Have questions about publishing, growing, or going paid on Substack?
The Substack team, and your fellow writers, are here to help!
We’re gathering the writer community and members of the Substack team together in this discussion thread to answer writer questions for an hour.
Drop your questions in the thread by leaving a comment, and we’ll do our best to share knowledge and tips. Our team will be answering questions and sharing insights with you in the thread today from 10 a.m.–11 a.m. PST / 1 p.m.–2 p.m. EST. We encourage writers to stick around after the hour and continue the conversation together.
Some updates and reminders from the Substack team:
What’s new with the Substack product. If you missed our latest update on new options and product improvements for writers, be sure to check it out to learn about full-width images, version histories, a new homepage layout, and more. Got questions or feedback about what’s new? You’re in the right place! Leave a comment in this thread.
Substack Go. Yesterday, we announced a brand-new program designed to create a space for writers to learn the fundamentals of Substack, forge relationships, and kickstart a sustainable writing habit. This free program is designed for writers who are getting started (or restarted) and eager to publish regularly in community with fellow writers. Learn more and apply.
Joel Gay Creative Fellowships. In partnership with Substack, writer and cultural critic Roxane Gay of The Audacity has announced a new fellowship to support three emerging writers over the course of the year as they develop a newsletter on Substack. The fellowship will include a $25,000 stipend, services, and mentorship from Roxane on the craft and business of writing. Learn more here.
Substack Health deadline. The deadline to apply for Substack Health, a new program designed to help subsidize health care for writers, is next Thursday, January 20th. Learn more and apply here.
We’ll host Office Hours again next week at the same time and place. Save it to your calendar so you don’t miss it.
Lots happening in Office Hours today. Our team is signing off and will be back next week, same time same place.
In the meantime, feel free to keep chatting with one another here and visit our Resources page for additional guidance: https://substack.com/resources
See you next time,
Katie + Bailey + Jasmine + Rose + Kelsa + Mike + Dan + Zoe + Sachin + Kamil + Kristen + Josh + Damesha
Wanted to share a win as a very new writer: I reached 200 subscribers this week! This is my second month publishing on Substack and it has been a HUGE leap, as I have never written consistently in my life. It is getting easier and this community has been very helpful. I have committed to publishing weekly for the next year with my editor and very excited to see where this goes.
Just published this edition of my newsletter today and got 7 new new paid subscriptions which is a lot for me! https://katemcdermott.substack.com/p/55-herstory
Who else applied for Substack go? Hands up! 🙋♂️
Has the team ever considered creating a “What to Read” series for new publications / publications with under 100 subscribers? I think that would be super helpful for visibility. Many of the publications I follow were discoveries from What to Read.
Small milestone, I just hit double digit subscribers! I've only been posting here for about two weeks (backdated some old posts from Reddit just to fill the pipeline a bit). Still learning/struggling with the self promotion stuff, but learning as I go.
Just want to say that it's really exciting to see this community grow, stay positive, and supportive! Keep up the great work, everyone & happy writing!
How to Get More Subscribers: this seems to be a common question! The Sample has been a really good resource for me. The Sample matches readers to newsletters, based on their interests. Each day The Sample sends out sample newsletters. If a reader likes a newsletter, they can subscribe with 1 click. It was started by 2 brothers who are trying hard to help authors and readers connect. It's free for both authors and readers. Enter your newsletter url. I've probably gotten about 60 subscribers recently, if that gives some perspective. Here's a link: https://bit.ly/1thesample to copy/paste in your browser or you can go to thesample.ai. I'd love to hear if others are also using this free service.
Just wanted to introduce myself to everyone. I'm fairly new to Substack. This is my second week here. I like it a whole lot more than WordPress. I like Substack so much that I have been learning as much as I can about it. I subscribed to their YouTube channel. I hope that I get chosen for Substack Go. It would be great to meet and support other writers.
Love the new magazine layout, definitely a visually appealing landing page.
Also excited for Substack Go, I applied yesterday and am hoping to meet some new writers through the program.
Hoping to see more new features soon, like the option to deliver audio to paid subscribers only in the same post that goes out to all subscribers.
Is there any hope for a substack referral system in due time? That would make life so much easier and save a lot of money compared to existing systems, so I bet it is a great added value to substack
Hello all. New to everything here - to Substack, to seeking publication, to finding a writing group ( applied to Go! ). I write short stories and personal essays. Never published but get some nice comments on my work once in awhile. I'm at https://dorothyshrager.substack.com/. Very glad to have found this talented and generous writing community. Auspicious start to 2022 dare I say?
Hey, all. Just checking in. Did a 50% off annual subscriptions deal last week for one day in honor of my 50th birthday and the first anniversary of my newsletter. Got 7 new paid subscribers! Which is a lot for me in one day. Otherwise, I'm struggling to get back in the groove of creating new pieces since the New Year. I didn't take a break, per se, during December, but I did allow my newsletters to be more brief. Now I have to get back into the thick of it, and regaining momentum is hard. Anyone else struggling with this?
Like a bunch of folks I did a retrospective post at the very end of last year, highlighting the three most trafficked posts and also my three favorites from the last year. It was more gratifying than I thought it would be. Reading back over my old stuff I found myself thinking, Oh, hey! This is really good! Here's the link if anyone wants to check it out: https://ashasanaker.substack.com/p/thats-a-wrap
When I saw the new Magazine layout, I immediately got format envy and want to know:
When will you offer a serialized novel format?
Most writers are splitting their chapters into several weekly segments, which results in several icons on the home page for each chapter. A serialized novel format would let readers jump to a page for each chapter, which would contain all of the articles that comprise that chapter and let readers easily either 1) jump to the next chapter, or 2) return to the home page.
I thought about using the current "Sections" feature, which creates a tab on the home page for each section. But those tabs are just plain text. I need to have the current homepage icon and text block become a jump to a page that contains all segments of each chapter.
Another problem with the tabs as the top is that as I go into "seasons" over the long-term I need to use those tabs for each season.
So, how about a dedicated serialized novel format? Is that coming soon?
I have a question/suggestion for the new magazine layout. I LOVE the new layout. However, I would love to have more intuitive control about which posts get highlighted there. I know how to pin them to the top, and I know they rotate around based on what order you pin them in. And then they have a certain order if nothing is pinned and the four most recent posts end up there. But I would love to be able to say - I want this post in the top left. I want this post in the bottom left. I want this post in the center. I want this post at the bottom. When I try to make the posts fall where I want them based on the order I pin them, somehow I always get them messed up, and the final order isn't what I want. If we could control specifically which spot each pinned post goes to, that would be so helpful.
I genuinely love the new magazine layout; it makes my site much more appealing on the web and let's me have a welcome post front and center while new content is still given high priority. I really appreciate it.
Also, here's a though that I'm not sure I've thought of before... perhaps a word count? 🤔
I've joined Substack Go, but I'm disappointed in the lack of categories. No creative non-fiction, for example. And no Writing! There are dozens of newsletters on writing (ncluding mine, Writer Everlasting) and I would love to make connections with some of them.
You have 'politics' but not 'advocacy'. That's another important topic for me. Thanks.
Morning everyone! I actually just wrapped up a podcast interview with a fellow substack writer -- extremely excited to release it. If anyone else writes or likes talking about the outdoors, and you'd like to come on as a guest as well - please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I LOVE Substack. 150 subs in 3 days and I’m making my second post on Saturday. This is equally as fun as discovering TikTok in 2019. Thank you for this platform! H
I’m excited about Substack Go! Hoping to connect with other food bloggers to learn, share ideas, and support each other. Thanks for this new program, Substack!
Proud to be a new member of this community. Shout out to Substack for making it so easy to get started. We regularly share the freshest streaming recs in case you'd like some for this long weekend! https://culturepop.substack.com/ Look forward to learning from y'all.
The Fictionistas (fiction writers on Substack) are on board for Substack Go! https://fictionistas.substack.com/p/join-us-for-substack-go
So many exciting new things--thank you!
The new Fellowship sounds like an amazing offer--for "emerging" writers. I wonder if--down the line--there might be something "like" for experienced writers who are busting it to make this happen... those of us who are on Substack to re-create their working life? I cannot consider myself to be "emerging" but at age 57 I do feel very much to be "starting over." My newsletter is my primary income source now after years of underpaid contract teaching. But I am still some years away from being able to do the pension thing. I think there are quite a number of people in similar position here--people who are committed to this, willing to put in the hours and energy, who already are. Just a thought...
Hi! I’m helping writers grow their publications on Social Media with my project https://newslettertosocials.com . Add your newsletter, and the site will generate ready-to-post social media content based on your newsletter issues. My goal is to save writers time, while also making their newsletter content available on all social media platforms. I’m trying to make the dream of focusing on writing while growing a ton a possibility. Would love to hear some feedback!
Good afternoon everyone! I'm excited about entering the SubStack world! I posted my first newsletter Sunday, and plan to every week thereafter. I am curious about a few tipcs & tricks to help me. Overall I felt the process to write, post and share super easy to navigate (which is a plus!). Wondering the following:
1) How to embed video clips (whether through you tube, or on file)?
2) How to post a twitter thread that I may want to use?
3) Any other stylist or "cool" features that people may have to help create an engaging read?
Hi All! I write FIRES and Socially Awkward. Socially awkward (https://sociallyawkward.substack.com) is about everything but I am currently reading a short story a day. I am looking to collaborate with other newsletter writers who want to read one of the short stories and write about it, or choose their own short story and write about it. Especially interested in those of you who write about writing or literature, of course.
If anyone needs it, we have a substack hype pod on Twitter. Follow me @youtopianJ and I will add you to it, could get you some new eyes and subscribers.
Hi friends, quick question from new writers like us who are ramping up. We've noticed if we mention the newsletter (in person or via text/social/email) people are very enthusiastic, but then forget to sign up (even when we send the link that directly opens the subscribe modal). Any tips on closing the deal?
Also, any tips on regularly encouraging people to invite a friend or two without being too annoying about it? Thank you for your insights!
Hey Substack team!
What are the best ways to grow my newsletter and engage with other creators on this platform? Commenting on articles seems intuitive, but most of the newsletters I'm subscribed to, only allow comments from paid subscribers. Is there a way I can find more people that aren't big names or just starting out, and likely wouldn't require paid subscriptions for comments/engagement?
Like many of you I applied to Substack Go. I was wondering if anyone has any tips on improving my application? Thanks in advance :)
Hey community! A lot of great updates in the new year! I applied for Substack Go, and it sounds like a promising way to meet other writers.
My question: how have other writers used Instagram to promote work? What style of posts seem to be the most engaging? I have a small audience (4k) and got a lot of signups from it initially. I'm trying different posts types that refer back to my newsletter stories, and always looking to experiment with new ideas. Thanks!
I'm really struggling to grow faster. One recent article had over 10,000 views but only around 20-30 new signups. That's despite getting a lot of positive feedback and good reader interaction.
Do other people see similar rates of subscriptions? Because at this rate it will take me a long long time to hit enough readers for me to consider going paid.
Any advice on boosting subscription rates? Are there any ways people have found to convert more readers to subscribers?
Is there a possibility to translate button text to other languages? And have you considered adding other more "global" payment methods other than credit card. I live, and have most of my audience, outside the US, so trying to go to a paid model is not something viable, since most of my readers don't have an international credit or debit card
After looking at a comment below about how to gain subscribers, it seems like it would be nice to have a Table of Contents. I know there's the Readers and Writers links, and the suggestion boxes on the right, but that is limited real estate.
What about providing a List format that shows ALL authors under a subject that we choose with our one line description?
That's what I struggle with, I want to quickly see what people write about and have the ability to check out writers in a methodical manner. Perhaps different colors for different authors the longer they are here, one color for those on for 1-2 months, 2-6 months, over 6 months, etc? Or just alphabetical.
Hello and happy new year! I've got a quick question -- what are some sure(ish) fire ways folks are turning engagement with their posts into actual subscriptions? I get a fair amount of interaction with my writing in terms of open rate, private feedback, etc. -- but only convert about 7-8 new subscribers per each new article. I promote across all my socials, have embraced the twitter thread for sharing new posts, and am even doing a couple Pinterest ads. Any advice would be welcome. This is actually in the face of me passing the three-digit mark last night (whoop whoop!), just eager to grow more. Thanks as always.
I'm trying to find out how to convert views into free signups.
I made a post about this and Nishant Jain has left some interesting comments, as have a couple other writers: https://join.substack.com/p/how-do-you-turn-views-into-signups.
Feel free to comment on the post; I'd hugely appreciate any thoughts that anyone has! :)
Gosh I'm new here and feeling earnest AND vulnerably stupid. Anyone else know the feeling? My brand new newsletter is https://christinewolf.substack.com, and I'm wondering if (and WHY) I'd want or need to create a custom domain. My website is www.christinewolf.com. What's the obvious benefit I'm missing about creating a custom Substack domain? Thanks, all.
Hey all fellow SubStackers. Do you wonder what happens when you hit the length limit on your newsletter? This: https://pau1.substack.com/p/stackhacks-too-long-for-email-message
Is there a limit to how many Medium articles we can import? Looks like only 6-7 of my 70+ articles came through. And, will they appear on my general feed, or can I keep them tucked away in a separate folder? Thanks!
What is the best way to transition to a paid subscription plan for readers? I have just started my newsletter on Substack and have been thinking that I will keep it free for the first few months to garner readership and then transition into paid subsriptions.
Just posted a new piece I'm really excited about:
Excited to join Substack Go too, applying shortly...
Sorry I missed this ons today but I was in a very important meeting. I hope I will make the next one next week God's willing.
Thank you Substack Team for providing this resource! Very, very cool.
Here's a question: how much do you all think aesthetics/branding plays a role in your publication's success? Some of the newsletters I like best have 'in-house' artists who provide the publication with a unified and professional look. I've been playing around with this myself—I'd love to hear what works for you.
Thank you Substack team, for continuing to evolve and improve!!
I have one giant frustration at the moment. It's completely outside your control, but perhaps you have some insight.
Many of my friends have asked how they can show their support and spread the word about my newsletter. So we planned just before my January newsletter went out for them to all post about it on Facebook, IG, and a few of them posted on Twitter. They were all people with huge followings and active FB accounts, but it was clear that Facebook algorithms blocked the post's view--there were maybe 2 or 3 likes per post. It seems that FB was able to identify the posts as some type of promotion and is now making it impossible to gain traction in that way.
I really like the "View Profile" feature on the subscriber pages--but I don't understand why some pages have that tab and some don't. On the pages where the tab does appear, it's often the case that the reader hasn't put anything on their profile. So I realize that some profiles will be "empty." But what does it mean if there is no profile tab?
Wondering if there's a template feature for posts so we can save time? Would be great not to have to rekey my signature and links at the bottom for every post.
In the words of Lt. Columbo, "just one more question..."
Is Substack Go for clueless newbies like me? I'm a little worried it will be like school and no one will want to pick me for their study group...
OK. One more. I want to email people and put on FB that they should sign up to read me (follow me? friend me?) on Substack. How do I do that?
OK. OK. Just one more. Is Substack free for writers?
Thanks for the replies and suggestions Jackie and everyone else who’s reading. Please do read me at https://poojakanth.substack.com/
It’s almost mid night here, goodnight!
Just want to give a shout out and thanks to Michael who writes Holy Writ https://holywrit.substack.com/about for introducing me to our customized email addresses during the last office hours. Love this feature! I hadn't realized that the name of our newsletter is also an email address where folks can write us. Thank you, Substack!