Hey, just a heads up: we're adjusting how the smart delivery/email pausing stuff works in the app.

The goal here was to make a good experience for readers while keeping the writers' direct connection intact, but we've had feedback from a few folks. We always want to be thoughtful about keeping writers' trust, so we've made the following changes:

1. As of now, the toggle you see after turning on push notifications will default to leaving email on as well.

2. In the next release, we're going to pull it out of onboarding and just have it be a setting you can find if you want.

We're going to continue to iterate on making this great for writers and readers. Feedback like yours helps us do this, so thank you!

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[Writers requested I pin this answer so here goes!]

The default way for readers who sign up to the app to receive your posts is to keep receiving them via email and the app.

In onboarding, we ask readers: Do you want to turn on push notifications?

If a reader says no --> they keep getting emails and will also see your posts in the app.

If a reader says yes --> only then in the next screen do we give them the option to pause emails and only receive app posts (to prevent them from both receiving email push notifications and app push notifications for the same post).

Regardless of their choice on this screen, readers' email addresses will still be added when they subscribe to your publication.

And if that subscriber at some point stops reading in the app or turns off notifications, we revert to sending them your posts via email so you don't lose your connection with them.

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Thank you for coming to Office Hours! We are excited to see so many of you starting to use the app and we plan to keep answering your questions as we navigate the early days of the app in the world.

Our team is signing off for today and we will be back next week.

In the meantime, our resources are here for you.



And! We hope to see you out on the Substack (virtual) category tour. This is a meeting place for writers to connect directly over Zoom, and as a showcase for the wide variety of writing happening on Substack within a given category. Join us: https://on.substack.com/p/category-tour

See you soon,

The Substack Team

Katie + Bailey + Kelsa + Rose + Jasmine + Chris + Sachin + Josh + John + Maggie + Dominik + Andrew + Nikhil + Linda + Ashley + Nick

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So I'm generally a fan of Substack. But I'm not particularly a fan of this move. Here's how I'm seeing it:


Right now, every reader who transitions to an app represents a *small statistical decrease in conversion rate*. This is almost tautologically true; without in-app purchases, there's a significant disincentive to "impulse subscribes" and the current UI makes it hard to even figure out that you can subscribe paid at all.

An initial email saying they can pay at time of sub doesn't do much to fix this, and does nothing for people who come to like you enough over time to pay. Status: net loss for writers.


Every subscriber who uses the app immediately becomes less a subscriber to my blog and more a subscriber to substack. Whereas now migrating my email list away to some other newsletter platform is pretty much a 1:1 substitution from the reader's perspective, your first move is to shunt people towards push notifications instead of emails, with a high-probability expectation that users will actually do this.

This de-acclimates the users to an experience I can provide other places without you, which is a pretty clear case of creating "lock-in". Note that you might counterbalance this, but lock-in itself is a negative; it's not me not wanting to leave, it's me not being able to leave. Status: net loss for writers.


Since the two things above are negative, we start looking for counter-balancing positives, but there aren't any. There are aspects of this that are being presented as positives, but are false/misleading:


This could bring in a very large number of new Substack readers but still not benefit me at all. Substack has traditionally refused to do anything to funnel any readers to any publications besides those topping the leaderboard (reinforcing winners rather than creating new successes). So if you get a million people coming in, that's who they will find - specifically people who don't need the help to be successful, and never, ever the small to medium sized blog.

So while this initially sounds good (So many more substack users!) you've never once made a move that was even slightly in favor of that wealth of readers being channeled to any but a small, lucky handful of already-famous writers. There's no indication in any of your promotional material that you intend to do this, except vague promises that it's something you are looking into, which we've already had for years and years with no actual changes.


In-app payments work out for the writer in one way and one way only: If Epic wins their lawsuit so spectacularly that it represents the biggest anti-trust movement of a generation and wipes out in-app payment fees entirely, at least as far as their coercive power goes.

In any other case, we are either locked into a 30% processing fee (~600% higher than what we enjoy now) or have a confusing disincentive to subscribing at all. Even in the best case scenario, the writer is only left with what they already had; a clear pathway to stripe.


Coupling the negatives with the false positives, there's now a pretty clear picture of how this appears to be going. First:


1. Bring us your newsletter. We won't try to own it at all; it's portable.

2. We will send out newsletters for you.

3. We will also publish those newsletters to the web.

4. We will give you access to stripe payments.

5. If you want to leave, it's as simple to do as it was to join; you export your newsletter subscribers, and take them to a new newsletter platform at very little shock to your readers.

Now, that was fine. But you are stealthily making a new pitch, that looks an awful lot like this:

1. Bring us your newsletter subscribers.

2. We will send out newsletters and publish on the web as before, but where we can we will also shunt people towards our app.

3. When they get to our app, our pattern encourages them to *stop receiving your newsletter and get used to our app.

4. All this hurts you in terms of your conversion rate.

5. We might get a lot of new substack users, but we have no plans to give you any of them besides the same vague handwaving we've always done. Right now, those all go to our small list of favorites.

6. When you go to switch to another platform, you will find your userbase is substantially less yours than before, and substantially less a newsletter oriented audience than before. You will have to hope that your audience, now acclimated to our reader, will cross platforms back to emailed newsletters without you experiencing friction loss.

7. This locks you in. It makes us more likely to keep you without actually having to be competitive and benefit you. It's good for us, and bad for you.

Substack has done an awful lot for me, but I'm looking for some way this makes sense to do as a company besides what I've already laid out. If there was any chance this was to my benefit at all, I don't think I'd be so negative. But Substack has consistently shied away from any type of audience-building help, any content funnel, or really any way for me to benefit from a growing "substack users" population at all.

At the same time, that very concept of "Substack users" is counter-productive; you've brought me almost none of my audience - I had to find it myself. Now I find plans to convert my audience from "my audience" to "our audience" and potentially eventually "substack's audience" without any proposed benefit to me.

Why is this a good deal? Why do I want this?

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I mean, my worry is that the feed you've introduced essentially prioritizes posting as much as possible. If everyone is dipping into a feed, then those who post more will get more views. So it really disincentives those of us who post rarely (like once a week or every other week) since these will effectively never be seen in the app.

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I have a suggestion for stats that would be helpful. I see writers post the question a lot of what is the best day of the week or time of day to send out their post. I think a stats page that gives a graph of opens over time would be helpful for deciphering when your readers are most likely to open your email. Yes, there will probably always be a peak in the 24 hrs after you send it out, but what if there is a second peak later that is the time that most people are actually reading the post rather than just glancing through it? I know that Substack already tracks when readers open the emails, because you can go and look that up. But it's too bulky to try to look that up that for every individual reader for every post. A graph that displays opens vs. time for the first seven days after a post is published could be helpful to learn whether you should change when you should send out your posts.

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Love the virtual category tour! Wondering if Substack can create a humor category? I’ve been publishing humor on Substack for more than a year (I know I’m not alone), but I’ve had to shoe-horn myself into the most relevant categories. Culture was first (honored, but that’s a little high-brow for my stuff), then fiction (which sorta fits and sorta doesn’t). Please, Substack, give funny newsletters a home!

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What’s APP-ening, everybody?

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I was a beta tester for the app and loved how I was able to remove my (rather numerous!) subscriptions from my email inbox. I also find that despite some limitations, I prefer reading in the app over email. It's a nicer experience to just open up the app and graze for a bit when I have time and it doesn't feel so much like "work".

For those brand new to the app and are already skeptical, give it a few days before you panic. It's not perfect - few new launches like this are - but it's really good. It's possible there may be a few bumps in the road as Substack works out the kinks but I feel confident that it will end up being a good thing for those of us writing Substacks rather than a hindrance!

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I was excited about the app - but I realize now you've made it "either/or" for notifications instead of "both/or". If I toggle it to email, they all go to my email. I was hoping for both app notifications AND email.

Ideally, we'd be able to make this choice by newsletter but at least we should be able to make a different choice for our own newsletter vs newsletters we subscribe to.

And lastly, please allow us to toggle off notifications for likes on comments of newsletters where we are readers. Those fill up my email box (or notifications) so fast I can't see notifications about actual comments or posts.

Thank you!

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Looks fantastic, love it - Thanks to the Substack team!

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I love the new mobile app EXCEPT for one thing:

When you turn on notifications, it automatically TURNS OFF EMAIL DELIVERY.

I wish this was opt-in rather than opt-out, as to many people it won't be obvious why they stop getting emails. Maybe the app was their secondary reading place, and now they are not getting emails on their laptop where they read substack that they have paid for.

I can see both sides, but i feel like the failure mode is worse when it’s opt-out than when it’s opt-in.

Worse case with with opt-in is they have more notifications that they have to turn off, or go in settings to opt-in the feature.

Worse case with opt-out is people have no idea why they’re not getting emails, they miss content they paid for for weeks, possible content that is time-sensitive, etc

I think it would be fine to show people a popup that asks them if they want to stop getting emails delivered, but it should be very clear, very explicit, and very opt-in.

I also feel non-technical users will never go in settings and will never understand the vocabulary of what it means, so they are at a big disadvantage if something important in their reading flow changes. So default should change as little as possible to most regular people.

Savvy users will figure it out whether it’s opt-in or opt-out.

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Congrats on the launch. When can we expect the Android version to come out?

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Having looked through all the comments on the app, a major issue to me is that it won't show email headers and footers. I often write a preamble in the header for my subscribers that I wouldn't necessarily want on the web version. Is there a schedule to add this feature? When?

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- Why is it that people are now able to bypass email entirely and read everything on an app through which it is impossible to become a paid subscriber?

- At the bottom of 'subscribers only' posts, readers are told that they must become a paid subscriber to continue reading, but are given no options or even directions on how to do so.

- The headers and footers of what used to be our emails have disappeared. It was in these sections that I often asked people to become a paid subscriber.

- If payments are eventually activated on the app, what kind of cut will Apple be taking? Will that cut be absorbed by Substack?

Thanks. The app looks lovely by the way, but as a writer it feels lack a step backwards.

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I write a newsletter for working moms who care about career success AND being an involved parent. I've been doing some marketing through Facebook groups, but I'd love to hear other suggestions for how to reach my target audience.

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Hey everyone. Happy Thursday. LOVE these Office Hours. Two requests:

1. Anyone know if "Writing" will be added as a reader interest? Please say yes! I'm a writing/memoir coach, and my newsletter, "Writers' Haven with Christine Wolf" (https://christinewolf.substack.com) focuses on process and craft.

2. In my quest to connect with other writers and feature profiles about their unique approaches, I'd love to hear from Substackers willing to share their experiences growing and thriving on this platform. If you're willing to be featured in my series "Writers on Writing", please reach out to me at christine (at) christinewolf (dot) com.

Thanks so much

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Ive just joined. Starting a creative writing thread. Should I post an image on my Announcement Page, just because people like images? Not a kitten, obvs. Or maybe a kitten. With a typewriter.

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Am I in the right place? Where is the actual conversation that includes Chris Best fielding these questions?

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Love the new app. Thank you so much for creating it. I promoted it on my newsletter today along with the results of discounted one-year subscription offer donated to World Central Kitchen. 🇺🇦

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As a writer I think it would be fantastic to have a link right at the paywall that would enable readers to become subscribers. Perhaps a link to the website in a separate browser? Or are you unable to provide such links due to iOS restrictions?

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Mar 10, 2022·edited Mar 10, 2022

If Chris can answer this, it would be great: Can we please get an option to disable showing the "Welcome page" to people who haven't subscribed? I don't want to shove the email form in people's faces before they've read or browsed anything. I've personally seen the welcome page also being confusing to many readers, and it deters them from browsing at all—"Let me read first" isn't intuitive. It's also really annoying for people who *choose* to browse my articles from the Web and just don't prefer email.

The welcome page is my single biggest gripe with Substack. Sending people to the /about or /archive pages directly doesn't help because the moment people click on the logo or title to visit the homepage, the email form is shown again. If Substack is marketing the platform as being designed for "Bloggers" too (https://substack.com/for-bloggers), then they shouldn't treat publications as merely being newsletters with an email form.

The new Substack app allows people to read and discover Substacks without being shown the welcome form, it only makes sense to have the Web version behave the same too. While I would understand not changing it by default but why not at least have it as an option for writers? Substack already lets writers toggle a bunch of major and minor settings to tweak their publication, why not this too?

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I love the app for reading. It is convenient to have all the newsletters I subscribe to (and none others) in one place and easily accessed. I don't have to scroll through other emails to find them (and they will never go to a spam folder.) I don't particularly enjoy reading in my email app (which I intentionally only open once per day.) The Substack app is a nicer reading experience, in my opinion.

It is also easier to comment on the app. You don't have to go to the website, comments are built in. So hopefully that will boost engagement.

Obviously, paid subscribing and discovery need work, but I am hopeful those will improve in later versions.

Thanks, Substack for making the Substack newsletters reading experience so much better.

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So many great questions!! Is it possible to produce a FAQ after this closes? Or better, just a list of actual answers to issues that came up without regard to frequency of “asks”?

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thanks for the app! I'm liking it and I think my readers will, too.

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Hello! 👋🏾

In the app, if someone has tweets linked in their post, the link opens a webpage (where you’re not signed in), and prompts you to open the app. You get linked to the App Store but when you click Open, the tweet you originally wanted to see does not appear.

I had to open the whole post on safari then click the link from there. My emails are paused so I couldn’t go there. Any fix planned for this?

Also, I can’t edit a comment from the app! I had to come back to safari.

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The app is awesome, I assume! Can't wait for it to come out on Android!

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Hello Everyone. I joined Substack recently and I really want to connect with more writers, I don't know how. Is there a community I can join or?

You can also check out my articles


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I’m commenting from the app right now! It’s a great v.1. I’m excited about it because it will help me connect with gen z and young millennials who like what I write but avoid email. Thank you, Substack!

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I love the virtual category tour! Any chance we can get a plants/gardening category at some point?

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How will this affect the open rate metrics displayed in the dashboard? Open rate is the metric I have focused on for nearly ten years as I grow my audience. I feel uneasy that the platform I now use for a newsletter I've run for a decade is choosing how I deliver my content.

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Cheers everyone!

A couple things… can you listen to podcasts directly through the app?

Also I’ve noticed some of my subscribers say they do not see every article I post in their email. It seems only some get there.


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The app looks great! Excited to use it when it launches on Android!

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Another question from me: Not sure of the correct terminology - Are the newsletters we write SEO-friendly? In other words, do they get picked up by search engines and if so, is there some type of "rule" of how to optimize keywords?

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is there a place in my newsletter that I can add a curated list of other newsletters I recommend?

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I love the app! It makes it so much easier to read other newsletters and to engage in comments and threads.

Will the app affect email open rates?

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I have a couple of non-app related questions about going paid with my subscriptions.

Are there any future plans to have subscriptions in different currencies? Half of my list are from the US and half are British. I’ll probably choose a USD subscription but if there was an opportunity for USD and GBP, that would be great?

What happens, once you are paid, if you decide to close down your newsletter? (hopefully won't happen but I want to understand!) How does it work if people have paid annually?

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Yes, the new App looks great to me, and I'll be promoting it on my next post. Kudos!

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Do long audio clips have to go in the podcast section of a newsletter? Can it be embedded in a regular newsletter post?

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Substack, please, before the hour is over: Question about subscription billing: When I started paid subscriptions, I had founding member subscriptions that offered a one-time fee for access to everything forever. Now I see that they are being billed that same founding fee again at their one-year anniversary.

I’ve tried editing the subscriptions to “forever” and it has worked for a few, but two keep coming up as “something went wrong.” I’ve tried several times over several days. 

I am suddenly having unsubscriptions, which is hugely depressing. Folks are unsubscribed – literally dropped from substack - if they don’t renew their paid subscription. These are folks that may want to stay subscribed but don’t want to pay for content. But they are not given that option (that I can see) – they just get unsubscribed. So… I have to add their emails back in as free subscribers if they don’t renew paid? How do I know if they really unsubscribed or if they just got unsubscribed for not renewing payment?

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Hello and: 1. About adding categories...let me suggest "Writing" and "Creative Non-Fiction" ; 2. I've read most of the team's answers about posting after the App, but just to clarify: Now when I send a post, it will automatically reach my subscribers via email AND the App (for those who have downloaded the App), unless I change the settings to specify one or the other?


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Hi everyone, just wanted to thank Lauren Robertson (https://mediumship.substack.com/) again for her timely and excellent advice back on Dec 9th Writer Office Hours. Lauren told us about her use of podcast guest appearances, and recommended we sign up with Podmatch. Fast forward to today, and I can announce my first one! Thank you, Lauren!!! https://financingsolutionsnow.com/business-strategy-for-the-entrepreneur-entrepreneur-mba-podcast-4-9/

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I wish you would have a breakout category in these events that specifically focused on TV/movies. Yes, it's technically "culture," but it's as much it's own category as comics or music.

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A bit off topic, If the writers here want to read great writing and literature, I recommend two books: Bob Barr's new book about being attorney general under George H.W. Bush and Trump, One Damn Thing after Another. And Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow. Great history and current events literature. Out of the box stuff for a lot of people and very educational. But for this audience, great writing. I've been writing myself in and out of trouble for about 70 years.

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Hi Chris and the app team. Congratulations on the launch!

I saw a tweet that showed app uses can pause their email notifs and only check their feed?

Doesn't that risk the reader missing my issue unless they're only the feed on the day or maybe a day after I publish it?

Will there be an unread posts section? Or will the app show months-old content spontaneously like LinkedIn does? What's the refresh bit like for the reader's feed?


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Here’s my app feedback thus far:

1) My publication “home page” in the app is missing all the vital links, etc from my real home page. (It’s just “about”, “archive”, etc, with none of my home page link content or feel). Yes, hopefully more people will find me because of the app, but they’ll miss the important links, background, etc, that I’ve curated there.

2) The main “timeline” listing… article graphics/photos are too small and too square and lack the intended feel/vibe that these are supposed to give to a post. (Same can be said of the desktop “reader” app.)… as opposed to the nice representation they receive in their “native” desktop etc. presentations.

Thanks, I’m looking forward to what this app can become!

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OK - thanks! Hello, my name is Anne and I have been spending far too much time on Zoom!

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Are there substack groups out there that focus on specific areas? For example, I write a newsletter that focuses on covering non-fiction and would love to be part of a group that is specific to that niche.

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When using the “Discover” feature in the app and browsing categories, why display only 20 or so publications per category? As a reader it seems natural to pick a category of interest and scroll to explore. Yet it’s limited to the same 20 or so pubs that have always been there. I’m assuming these are top performers. Is it intentional? Is the way to break onto this list to reach a threshold of subscribers or some engagement metric? Thanks!

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I just got kicked out of Medium (ugh!) for not having enough claps (Claps? Who wants claps? are they golf claps? Are we seeking applause? WT*? ) and so on. Is that going to be an issue on Substack? I understand these things cost money, so I'd be happy to pay an annual fee ($50-$100?) to keep this beautiful little magazine I'm building (Insert shameless plug here: https://avld.substack.com/) going, if that's what it takes. (fingers crossed emoji).

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