Introducing Pass the Fish Sauce Premium!
You can now join me to further explore and demystify Asian foodways. Consider premium membership. Here's why and how.
Years ago a food editor at a popular lifestyle magazine shared that on a monthly basis, she had to meet a quota of chicken breast recipes. Why the breast? It’s one of the most searched topics in cooking. Food writers and publications lean in on that part of the bird to draw eyeballs to their websites and capture advertising revenue so they can keep the lights on.
Chicken breast can be delicious but I tend to be a thigh gal. Whether you prefer breast or thigh, you’re here because you’re looking for something different.
Like many food writers, I make a living through multiple income streams — authoring books, freelancing, and teaching, for example. I also generate advertising revenue through my personal website, Vietworldkitchen.com. The pesky ads are part of the cost of “free” content, which really isn’t free because we all pay in varying ways. We’ve trained ourselves to gloss over the ads and keep on scrolling. On my website, I’m pressured to meet search engine metrics and trends, but I’m no good at it.
At this stage in my twenty years as a food writer, I am incredibly weary and frustrated about writing for a machine. I’ve long participated in the “exposure economy”, working for low or no wages, hoping that my work filters widely into the internet so that I’ll be more discoverable and one day, I’ll make a ton of money as an influencer with a zillion followers and/or book sales. Turns out that that’s a great business model for people who rarely sleep or for trust-fund babies! I’m neither of those.
Given all that, last November, I launched Pass the Fish Sauce (PTFS) on Substack.
Here’s my three-month progress report: Readership continues to grow, with over 7,650 subscribers in 46 states and 21 nations. A majority of you open my emails and dig what you read. Cảm ơn nhiều (thanks so much in Vietnamese).
“Andrea Nguyen, I LOVE your posts. They are so real and honestly friendly — and inspiring. Thank you always.” — Erica
“I absolutely love this newsletter. You just made Monday morning palatable.” — Marilyn
I love to read and respond to your comments and questions. For the first time in years, I feel energized and excited about creating online content! PTFS is a newsletter for now but it has potential to become a thriving hub on Asian foodways (what I originally envisioned for Viet World Kitchen back in 2002).
On average, I spend two days a week crafting and polishing PTFS posts — recipe development, photography, and then writing and editing. If there’s videography involved, add half a day.
The more time I’ve spent with PTFS, the more I want to divorce myself from an ad-dependent life. As I’ve been nurturing this newsletter, I’ve wondered: Where should it go? Where should I take it? I dream about possibilities, such as:
Spotlighting Asian ingredients, recipes and techniques that interest Asian food nerds but not necessarily mainstream food media
Diving deep into Asian dishes and foodways in an organic manner, not to please search engine optimization
Organizing virtual get togethers to answer (or pose) culinary questions
Hosting uncommon podcast conversations and Q&As with producers, chefs, and authors who are shaping Asian food today
Teaching cooking classes to folks near and far
This isn’t content that’s SEO friendly or aimed at going viral, but it potentially has high value to you and me. Making it happen requires time and resources, so I must ask you for financial support.
My Reluctance, then Folks Pledged
Receiving adequate financial support for creating quality content in an untethered manner is every writer’s dream. However, I’ve been afraid to ask anyone to chip in. Am I worth it? Maybe you’ll say, “No way. Are you kidding?”
Despite my self-doubts and without my asking, a dozen of you pledged to support my work by becoming paid subscribers! The universe was telling me something with pledge comments like these (names were withheld for privacy reasons):
“I love Vietnam and I love your cookbooks.”
“Rock on sistah!”
"How have I not subscribed to this yet!!!”
“I’m a fan.”
“I’ve learned so much from your cookbooks and blog and social media, I appreciate all the delicious flavors and better knowledge of the world of food I have gained from you.”
“Really enjoy your work and writing, and have made lots of your recipes, thank you!”
“Happy to support you Andrea.”
I interpret these comments as pats on the back, nudges, and firm kicks in the butt. So, I decided to start offering premium content to paid subscribers. Here it goes.
Pass the Fish Sauce Subscription Benefits
Moving forward, PTFS will continue arriving on Sundays. However, you have more options for engagement:
Free Subscriber — Stay in touch via:
Ongoing dispatches on Asian cooking, culture and recipes
Paid Subscriber — Upgrade to $5 monthly or $50 annually (get 2 months free) to receive:
All free subscription dispatches
Monthly deep-dive recipes, video techniques, and more
Occasional virtual get-togethers and giveaways
Cooking class discounts
Suggest topics to shape PTFS
Access to the full archive
Founding Member — Contribute $150 annually to boost me big time and receive:
All paid subscription benefits
A signed copy of my new book, Ever-Green Vietnamese
What Will Paid Content be Like?
In March, I’ll send a paid subscriber post for you all to check out. Stay tuned.
Meantime, if you have found this newsletter valuable, or would like to support my work, become a paid member. Your extra belief in me would mean a lot!
Oh my! I feared crickets but folks are signing up to be paid subscribers. Thank you. You made me so happy. YAY and WOW!
I’ve been following your work ever since purchasing Into the Vietnamese Kitchen something like 10 years ago. Honored to be supporting your Substack as a founding member and learning more about cooking our country’s delicious food.