190 Comments

I'm usually not a fan of content like this because when I first started with online content, I tried everything and saw minimum growth at best. What I did realize though was understanding the platforms and taking a few strategies increases your chances to balance out with blind luck.

This is definitely one of the better pieces I've come across, and as someone newer to Substack, I'll definitely be trying a few of these (like starting to reply to posts lol)

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Totally! We try to give a lot of ideas to try, but eventually, it's about learning which few approaches are the best fit for your audience and publication.

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I find cold emails have increased my daily visits a lot

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Nice to hear that. Do you outreach your ideal customers (subscribers)?

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i spam people lol

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what's a cold email

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I agree, this kind of content may sometimes feel obsolete when despite you're doing most of them, you're only seeing a minimum growth at best. But I think that most of all, writing should be fun for you, and when it is, other people will notice it, too. And maybe they'll even subscribe then. ;) Which is why I don't think about this so much anymore.

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well said

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I like that that they take time to explain the platform to people, we need more tutorials in the modern world.

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I agree, this kind of content may sometimes feel obsolete when despite you're doing most of them, you're only seeing a minimum growth at best. But I think that most of all, writing should be fun for you, and when it is, other people will notice it, too. And maybe they'll even subscribe then. ;) Which is why I don't think about this so much anymore.

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I got a lot of value from this post. Sometimes, articles like this offer very surface level tactics but I think these are insightful and actionable. Saving this and downloading the Google Sheet. Thank you.

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Can't agree with you more!

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This was great! Just when I had given up on writing on substack! Just watched the first1000 webinar and I am so inspired to jump back in!

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I noticed that this post did not mention sharing on LinkedIn. As a writer I struggle with whether or not to share on that site. What if you write about things that may not necessarily be considered a “professional” topic, like mental health or kids or toys or whatever? Is it worth it then to share?

I’m curious to know what others experiences and thoughts are. Thanks!

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I know this is way after the fact, but LinkedIn's culture has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years, probably accelerated by the pandemic. You see a lot more inspirational content. Plus, if something has a general "life lesson," there can be a way to relate it to a professional context. Having said that, there are limits. Toys might be a stretch, for instance, but mental health is a big topic for companies these days. Also, for whatever it's worth, LinkedIn has been a pretty solid referrer for my Substack so far, though, to be fair, it's very early on.

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Good tips. Thanks!

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Thanks for the input, Pablo. :)

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Hi Hoang,

I'm also not sure about LinkedIn as a platform for personal essays. Haven't explored that.

But I think, for social media, my criteria is to be on those that I'm interested in/already spending time in (of course unless it's totally the wrong platform where my audience don't hang out in). That way, it feels more natural for me to engage with people, and more meaningful too.

Also, as most of us are one-person businesses with finite time and resources, I had to prioritise where I invest my time in. I'm still tinkering with wanting to schedule posts across platforms (IG, Twitter, Pinterest), but, yeah, I'm still only most active on IG. Or rather, that's the time I can afford to invest for now. 🤷🏻‍♀️

That being said, LinkedIn has a somewhat new Creator feature where you can post your full articles on their platform and have people follow you from there. You might wanna check it out if you are interested. :)

Here's the link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/introducing-creator-mode-your-linkedin-profile-margaret-rose-taormina/

All the best, and keep writing. 💪🏼

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Hi Melinda,

Wow I did not know about the LinkedIn creator thing so thank you for sharing! I will certainly check it out. You made an interesting point which is that one learn to invest their time in appropriate places where their audience might be reading. I just thought since a lot of people I know are on LinkedIn (pretty much everyone has an account), plus the fact that I’m trying to promote myself (it is a site to highlight your best, after all), that it may be a good idea. But I can see how one has to decide on how to be more strategic in sharing their work. Thanks for the insight!

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All the best, Hoang! 👍🏼

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Hi Hoang, this is an old post so I'm not sure it's still relevant. I am new to Substack, but an old hand at LinkedIn. I think the best place for you to reach out is in GROUPS. Find RELEVANT Groups on LinkedIn, join, and post about your Substack there. Lots of direct, relevant reach.

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Thanks David! I wasn't aware of LI Groups! I appreciate this!

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I'm working on my LinkedIn presence with my substack. I write daily fictional short stories, and while the topics vary each day, it's a diversion for those on LI.

My thinking on this was, all the sales people talk about 'telling a story' so why not tell stories. I may end up turning up the business aspect of it, i.e., here's how you create stories. Haven't decided yet. Just enjoying the 20 or 60 people who now must click on my thread to read the story. That's how I know they read it because after the fifth line, you have to click to read the rest of the post.

I'm not gaining a lot of traction thus far but I'm less than a month into it.

I post here first and then post the full story on LI. Actually, I've geared my stories to be less than 2950 characters to fit fully on a LI post (as opposed to the unlimited article format). https://dailyflash.substack.com

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I love your newsletter; just subscribed. Thanks

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Thanks a bunch!

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I wonder about Linked In... I'm finding people just read the pieces I post, and leave it at that. So I've been experimenting with leaving the link to the newsletter itself, with an announcement that I've just posted the latest piece... hoping they'll do the extra step and realize this might be something they can make use of and support.

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This is months later, but possibly useful. I have learned on LinkedIn that if you link out (like to your Substack newsletter), LI limits the reach of the post. They don't want the post to take people away from LI. But if you write you main post, and then put the link to your newsletter in the first comment, the post gets a far greater reach.

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Always better late than... :) I will do this, and I appreciate the advice.

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Thanks Alison, for your thoughts! I’m wondering—Is it working? Do you find that engagement or clicks is higher or the same?

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It's honestly hard to tell. Often when people sign up as subscribers, they use emails that don't necessarily connect! So much of this "trying to get subscriber" stuff seems to be in the details. Who knows... maybe pushing them to do the extra step, the extra click, is discouraging... but then do I want such lazy subscribers ?! (That's tongue in cheek, but then again, maybe not :) Seriously, I think I'll make my Linked In posts alternate simply posting the link and the link-to-the-link.

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LinkedIn is an awesome platform for lots of different topics, professional or not. LinkedIn even has their own newsletter feature. Personally, I have 30K followers on my LinkedIn newsletter, and I use that to shift people over to my Sub Stack.

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About 3 years ago I added my e-book to Linkedin and as far as I can tell it was a move that increased the rate of its being requested by almost 100%. (That is to say it almost doubled.) So I thoroughly recommend it, but I should add that I did this because I was not expecting any financial gain. I believe that new science of this kind is obligatory, to give a better understanding about our social system and it should be for free--as new science it should (ethically) be readily available to anybody who is concerned or interested.

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Interesting David. Can you elaborate more on how did you added an ebook to LinkedIn? Was it through a series of articles, a newsletter, or pdf file on posts? Curious on your whole strategy of how adding your ebook meant that it was requested...

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Yes my posts go on LINKED IN, though I write about politics, Gaza and social justice at judyhaiven.substack.com

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Thank you for these tips! I love a good set of actionable tasks!

I would like to caution, however, that putting a link to your newsletter in your social bio is not going to affect your SEO much. While search engines do reward sites for the number *followed* links they receive from high-quality websites, the links in your social bios are almost always marked as nofollow links (which basically means that the social site says "here's a link to your newsletter, but we won't vouch for its quality").

Here's more information from Google about what a nofollow link is: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/guidelines/qualify-outbound-links

And here's an article I wrote specifically about using social media for link building: https://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/marketing/social-media-link-building/

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Thanks for sharing that context!

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Thank you!! The whole SEO thing is something I struggle with. And as others have noted here, it does seem to be an issue with Substack--but the longer I'm here, the bigger fan I become... so hoping it all gets sorted ASAP :)

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Yes, that's one of the tradeoffs of using a platform like Substack instead of building your own website. But Substack has some great features (and this amazing community!) that really makes up for some of the lost SEO value you can better control on your own site. The same is true, though, for using a tool like Medium, or sharing your posts on social media. You get some and you give some!

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I wish that Substack could fix some really annoying SEO issues.

I am not an SEO expert but I have been keeping an eye on my newsletter Site audit score and it keeps going down at every article that I publish.

Most of those issues are not under my control. Here there are some

- there are currently 2 h1 titles on every single article page since the title of the newsletter is a h1 tag and then the title of my article is another h1 tag

- I don't know why I get a 404 from any page with a reference to the notes section

I don't think those are particularly hard to fix

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How ironic, my last article was on the evils of social media; and now I find out they hold the key to growth.

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Thank you for this great article. I will gladly use these ideas to grow my list!

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Thanks for another actionable piece of advice. There is a lot to unpack and try here :)

I personally found it helpful to have an outline in the article after introductory paragraph. The outline can be later shared on social media. For example:

[intro]

Outline:

1. Section 1 ideas

2. Section 2 ideas

3…

[following sections in the article].

I think it’s easier to share preview of each section on social media then. And engages more people.

Also, can someone please point me to article on how “Reply on Substack” works? I remember Medium had a feature where each comment from the author turned into an article and I didn’t use it cause it felt like unnecessary content for publishing. I am curious if Reply on Substack has a different mechanic.

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Thank you for the shout-out! One clarification, it was a non-biological mother of a same sex marriage, not a trans man. But I absolutely am interested in the trans parenting experience, and if anyone knows a trans parent who'd like to share their story please send them my way!

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Apologies, and thank you for the correction - made it!

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Interesting stuff, looks like I'm doing most of it already, so... fingers crossed.

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My list has grown to nearly 27k on Substack. I think the features available. I've been getting up to 14k downloads on individual podcast episodes as well. I don't know what the secret is, though. I just keep trying different things and putting out content that I find interesting. I listen to feedback. I share a lot on social media.

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Congratulations on achieving awesome numbers! I hope to see you there in a year or so.

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Great tips thanks 😊 I love substack!

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In my experience on other platforms, I typically started with consistency. Consistently moving in one direction is so important. But platforms are all a little different as well. I just created a substack today and plan to have routine writings, first and foremost.

My question would be, and anyone can answer if they see this comment, but will I experience growth, albeit slow, just by writing and reading here? Or are some of these tactics imperative to seeing consistent growth?

I'm asking because I'm really not a big social media guy anymore. So, maybe specifically wondering how important that realm is.

It's worth noting that I do still write on medium as well and also plan to link my substack there.

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Hello. New to Substack too. I guess while consistently reading and writing on substack would help, it is also necessary to spread the word. Social media definitely plays a big role.

I have been writing on WordPress since the last 4 years, and my experience is that while consistency works, social media is important too. Best wishes to you.

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Hi Sanjeet. Do you still use Wordpress as well as substack. It would be interesting to compare growth on the different mediums

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Hello Chris. Yes I am still using both the platforms and as earlier, I like the way WordPress blogging is and continue to be more active there. But I believe I haven't tapped into the extensive feature list available on Substack to really dial in and grow here.

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Great article. I'll start applying these immediately.

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This is good information: actionable intel. I just posted my first article on how to write fiction. There will be multiple articles on this. Observations tell me there are many new writers looking for usable info. I certainly need good info on how to get them to my articles.

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Interesting read! My biggest gripe is my substack isn’t searchable on Google, so if people look for the subjects I’m writing about they aren’t seeing me, even if they literally type the title of my article. I’m not sure how many subscribers you need to be indexed by Google, but it seems like a HUGE impediment to getting started. Any tips?

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Yes! Ryan. Exactly.

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