Takeaways from another year of publishing on Substack: writers share insights that every Substacker could benefit from, such as letting your readers be the boss and finding a sense of purpose in your pride.
I love this! It's so warming to be a part of an ecosystem that still has folks dedicatedly writing years and years later <3
Sometimes when I see these, I feel a bit of internal doubt, like is Substack just going the way of most "open creator platforms," where a small minority at the top are able to capture the vast majority of the value? A) I'm sure some of that is still true, and I'm certainly not an economist, but B) there's still hope and happiness I feel in knowing that the top Substack writers don't seem to be capturing value through sort of "lowest common denominator" content, like the top creators on Youtube; rather, they are sincerely creating work that embodies what they want to be writing and thinking about. I hope this precarious balance can remain and we can continue to have many ecosystems that support each other.
I don't know if this is right, but I hope it is: “As social platforms collapse and websites continue to devolve into carnival-like ad-riddled no-go zones, environments like Substack will evolve into what we can consider, from this vantage point, ‘the future of the internet’s ecosystem.’
Love these regular pieces on the 'hows' and 'whys' of other Substacker's work - really great to learn from. Great also to encounter other writers whose work you might not otherwise see.
Substack is forcing open a reflection space between the ongoing storms on places like Twitter and epistemic bubbles on other SM - and this is so very welcome. And feels like the future is arriving today...
Reading this post felt a bit discouraging at first. I didn't come to Substack with an established readership from elsewhere. I'm notoriously bad at self-promotion. The focus of my writing is neither mainstream nor an important but undiscovered niche. Does it matter to me how many paid subscribers I have? What is more important, the process of writing with its challenges and joys or some positive feedback that grows exponentially? I decided to hang in there, give it more time, stay committed to a year. I love the community, the Substack "helpers" and support, and the great format. Thank you.
Somehow I missed that you were doing this - so valuable to reflect. I recently published my assessment of two years on Substack, and I'm about to reach 3k free subscribers. :)
So many of these reflections underscore for me that writing (any art, really) will remain an evolving process for most of us, right up until we die. I'll drop a link to the milestone reflection from Survival by Book, an experienced writer who decided to try creating a scrappy startup of a Substack a few years back. Her reflection is, in part, about being one of those "who started making art two years ago from out of the deep silence of the pandemic." For some of us, that silence forced us to push aside creative blocks that we hadn't realized were there. https://courtneycook.substack.com/p/imagining-trying-and-building
I appreciate that you are highlighting people who have had some success but I think you should make a point to highlight more creators who don’t necessarily have an established audience.
Several of your milestone roundups are from people who worked at established publications which allowed them to start at Substack and be ahead of many writers who haven’t had this type of audience.
I started my Substack in February 2021 without an established audience and recently passed 100 subscribers. I didn’t have a large audience at an established publication and I didn’t even gather my personal email list of people who I already know. The audience I have is completely organic to Substack and my work on it.
Obviously, it’s not my suggestion that I should necessarily be elevated over other people. I just think it’s interesting how much Substack promotes people with previous establishment experience over those who are working from the ground up on the platform.
I write on ecology and the environment. My readers let me know that they wanted more articles on science, book reviews, too. Since I've made the changes because of their feedback, sign-ups for my Substack have more than quadrupled.
Fully loved it. Those stories... Amazing...
This is so cool! Thank you for featuring “my commitment to writing” piece. What a pleasant surprise 😊
If I may plug my own reflections on becoming a full-time Substack writer, and how to grow:
Since I wrote this article 2 weeks ago my paid subscribers have gone from 82 to 96! Soon I will hit 100!
I had a one-year milestone post back in May where I celebrated making writer friends on Substack and shared plans for future paid subscription! https://valthinks.substack.com/p/one-year
My reflection for this end of Summer 2022, and writing here on Substack and my milestone period, goes like this: A little poem written for late August, early September, Summer's end, and love of the water...Enjoy.
~Ole Gulf Waters
Florida miming, Sunshine go!
Washing, rinsing, head to toe,
Ole Gulf Waters ebb and flow.
Sun Bath on whiteness sand,
I smell a heavy salted hand…
And feet, and lips,
And bosom taut with seaweed grit.
Heads in deep--bottoms-up,
Immersing in Her
Calling all to Her lap,
Ole Gulf Waters...
Thanks for sharing these heart-warming and uplifting stories. I'm loving my time here at Substack and congratulations to those who are mentioned here. Well done.
It's great that this is working well. I am still a newie and writing often. Not many subscribers yet, so still free. I'm writing all about my life to date and sharing some great music that is the fabric of my journey so far. If you are a baby boomer, you might get some ideas from me, as I am looking to get ideas from you.