axios reports. Their work will be promoted across Forbes’ platforms, highlighted in marketing materials, and spotlighted on the publisher’s social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Forbes says it will also provide editorial guidance, copyediting and fact-checking support, legal support, and access to art and video libraries to paid newsletter writers.

Unlike Substack, which is largely hands-off when it comes to content moderation, Forbes, will likely have more editorial oversight when it comes to writers and content. It may not immediately attract high-profile and controversial journalists (such as Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald, Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias, and Andrew Sullivan, formerly of The Atlantic, all of whom turned to Substack after claiming to feel constrained while writing for their respective publications), but Forbes’ platform may be more appealing to writers covering industry-specific subjects looking to build their audiences. “We’re aiming for quality over quantity,” said Forbes Chief Content Officer Randall Lane.

Forbes says it plans to make the paid newsletter opportunity available in the spring to popular writers in its 2,800-person contributor network.

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