We invited Leslie Stephens, who writes morning person, to share how engaging in genuine, honest conversations with her subscribers and collaborating with fellow writers led to her biggest spikes in growth after launching.
It's refreshing to hear about someone making a living on Substack.
I loved Leslie’s description of the challenge with Instagram, “As an Instagram creator, I realized I was no longer capturing my life on Instagram but living my life in order to capture it on Instagram”.
This is a good reminder not to fall into that trap here on Substack. 💜
Wow, impressive! You've grown your readership and your subscriber base significantly in a short amount of time. It's great to see that you are also giving away subscriptions to those who are in need. Keep up the great work!
I loved this post! These are always my favorite ones to read. The slowness of getting started can sometimes feel a bit defeating, so it's inspiring to read about another writers journey.
I love that Leslie meets readers for coffee. It was also great to read the anecdote about accidentally sending an unfinished post. I so much fear doing something like that and it was nice to hear about the readers reacting so kindly.
Leslie, thanks so much for these great insights! I was wondering if you'd be willing to give more specifics on how you interact with other writers on Substack to get recommendations? Do you primarily comment on their posts and ask questions? Or do you directly ask them to review your posts and consider recommending you? Or is it both, and what's the balance? If you'd even be willing to delve into how much time per day you spend on this, that would be truly amazing. Thanks so much!
Congrats, Leslie! Funny how honesty cuts through even the most carefully crafted fluff pieces...
I used to manage a traditional finance newsletter many years ago. By far the most positive reader mail I saw was when an analyst who had made a bad call simply said, “You know what? Im sorry, but I got that one wrong. Oh, and here’s why...”
He then outlined his mistake, thoughtfully and candidly, and by doing so proved he was attentive to the lessons to be learned from the experience.
Some folks want airbrushed “perfection”...but most of us want honest humans we can identify with and learn from along the way.
It has always been a winning formula to write a mommy blog, cooking blog, influencer buying things blog (from blenders to stocks)... I think the real test for Substack is whether its formula can work for people who write about news, politics, the law, etc. Not seeing it yet.
Substack proving they’re not just social media for writers (but also not NOT social media for writers).
Very cool. Helpful info. I’ve been slowly growing my Stack. I wonder though: Do we get to hear from stackers who DON’T start with a big following from previous work/writing/Instagram? Absolutely nothing wrong with starting higher up on the bar, but I know there are many of us (perhaps the majority?) who start like I did, with 50 friends and family and are slowly gaining traction. Do we get a voice for these? (I also may have just missed some!)
That said: I subscribed just now to Leslie’s Stack 🙏
‘Sincere American Writing’
5,700+ paid subscribers to talk about how to arrange your pantry
Not trying to be nagative or jealous, it's just funny the extent to which I will never understand women
An inspiring story for Substackers!
Thanks for this insightful newsletter. Most important lesson I get from this article is being genuine. A paywall might be interesting but does not feel right. Feel better about having a paywall on the archive. That's another way of getting people to subscribe for free and read the newsletter once it's published. It all depends on your sources of income. My goal is to be in an ecosystem of photography related Substacks because I believe the strength of us all for the readers rather than doing it all by yourself.
I love this, and welcome the encouragement to write with honesty and authenticity. I’ve just launched my newsletter after a year of crippling self-consciousness and self-doubt paralysed my writing, but now I am seeing my newsletter as the home for my writing and doing it for myself. I’m also disillusioned by Instagram - talk about doing a LOT of work for very little return! Your newsletter sounds great, and good luck with your masters!
Leslie is living the dream!!
Having a blog (or newsletter) that provides enough to live off without the worry of forcing affiliate links or display ads on your newsletter or blog, is the goal. Nice to see it’s possible.