277 Comments

While I'm thinking about it... Can you please stop introducing us as "emerging" writers, as though we only just started writing? What we are is Not Celebrities. When British press Virago began reissuing 19th and early 20th books written by women, they didn't call them "emerging" authors. They told the truth, which is that most women authors had been ignored unless they were wealthy or pretended to be men. The difference today lies in the blue check, whose owners can write whatever pops into their heads and still get accolades. I'm not telling you guys anything you don't know, of course, but I look forward to seeing how (or if) you seriously address it without losing profitability. Seizing the bull by the horns might be the only way.

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Thank you for letting us know that word feels off! Noted.

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Thanks for all you guys are doing!

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I launched a Substack with some friends and colleagues in February. We write about the more unknown sides to Japanese culture and our model is totally free. Initially we gained followers from friends and family but have really struggled to attract subscribers outside of our network. We have dabbled with some social media ads but they haven't really worked. How do you promote and grow your community? Any tips of suggestions would be well received please.

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Good topic. I publish weekly, devoted to the practical side of kindness. Just started in April and got 100+ subscribers pretty quickly, but am now struggling to get a few each week. I believe in what I'm publishing and am in it for the long haul, but could sure use some ideas to grow subscribers.

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How about subscribing each other writers for the starters, to gain confidence and enthusiasm?

I joined just yesterday. Planning to subscribe a bunch of writers here tom. ☺️

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A big, and great topic!

Our team is always studying what successful writers have done. In our knowledge, social media ads haven't worked well. Consistently promoting your own writing, however, does. Meaning: tell everyone!

Other best practices to consider:

- Are you *engaging* your existing readers in any way? they can be your biggest advocates. Surveys, community spaces, threads, calls to action. Make explicit asks.

- Collaborations with other writers can help expand your audience.

- Make sure your newsletter a polished presence and a structured format. Land on a topic, style, and schedule that you’re able to maintain.

- Give your newsletter a sharp enough focus, and communicate that, so that a prospective reader will be able to say "this is for me"

Some additional writer advice is here:

https://on.substack.com/p/getting-your-first-100-signups

https://on.substack.com/p/how-delia-cai-grew-deez-links-from

https://on.substack.com/p/how-scott-hines-got-his-first-1000

https://on.substack.com/p/zero-to-

https://library.substack.com/p/what-writers-can-do-for-readers-casey-newton

https://library.substack.com/p/how-abigail-koffler-grew-her-email

https://library.substack.com/p/how-petition-grew-their-newsletter

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oh and we publish every week religiously.

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yup, I publish every week too and am really struggling with growth.

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I subscribed Melinda. Very useful for my fatherly duties!

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aww, thanks!!

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A very late reply but I think you might both enjoy my newsletter: www.thenewfatherhood.org

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It seems to me that newsletter promotion is about finding your niche audience and then just trying to use social media and personal connections to get it in front of people's faces. Are there any other secret tricks?

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I've had some luck with facebook groups and reaching out to similar newsletters.

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When reaching out, are you asking them to share you? How specifically do you interact with the FB groups/other newsletters?

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I've done guest Q&As with other newsletter writers, which they then feature in their newsletters. On FB, I try to keep it organic and not be annoyingly self-promoy if that makes sense. I write a book rec newsletter, so if I see someone looking for a book, I'll say "oh, you might like xyz, here's a post I wrote about it."

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You can only spread the word yourself so far! I would ask: how might other people be excited to help you?

Other writers perhaps who respect your work may be game to cross-promote/shout out.

And it's worth considering empowering your readers to help you spread the word and tell the story of why your newsletter is so remarkable. How do you make that easy, even exciting, for them? (e.g. Alison Roman provides links to PDFs of recipes).

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I second this completely.

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Hi @Eliz. I just posted a tip for using LinkedIn. Not sure what your niche is and if LinkedIn might work for you.

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I'm wondering what we can do to ensure that our newsletters pop up when people search Substack for our newsletter keywords. I have a parenting newsletter with 1600 subscribers and it still doesn't appear when people search Substack for "parenting." Is it just a matter of getting more subscribers? (I think some of the newsletters that do pop up are smaller, so I'm confused about how this is decided.) Thanks!

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Yes, this! I can't ever find my own newsletter (which is about children's books, so fairly specific and niche) and my stats show that almost no one is coming to me via Substack itself.

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Hi Melinda! It's a great question. We don't show all the search hits per query, but order them by a ranking algorithm. This is likely why searching your tags on Substack doesn't show your publication. And, we don't disclose our ranking algorithm so that folks can't game it.

Sorry for the confusion. I know we want to expand the discoverability of search going forward, so hang tight!

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I understand that you can't disclose your algorithm, but can you give a few practical tips for writers who want to increase their chances of being discovered through the search function?

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(I'm speaking a bit more in depth to our engineers about this and learning myself. If I dig up some valuable tips, will share back!)

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Echoing Melinda’s comment. SEO seems to be terrible on substack posts. It’s the number one worry I have with the platform going forward. I search for things that absolutely should surface my own posts and it doesn’t.

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Hi @Bailey. Sorry, but I'm confused by your answer. What's the point of using tags if they aren't searchable? Thanks for helping me understand.

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It's hard to compete with name brands on Substack, so yes, do tell about promotion and targeting specific audiences! I have a good platform, but expanding beyond it is the next frontier, and it's not the cakewalk it sounds. Also, archive is a terrible word for my fast-growing and current collection of posts. Can we change that? Thanks, guys. It's obvious you're overwhelmed, so appreciate this chance to engage.

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Annette, love your idea of changing the name 'archive' to 'collection' or something similar.

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Thanks, Heather! I love Collections, which makes it sound all special and curated and not dusty and old. 😃

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I include a link in my weekly article to the archives. Thanks to you I am now calling the link my 'collection'. It sounds so much nicer (and less old!!). Hoping Substack makes the change on their end, too. Thanks again, @Annette Laing.

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You're welcome! Btw, Heather, can we add a post to more than one section? Just hoping you know before I get going with mine!

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I don't know. I'm not using multiple sections. Let me know how it goes for you!

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MS Edge has that Collection feature instead of bookmark

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Have shared this with our team! I can't make any promises, but let's see :)

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I'm a historian, a former academic, and a missionary for history. Therefore I remain a bit of a schmuck: My advice is free. Hoping it's compatible with your business plan. 😃

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You may want to rethink your use of the word “schmuck.” Like “putz,” it literally means “penis,” rather in the way “dick” is used in American English (not sure about elsewhere). And while both can be used to mean a dope/hapless/naive, etc., person, they’re pretty much the height of vulgarity in Yiddish. A schmuck is also nasty person, someone who is cruel to others in order to get ahead. As Leo Rosten wrote, “a son of a bitch.” I’ve heard “putz” used that way, too. From the context, it sounds as though you mean “shlemiel,” which doesn’t carry the same connotations as the other two words. Just a suggestion. PS I love the phrase “missionary for history.”

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Words change. Look up the Oxford English Dictionary before trolling. Unless, of course, you know exactly what you're doing, in which case do not, I warn, try to mansplain to me again.

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One reason I chose Substack is because of the ability to generate an email list and send out my newsletter at no cost. I've used Mailchimp and SendinBlue before and, while they are terrific, they are harder to use and get costly as your email list grows. So thanks to Substack, both for the simplicity of the format and the email capability.

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We're glad to hear that Subtack has offered simplicity to reach your readers. That's the goal. Thanks for being here, Heather!

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I'd love the ability to house pdf's on substack, so my readers can get a download from a newsletter, or perhaps when they sign up. Right now the pdf would have to be housed somewhere else, such as on another website. I have another website, but I'm trying to move everything to substack. Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

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Good news coming soon on this front

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Oh, the suspense..... 💜

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What @rob said :)

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This! I'm also uploading my PDFs onto Google Drive. I fear readers will share the PDFs with those who aren't paid-up subscribers.

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Also trying to move everything to Substack!

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Hi Charlotte. Know the thread is over for this week, but I just checked out your substack site and noticed that you are linking your articles to your website. (By the way, awesome topic. Wish I sailed - only claim to that is turtling a Hobie Cat) May I ask why you are moving everything? ⛵

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I am one of those people writing here to GROW an audience. Somewhere after 30 weekly publications of "The Conscious Politics Sunday Newsletter," which my tiny readership seems to appreciate far more than not, I searched my name and "conscious politics" and got ZERO results. Zero. No idea what to even do with that, not feeling like I'm in a place where I can be seen and grow. Nor would I encourage someone to come here as a reader and search topics because god only knows what they'd be shown/what they'd find. It's hard enough, people. This is demoralizing.

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Didn't mean to sound so cranky but saw the email about this and thought it was my only shot. Nice to see I'm not alone on this particular subject. I honestly thought that the BUSINESS of Substack included cultivating writers -- it makes money when we do. Substack owes me nothing, for sure, just expected more in the realm of that cultivation piece.

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Hey Steven! It's great to see your readership steadily growing. We're eager to continue improving on discoverability of awesome writers outside of the platform, and a lot of this stuff is out of our hands as well.

Here are some details on how Google indexes pages: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/intro-indexing

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Thanks for this, rrt. (As for my readership steadily growing...may that be true for all who desire it.)

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Hi @rrt. I read thru this info and am not sure that there is anything I can do on Substack to improve my discoverability. This recommends using site maps, which I could do on my own website, but not on Substack. I also see that it mentions using links in an article, but if I start providing links to other sites, I'm thinking that will only help them, and not me. I do have a question about using my own domain (instead of PracticalKindness.substack.com using PracticalKindness.com). Would this make a difference? I have the domain and could set it up (with your $50 payment). I'm hesitant because all of my current url's will be wrong and I have posted those in other places (twitter, LinkedIn). But if that would make a difference, then I should do it now, before I have a ton of articles to change. Can you please provide some advice on this? Thank you.

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Thank you everyone for these great questions! And for answering each other's questions.

We are wrapping this week's thread, but will be back next week with more.

In the meantime, we have lots of great resources for you here: https://substack.com/resources and in our own "Library" archive.

Happy writing all,

Bailey + Rishi + Katie + Nick + Jamil

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Thanks!

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Thank you for joining! And welcome to Substack

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Really enjoying it!

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Bailey, I contacted support, I posted last night, but none of my subscribers received. I tried to figure it out myself,waiting to hear back (I got a auto email already) from support. Is there any other place I should email? It’s actually kinda cute, some of my subscribers emailed me asked where the Friday newsletter it! 😊 thanks for any help. Best, Jolene

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Thanks Bailey, this was my first time on a thread, this was most helpful!

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Thank *you* for jumping in and helping so many fellow writers!

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Hi, just popping in to say hello. I’ve recently started a Substack about baking 100-year-old recipes in my tiny 1927 apartment galley kitchen. Really enjoying it and would love to learn more about building my readership. Thanks!

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Wow! This is fascinating. I've been mildly obsessed with food history for the past year. Subscribed!

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Thank you, I’m jumping over to your page right now!

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Reading now :)

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Hi and thanks! :)

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Yum. Just subscribed. Can't wait!

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Kindness! Love it! Subscribed!

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So fun! Subscribing now!

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Aww thank you! I’ll do the same!

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What a great topic! Just subscribed.

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Thank you! I’m going to your page now!

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To grow a publication you need to publish alot of content. This takes hardwork and dedication. What is Substack doing behind the scenes to help us get our content discovered?

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Hey MaraRey! This is a huge focus for our teams - the product folks and the community team. I hope you will see more valuable work from us on this front in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned.

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Bailey, I will stay tuned! Thanks for the response. I truly appreciate it! I plan to make a top publication in the arts industry. And I plan to use Substack to make this happen! Just waiting for the right little nudge to make it happen! :)

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Well, let me take this opportunity to introduce myself, as Mick says... I have a publication about my life as a rock and roll photographer -- one of the first women, mind you! And would love any one of you interested to subscribe. To offset the mundane world of rock 'n roll, I also have a publication about life, death and everything in-between. I don't care how many people subscribe, how much money I might make but what I do care about is expressing myself and I'm loving expressing myself on substack. It just feels wonderful to having complete freedom to just write. People ask me to do a memoir - forget it. this is much easier! Best wishes to everyone for whatever reason you are using substack... and may all your longings come true.

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Rad! Reading now :)

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Thank you. In my day, we'd say bitchen! I see it and groovy are making a comeback!

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PS. If you liked my post, you'll enjoy the whole book about it all... www.cockerpowerbook.com

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Would it be possible to add a category called "Investing" or "Stocks" in the Discover tab in the Substack Reader? My Substack provides Asian stock ideas, and I find its value proposition to be a bit different from the Substacks listed in either the Business or Finance sections. Increasing the number of Substacks in the Discover tab from 25 to say 50 would also help us small guys get recognition.

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Yes. So agree. My publication doesn't really fit into any of the current categories. Thanks for bringing this up, Michael.

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Thank you for the feedback! We most likely won't add too many categories in the near future. We've taken a look at the data and are mindful of making any categories too slim. That said, please let me know @heather which category you'd like to see and I will note that down.

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My newsletter is devoted to exploring the practical benefits of kindness. The only options I see are 'religion' (doesn't fit) and 'philosophy' (doesn't fit). I'd love to see a category for 'Kindness' or 'Happiness'. There are a few other newsletters that flirt with kindness and they are also in categories that don't really make sense. Thank you @Bailey for being open to possibilities!

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My newsletter is what we used to call "hyper - local". I am covering business and construction in downtown Des Moines. Point taken about not wanted to make your categories too slim, but I think touting local news would be a lift for some of us.

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There needs to be a crypto category, though. It's taking over like 3 other categories (tech, finance, business), and there's a clear difference between people interesting in crypto and the rest of those categories.

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I was writing a weekly blog on Substack of primarily memoirs, that appeal to universal human experiences. After 19 weeks I grew exhausted of the time & energy that I was putting into the work, only to have nominal subscribers (despite diligent social media promotion). What’s the secret to increase subscribers?

Part 2 - When Substack curates your article, are they looking more at content or your following numbers?

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I just started a newsletter kind of like this where I write about my direct experiences with different big picture aspects of life, and like publishing memoirs, I think the challenge with growing a newsletter like this is that you are covering a wide range of topics, and each topic might have a completely different audience.

I have been doing generic social media promotion without much success, but next I'm going to try to find conversations or groups online that are talking about topics related to each of my Substack posts, then join the conversation and find a way to link to the post that I think is relevant.

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Our approach is very similar. On the first part, I like to believe if they pop on and like your style, they should want to subscribe, to see what’s next. Ahh, in a perfect literary world, not consumed with 7 second Vlogs.

On the latter approach, I share to 40 Facebook groups. HOWEVER, they are not topic specific & that might be an excellent suggestion! Social Media concentration (I’m 52) is, in and of itself, exhausting homework. Thank you and best of luck.

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I too am nervous about exhausting myself with the social media homework and 'hustle'. From what I've seen, this can be a finite task just to get a core following who, like you said, subscribe because they like your style and want to see what's next.

Once that following exists, then I think there's a choice to just put your energy into your readers, and make it easy for your readers to share your work with others from there on out.

Having not been successful with this myself, I'm just guessing based on my observations of others.

Thanks and best of luck to you too!

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Hey Joseph! I'm sorry to hear this. And I get it. It's important to feel that you're writing is being seen and having an impact.

When you say "curates" your article, what do you mean exactly?

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I write a weekly poetry newsletter and I am up to 6000+ subscribers. When you say approx 5-10% of readers will subscribe and pay for the content, what open rate should we be looking for to get in that range? I am considering putting up a paywall soon by offering two additional posts per week. Is it better to post more content up front, and then "take it away" with the paywall, or to do what I'm thinking which is to offer bonus along with a the paid option?

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The value of your writer-reader relationship can be measured along two major axes: your reach (the size of your audience) and your engagement (how much they’re paying attention).

In order to benchmark those, however, you’ll first need to figure out what your financial goals are for going paid. If you’re going full-time, your financial needs might be different from a writer who wants a part-time side project. Be honest with yourself! It’s okay to dream big, and it’s just as okay to say you don’t want to invest time in a full-time project.

Got a number in mind? Great. Now it’s time to do a bit of napkin math:

In the best of circumstances, we typically see conversion rates of 5-10% for writers who are going paid. You can use your email open rates to help approximate whether to use a high or low conversion rate. If your email open rates are typically less than 30%, use a 3% conversion rate. If your email open rates are typically 30-50%, use a 5% conversion rate. If your email open rates are greater than 50%, use a 10% conversion rate.

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Very helpful, thank you!

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My teammate @nadia has done *a lot* to get to these answers. I hope we can get this knowledge out to more and more writers so y'all can use it to your benefit!

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I wanna not worry about money. Which means not having a lot or having other people worry about it for me.

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As for your content questions.

Think about the additional value you’re going to provide your readers. Give them more of what they already love!

Think about your free content as the writing that draws new people into your orbit. While it seems counterintuitive, your free content should be your best work, effectively serving as an advertisement for your paid work.

Write free content that you hope others will share based on its quality and appeal to a broad audience. It should show off what you’re about and entice new readers to sign up for more.

By contrast, your paid content is for readers who already know who you are. This is your place to share your more unfiltered, experimental self.

Generally speaking, readers subscribe to paid newsletters because they want a closer connection. They’re hoping for more of your unique insights that they can’t get anywhere else. Perhaps it’s your analysis of and commentary on the news, personal stories about your daily life, or access to members-only discussions with other subscribers.

Here are a few examples of what Substack writers offer to paying subscribers:

1:X ratio of free-to-paid posts: Judd Legum of Popular Information publishes four days a week, Monday through Thursday: 1 free post and 3 paid posts.

Weekly paid posts with free previews: Richard Rushfield of The Ankler writes an insiders’ newsletter about the entertainment industry. He publishes paid posts 1-2x/week and occasional free posts (1x/month), as well as a free preview version of his paid posts.

Private member community: Nadia Bolz-Weber of The Corners publishes occasional free posts (1-2x/month). Paying subscribers get behind-the-scenes access to Q&As, community discussion threads, quarterly book clubs, and guest posts.

Serial books: Alex Danco publishes a serial book called Scarcity in the Software Century, released in segments exclusively through paid posts.

Exclusive bonus material: Flow State publishes free good-for-working-to music recommendations every weekday. Paying subscribers get access to curated Spotify playlists.

For more ideas, check out how Walt Hickey of Numlock News launched multiple newsletters, where he discusses different possible pricing strategies.

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This is an accurate description of the pricing structure for Popular Information until March 2020, when I removed the paywall and started sending all my content to everyone. There has not been a negative impact on my paid subscriber growth. YMMV.

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That's amazing. So you took down the paywall and people still paid? How do you rationalize that to them? I wish I could take down my paywall but I feel guilty for the people who pay.

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Thank you for updating us Judd!

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Love your poetry. Just signed up. Thank you!

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Thanks Heather!

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I shared it with my daughter. She lived in San Fran for 12 years before moving to Atlanta. She works for WebMD, so she'll be checking it out after work. She did tell me that she loves the photo!

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Well, that’s a start!

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In the Editor, I do not find 'undo' button which I suppose is essential for writers. Can you make the Line button a toggle option? While writing a post, accidentally I pressed it but couldn't undo it. Would appreciate that.

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Hi Ashok! The draft history feature allows you to revert your draft to a previously saved version. As you write and edit your posts, we automatically save your drafts. You can browse a post's version history and restore your working draft to any previous save point. (https://support.substack.com/hc/en-us/articles/360059182852-How-do-I-restore-a-post-draft-)

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Thanks Katie!

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One more thing! To delete a "line" you can try these steps:

1. Click somewhere below the line

2. Type a little bit of text

3. Hit the "up" arrow, which should then select the line

4. Press delete

We can definitely make this easier!

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Would appreciate an easier thing!

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I went paid early, because I didn't want to deliver something for free and then ask people to convert. I wanted to give the option straight off the bat to sign up for free or sign up paid with different content options. How can I organically grow my paid subscribers?

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Hi Eliz, a tips I will offer you.

- Keep sharing your free posts. When you publish something new, tell your followers on social media, or encourage your subscribers to share your post with others. Don’t assume that just because you’ve shared your newsletter once, you don’t have to talk about it again. Create as many touchpoints as you can for new readers to discover your work.

- Find new audiences to break into – that are relevant to your ideal readership, of course. If you write about business, where else can you find business readers that you haven’t reached already? Keep promoting yourself and your publication on interviews and guest posts, find other writers to cross-promote your work, and get to know others with large followings that are relevant to your readership.

- Remind your free subscribers. It’s easy for free subscribers to forget that you have a paid offering if you don’t tell them about it. Include a call-to-subscribe in your free posts; share summaries of what they missed from your paid posts that week; and run occasional discounts, free trials, or special offers to encourage them to switch.

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These ideas are really helpful. Has substack ever looked into how often we should write for paid subscribers to keep them paying? There must be a drop off point when they see that the free content is all they want. I’m just not sure how much to do for each group.

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I dont have any issues with Substack. I am having a problem with posting content. I reread the Resources like Deez Links and others, I rewatch Masterclass and try to post in other communities but they are not active. I would love to join a group of amateur writers, check in, share and hold accountable each other, like Ycombinator.

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I just joined a Substack Community on Discord and its active. Its helped me a lot already! https://discord.gg/afa6vRuF

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I like the name of it. Just joined it. Thank you for sharing!

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Hey Meder! I host something called 'Writers' Hour' - free daily writing sessions 4x each weekday with writers around the world. It's a wonderful community, very active. We'd love for you to join us: http://writershour.com/

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I did and had the first session today! :) i liked it, wrote more than usual. Thanks for sharing!

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I saw, Meder! I'll look out for you again and would love to call on you next time you're with us

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Interesting thought. I started eight weeks ago without much of a plan and this is the very first time that I join (or even heard of) a thread. I think some kind of community to help each other to get started would have helped me when I started. And as I just admitted that I had never known about threads just proves how much I can still learn from others. And what is "Masterclass" that you referred to?

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Yeah, I knew about threads but did not know how to use them. Check out masterclass.com, they have a lot of great writers. Only like $15/month or something.

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Tell me more about this. What would you want from a group like that (topics? activities?) and where would you want it to live? I'm all ears.

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1. Once a week video call to talk about goals of next week and accomplishments of the past week as a start with a mentor or instructor. It could be paid but not too much. I am personally ready to pay $200/month for some sort of course. I could not find a good one out there.

2. Discuss struggles and things that work. I don't know the topics because I don't know what other people are struggling with.

3. Once 2 weeks a speaker event from an established writer to share her experience and tips.

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I joined a substack community on Discord but it's not active. Reddit requires karma but its good for advice not accountability and a sense of belonging.

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Going to share this with my team! Thank you

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Hi! You may also be curious to check out Newsletter Crew! https://www.newslettercrew.com/

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Hi Meder - Check out Foster. https://www.foster.to

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Thanks Sara! I just signed up!

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How would you suggest using the Substack community better to build awareness for individual newsletters? Are there any forums that are accessible beyond "Discover"?

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This is something actively thinking about. There are some organic communities on Facebook, Redditt, and other tools that Substack writers have created (like https://discoversubstacks.com/). More to come from us soon!

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Tip to gain subscribers: I have gained some subscribers through LinkedIn, where I share my work once a week. I also comment on posts and articles that are related to my niche and I share relevant quotes and images, probably 3-4 times a week. It hasn't been a goldmine yet, but I believe there is an opportunity for some consistent (albeit slow) growth. I know this isn't for everyone, but just throwing it out there as a possible opportunity. I must admit, it's a challenge trying to balance my time between writing content and promoting!

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Thanks for sharing these tips—appreciated!

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How can my publications get in the running to be picked as your weekly pics? This would help other people know they exist. I'm sure others would like this as well.

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Hey there Linda! Are you talking about the stories we publish on the blog or something else?

In general, we aspire to increase these and also adjust their format. I'm open to hearing ideas you have :)

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hi bailey, well, in particular I'm not sure. I thought you published some of the posts we all did as examples of our work? But, I'm happy to write something or refer you to a post that I feel would be valuable for others to read. Such as one I already did on beingahuman.substack.com which is about the birth of my first grandson and the impeding death of my 94 year old mom, with photos.

But, maybe I need to know more from you what you do publish that does get our work out there further.

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Hello! Can you move an already published post to a newly created Section?

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Yes, you can move old posts into new sections! In the post editor, just change the section selection

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Wonderful. Thank you!

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We have a newsletter in which we write about startups, the economy, history, etc. for startup enthusiasts, techies, PMs, Consultants, etc. A lot of content I post would be better with formatting layout, text, pics, etc. When will substack launch/integrate more tools useful for formatting?

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I have used both MailChimp and Constant Contact for newsletter clients, but chose Substack for my own newsletter because it's so clean. If most of your readers are reading on mobile, they really don't benefit from all of the extra formatting -- honestly, the simple lines of a Substack newsletter are far more readable on mobile.

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While I agree with you that the minimalist look is more readable, I think editing the layout of the newsletter would definitely make it easier for the writer to customize the newsletter based on the topic and make reading easier for the reader

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Hi there! This isn't an immediate priority from us. We see our simple tools as part of our value. The main customization you can do is change the themes for your publication (https://blog.substack.com/p/new-publication-themes)

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I have read accounts by Substack authors who, for example, say they have 1,000 subscribers and 10 percent are paid. How do you separate the two? I assume the content is different for the two different groups? Or is it just a matter of those paying are allowed to comment on posts?

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I have an Author Adventure Publishing Posse newsletter where I share book publishing secrets and strategies. I try to post 3 times a week 2 (free) and 1 (paid) is a deeper dive into something I have addressed briefly like an expanded version of 15 Questions every author should be asking themselves all along their journey or maybe a short article on the 5 ways most people write then an expanded version for people who paid (serious about learning their craft and becoming a best-selling author). authorlizlawless.substack.com

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Paid subscribers are allowed to comment, get discounts on other programs, and have access to a monthly zoom and a monthly prize give-away.

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I have since 8 weeks a daily newsletter. From day one, people could choose between free signups or a paid subscription. I have only twice put an article behind the paywall, but all other 54 are available to all. Everyone can comment, but 90 percent of the comments are from paying subscribers.

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There are some more great resources here for making this decision! https://on.substack.com/p/your-guide-to-going-paid

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I suppose it is the former having seen few writers do that.

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Substrack doesn't seem to be available in other languages, like French.

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+1! We get to see so much writing in beautiful languages - from Tamil to French to Mandarin - here at HQ. We would love to support you. We just need to build the capacity to do so.

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Hey Richard — I'm sorry to say that while Substack allows you to publish in any language, the interface is only available in English for now. This is definitely something top-of-mind as we continue to grow, so thanks for the push!

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The option to change the language of the interface would be a big plus. And that has prevented me to adopt Substract since most of my texts are in French.

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I read the link from above. and I have two questions about sections. What I would like to do is to take the content from my newsletter and organize it by topic. It does not seem like that is the purpose of the Sections, right? Instead, it looks like a place to have different newsletters, podcasts and such under one umbrella. Am I understanding that correctly? The second question has to do with how people find out about your sections. When I created a local section it looked like they had to subscribe to that separately? Is that true?

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Hi Anna

Writers are using sections in different ways. Some are using them as you described, to house different newsletters, podcasts and such under one umbrella. But others are using it to categorize their publication topically. Here ins one example: https://blog.jatan.space/

You can select whether a section is subscribed by default. If you'd like everyone to received emails across topics, you can select "Sign up new subscribers by default" and "copy list" so you're subscribers continue to receive newsletters on each topic.

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Thanks for the forum! On average, what percent of subscribers don't open our emails because our newsletters are automatically filtered as "spam" or put into a "promotions" tab?

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What helps is to add to your automatic email to new signups/subscribers to add a paragraph to tell them how to avoid this.

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feel free to copy the text that I use:

Follow these simple tips to make sure you don’t miss one.

Gmail users, just add this email to your Primary inbox

For mobile: On the top right of the app, tap the three dots and “Move to” > “Primary”

For desktop: Drop this email into your “Primary” folder in your inbox feed

Apple Mail users, at the top of this email, tap our address and “Add to VIP’s.”

If you can’t find the newsletter, check your spam folder. And please mark this address as ‘not spam.’ If the newsletter isn’t in your spam folder, either, you should look in the Promotions tab.

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Thanks, Alexander! I appreciate the tip and copy.

(I'd still love to get a sense of how many subscribers, on average, we lose to spam filtering.)

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My challenge is readers don’t like that substack is not mobile friendly so they leave it and fo leave comments on Facebook post of the same story or just don’t engage. The problem is not having an app so only with safari comments on iphone or iPad. Any suggestions?

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☝️ Is my readers second most common complaint with the “little boxes” for comments- NO EDIT button ! They do exactly what I’m doing here- add the sorry for typos to the comment.

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Thank you for this feedback! I'm sharing it with our engineers and designers.

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Thank you! Tell them to try to see comments or leave comments on iphone safari. It’s not possible. The site is designed to be written only on laptop of desktop. I had one reader write that he had a lot to say but didn’t want to get off his couch to go to his desk ;)

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Literally copy/pasted this note for our product team to read! Thank you. Let's see what we can do.

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I have no insight into how Substack employees think, but part of the concern may be that Apple and Google will want to take a cut of subscription fees if readers use an app to consume content on the site. I don’t begrudge those stores their rent money, but it’s difficult enough to make it as a writer without losing an additional 30%.

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I hadn't considered the financing of it. But it's really hard for me to get my readers to even move into this platform because there is so little community engagement compared to the ease of Facebook. And 90% of my subscribers and traffic comes from Facebook, so I don't know how to keep them. When they want to leave a comment, they reply to the email (which I just cant keep up with answering) or they leave the comment on FB. If Substack was at least mobile friendly on iphone to read comments and write on safari, that would help a lot.

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The issue about the difficulties in getting people to switch from Facebook to a new platform isn’t unique to you. That’s something that everyone faces. I’m sure it’s even something that concerns people who make video games, movies, and television shows. Facebook is a juggernaught, but they aren’t the real issue (in my opinion).

I believe the real problem that all of us face is the habits of our readers. How many of our readers begin their day (regardless of whether they are logging into a work or personal computer, tablet, or phone) by visiting Facebook? Do they do this because they love seeing FB show them the same 15 posts that they’ve seen multiple times already? Do they do it because they want to read or participate in some armchair analysts latest political screed masquerading as commentary? While it’s true that they’re may be elements of all of these things built into this behavior, I believe that the main component is simply that it’s become a habit to them.

You aren’t going to be able to change their habit. I believe the only way to get users to prioritize our content over their habit is to provide better content than they receive on Facebook. Again, this is my opinion, but I’m basing it off of things I’ve observed in my personal behavior.

I’m like everyone else these days— short attention span looking for the next dopamine fix from social media or whatever. Yet, I pay to subscribe and read Ben Thompson’s Stratechery, Casey Newton’s Platformer, and a host of other newsletters because their content (and those guys write some long posts compared to the average Facebook post) simply because their content is stuff I can’t find on Facebook and it’s actually making me smarter. For that reason, I’m willing to break out of my habits and embrace new behaviors. Well, that’s part of it. The other part is that I’m giving these guys money and I want to get value out of my subscription.

All this isn’t to say that there aren’t things that Substack couldn’t do to improve user experience or make things easier on the writer. If there are issues with Safari they need to be addressed. I wonder if replies to your e-mail couldn’t be set up so that they automatically post as comments on the relevant newsletter. Of course, that brings up a bunch of other issues like spam, hate speech, etc. but there may be technical ways to address even those problems.

I also think it may be worth considering some creative things each of us could do as creators to make our newsletters stand out when compared to the average social media posts. One thing I enjoy about Stratechery is that he offers audio editions of the newsletter via podcast. This is particularly useful when he does a 40k word interview with someone. I only mention this because it’s not something I see a lot of people doing. No doubt that’s because there’s a significant time investment required to create those podcast episodes, but it does make his newsletter unique and provides value to his subscribers. Is there anything like that which you could do that would make you stand out just a bit more? It might be worth thinking about, but again I’m just some random guy on the internet. I haven’t even gone live with my newsletter yet because I’m still trying to figure out my value proposition. So, take my blathering comment with the appropriately sized grain of salt.

I do wish you the best and believe that this is something that can be overcome. Good luck!

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Would you consider putting this on your substack with a link (go public now) so I can link to it on mine? This is so important and I want all of us who are here now to think through what habits we need to shift as we move away from the dopamine hit and return to reading long form and learning. This is the future and you've explained it better than anyone else I've read.

PS- I had to open my laptop to reply to this because the comment doesn't show on safari on my iphone. I just got an email with your response so that's how I was able to read it (twice!)

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You’re too kind. I’ll work something up tonight and post it tomorrow.

I think many of the difficulties we’re experiencing are simply because Substack is still in the early stages. For example, the difficulties associated with having to wait for an e-mail before you learn about a new comment could be alleviated with an on-site notification system… or ya know, resolving whatever issues you’re experiencing with mobile Safari.

I have faith that they’ll figure things out. It’s just a matter of hanging in there until things are resolved.

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You can't hide your talent behind comments. Write about how we are adjusting to a new way of reading and learning and why it's better than the way we've been getting news in the last 10 years. Also tell us why we are ahead of the curve with substack. Deadline Wednesday.

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Hello! We have a newsletter covering local government in Alberta and I am wondering how to get more comments? We are straight up asking questions to the paid subs but haven’t received much yet.

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Hi Dani! Here (https://gettogether.world/resources#get-people-talking) is some inspiration for you for some communities that have gotten people talking online. One Substack writer that has done a great job of speaking conversation with writers is Terrell Johnson (https://www.thehalfmarathoner.com/)

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I second the Get Together resources, just found them through a Substack post and so far finding lots of value around community development/engagement.

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@katie, Thanks for recommending Get Together. They have a lot of thoughtful articles on their site (and their Substack) that I’ve found to be quite helpful.

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I have a question about finding an editor. I love writing on Substack, but writing without an editor is generally a terrible idea. Do you have suggestions for finding someone who would be interested in editing a Substack newsletter? Thanks so much!

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Hi Renne! One community we've heard about that some writers have turned to for peer-editing is Foster. https://www.foster.to/

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Thank you. I’ll look into this. I’d thought about trying UpWorks, but I just don’t know enough about it yet.

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Grammarly might help with any obvious grammatical mistake

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Grammarly is always great, but I need someone who can work with me on organizational issues and ideas.

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What kind of volume of work do you need? I'm in the process of hiring some freelance proofreaders. It's possible they could do the same kind of work for other sites, too.

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Two newsletters per week. Not lengthy. I’m mostly interested in editing for ~500-1000 word essays that are the first section of the newsletter. But the editor needs an understanding of baseball. (It’s a Rockies-centric newsletter, but an understanding of the game and some sabermetrics is what I’m looking for.)

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That sounds interesting. The folks I'm working with could handle the workload, but I don't think they have any particular knowledge of or interest in baseball. All the best.

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Yes to this ! Copy editor !

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As much as I would like to participate in writing on the site, I am having problems uploading material. I have tried to upload work docs or google docs and have only succeeded in creating a title and 6 different sites. Are there instructions on basic operations available somewhere?

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I think you might need to just copy and paste the text from your word or google doc into a new Substack draft. If your material has headings, I think Substack might automatically preserve them when you paste.

But maybe someone from Substack or someone else knows of a way to import documents from other places.

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This is right! When you copy and paste from other sources to Substack, our editor keeps the formatting intact.

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Which is awesome. Thanks so much.

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I write articles and add photos in my Pages doc (Mac) cut and paste but you do have to add the Heading separately. I have it in the document. Paste the whole document then cut and paste the Headline and Subhead into the Heading in the Substack Draft document then publish or schedule the post to go live later. There also is a How To Use The Substack Editor under the DRAFTS on your dashboard which tells you what to do.

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Thanks for your help.

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A few days ago I uploaded my MailChimp list that I email from my website. I decided to make SubStack my platform to send the newsletters going forward. I received an email asking where did the list come from. I informed them it was my own list. I still cannot send out newsletters to the list.

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Hi Egberto! Please write into support@substack.com, we're happy to help you out with this.

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Hi. I have a few questions actually:

1. I have a personal blog too. Can I use substack for reposting (in other words, the article would have already been published on my blog before substack) and better reach? And I hope I own the articles even though the platform is substack?

2. If I want to post on two completely separate topics (one computer science related and other one general lifestyle), then do I need to create two different accounts?

Thanks,

Dippy

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Hi Dippy! Katie from the Substack team here.

1. If you import posts from some other site’s archives, you can backdate them so they are published in the correct order and associated with the correct publication dates. To do so, after you have published a post, go into that post’s Settings (just to the left of the Publish button) and select the desired date.

2. Sections are a great way to write about two separate topics on the same publication (https://blog.substack.com/p/new-sections)

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Perhaps a category/folder option will be a welcome feature, right?

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How do I feel better about monetizing my newsletter? What’s a good way to promote my newsletter other than Facebook?

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