How to pitch your Substack to press
A guide for writers wanting to reach more readers
For many Substack writers, the process of securing media coverage is deeply mysterious yet highly sought-after.
From an appearance on a podcast or in another Substack to a quote in a traditional media outlet or an interview on YouTube or Instagram Live, media coverage can help you grow your audience by getting out the word about your work.
In this guide, we share ideas on how to pitch yourself and your work for media coverage. These tips are designed for writers who want to help new audiences discover their Substacks but aren’t sure where to start.
What is a media pitch?
A pitch to media is a short message (often an email) sent to a writer, editor, or other member of the press with an idea for a story. The pitch can be about a story you plan to write yourself, an idea you hope the outlet will cover, or a piece to collaborate on together. The goal is to convince someone your story or idea is strong enough for them to share it with their audience. (Note: This is different from pitching your free subscribers to convert them to paid, which we’ve covered here.)
Creating warm contacts
While on rare occasions, cold emailing can lead to a landed story, more often than not connections have been kept warm for a while before the right pitch lands.
We recommend getting to know the editors and publications you want to work with long before you consider sending your pitch. Here are some good questions to help:
Who is the relevant editor from your ideal publication? What kinds of pieces do they seem to like? Are they on Twitter? What do they tweet about? Can you get a sense of what might land with them?
What do you know about the publication you want your story to feature in? How long has this publication been around? What kinds of stories do they go for? Do they publish pitch guidelines? What does their About page say? Can you think of a story that 100% comports with their mission? Who are they competing against? How will your story make them stand out against their competitors?
Once you have established a relationship with your ideal editor, even if it’s a friendly rejection by email, you have something to build your next pitch on.
Laura Barkat of Everyday Poems andwrote this post in Jane Friedman’s newsletter on moving to Substack and growing from scratch. Laura explains that her pitch went to Jane because she already had a connection, and a previous rejection didn’t hold her back:
I’ve written for Jane before. She knows the quality and style I’ll deliver. I know her audience and understand how to deliver value to that audience. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
Laura pitched Jane after seeing there was a “site need,” and not just a readership need:
Research the site you want to pitch to see what they’ve already published regarding your topic. I researched Jane’s site first and discovered she only had one article about Substack, published a year and a half ago. So I knew there was a site need before I crafted the pitch.
If you want to get the word out about your publication, you have to persist in taking positive action. Pitching to media is a very positive action. While I’ve written at Jane’s in the past, she declined one of my pitches a few years back. I didn’t let that stop me from sending her this new, timely idea about Substack being a better deal for many authors.
When, who writes , saw her Twitter mentions light up in response to a journalist request, she got involved in the conversation. The Atlantic journalist Jennifer Senior was asking people about the discrepancy between their chronological age and the age they perceive themselves to be—a question Sari asks in her Oldster questionnaire. When several responded to the original tweet, “You should talk to Sari!” Sari joined in the discussion, and the result was to be featured in The Atlantic with quotes and links.
Here’s an example email of a successful pitch byof to Esquire. Elle sent the pitch after seeing a subscriber to her newsletter with an @hearst email address.
I immediately looked her up, saw the articles she was writing and editing, then looked her up on Twitter to see the kind of articles she was hoping to be pitched. By the time I sent that email, I knew that she already liked something about my work and I knew the kind of article she wanted to be pitched. So I pitched articles in the middle of that axis.
Building an outreach list
In your first steps to pitching your Substack to the press, make a longlist of traditional and non-traditional media outlets that might be interested in your work. Start with the warm contacts you’ve already started working on, then consider some of the areas below to build you outreach list:
Which Substacks might be interested in collaborating? Collaborating with other Substacks to interview each other is one of the most effective ways to grow your audience and support other writers. Visit the Subscriber report to learn about your audience and where you overlap with other publishers on Substack to get your outreach list started. To find this data: navigate to the Stats tab, then to Subscriber report. Another ideal source of leads is Substack’s Leaderboards, publications recommending you, and your own inbox—any Substack publications that inspire you should go on your list. This outreach is important because the writers you're pitching already understand Substack; people can easily subscribe to your publication or check out your profile; and there are great tools on Substack for collaboration, such as the cross-post and guest byline feature.
Which podcasts could you go on? Podcasts are a great way for audiences to get to know you since you get sustained time with a listener. Over the course of a long conversation, you can build a powerful, deep connection with a relevant audience.is a regular guest on podcasts, for example, and recently joined on her podcast.
Are there journalists working your area of expertise as their beat who might be interested in writing about your Substack? Whether you write about pottery, music, or science, make a list of the journalists or outlets that cover those topics and start doing background research on the writers. For example, if you write a food or cooking newsletter, who are the food writers at other outlets who might be interested in your Substack?was profiled in the New York Times food section, and did an interview with Bon Appétit about his Substack.
Is there a local angle? What about an alumni magazine? Think about institutions and local outlets where you have a personal connection. Whenstarted a Substack during the pandemic, the Houston Chronicle covered her, an area epidemiologist.
Drafting your pitch
Once you have a list of outlets to pitch, you can begin to draft your pitch. Think about why you and your Substack would make for an interesting story or conversation for the writer and their audience. Here are some points to keep in mind as you get started:
Introduce yourself. In addition to your pitch idea, plan to include a few sentences about you, your background, and your Substack (be sure to link to it!).
Less is more. Your pitch should be short and easy to skim; we recommend 10 sentences or less. Break up the text so it’s easy to read.
Personalize each pitch email. When you start pitching, try to personalize your emails, rather than sending one blast email. Consider mentioning a previous article you liked by the writer you’re emailing.
Here are a few questions that can help you shape the content of your pitch:
Is this story part of an emerging trend? Is there something happening in trends or the news that’s relevant to your Substack or makes your pitch timely? For example,, whose Substack covers restaurant technology, was recently quoted in a story about restaurants starting to retire menus with QR codes.
Does this story have geographic relevance for the publication you’re pitching? If so, call this out!
Can you tie the pitch to a launch, or offer an exclusive? If you’re launching a new podcast as part of your Substack, or a new recurring feature, you could offer an outlet an exclusive first look at the launch.secured a story in The Guardian timed to the launch of their new vertical for women’s style, Concorde.
Does your story offer a surprising twist on something that people thought was common knowledge? Make sure you read around your subject in the wider media and definitely read pieces by the journalists you are pitching to. Making your story stand out by finding the newest angle will help your pitch get noticed.
Is there any data that you can share? Journalists often like to include hard data in their stories, such as subscriber numbers or income. If you’re open to sharing how many total subscribers or paid subscribers you have, it will make the pitch more compelling. For an Axios story,shared that has over 283,000 free and paid subscribers. You could also consider sharing a wider data point (e.g. from your research) that is new and hasn’t already been published elsewhere.
Make the pitch
Now that you have a pitch and your list, you’re ready to start your outreach. Here are some tips to help you reach the right person and ultimately induce them to read your pitch.
How do I compose a good subject line? It can be helpful to include the word “pitch” in your subject line and come up with a concise and catchy title that gets to the crux of your idea. It can be helpful to frame it as a question. For example: “Pitch: Why are fashion writers leaving social media for Substack?”
How do I find someone’s email address? This can be tricky, but there are a lot of different ways to track down someone’s business contact info (which is preferred to their personal). Often media folks include their email in their Twitter or Instagram bio or on their personal website. If that’s not the case, try sending them a short version of your pitch by direct message. Another way you might reach them is by adding them on LinkedIn: once someone accepts, they may have their email listed on their profile or you can send them a message. The Hunter.io tool can also be useful for finding email addresses or at learning about the email address convention the company is using.
Here’s an outline of how you might structure your pitch.
Hi [Name of Writer/Host/Journalist],
I’m [Your Name], the author/publisher of [The Name of Your Substack], a Substack about [one sentence about your Substack]. [1-2 sentences about your background or expertise.]
I’m reaching out because I enjoyed [name of a recent story they wrote, or episode of their show], and it sparked an idea for a pitch. [1-2 sentences about your story pitch, interview idea, or suggestion for why they should work with you.]
In addition, I could talk about:
[2-3 bullet points on various angles, your expertise, or data points you could reference in a conversation.]
I’d be happy to chat more about these ideas if you’re interested, or discuss other ways we might work together.
Thanks for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Make media work for you
Congratulations, your pitch landed! Now that you’ve secured the interview or story, it’s important to make sure you can use the media appearance to help potential subscribers find your Substack.
Be sure to ask the host to mention your Substack name and URL in the interview, and link to your Substack in the text. With proper attribution, readers and listeners will be able to find and support your work. For more on attribution, see our Substack brand guidelines.
Share the published piece
Once the interview is published, consider promoting it on your own Substack and social channels.
Your audience will likely enjoy reading an interview with you on another Substack, so link to it in your next edition or share it on Notes. And if the producer or editor forgot to include a link to your Substack, be sure to ask them to add one—it’s not rude or out of line, and the link could make a big difference in audiences being able to find and support your work.
Finally, link to your media hit in your next pitch. If you can demonstrate that you’re a good podcast guest or that you can handle a live interview, the press will be more likely to book you next time.
Have you pitched to press successfully (or not) and have any tips from your experience to share? What questions do you still feel are unanswered about the pitching process? Let us know, in the comments!