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How to write a great milestone post
Tips from writers on how to celebrate an anniversary or milestone with your readers
A milestone post ideally serves as both a manifesto and marketing. It’s an opportunity to reflect on your journey on Substack and put forward your vision for the future. Plus, writing a milestone post can encourage sharing and generate new subscriptions and upgrades to paid.
Whether you’re celebrating your first 100 signups or four years of writing your newsletter, in this post we’ll cover how to make your milestone moment have maximum impact by following six components:
Thank your readers
Now is a chance to acknowledge those who have been on the ride with you and helped you get to where you are now. Some writers even thank subscribers by name, and any collaborators or staff who worked hard to make the newsletter happen.
On the first anniversary of, remembers the job loss that started it all and her gratitude for how far she’s come:
Today, I’m grateful. To you, if you’ve subscribed (or even read this far). To the friends and family in my life who facilitate my writing, despite it being a reprobate and preposterous way to make a living for someone born, as I was, into a single-parent family and all of the bleak statistical outcomes which are invariably the socioeconomic destiny of people who originate where I did. Anyone with a lick of sense would have become an accountant or studied the law or devoted their time to OnlyFans. I’m grateful also to everyone who has ever fired me (whether or not I made it impossible for them to do otherwise, as I sometimes did). I’d do it all again to get here.
Share your lessons
Knowing about the work that goes into your publication can help subscribers better understand its value and feel invested with more than just their dollars.
In a candid look back on her four years of newsletter writing,pens some deep insights into her personal creative process as the media landscape, and her own goals and demands, have shifted, along with the changing names of :
I changed the newsletter’s name for a THIRD TIME. This time to A-Mail because I just wanted something vague enough to accommodate my ever-changing interests. I limped along, sending a handful more newsletters, but I was out of steam by then. And it showed in my emails.
After three years ofand 20,000 subscribers, offers 10 lessons every writer could learn from, including being genuine, finding your own voice, less is more, and enjoying yourself:
The best times I have, and the best work I produce, often comes randomly. I might just have an idea one morning and run with it. Conversely, the worst times I have is when writing feels like work. These days I try to optimise for fun. I have, at times, spent days on something and scrapped it because it was boring me to death writing it. If it bores you, it will bore the reader.
Offer a peek at your dashboard
Offering a view of your subscriber stats can create openness and trust with your readers, who are already rooting for you. It can also help foster an open conversation among Substack writers about growth and what’s realistic, and challenge myths about steep spikes in readership.explains in her milestone post that while disclosing the nitty-gritty of her free and paid subscriber numbers felt scary, it ultimately gave a truer sense of her excitement at building a paid subscriber base.
I’m sharing my numbers not for comparison—you might get more or less than me—but to show where I am and what’s possible. Turning our creative passions into a way of earning a living to support ourselves or our families makes us feel like we’re accomplishing something. Or, at least, it does for me. For many years I wasn’t contributing much to the family income, and now that I am, I take great pride in it.
State your vision
In discussing your lessons and stats and thanking your readers, you’ve reflected on where you’ve been and where you’re at. Now let subscribers know about the future.
What milestone do you hope to celebrate next? How can your subscribers rally around that vision? Don’t be afraid to repeat what you’ve already said. In marketing, “repetition doesn’t spoil the prayer.”
After looking back on his first year on Substack,looks forward to year two, his plans for paying subscribers, his memoir publication and experimenting with new types of posts:
For Year 2, I’ll continue to write posts covering research in empirical psychology, cultural commentary informed by data and firsthand experience, and personal reflections about social class and upward mobility. You’ll continue to see essays in which I synthesize useful and interesting information about human nature, drawing from modern empirical psychology, as well as from philosophy, history, and my own unique point of view. Once a week, I’ll continue to post a roundup of links, thought-provoking content, and interesting findings. I also continue to take detailed notes on lectures and information-dense podcasts for paid subscribers. I’ll do some more Ask Me Anything threads, too. One thing I’ve been considering is doing an occasional Q&A or maybe some kind of advice column (I recently learned Brits call advice columnists “agony aunts”).
Encourage new subscriptions and upgrades
Milestones are great, shareable moments. Your most dedicated subscribers will want to celebrate with you and help spread the word. Plus, now is a good time to nudge free subscribers to upgrade their subscriptions. There are a few tools that can help you make the most of this growth moment:
Buttons help draw readers’ attention to the most important action, whether it’s to share, pledge, subscribe, or upgrade. If you include a subscribe button and a reader is already subscribed, we’ll automatically update it to say “pledge” for free publications and “upgrade” for publications with paid subscriptions.
Subscriber referrals allow publications with free or paid subscription options to reward subscribers for spreading the word about your Substack. Any share button that a subscriber clicks in a post counts toward their referrals.
Discounts can help motivate free subscribers to upgrade to paid. You can create urgency by offering it for only a limited time.
Sharing your milestone on Notes and social media is another great way to connect with more Substack writers, source new readers, and maximize the moment.
Tweet the news:
Share it on Notes:
Need more inspiration? Take a look at some recent milestone posts from Substack writers:
For more reflection posts from Substack writers, check out our previous milestone roundups here.
Did we miss a good milestone reflection post? Share the link, or tell us what you’re celebrating, in the comments.