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Who's tried Recommendations? 💌

We introduced a new features for writers on Substack to recommend each other and discover more great work. More about that here: https://on.substack.com/p/recommendations?s=w

For those who have used it, what do you think? What questions do you have about how it works? Some of the team who built the feature will be stopping by today.

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Absolutely. The only awkward thing is when I get recommended by someone I can't recommend back, usually because they write on a subject about which I know little, and care less, and all my readers know it! I am grateful for genuine recommends, mind, and hope I will only be recommended by those who genuinely love what I do. One question: Can we have a way to post the testimonies we get on our sites, as well as those we give?

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I hope and prefer recommendations to be authentic, rather than transactional. I have made recommendations but only want authentic ones back.

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I have the same thought. I've been recommended which is truly lovely. But I'm not sure about a whole string of reciprocal recommends going out on my new subscriber email if they are not on the same subject (I write about writing). I do however do a Monday post with three useful things on it and I often recommend other newsletters there

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Whoa - I didn't realize my recommendations go out to my subscribers?

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From what I understand they go out to new subscribers

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Oh, that’s a great idea!

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That's an interesting idea. In your ideal world, where would you like them to show up? Would you like them to have a page of their own, show up on your homepage, or something else?

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I would love there to be a section that could be turned on or off called "Recommendations".

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I agree!

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The about section would be cool!

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Yes, if, then there.

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Honestly being recommended is such a huge deal for the writer and mutually beneficial for both parties (esp for newbies). Everywhere is another good idea 🤣

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Haven't given it thought yet, but good question!

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Don’t subscribers see your Reads section?

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If you've set up your profile and made them public then yes, they can.

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Ben, I think page of their own. Too much brand confusion otherwise, plus I recommend on whatever floats my boat, not just history.

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Good questions, Annette! I'm going to hang around for answers.

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I’ve just added an few, and have a couple more to add to my Recommended list.

Really like that it’s user-generated and not via algorithm. That’s a huge value add, imo.

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That Substack isn't based on algorithms is huge.

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Absolutely !!!!!!

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100%. I would’ve been really bummed if it had been.

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Agreed! It's like "following" a Kickstarter creator you admire, so you get an email whenever they back someone else's Kickstarter. If someone respects you enough to engage in your work, it makes sense that they would value your opinion on someone else's work, too.

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I am not seeing recommendations. Where do I go to see these?

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The recommendations can be added in your settings. You won't see them on your publication. When someone subscribes to yours, the recommendations YOU have chosen will pop up for the new subscriber.

It's kinda like you as a creator saying "Hey, glad you like my stuff. You might like these other creators too."

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Ah, I see now. I expected them to appear somewhere like a sidebar or something. Thanks for the explanation, Cole!

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You can create your own sidebar blogroll through settings/links. It's great for spreading the word but it's also great for finding your favorite writers in a hurry.

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Yes, it's great. This is in the Publication Details section of your Settings page under recommended links. They will appear as a blog roll on the homepage (web, not email) of your substack. To clarify that: in my case that would be at https://trippleeffect.substack.com

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You can manually add links to other newsletters in your sidebar too! Don't forget about that because it's a powerful and easy way to shoutout friends and interesting publications.

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What sidebar option?!

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There’s a sidebar option!!

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I wonder if there is a point of diminishing returns here. If I recommend other sites as a way to encourage them to recommend me back, I might recommend as many as 20 or 30. But that would be too many for a new subscriber to digest, yes?

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So just to clarify, If I set a newsletter as a recommendation, where does it appear??? When I send out a new post? When someone new subscribes, or both? Thanks!

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When someone new subscribed to your newsletter.

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🙋‍♀️ I've tried and I like it a lot. Sharing good energy and supporting each other is the key ✨🗝. Just wondering if it could be more visible somehow?

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Where else would you like to see these? The team has some in mind that we're exploring but I'd love to hear where you'd like them to show up.

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Hey, I think it would be awesome to see them in Profile under Reads section or on the sidebar 🤔 it would be also cool if you could decide if you want to display this section on the profile

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Hi Stygi! We will be adding it to more surfaces soon. Are there any specific places you'd like to see it displayed?

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The About section?

“If you enjoy this author, you may enjoy the works of these others she had recommended”

Or

“This author has been recommended by other writers:” and then list them?

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Hey Seth, I will paste response I wrote for Ben above:

"I think it would be awesome to see them in Profile under Reads section or on the sidebar 🤔 it would be also cool if you could decide if you want to display this section on the profile"

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I have two mutual recommendations with other outdoor writers, and one referral to a resource I particularly enjoy. They haven't referred me back, but that's totally okay. I'm more concerned with directing new readers to other writing I think they will like.

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None of the ones I have referred have referred me back so far, but I also think that's okay. Of course, I would love a shout out, but I genuine want my subscribers to see other great writers.

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I got recommended first and then tried them myself -- I'm a fan of both. (One thing I would love to see is a measurement of traffic that comes from being recommended.)

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Hi Sarah! We just added this in the stats page. If you go to Stats -> Recommendations, you should be able to see who is recommending you, # of subscriptions, and who you recommend

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That is a really nice feature, Seth. Thanks for adding it.

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Ohhhhh, now that you mention it, I did see that yesterday 🤦🏻‍♀️ Thanks!

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Works very well. Adds a nice personal touch and connection to know your friends recommended you by hand.

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I just used it a couple of days ago and I appreciate the fact that it allows others to easily find the writers I enjoy reading.

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I appreciate your about page. It reminds me of this famous quote--"The unexamined life is not worth living."

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Thank you, Renee. I just checked out your "about" page and it's very lovely and informative, and quite a soothing read.

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Thank you, Israel!

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About recommendations: Can it only be used for new subscribers or is there a place where we can attach it as a reminder to our readers? I already have blogrolls on each of my newsletters, but I can see how "Recommendations" could enhance it, given that we can add blurbs. Thanks.

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Just for new subscribers for now... but you could share them in a post to all subscribers too?

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Hi Ramona! This is something we're actively thinking about. For now - we just show them to new subscribers, but we want to display them on profiles/publications. For now though, blogroll is a great suggestion

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Thanks, Seth. And thank you all for paying attention! I know you're doing your best.

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I've never considered blogrolls before, but that's a really good idea!

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I think they're great. I'm surprised more people don't use them. They're common on most blogs now.

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I remember the days of Blogger when blogrolls were super popular. For me, it has taken me a while to see Substack for what it seems to be, a hybrid between a newsletter platform/service and a blog.

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I've always used them, and I'm always happy to have my blog appear on others. Substack is a bit of a hybrid, I think. Its main function is that of a newsletter, but it behaves more like a blog. It's not strictly a newsletter, but what I like best about it is that I can gear my posts to my subscribers, which makes it a bit more personal than just sending a blog out into the blogosphere, where it may or may not be seen.

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For sure, that last part is key. People who subscribe to a newsletter at least had the intention of reading it, even if they don't always open every email. Email is definitely most personal and convenient. By the way, thanks for subscribing. I subscribed to your Writer Everlasting and I'm looking forward to reading.

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Yes! I would love a way to have the Recommendations show up for existing readers as well. Maybe as an option for the outro of newsletters?

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Hi Ramona. What are blogrolls?

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Renee, go into Dashboard/settings/Publication Details and scroll down to 'Recommended Links'. There you can set up a blogroll that will stay in your right sidebar. I add writers I admire, mainly Substack, but some from the outside.

You can see how I do it here, by scrolling down to "Blogroll". https://writereverlasting.substack.com/

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Damn! I was hoping "blogrolls" might be a recent feature from one of our baking writers! I'll keep searching, though!😋

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LOL. Well, it could be, I suppose. Seems appropriate!

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That's a brilliant idea as a way to spread the word about other great newsletters

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Thank you, Ramona! I just subscribed, too. :)

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Thank you! Heading over to your page.

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Thank you for looking!

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Thank you for explaining! I did not know about this feature!

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I really like recommendations! It’s a good set-it-and-forget-it way to handle cross promotions. It’d be cool to have recommendation categories when the feature grows, so readers got a quick sense of why they’re recommended (ex. Friend, Category, Fan, etc).

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I like it! Anything that helps with discoverability is welcome.

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As long as I can review newsletters for free, I'll check out prospects for recommendation. I can't afford to buy subscriptions to every site. Nobody can.

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True, but everybody can subscribe to at least one, and likely more.

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And I subscribe to The Dispatch and to Crossing Wall Street. I link to the latter. I link to another Substack that is paid only. He doesn't link to me, which is ok.

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It's a great feature, I immediately linked to shangrilogs, though I am much smaller and don't know if it's doing her any good. Still, great feature!

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I've been snowed under with projects the past week but I hope to start recommended folks soon! It looks interesting to me. Where do they show up on our Substacks? I've received a few but don't quite understand how it looks from the perspective of the recommender. Is it just when someone subscribes? Can current subscribers see it anywhere?

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You can find out more, including seeing how they look for a reader here: https://support.substack.com/hc/en-us/articles/5036794583828-How-can-I-recommend-other-publications-on-Substack-

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So basically, existing subscribers will never see the recommendations? That's a bummer. (And I know about the recommended links section, but that's a bit different).

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As of now that's correct, but we're definitely thinking of ways to get these to existing readers. Stay tuned!

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Recommended others and been recommended. Love it.

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I love it! It’s nice to have a handful of things to recommend with reasons.

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I like the idea, because I've struggled with finding ways to contact people whose work overlaps with mine. Most folks don't include an email in their About page, so the only real way to do it without stalking them on Twitter or elsewhere is to subscribe to their newsletter and then reply to the Welcome email. A recommendation can be a way to more indirectly suggest mutual support, even though it feels a little passive aggressive.

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Did you know you can email any Substack writer by using [nameoftheirnewsletter]@substack.com (So my address is canweread@substack.com). That has been a game-changer for me!

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Isn't this true only if the domain is the name of the newsletter? The domain I wanted is taken, and the full title of my newsletter is too long for a domain. So I'm not sure that would work for folks trying to contact me?

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I would contact you at joshuadolezal@substack.com

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Interesting -- I just tried a test email to myself. Not sure it went anywhere? :)

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Not sure why, but when I send a test email to myself that way, it doesn't go in my inbox (Gmail). However, if I search my Gmail for "starkrealities@substack.com," the test email appears in the results. Not sure where it's being categorized and tucked away. Having said all that, I do receive emails from other people just fine.

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It should go to whichever email you use for your Substack, just like any other email to that account. Be sure to check your spam and if on Gmail, your promotions folder. If you find it in spam, you might want to whitelist @subtack.com emails.

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OK I am confused. Then could you reach Sarah Miller at sarahmiller@substack.com instead of canweread@subsctack.com ?? And what about the funny mark over the "z" in dolezal?

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It's the name in the URL, not what you call the Substack. So yours would be erniemansfield@substack.com and Sarah's would be canweread@substack.com.

This works if you have multiple Substacks, too. You can reach me at unseenstlouis@substack.com AND storycauldron@substack.com.

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As far as accents, I'm not 100% sure but I would assume the email would just be dolezal without an accent. Just as mine is unseenstlouis without the period after st.

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This is a great question, actually -- I thought it was just the domain name (in my case, canweread@substack.com) but I wonder if my name would work, too?

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Apr 14, 2022·edited Apr 14, 2022Pinned

Roll call! 👋

Who's new here? Reply to this comment. We're excited to meet you. What's on your mind today?

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Started a month ago and I have never been more fulfilled in my life. I love this community and the mission and vision that the Substack team puts to action. Thanks for all you do to make this work for aspiring and successful writers / podcasters. I see a future!!

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We are glad you are here, Salma! Welcome

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Just started this week! Drafting my second post now

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Go Anne go!

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Excellent Anne. Just joined as a subscriber as there our some synergies in our work.

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I published my first (music) newsletter on Monday. It was both exciting and terrifying! I'm deeply in love with the Substack community. Happy to be here!

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Welcome, Chris! You are in good company of music writers. Many of them hanging out in the comments of our post yesterday

https://on.substack.com/p/writing-hour-music/comments?s=w

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Thanks so much, Katie! I’ll be sure to check out that post from yesterday.

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So, are you related to Frank Zappa?

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I'm new! I appreciate that actually putting things out there creates an incentive to get on creating more. :)

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Welcome Lorelei!

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It is a bit addictive, isn't it? I'm finding that to be the case, as well.

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Hi I’m also relatively new! 👋🏼 First time venturing into office hours. I’ve started weekly essays on topics around How I’m Building This Life. My goal is to normalize discussing all the other parts of life alongside career. I brought over an audience from a different platform and it’s been a nice transition

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Very cool! Welcome. Anything confusing or holding you back as you get settled in that we can help with?

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I already wrote some of my concerns, above. But mainly I was wondering if we (writers) get penalized if there are too many unsubscribes, or if posts end up in Spam folders, etc.

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Technical request: is there a way to integrate with a tweet-it function for certain quotes or abstracts of a post?

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Well now that you ask..

technical question: I haven’t turned on paid subscriptions. But can I put a subscription “fence” a paragraph into a post so that you have to subscribe (even for free) to read the rest?

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That is really cool. You might be interested in https://acupofambition.substack.com/ Jessica is writing great stuff about working parents

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New this week. Impressed by some of the writers writing here. Cautious about posting until I get a sense of how I can (so selfish to say) advance my own writing career. After a modestly successful start in legacy publishing, it appears the industry has changed, leaving me behind. So. Exploring new ways to reinvent myself.

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What goals do you have for this next chapter of your writing, JV?

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I have a single simple goal for now. Test my nonfiction book concept with real people outside the legacy publishing industry.

Background. Everyday Brilliance.ai is a nonfiction book proposal at 95% completion for submission to the legacy publishing industry. As usual in this, the 11th hour of putting myself out there, I have the jitters. Second thoughts. Fears. However you'd want to put it. For instance, I'm already on my third first chapter, the sample chapter for the book. I thought if I were to begin posting on the topic, I could get a sense of its worth. Perhaps even more importantly, "Crowdsource" not in $$$ but in suggestions for content and criticism from readers. These I'd value even more than paid subscriptions. One of my best experiences in this regard came from enrollment in the online Iowa Writers Course, "How Writers Write Fiction," in which colleagues continually traded feedback and enriched everything I wrote. In return, I'd share my own commentary and constructive criticism with others who'd seek it. I have some creds in that department.

Whaddya think?

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Hello, I am new here. I have a blog (which I consider successful?) on another platform and came to substack because it is easy to use and easy to monetize. For the time being I am planning to continue my blog on the other platform and start producing more professional, paid content here. I have not publicized yet, trying to get the feel for things, but I have a few posts in the hopper right now.

My main thoughts have been figuring out the right timing of posts and the right kind of content. I don't know how much of my modest audience will translate from there to here, if any, but I am hoping the promise of something more than my ad-hoc thoughts will be worth the time to read and the money to read it.

The other thing is that the other platform has "tags" where I can mark the content of posts and find other similar topics using those tags. Substack only gave me 3 tags for the whole thing, so I am trying to think how I can organically/randomly find writers who are in the same subject area I am. The search tool only lists the top newsletters so I've taken to scrolling to the bottom to see if there's anything curious and small that is in a neighboring niche.

By way of introduction, I write (or, soon will be writing) the Peasant Times-Dispatch, a Catholic newsletter that will dabble in Philosophy and religion, and the paid content will be for chapters of books I am writing to expand on the same subjects.

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Welcome, Scoot!

Lots of great thoughts in here.

As you think about WHAT to write about, Nicholas Cole one of the writers behind Category Pirates, has a great framing to differentiate your work. Voice, content, and format can help differentiate your work. There are prompts to think about strategy here: https://on.substack.com/p/grow-2?s=w

Timing is a little more nuanced and worth experimenting. When do your readers have free time? When will your information be most relevant to them?

We are increasingly trying to create more tools for writers to find and connect with one another on Substack (especially my team, the community team). Who are you most interested in meeting?

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Thank you, Katie!

On the other platform, I have posted sporadically on any given day of the week, and found it has not significantly affected my readership, and I'm hoping that paid content delivered straight to email inbox would be even more reliable. Good questions to think about as I structure this space for new content. Thank you for linking to that resource too--I will be exploring that deeply in the days to come.

I am hoping to connect to other Catholics with diverse interest areas. I write for a Catholic audience but my topics range from religion to motivation to economics and finance to daily life. I have two books in mind which I will be sharing to paid subscribers, one is science fiction and the other is non-fiction. I have looked thru the Catholic tag and found one active blog that caught my interest, but maybe there's a way to find people writing about (for example) Economics but who have a Catholic background?

Thank you again!

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Noted! The best place to start is in discovery, as it sounds like you did.

We hope to run programs that Substack Go (https://substack.com/go) and the Category Tour (https://on.substack.com/p/category-tour?s=w) again to connect people personally who are writing in the same category.

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Write and post when you have something to say. Don't do it just to be a regular poster. It doesn't matter when you post. People read their emails at different times of the day and days of the week. You can't time your posts for readership, I think.

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Hello Katie! I am a new writer here and I will be writing on various issues pertaining to healthcare viewed on a global scale. I started off with my maiden post yesterday . I am a medical doctor from India aspiring to be an Anaesthesiologist/Surgeon in USA and have already cleared my licensing exams out here. I just want to create healthcare awareness through my writing on multiple issues pertaining to global healthcare and am looking forward to hear from you. Any constructive feedback is welcome.

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I introduced myself in the wrong place, sorry. Howdy y'all.

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Hi there, my first post was in March and I love the platform. I am reading as much as a can about ways to grow an audience. I started a podcast with the newsletter and I am loving that as well. It is easy to use and a great way to shake things up with a different medium. I am interested in all tips and ideas to grow my audience! Book Marketing for authors is my thing. thanks!

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Apr 14, 2022·edited Apr 14, 2022

Not new by definition but I am returning to write my newsletter, Clicked, after some time away. Very excited to be back and writing more!

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Welcome back, Jeff!

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I'm new and asked my questions in the above comments. Hope to get answers.

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Welcome Lee! Heading to look at your question...

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Katie, I was held up and couldn't get online for Office Hours. Did you catch up with my question? If not, here goes: I IMPORTED 248 subscribers. I sent a new post and NO ONE received it except my graphic person and me. What Happened? How can I resend it without having to reconstruct the entire newsletter? I am eager to get those 248 involved with this new Substack adventure! Please help.

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I’m new! Excited to begin.

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I am new here, though I have been looking at substck for a long, long time. My topic is called The Whole Country Option. It is a constitutional cure for gerrymandering and partisan politics. It obviously is a large and complex topic. The interesting part of that the solution is nootncomplex. It ins the current system that is complex and will take a a lot of explanation if people truly want to go deep into it. So I need to have a mainline of the cure with the history around the edges for people who need to get into the weeds.

Oh, by the way, generally my audience is state elected legislators and the local county elected officials. There are probably àboug 15,000 of these types of folks in the

:states and the 3,141 counties. Regular citizens will also be included in the audience

but the elected officials are the prime target.

Mymoperation question submitted have to do with having the system sequentially track the progress of readers.

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dont know what or where to go but i am trying and flailing

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Larry, have been reading but interested in my own publication

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Cool! What might you write about?

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Something along the lines of history. Articles from old newspapers that are off beat. Not sure. Which is why I asked if there was a catalog of substack blogs.

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Any growth wins this week? 🌱

What strategies have you been trying lately to grow your list? What's been working? What hasn't?

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We were lucky enough to be recommended by Substack this week and our overall subs increased by nearly 100% (we weren't starting from a super-high base but still, it's been an excellent week). Trying out some recs for other newsletters in our issue this Saturday. Feels like there's a lot of really positive energy in the Substack creator community at the moment (I know that makes me sound like a hippie but whatever, it's true!)

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Hippies are welcome here ✌️ - northern californian

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Ah don't make me envious - London, England continues brisk and grey...

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That's so amazing to hear Rowan! And excited for you to try recommendations too. Super stoked you joined the thread over here!

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I’m getting that same energy, so I guess we’re both hippies. Not the worst thing in the world… 😎

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Just took at look at On Repeat (looks great) and I have to say I don't think Mark E Smith would agree with us ;-)

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Nearly at 100 subscribers on my newsletter! I’ve found the following really helps

1. Facebook pages! My newsletter is regarding mental health in ancient civilisations and targeting my posts to anthropologists, psychiatrists FB groups has been really helpful!!

2. Mention other newsletters! Spread the positivity as substack is a great place to find other writers and read great articles/ essays

3. Comment on other people’s newsletters. Be a fan, you get great ideas and you build a community

100 isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a start :)

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We all gotta start somewhere, mate. Getting to 100 is a very decent start; I'm at 88. More importantly, putting out your brand, your content should continue even if growth falters or grinds to a halt. Because we owe it to the people who already believed in us.

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Congrats on those awesome figures! And definitely agree

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And now, it's 89 subscribers. Bless you, Ash.

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This is so sweet!

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I love this "We owe it to the people who already believed in us."

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Ash, it's been fun to see you dive right into the community. Keep going!

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Is the facebook page you use to promote personal or business?

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I have found astronomically better luck promoting by just being a member of relevant groups as a person, and sharing. It seems facebook is REALLY stacked against organic page growth. That said, if you want to get a lot of facebook followers, you can with just a few bucks, a good picture, and some A/B testing. I just haven't seen facebook page likes translate very well into substack views.

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I generally go to established Facebook groups with lots of people as members... and shamelessly self promote!

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Oh, I'm all about self-promotion, the shameless, the better! I also use business cards (using the photo to your left). I hang 'em on S-bux and Panera bulletin bds, and if I see someone looking at the board, I'll saunter over (my favorite way to "over"), I'll ask 'em, "Do you recognize me at 22?" It's a conversation starter, for sure! Worth the investment!

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Brilliant! I need to kick my shy self to the curb!

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Oh, you must, Renee! I'm in the same boat (I'm over there by the railing)...I write 'cause I'm shy. There, I (like you, I'm guessing) shine, but if there's no one to read me, it's all for naught. So, get bold with your PR, and feel free to refer to yourself in the 3rd person, or the royal "we," to avoid having the spotlight fall on you (which could, let's face it, cause blunt-force trauma)! Go get 'em, Renee!

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Thank you, Ash! I need to work on my shameless self promoting skills!

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Would you mind sharing a typical comment you make to shamelessly self promote? Unfortunately, I am terrible at self promoting. What is something you might say and how do you know what groups to reach out to?

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I enjoyed this writer's non-icky feeling promotional notes: https://on.substack.com/p/grow-series-3

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Super, Bailey, thank you so much for sharing an example. It is helpful!

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If you don't mind one more example from me, I do ads made with Canva (I'm a copywriter by profession). Check this post of mine and see the ad. https://whatscuration.substack.com/p/flume-feat-tove-lo

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Canva is great and a creative platform I can also vouch for.

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Great tips - thank you.

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How long did it take you to get to 100?? Congrats!

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In the past 10 weeks, my paying audience has grown 50% and the free audience has grown 30%. I am glad to have picked up so many great ideas in the Grow Fellowship!

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Wonderful, Nishant!

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That's awesome, nice work :)

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Love this. Keep hitting the accelerator. I’m mashing on mine

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Nishant, that's amazing!

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Was interviewed for a mental health website and also interviewed for an academic book featuring my Substack as a case study, you rock Substack!

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Pretty nice 👏 I've joined the special support Twitter group thanks to YouTopian Journey and received some lovin'

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Dope!

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Youtopian, would also love to join if possible! I just followed you as well (@niles_h)

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It says I can't add you, make sure your twitter settings allow for group chats.

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Youtopian, you gotta add me on to this!

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Follow @youtopianj on Twitter and I will, been having some issues adding people as of late, not sure why.

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Already added! Ashsharma3_14

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It says I can't add you, make sure your twitter settings allow for group chats.

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I’m in a slow and steady period after having a big explosion of growth two months ago. It’s easy to feel impatient with slow and steady but it’s better than a decline! :)

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Slow and steady is exactly how most writers grow :)

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Ah the dream of going viral. But for the long term slow and steady wins the race.

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I got my first two paid subscribers (one monthly, one annual) after launching paid subscriptions a week ago!

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Well done. I'm going to launch my paid soon

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Thanks! And best of luck with your launch 🚀

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Congrats Jay!

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Thanks, Kelsa! It feels great, if also a little surreal 😅

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Discord and Instagram; there are several large philosophy communities that are open to self-promoting newsletters, if they're related to philosophy and whatnot. Helps to find these dedicated communities, especially if you're not writing for a truly general audience but still in a general, non-technical way.

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How did you go about finding these groups - just searching around?

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Searching around, weaving in and out or asking if anyone knows other groups. Or making your own, and having people join and grow the small community too. It helped that my particular community was based on Instagram and grew organically throughout 2020 and 2021.

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I have used a few, growth depends.

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