Facebook has unwrapped Bulletin, its newsletter/blog initiative for independent writers aimed at competing with Substack and other rivals. Featured partners for the “closed beta” test of the service include best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell and sports reporter Erin Andrews.
Initially, Facebook won’t take a cut of revenue that Bulletin partners charge. CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said the social giant won’t take a share of creator revenue — for any of its products — until 2023. For now, Facebook is not currently accepting new creators to Bulletin.
“The goal here is to support millions of people doing creative work,” Zuckerberg in a Facebook Live Audio Rooms session announcing the launch of Bulletin. Substack charges a 10% fee of subscription revenue, while Revue, a startup acquired by Twitter, takes a 5% cut.
The first group of Bulletin partners, in addition to Gladwell and Andrews, includes Tan France (of Netflix’s “Queer Eye”), molecular biologist Dr. Raven Baxter, journalist Jessica Yellin, author Mitch Albom, cookbook author Dorie Greenspan and former ABC News correspondent Ron Claiborne.
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Both Gladwell’s and Andrews’s Bulletin newsletters are currently free. Gladwell’s newsletter, “Oh, MG,” promises readers, “Malcolm Gladwell answers your burning questions… and his own.” Andrews’ newsletter has the typographically unorthodox title “the rEAl dEAl with Erin Andrews.”
Facebook is paying some of the initial creators participating in the Bulletin launch, but the company isn’t saying who’s getting a paycheck. Eventually, Facebook hopes to bring an array of local journalists to Bulletin, Zuckerberg said. “Part of what I think we can try to do here is make a real investment in local news,” he said.
For the closed beta launch of Bulletin, Facebook said it looked for creators “with a diverse range of topics, perspectives and disciplines,” including writers and academics, industry experts and public figures. The company said it defines “independent creators” as individual journalists or subject matter experts “who are not contractually bound to write exclusively for a platform or publisher.”
“Discover fresh voices. Tune into new conversations. Welcome to Bulletin,” says the company’s site for the newsletter platform.
Some of the Facebook Bulletin content will be locked behind a paywall, giving subscribers access to premium benefits (like subscriber-only Facebook groups and badges), while other newsletters are free.
Facebook built Bulletin on a separate website “to enable creators to grow their audience in ways that are not exclusively dependent on the Facebook platform,” the company said. “Branding on Bulletin publications will be creator-first, and readers will not need to be logged into Facebook to read free content.”