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Grow: How Amanda Yates Garcia’s writing on witchcraft turned into a full-time income
The Grow interview series is designed to share the nuts and bolts of how writers have gone independent and grown their audiences on Substack. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
We invited writer and art witch, who writes , to share her insights on switching to Substack to focus on rituals; not marketing; finding and using one’s voice; and how she reached six figures in less than a year by understanding what her subscribers needed.
What’s your Substack about in one sentence?
Witchcraft, ritual, tarot, mythology, ecology, embodiment, belonging, animism, and enchantment for art witches with ADHD.
Who reads your publication?
MFAs whose thesis project had the word witch in the title; psychotherapists who lead journeys through the unconscious; bisexuals obsessed with the myth of Persephone; writers who fantasize about sabotaging an oil pipeline; neurodivergent folks who love rituals by candlelight but who aren’t into “wellness witchcraft”; poets.
What do you uniquely offer readers?
I make witchcraft relevant for people who have rich inner worlds; who love science and fairy tales; who want their spiritual practice to be an act of political resistance; and who want support in their practice.
What’s your content strategy?
Schedule: I publish about twice a week.
Format: I offer essays, monthly live full-moon rituals, a monthly downloadable Witch Guide, live chats, a reading group, and surprise gifts like meditation MP3s and playlists. I write about the symbology of the season (like the full moon in Libra and what it means); I write about what’s most urgent for me in my own practice (like when ADHD gets in the way of your ritual practice, or how to deal with muggles family gatherings); or essays about things I’m studying and want to share (like the mythologies of the goddess Hekate, the phenomenology of alchemy, how paganism and ecology relate, etc.).
What appeals most about sharing witchcraft through Substack?
Witchcraft is a complicated subject, and there’s so much to explore and discuss. It’s much healthier to do it via Substack, where I can go in depth about it. On most social media platforms, I feel like a carnival barker trying to get people’s attention. You’ll notice that carnival barkers do not go into the history and nuance of their win-a-teddy-bear games. They can’t. No one will listen. I see myself more like Sappho reading poetry to her flower-crowned students as they feed each other grapes under the shade of an olive tree. Substack is more like that for me.
As a practitioner, other people already pay for your time—how did you decide what to offer in your paid subscription tiers?
For about two years before I started on Substack, I’d been having monthly Full Moon Rituals via Zoom—but the problem was that every month I’d have to re-recruit all my followers to join me, which took a lot of time and effort to market. When I started on Substack it was an obvious choice to offer the Moon Rituals as a subscription; people were already used to paying for it, but now with the subscription I can spend more time focusing on the ritual and less time marketing.
The whole point of joining Substack was to consolidate all of my projects into one home base. I don’t like thinking about how to generate income, so once I’m making my yearly goal, I can truly just focus on what I want to create for myself, my followers, and the world, without worrying about how I will support myself while I’m doing that.
Also, what’s great about how my Substack is structured is that my followers are getting a great deal for the price they’re paying per month (about the price of a yoga class), but because of the number of paid followers I have, I can afford to give them a lot for so much less than it would cost them if they were getting it all as a one-off, all because I don’t have to do so much marketing (hooray!).
When I started on Substack it was an obvious choice to offer the Moon Rituals as a subscription; people were already used to paying for it, but now with the subscription I can spend more time focusing on the ritual and less time marketing.
Growth by numbers
Started on Substack with paid subscriptions: November 2022
All subscribers: 13,000
Paid subscribers: 430
I’d been building up my audience for a long time before I joined Substack, so the transition was pretty seamless. I’ve written a book, Initiated: Memoir of a Witch; have a popular (in my community at least) podcast, Between the Worlds; and had a mailing list of 10,000 (on Mailchimp) before I joined Substack and an Instagram following of 50,000 @OracleofLA.
Meaningful growth moments
Getting started: When I started, I was exhausted from constantly having to do so much marketing. Especially on Instagram, where you have to post every day or you get penalized and no one sees what you’re doing. I just wanted to focus on the substance of my work, not generating content and marketing like a machine.
On launch day it was such a relief when people signed up for paid subscriptions. As my Substack platform grew, it really helped me start to feel more trust in my community and in the work I was creating for them. By only a few months in, I was already making $50,000 and I was starting to get clear on what my subscribers needed and wanted from me. Since then, I’ve more than doubled that amount. My subscribers and I are in such healthy reciprocity, it’s a pleasure to share my efforts with them. I feel like we all inspire each other, and I love it that we’re both getting what we need.
Regular leaps in subscription levels happen every month when we have an event. People love to be involved. They’re here for the writing, yes, but they’re also here for the community.
I’ve started getting quite a few new followers from recommendations from other Substacks, which is great. I love that Substack is based on cooperation between writers, rather than competition.
Today: As soon as I started making decent money from Substack, it became almost unbearable for me to post on any other social media platform. Over the next few months, I’d like to go back and bring more of my followers from my other socials over here. My goal is to get 1,000 paid subscribers. And as for my writing, since building up so much trust with my readers, I feel comfortable making increasingly vulnerable work, which is what I think is most useful to them anyway.
As soon as I started making decent money from Substack, it became almost unbearable for me to post on any other social media platform. Over the next few months, I’d like to go back and bring more of my followers from my other socials over here.
How do you account for your steep growth, and any practical advice others could replicate?
For art witches like myself, there’s no formula. Like, I can’t tell you “one weird trick” that will get you a living wage from your Substack. But when people look at my Substack, they shouldn’t think, “Oh, she went from 0 to six figures in less than a year. How will I ever do that?” I started my work as a writer and art witch in 2010, leading ceremonies for 10 people in my living room. I’ve completely dedicated my life to it since then. It’s taken me 13 years of hard work (and a lot of luck and privilege) to get to this place.
But for people who are just starting out, I do have two words of advice, and they’re kind of contradictory (witches are just like that, sorry not sorry). First of all, don’t worry about what other people are doing; explore what only you can do. Your background, your experiences, your interests are uniquely yours, and no one else has your voice—use it, celebrate it, feed that voice, make it so that your readers only have one place to go to get what you have to offer. Second, consider your reader: What do they need? How can you help them get it? This might be hard to hear, but just writing about what interests you is not enough. You have to consider what’s in it for your reader and then use your unique voice to give them what they need.
Don’t worry about what other people are doing; explore what only you can do. Your background, your experiences, your interests are uniquely yours, and no one else has your voice—use it.
What surprised you about writing on Substack?
It makes me feel safe and happy. It rehabilitated my belief in reciprocity for artists in this world. Artists (writers, musicians, etc.) make life worth living. They ask the big questions: death, love, longing, despair. It costs us to do that. It’s fucking hard, y’all. It requires real risk—physically, financially, emotionally. Not only do we deserve to be paid, but the more we thrive, the more everyone thrives, because we’re the ones dreaming up new ways to be alive.
Who’s another Substack writer you’ve turned to for guidance or inspiration?
I really love’s work; he’s so loving. He’s like a fountain from which love and inspiration flows and flows. Whenever I click onto his feed, I’m sure to get a little nugget of wisdom that helps me overcome my fears and move back toward inspiration again. He’s like the volunteer who turns my baby turtle in the right direction so it can make its way to the ocean.
Take the leap. For Amanda, moving her followers from Instagram to Substack made offering paid moon rituals easier, so she could focus on the substance of her work rather than marketing.
Know your readers’ needs. Understanding what her subscribers look to her for was a big part of unlocking Amanda’s paid growth.
Find your unique voice. Amanda’s advice to newer writers is simple: don’t worry about what other people are doing; explore what only you can do using your voice and lens.
What questions do you have for Amanda Yates Garcia that we didn’t ask? Leave them in the comments!
To read more from this series on growing your publication, see our interviews with writers on their growth stories here.
Editor’s note: this post was updated on October 31, 2023 to further clarify one of the questions.