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Host a writer meetup
Learn more about hosting and how Substack supports writers
Substack writers are meeting up around the world to celebrate wins, swap stories, and support one another on their journey.
You don’t need our permission to host a meetup; you can do so at any time. The aim of the Substack Meetup program is to amplify and celebrate the communities of writers gathering so that more people can participate.
Writer meetups take a variety of shapes, and we encourage writers to bring creativity to how they get together. Most commonly we’ve seen writers getting together for informal drinks at local cafes, bars, and parks. While most gatherings are in person, virtual meetups offer the opportunity for writers to connect across categories, identity groups, regions, and more.
In this guide, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the Substack Writer Meetup program and, step by step, walk you through hosting a great meetup.
Frequently asked questions
Who makes for a great host?
Substack writers who demonstrate a sincere passion for connecting and supporting fellow writers make great hosts. When we review meetups for the program, we’re looking for hosts who:
Exemplify Substack best practices, like posting regularly
Abide by Substack Community Guidelines for Substack company programs, events, and publications
Have personal experience with or a connection to the writers in the category, region, or identity that you hope to help gather
Have fully set up their Substack profile with an image and info about themself, and actively publish on their publication
Bonus: Have a background in events or community organizing, and are comfortable gathering a group of strangers and tapping partners (for example, a venue, a photographer)
How does Substack support hosts?
Substack’s writer success team aims to create ways for writers to connect and then get out of the way. We’ll support writers who meet the criteria (see above) by spreading the word and providing resources to organize.
Spreading the word: Substack will promote meetups to writers across our channels and events page so the writers you want to connect with may end up in the room.
Resources: Hosts will get access to the Substack Writer Meetup Forum, where they can connect with other hosts, the Substack Writer Success team, and resources on how to best bring fellow writers together.
How do I become a Substack meetup host?
You don’t need our permission to host a meetup. We’re simply here to help support those who want to do so with some promotion and resources.
We ask hosts to fill out the meetup intake form so we can get to know your hopes and dreams for hosting. We’ll ask you about your Substack publication and any experience you have in gathering people. And we’ll ask you for a starter plan, including a date, for your first meetup.
Our team will review the forms on an ongoing basis and be in touch to connect writers to resources and next steps for promotion. You can expect to hear back from us about a week after submitting your application.
How do I attend a meetup?
If you are not interested in hosting but want to attend a meetup, keep your eye on Substack Writers in the Substack app. We’ll share upcoming meetups via Notes. Plus, meetups are listed on our Events page.
A guide to hosting
Although meeting fellow writers can feel magical, it doesn’t come together by magic. Finding a space that accommodates your group, sending an invite that sets the tone for the event, and welcoming your fellow writers thoughtfully are little touches that help realize the magic. Below we’ll guide you in the making of a great writer meetup, step by step.
Dream up a shared activity
The best meetups happen around a shared activity. Sometimes the activity is one that’s impossible to do alone. Other times it’s one that’s fine solo but 10 times better when experienced with others.
If you are just getting started, keep it simple, like a discussion prompt over drinks. You could even use the first meetup to discuss how you want to spend your time together in the future.
If you have a lot of creative energy around getting together, run with it. Maybe you want to host an open mic or a book swap. Get creative!
Get inspired: Our friends at People & Company share resources on doing something together
Pick a location
Here are three qualities of a great meetup location:
Central: Pick somewhere that has parking or is accessible from public transportation.
Flexible: Parks and libraries are great options for hosting that are usually no-cost. Bars, cafes, bookstores, restaurants, or co-working spaces are other spaces worth exploring. Try working with a venue that allows you to block off a small area or reserve a big table with no charge. At off-times for businesses, they are often excited by groups coming in. Some places may have a minimum spend if you bring a group, but ideally you don’t have to put down a deposit or pay a fee to use the space.
Vibes: Where do you like to hang out? It’s likely the people you are gathering will be excited to hang out there too!
It’s helpful to have a location on your invite, but if you end up having more people RSVP than the space can accommodate, you can always pivot. You might even consider putting out the invite with just the city or neighborhood location and then finding a venue based on interest.
Virtual is always an option too. Zoom or Google meetups allow you to meet with anyone, anywhere, with ease. Check out Alexa Kutler’s virtual event guide for extra Zoom tips and tricks.
Create an invite
The meetup starts with the invitation. It sets the tone for who shows up and why. While it is important to clearly state the date, time, and location of the meetup, it’s even more important to help people imagine who will show up and how you will spend your time together.
Put your invite together on an event landing page you can share with others, and collect their email addresses for communication leading up to the event. We recommend Lu.ma, a free tool. Some other tools you might consider: Partiful, Paperless Post, Eventbrite, or Facebook Events.
Watch: Setting up a Lu.ma event
Resource: Make a copy of our event page art using Canva.
Spread the word
Here’s where we can help: If you are a first-time host, fill out our host intake form. If you’ve hosted and been approved by Substack before, let us know you plan to host again. We’ll share the meetup with writers via Substack Writers notes and on our events page.
You don’t have to wait for us to start promoting your event:
Share your meetup via Notes. Be sure to tag @Substack Writers so that we see it.
Share it directly with writers you know. A personal note, whether it’s over email, text, or DMs, goes a long way.
Share it on the socials. You never know who in your wider network may be looking for the type of meetup you are hosting.
One week before you meet
Here’s a checklist for the week leading up to your meetup.
Remind your guests. Some event tools have built-in reminders, and most allow you to send a blast to everyone who has RSVP’d. If you choose to use Lu.ma, these emails are automatically scheduled the day before and the day of the event. Update the emails to include anything guests should bring and any relevant information about how to find you.
Get to know who will be in attendance. Look through your RSVP list so you know who is coming and can offer them a warm welcome.
Make sure people can find you. Consider printing a sign that displays the name of your meetup that you can place outside the venue or wherever you’re hosting.
Resource: Download our poster template.
During the meetup
Here’s a checklist for your time at the event.
Check in with the venue. Make sure someone on the staff knows who you are so that when guests arrive, they can point them in the right direction.
Welcome guests. Walking into a room of strangers can be overwhelming. As people arrive, and before the main activity of your meetup starts, give people something to do. Name tags and a discussion prompt can help break the ice before the main event. If you are co-hosting, have someone take the lead in standing at the door so everyone is greeted when they enter the space.
Make a moment. If you are keeping the meetup casual, with mostly mingling and discussion, take a moment at the beginning to welcome everyone as a group. Suggest a prompt for people to use to start their conversations. At the end, thank everyone for coming and let them know what they can expect going forward.
Take photos! If you plan to host again, having photos can help market the next meetup. Plus, they are great keepsakes for attendees.
Above all, have fun!
Send a thank-you note to all who came out. Consider including information about everyone who attended, like a link to their Substack profile, so people can keep in touch. Attach any photos from the event or links to relevant things you talked about.
Keep it going
Real community happens when you keep getting together. If you enjoyed meeting up, put a date on the calendar to do it again! Pass the torch and invite a guest to host the next one. If you do host another, be sure to let us know so we can help get the word out.
In between meetups, consider setting up a space to continue the conversation online. Keep it simple, with an email thread or a text message group. Formalize the channel with a private Substack publication with Chat enabled for all subscribers.
Substack’s writer success team aims to support and connect writers. If you are planning a meetup with writers in your area, let us know!
Substack does not exercise control over, or have responsibility for, the actions of any individuals at these gatherings. Substack is not responsible for any loss, damage, or injury that may be sustained by any participant or any property belonging to participants, attendees at any meetup, or of any business or venue where the meetup may be held.