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I was sad to have to miss both of Mark Diacono's recent Substack sessions due to work commitments, though did manage to tune in for much of Sara Tasker's live Q&A Instagram session recently. But to your point, I think this is very much the case, and beyond Substack too. Over six years of running workshops and my attendees have been overwhelmingly women (at a guess, I'd say between 80-85%). The community I speak with and who comment on Instagram and in my previous life on Twitter are/were also overwhelmingly women. Though I'm wary of generalising and also the bubbles and chambers I move and interact within, I've always found women to be far more open to the community and collaborative aspects of these kinds of platforms and forums.

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It's so (typically) good of you to take the trouble to share that insight, Matt which carries so much more authority coming from a man rather than me. You are, of course, one of the big exceptions as is Mark Diacono who I would @ if I knew how to @ in a comment. (Anyone help me out there)

But I'm still intrigued. I understand women tend to value and enjoy connection and collaboration more but not to take the opportunity to learn how to do things better? Why aren't more men up for that? Curious!

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Apr 22·edited Apr 22Liked by Fiona Beckett

I know I've often not been brave enough to spend time and money to improve myself – the short-sightedness of lacking a good investment strategy. I've had many photographers and stylists onto the workshop – a few who you know well! – by whose presence I've always been flattered (not to mention uplifted). I've watched a few of them go on to become teachers themselves after investing in their education on workshops and online sessions such as mine. I enjoy that plurality of voices teaching in the same area. Where we repeat and overlap one another, I find that's where attendees can take away and reinforce ideas and lessons with real confidence. Where we differ, attendees become exposed to having their ideas refreshingly challenged. I love that we can find both that difference and accord when we see people like you and Mark and, dare I say, myself talking about things with experience, passion and belief. And I wonder if it is those three qualities that appeal more to so many more women than men in terms of self-improvement, and if men chase that more narrow and less multi-dimensional gain from teaching: the mere accumulation of knowledge.

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You may be right! Food for thought anyway ...

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

Men don't read the instructions except as a last resort, nor do they ask for directions.

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You said that, not me 😉

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

I beg to disagree, Fiona--@Simon K Jones, @Russell Nohelty, @Martin Prior, @Tim Denning, @Tom Kuegler. Each has a different take, unique and helpful. Some have done long PDFs to explain various aspects of Substack, others simply detailed essays w/ lots of ideas.

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Honestly I'm glad to hear it and will seek them out! It's just that whenever I log on to a session about Substack the audience is generally 95% women!

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

Do check them out! They each have excellent takes on myriad aspects of the platform.

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I have to confess that I've not yet figured out (or found sufficient energy) how to get much out of Substack's community features. Tried posting some notes but it seemed like nothing but tumbleweed. Guess I need to try harder.... (I am a substack newbie, just 4 months in)

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Forgive me Simon. I sympathise but this rather proves my point. Most women's reaction - and they have the same. time constraints as men - would be to learn how to make Substack work better for them. So yes, probably a question of trying harder (there's lots of good advice out there from writers such as Sarah Fay https://www.writersatwork.net/

(I do enjoy your writing though!)

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I just find it utterly exhausting. It makes me want to crawl into a hole and never come out. Hard enough just cranking out an article every week!

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Sympathy. I'm with you there. But isn't it worth trying to make article you 'crank out' reach the maximum possible audience?

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Apr 26·edited Apr 26Liked by Fiona Beckett

Of course it is. And I do try. But at the moment Instagram is the platform I understand best, and that seems to deliver some kind of result. So I've focused more effort there. Twitter used to help with driving engagement but now it's a waste of time. Threads seems even worse.

I do also read guides about how to build your audience on substack etc. But sometimes I fallback to a trueism (that I've also read on some of those advisory posts) that the best thing one can do is focus on making the content as good as possible. And not try to be someone you are not.

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Apr 22Liked by Fiona Beckett

I love this post and the discussion. As I launch my writing career, I have been taking some Writing Workshops and find that these programs too, are populated by probably a 10:1 female to male ratio. The heart of these experiences is sharing/getting feedback on writing, a collaborative experience that requires vulnerability and risk taking. On the other side of the coin, I teach Executive Education courses for a highly acclaimed university and find a more equal male: female ratio. Maybe because the offering includes the term "executive" which somehow connotes something that is more about individual leadership and not collaboration and group risk-taking. Who knows! But a provocative set of experiences to think about.

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I go to a Saturday morning Spanish Language exchange and there the split is much more even. 60/40 female to male, I'd say. So what is it about Substack? Or writing?!

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Apr 22Liked by Fiona Beckett

a profound question!!

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Apr 22Liked by Fiona Beckett

I am very conscious that I need to contribute more to the Substack community. I am also keenly aware of needing to learn more and improve. As a relative newbie (Nov last year) I'm not sure what I can share about using this this platform in particular as I am still figuring it out, but I am always up for pontificating on the writing process. Thanks for providing the opportunity to post something!!

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Well, thankyou for being so honest. I think you'd find some of these sessions quite useful. I certainly do. And anyone who's reading this you now know where to go for advice about your writing 😉

(Maybe do a post on how to review a restaurant, Andy?)

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Apr 22Liked by Fiona Beckett
author

Duh - missed that. Have restacked in penance 😉

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Apr 26Liked by Fiona Beckett

I read it and it's pretty great. Helpful to me!

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

I only follow two people on Substack: you, and Richard Godwin (The Spirits). You because I am a long time reader of your matching food and wine site, and I like your writing, and the way you engage with your readers; and Richard because his cocktail book, also called The Spirits, is the best book on cocktails I have ever read - I’ve read an awful lot, and even written my own, but his is the best.

I don’t think it’s necessarily a man thing but I am so busy with four completely separate compartments of my life (actual job-type work, working musician - I play in and manage a 22-piece jazz big-band; husband, father and grandfather, and churchwarden, not to mention an abiding interest in wine, sprits and cocktails) that I have to actively limit what I do outside those four core activities. I wish I had more time to explore, but there are only so many hours in a day!

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Wasn't so much talking about readers, Charl as fellow Substackers. It's just surprising to me that women seem much keener to improve their Substacks than men. And I very much appreciate your support and interest - you've been a hugely loyal supporter.

(Agree about Richard's Substack too though I haven't got his book. Will rectify!)

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I'm right here... it is just that mine is more fictional memoir rather than factual reading. I still take my food and wine qualifications seriously, though, and enjoy your posts and many others that vere to the sensible and serious.

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Well having cast aspersions on your sex I think that's more than civil, Louis. And thankyou!

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

The men are there. I went to an Adnams tasting and half of us were men. I just rarely do substack

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Yup. Men like wine for sure 😉

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

This is a very interesting observation! Particularly because, up until now and apart from Mumsnet, pretty much all forums (especially wine forums) are dominated by men. I wonder if this might be a positive thing? Perhaps women find Substack a safer, more collaborative, more gender-neutral space? Who knows, but intriguing...

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Certainly I have men who comment on my posts but not who turn up to these 'how to' sessions on Substack. IMHO why wouldn't you want to learn how to do it better?

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

😂 The difference between a curious, keep-learning mindset and a know-it-all, rigid mindset?

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Well, I'm reluctant to say that but it seems most men either don't get or simply aren't interested in the more collaborative aspects of Substack (which is one of the reasons I like it)

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

I’m afraid the explanation is a little simpler. We just don’t read instructions. We are fixers, problem-solvers, intrepid adventurers who get stuck in and work things out by doing.

Until we screw things up, break a couple of vital components and *then* we’ll consult the instructions. Next phase is to mutter darkly about how rubbish the instructions are. There may be tutting. Most likely a little head shaking too. There will definitely be sighs so deep it’s as if our soul has evacuated our body.

This, I’m afraid, is the way.

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Ah but you can make wine, Mike, and I can't. Makes up for a lot ....

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Apr 21Liked by Fiona Beckett

Imagine what my wine could be like if I read some instructions!

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Valid point! Having just finished an online group masterclass with Farrah Storr, I was thinking exactly that. Looked like only one man on the call (who was very happy to share his expertise). Having said that, my subscribers/ social media following is evenly split with men engaging just as much as women (not necessarily on Substack though!)

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Was sitting in on the same session (@farrah) so that's why I posted. More guys hang out on Twitter, or rather X, though conversations on Twitter are rarely about Twitter.

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P.S - I wanted to tag Farrah, but couldn't figure out how. Is that functionality available?

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Not sure! Maybe some guy will enlighten us 😉

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Thank you!

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Interesting. I have lady friends who are all about “the image” and Facebook and Instagram like mad. They seem to want to present the fact they lead perfect lives. Blokes? They really can’t be arsed.

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Well I think some can 😉 I'm more commenting though on people who turn to the online sessions on how Substack works who are, for some reason, overwhelmingly female.

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