Have questions about publishing, growing, and going paid on Substack?
The Substack team, and your fellow writers, are here to help! Each week on Thursdays, we’ll gather the writer community and members of our Community, Product, and Writer Development teams together in a thread like this one to answer writer questions for an hour.
Wondering how other writers are using Sections in their publications? As starter inspiration, here are a few publications who’ve introduced Sections: Space Impact, From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy, Recommentunde, and Proof.
Seeking tips for promoting your Substack?
Curious how you might level up your “About” page?
Drop your questions in the thread and we’ll do our best to supercharge each other. Our team will be in the thread today from 8 am - 9 pm PST / 11 am - 12 pm EST answering questions with you.
We’ll host this thread again next week. Save it to your calendar so you don’t miss it.
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
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
How would you suggest using the Substack community better to build awareness for individual newsletters? Are there any forums that are accessible beyond "Discover"?
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!
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.
Hello! Can you move an already published post to a newly created Section?
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?
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?
Substrack doesn't seem to be available in other languages, like French.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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!
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?
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.
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?
How do I feel better about monetizing my newsletter? What’s a good way to promote my newsletter other than Facebook?
Forgive the repetition if this was addressed beforehand:
Are subscribers we bring the only way to monetize on Substack?
Hi there - Was curious if there was a way to create a welcome email for new subscribers or if they only get the next issue that you publish? Also, what is substack doing around helping people with discoverability - for example, backlinks? As of now when you google, nothing comes up.
I am using substack with full heart :)
Visit my Room alquran.substack.com
I have an existing podcast at artinallitsforms.substack.com, and I'd like to use the new Sections feature Substack has. However, I just want to take all the podcast posts I currently have and simply move them to the new "section," not create an entirely new podcast (which is what the Sections feature is asking me to do when I try to set it up). How do I do that? Maybe I'm missing something... All I'm trying to do is split my current podcast and newsletter feed into two sections. Thanks!
Glad to hear this and thank you for taking the time. Will be tuned in next week.
Sorry I’m late, I’m in Australia so can’t make the hour time slot.
I don’t use social media so it’s taking a while to get traction on my poor lonely newsletter :( any other tips on how I can get the word out there?
For those of you that are still here now that this thread just closed: I started recently to write about climate change, nature, news, and history. I would love it if you could look and tell me what you think and how to improve.
I'm still trying to grow my subscriber list even though my publication is free right now. I write about popular culture and poetry, and I've done a lot of what you've suggested (reaching out to networks, explicitly asking for folks I know to sign up, posting regularly, creating high-quality content) and it's still very slow going. I know this has been asked differently upthread, but I would appreciate continually updating materials on how to grow your list or examples from folks who have rather than just a recap of what's already been said. Overall I'm satisfied with my experience. Just hoping to reach more readers (I know they're out there!)
Are there any tools that I could use to conduct a short survey or poll in the newsletter itself without a hyperlink?
This might be a good tool for me to engage with my readers. Please suggest!
For those of you using twitter or instagram, @alexander verbeek, for example, about how much time to you spend on social media and how many posts per day? Thanks for the advice!
Hi, I just started a newsletter exploring big picture topics of life at maclain.substack.com, and I'm wondering how to link my newsletter in social media comment threads without coming off as the bad kind of "self-promotional"?
I want to be authentic and engage meaningfully with what people are talking about online, and sometimes I have written about something that is relevant to that conversation. But I often feel uncomfortable throwing a link to my newsletter in there.
Any tips, advice, approaches, or even specific examples?
I do a local daily news podcast. We've built up a pretty good email list that helps promote it. But, with the daily demands of the podcast and being a tiny team, I find it hard to focus on emails. I can vision the product, and when it goes out it does fine, but it's far easier to find help and support for the on-air portion of things and few contributors really want to write they want to talk on the podcast or be on video or do visual art; so writing falls on me. So it's an "occasional" thing and I know I'm leaving at least traffic and brand building on the table, if not more. Any tips for cutting out time in your day? Or what the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) could be just to get more emails out and then ramp up with using as little resources as possible as we're self-funded? -Jer
How do I embed a donation functionality into Substack? I've set one up on Donorbox but can't figure out how to attach it...
Why does newsletters from substack goes to socials? I need it on inbox of subscribers.
Would like to learn more about getting renumeration, but accidentally created 2 separate Substack accounts. Can you merge them ?
Hi, I would like to be able to give potential customers the option of a 14 day trial, instead of only 7 days. I think it would be very valuable for readers to have a longer trial period before signing up for a paid subscription. Would you please pass that on to the product team? Thank you!