63 Comments

So many great tips, and I really like the transparency with the conversion rates.

One thing I've been trying to overcome is mental blocks around self-promotion on specific social media platforms. Namely Facebook and Instagram. I post a TON on LinkedIn as that's where a lot of my ideal audience is. However, with FB and IG there is this odd, self-protective aura floating around because I know all of my friends and family will see what I'm sharing. I'd like to say it's not the fear of what they'll think of me, but there is definitely something there.

I just have this affinity towards social, especially Instagram. So the advice I've been following and will share here is to not focus on too many social channels for the sake of being everywhere. Pick the one....maybe two you rock at and feel good with, and stay consistent with them.

Lastly, another block I've been feeling is know what's going to differentiate my free and paid posts. I've got a few key elements down around my value proposition, but when reflecting out loud, it just doesn't seem compelling enough.

I'm excited to continue on this journey!

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Hey Paul, I totally feel you. I recently had a very provocative personal essay published in a magazine I love and admire. I was very hesitant to share it with my audience on Instagram (12,8K) because I was afraid that there would be a huge disconnect between my public persona and the content of the essay. After having lived away from home for 14 years, I was also afraid of what friends and family members from back home (the Philippines, a highly religious and conservative culture) would say. You can't imagine the conversations I was making up in my head, the messages of "concern" I would receive, the gossip I imagined that would take place behind my back.

What helped me most was to think of the most supportive of my friends, the ones I knew would understand and cheer me on, and reaffirmed to myself that I was writing for them. I also wrote letters to the people I imagined would be the most judgmental, asking for their support and understanding in this new phase of growth, and reaffirming my commitment to being in their lives no matter how they saw me. I never sent these letters, but man did it feel good to write them, and to know I have them in my draft folder just in case I get those judgmental replies... which I never did. And I also walked myself through the worst case scenarios by asking: "If they did know, what was the worst that can happen?" I realized then that my growth was worth whatever those scenarios (gossip? People I don't really know that well anymore fading from my lives?) presented.

In the end, I did share the essay. And the funniest thing was the UTTER AND COMPLETE SILENCE from my Instagram audience. I was so stunned, I even shared it multiple times to be sure they really saw it! I received exactly one message from a college friend, saying she was surprised to find out about me, but that she understood.

At the end of the day, this taught me that a lot of this is all in our heads. That people read, scroll and move on. And that the internet may be forever, but it sure does have a short memory.

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P.S. I write essays that are very... personal, so a lot of this might be overkill for you, depending on your topic. However, I hope you'll find something useful, or that this sparks a few ideas that might work for you.

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Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply, Deepa. I totally missed this earlier when you commented originally, so I apologize! But I can definitely reaffirm what you are saying about this all being in our heads. I've been writing and sharing more consistently than even, and it's been going great!

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Wow, what a beautiful response. Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing x

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this so cool

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Good question about what differentiates between the two...

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Hey Paul, here is yet another perspective of a passing by fellow writer :)

I treat social media as “personal” and “professional”. I decided that none of my personal content (vacation photos, family gatherings! going out with friends, etc.) will be posted online. Instead, all of my online content would be professional. The decision made it easier to post my writing on FB, LinkedIn and other media (I actually don’t use IG).

For you, I see one opportunity - announce what you’re building to your personal network and engage with people who are interested. But for all future reach - create a stand-alone IG and FB page. On a separate page, you’ll have only followers who fit your target audience and with whom you’re comfortable sharing your work.

Hope this helps 😃and good luck with your journey!

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Thank you so much for this Denys. They idea of an announcement, and then creating the separate page is a great idea! I should've done an update since mid August, and it's that I have been posting more consistently on Facebook. It's been going pretty well, but the one thing I need to do is that announcement. Nobody is really engaging with my articles because I've never posted on Facebook in so long. Then outta nowhere I just start sharing articles twice a week. Anyways, lot's to work on, and I'll definitely get give the announcement a shot!

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remember that social media is not showing your posts to your friends(especially after a long pause) and they want you to pay in order to push your posts into a more visible mode over the platform. I find it very odd that out of over 200 firends only 2-5 likes about my new work. Yes, people want more personal stuff on so they know how is your life, but I find it very frustrated to see that my oen "friends" won't support my work with at least a like. I am done asking for likes and I am looking forward to build a community that really is interested in my perspective about loving children and helping them become the humans we wish we were.

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I feel the same about family on social media

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This is such brilliant advice, thank you. I feel the same self-consciousness re sharing in front of friends and family, but ultimately find those same people are often interested. It's good advice to pick one social media platform to focus on though, thanks

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Love it! Thanks for sharing

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great tips and i like the video a lot!

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I appreciate that the video is short! The pacing of speech moved along :) So many videos are too slow--I'd rather read. But this is just right! Thank you.

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I so agree! I also like that the information is written as well. I am an audio learner but I need things in writing so I can return to them and refresh my memory.

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Love it thanks!

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Thank you! Excellent advice!

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Got my goals down! And came up with a mission statement for my Substack inspired by the motto seen in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty...

To step into the unknown, come what may.

To see with unprejudiced eyes.

Tear down restrictive walls.

To inspire empathy and change.

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Here's a cold email I wrote to a fellow Substack writer:

Dear Don…..I just subscribed to The EndGame. Though we don’t know one another, this may not qualify as a cold email since you have graciously commented on my posts several times. I’m searching for a more appropriate adjective. Lukewarm doesn’t cut it, so I’m settling for coldish. I’m hoping we can lend each other some support as older writers on Substack. My writing tends to be contemplative, exploratory, while yours seems to address aging issues head-on. I have a feeling there’s an opportunity for an interface there. What do you think? Also wondering if you heard back from Ashton Applewhite.

Thanks for your interest in my writing…..Susie Kaufman

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Susie! Can I weigh in here? Not sure if/when we are sharing these... but for what it's worth, I quite like this "coldish" call :) One thought I'm left with is the possibility of adding even a line or two after "...an opportunity for an interface," and maybe offer just one idea of how you see such an "interface." So it becomes a sort of brainstorming of ideas, with one solid "idea" to kick it off... ? Thank you for sharing this!

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Thanks for your suggestion, Alison. The other Substack writer and I have a zoom call planned for tomorrow to initiate a more free-ranging exploration. My guess is that the ideas will emerge organically in that conversation.

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Have fun! Sounds good :)

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I like how thoughtful this article is, thank you for sharing!

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Thank you for this! Looking at numbers and setting measurable goals is something that I feel a lot of resistance to, because numbers are not my strong suit (part of why I became a writer was to avoid them!). But this breaks it down so simply and intuitively, making it easy to grasp and act on right away.

My task for today is to come up with a list of people I admire and would love to collaborate with or simply hear back from. It'll be a fun and interesting exercise!

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When does it make sense to provide both audio and print versions of a podcast?

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I have a question about the goals. Is it possible for me to get my own personal domain and move my subscribers to my website? Money is nice, but being autonomous with an audience is more important.

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Such a Big help! Thank you Substack, love every second of you!

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Are the conversation rates in the chart above still accurate given that open rates have been going up with the release of IOS 15?

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How can you find the relevant authors to collaborate with? The search tool on Substack prioritises those who are charging money - for obvious reasons. But those might not be the lowest hanging fruits so far as collaborations for someone starting out goes.

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This is great! I'm gonna start working on these tips right away, thanks!

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