Getting started: How three writers found their own paths
In conversation with Emma Gannon, Leyla Kazim, and Poorna Bell
Leyla on experimenting
One of the great things about Substack is there are so many tools that will meet any different way you might want to communicate, so it’s a real hotbed for experimentation.
Emma on owning your community
I’ve had people’s email addresses all throughout my career, and I’ve known the power of a newsletter for quite some time. But for me, it was the community that I was missing. I’d get loads of replies to my newsletter, and I found that overwhelming because I didn’t want to email people. I wanted a hub where we could all talk to each other. That’s the thing I’ve realized: maybe people want to talk to me, but they really want to talk to each other. What I am doing is curating, connecting, and bringing like-minded and brilliant people together.
Poorna on focus vs. niche
For me, the compass and guiding point in what I write about are the issues that I care about, the things that I want to explore, the things that I want to be playful with and poetic in my writing about, versus looking at other people’s accounts and going, “Oh, well, we have an overlap.”
Leyla on finding your first 100 subscribers
Everyone has a community. The way I got to my first 100 paid subscribers was by emailing people, direct emails. I read this tip on someone else’s Substack, and they said the most successful way they got paid subscribers was not sending a group email but taking the time to send one email to everyone you know.
Emma on losing subscribers
Don’t be afraid of losing subscribers. I think the whole kind of gist of this call has been sort of: write what you want, follow your gut, and be creative in your own way. So if you see a dip, don’t worry, keep going. It really isn’t linear.
Poorna on writing what you want to read
Write the thing that you would want to read, with the compassion and tone that you would want if someone were writing about you. I think that the Substacks I’ve been most drawn to have been the ones that are so unique and keyed into that person. I would think about what it is that you want to read rather than how clever people are going to think you are.