We invited Becky Malinsky, who writes 5 Things You Should Buy, to share insights on how she launched a Substack as a core pillar of her new career and crafted a simple, consistent format that does a job for readers.
"...but I explain that paid subscriptions support the huge amount of work it takes to bring them the newsletter. Usually, they have never thought about it from that perspective and end up wanting to pay."
This is probably the biggest hurdle facing writers right now. People have been conditioned to getting free content that they forget someone is creating it for them to enjoy. When the discussion is framed this way, people are almost always willing to pay and/or donate.
I love this newsletter! The format is so delightful — and I’ve purchased two recommendations already. (I wore the Tory Burch pants on Thanksgiving.) How do affiliate links figure into your strategy for making this a viable part of your freelance career?
Thank you for sharing! It struck me that Becky said she truly enjoys the ‘category’ and that it shows in her tone, etc. and then went onto show that what she writes about, 5 weekly points on fashion, really is a category. It’s very valuable to me that these On Substack and Grow newsletters really focus on categories because it’s hard to narrow, and hard to tell people how to narrow, and the best picture of it is these human stories about a real person and their newsletter.
Plus, I get exposed to cool stuff I probably wouldn’t otherwise have been 🙏😊
I don't say this to be rude - but I'm stunned that this substack has thousands of subscribers. Not because of the quality of the newsletter -- I am a reader and it's great! -- but rather because I have always noted the low number of likes on posts. Given that there are apparently hundreds of paying subscribers (to say nothing of the thousands who've subscribed), I would assume would indicate a deeper willingness to engage. Can you explain that? Is that typical?
Thank you for this one. Definitely taking away the “develop a clear format that consistently serves the reader” as the main goal. Still haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet.
Hi Becky! I’m *very* excited this was published, I just signed up for your newsletter and love the concept. I recently started a (much smaller) newsletter, similarly focused on what to buy, but in the home-goods/interior design space. I’m curious after publishing for so long how you’ve stayed creative within the “five things” boundary. Do you think limiting it to 5 things has helped you churn out a consistent newsletter? Or are there other ways you stay creative & curious? You’re making me re-think my newsletter format in the best way. Thank you!
Becky is lovely! We overlapped a bit at the WSJ and I’ve been a big fan ever since. Adore her newsletter.
Half of the World's population is reaching out for Becky's solutions. Choosing an audience
is broadly important. She knows her demographics.
Becky - I'm an instant fan! I love your concept - so smart and so joyfully served up. I feel like the most well-dressed, yet most generous woman in the office has decided to take me under her wing and show me how it's done. I recently started a newsletter about clothing and based on my post today, it's clear that I need you! Glad to be a subscriber.
Very good, well done, you grabbed me in the title and I read the 1st paragraph and I read the article to its end, which is very unlike me.
A very helpful interview toward making future newsletter business decisions as a newbie here on Substack, although certainly not a newbie writer.
Very inspiring! I don’t feel comfortable running a paid subscription yet but someday maybe I will
As I consider a Substack future I wonder about niche, which seems to be the content watchword. I’m at what some would consider the other end of the road. I have a lot of experience from a broad swath of the human condition. I’m curious whether it will be criticism or crickets since I’m a little light in the niche department.
Sounds like she really filled a niche where it was strongly desired. Good for her! That said: Clearly she started with a big audience already in place a la the WSJ etc. That’s fine--I’d do the same in her position. But it’s worth noting that most of us don’t start off that way. It’s not real helpful to those of us who aren’t already at the top. Yet: Helpful article in its way. Happy for the success!! I love hearing about professionals leaving their industries and making a living exclusively on Substack. I’m getting there myself, slowly. I write about culture, politics, as well as fiction and personal essays.
‘Sincere American Writing’
Find your niche and they will come. What a happy story! I appreciate her honesty with the paid option and she explained it beautifully.
Hello, thank you and it is a great honor to work with you, dear friends