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. PDT / 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. EDT. We encourage writers to stick around after the hour and continue the conversation together.
Some updates and reminders from the Substack team:
Media assets: After you publish a new post on Substack, you will receive an email with a suite of images you can share on social media. You can also “view media assets” from the three-dot-menu on any of your published posts. The images are generated based on your publication theme and the social preview image in your post’s settings. Here is an example of media assets in action on The Alipore Post’s Instagram:
Paid perks: You can now publish a post exclusively to Founding Tier members. In publishing flow, select “This post is for founding members only.” This week, Ruth Ben-Gait, who writes Lucid, is running a Q&A for founding members.
In case you missed it: In our recent Grow interview, Justin Gage, who writes Technically, shares how he crystallized his value proposition while leaning into his skill set and interests—and gained an audience of nearly 30,000 readers.
Got questions about Substack or feedback about what’s new? You’re in the right place! Leave a comment in this thread.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.
Great to see those returning again today and some new faces too! Thanks for all that shared feedback on media assets and other things they have noticed in the product recently, we're sharing with the rest of the team.
Our team is signing off today. We will be back next week.
See you then,
Katie, Jasmine, Sachin, Ben, James, Aaron, Ngoc-Quyen, Emmad, and Reid
It's been a "slow" couple of weeks for Release and Gather in terms of views/new subscribers. I lost two subscribers, which I wish I hadn't noticed because it was a downer (I have notifications for that turned off, but when you have a small subscriber base, *you know*). I've told myself this newsletter is not about numbers, but I think it's just in us to want to see it reach more people. Pressing on, though!
Hi everyone. I'm about to commit the awful sin of copying & pasting something I wrote in a previous comment on another Office Hours (so if you arrange to have me burnt at the stake, I fully understand):
Here's an idea I've put into action that you could steal if you think it might work for you.
I've been working in seasons of maybe 10-ish weeks of stuff, with a clear beginning and end. This has been helping me enormously in three ways:
- refreshing what I'm doing by having a few different themes for each season, within the overarching focus of the newsletter (in my case, the science of curiosity, awe & wonder). New season = new themes, new niche audiences to try to get the attention of, new stuff for me to learn & write about, etc.
- gives me a proper break occasionally! I'm always running a bit behind because of other writing commitments and a between-season break gives me a chance to get a little ahead of myself again and just...not write? (Just occasionally, not-writing is super nice.)
- getting new paid subscribers! At the end of the season I sing & dance about the benefits of a paid subscription, just to my free list, giving it a proper push with time-limited discounts and everything. So if you work in seasons, it'd allow you to have maybe 3 or 4 chances every year to push for paid subscriptions and solely focus your time & energy around that goal for around a week. And each time you can experiment with a slightly different way to attract them in, with different types of writing, different offers etc....
None of this is original & new. It's what podcasters, NPR, Netflix shows etc have been doing for ages in many different ways. But it's working well for my newsletter, so I thought it might work for yours too. Please adapt/steal wildly from me if you like the sound of it!
Good morning, writers! Here's a little encouragement from one small newsletter to all of you! Do you ever find yourself playing the comparison game? Watching from afar while other writers seem to do better than you or have more than you? It's SUCH an easy trap to fall into, and it can seriously rob you of both your creative verve and your joy! Here's what I hope we can all remember (myself included!): our creative paths are unique and uniquely our own for a reason. Each unique road, each set of risings and fallings is ours because it will make us into the writers WE need to be! Someone out there needs to read the writing that only we--with our unique journey behind us--can offer, so DON'T STOP! Write for you, write for them, and don't give up!! 🌿
The media assets are amazing. I've pretty much abandoned the IG account I set up for my newsletter, but this has me thinking twice about that decision. Thank you! (And thank you for continuing to come up with new ways to make Substacking -- including self-promotion -- easier in a variety of different ways.)
I'm writing a Substack about a friendship that I had in late elementary school from 1975-1978. Georg and I have had very little contact in 45 years. Yesterday I called him on the phone and we talked for an hour. By the end of the conversation, we both expressed an interest in rekindling our friendship.
This wouldn't have happened without the deadline that my weekly Substack offers me. This connection means so much more than those damn analytics/numbers that I check too often.
Free yourself from the numbers... call an old friend. :). Hal
Hi everyone. This is the first time I have had chance to join in here.
My Substack is Roland's Travels https://www.rolandmillward.com
I retire at the end of the month from full-time employment and am looking forward to taking my Substack forward and start paid subscriptions very soon.
Oh! I'm excited about the media assets. I've been trying to get back to posting more often on Instagram and this will be so helpful.
I don't have any writing questions, just an unexpected report. So, this past weekend, after 2.5 years of staying clear I got Covid. I always publish on Mondays and Fridays, and I just didn't know what I was going to do on Monday. My brain felt stuffed full of cotton. But I also knew there are folks (like my mom. Ha!) who would worry if I didn't post at all. So, I ended up doing an discussion thread, just for my paying folks, on offering and receiving help, which for obvious reasons was at the forefront of my brain. And I told them that I had Covid so I was really hoping they would step up and help me, by offering some stories and wisdom, which THEY DID. I've never gotten that kind of response to a discussion thread before. It wasn't an Ask E Jean epic thread or anything, but it was enough to bolster my mood in the midst of my sickness.
Anyway, today's my last day of quarantine. I'm feeling much better already, thank god. And I just wanted to share that story to encourage you all, when you're feeling like you just can't show up to consider whether you could ask your subscribers to show up instead. They just might surprise you. Mine did.
This week is a more simple one for the newsletter, I’m still looking for small artists to interview, if any of you have names or contact feel free to drop it as a comment
Other than that I also have spots for partnership inside my articles free or paid, feel free to send me a message on Twitter @thesmallears
See you tomorrow for the next artist!
PS: Found a little trick with media assets for people who wants to get them before publishing :
When you preview your post you can add /media-assets to the end of the link (that looks like ...-0d33-437...) of the publication to get them earlier!
As someone that literally had to ask how to make an IG post at last week's session, I'm very happy to see these media assets added! One more tool to use to help get the word out. Thank you!
Hi there I'm just wondering if there is any chance of being able to soon place photo images side-by-side and adjust the sizes to say, a small extent ...whereby one may place 2 or 3! next to each other. Or, am i missing something? Having photos one atop the other seems kinda high-school'ish. Hopefully its just me being unawares of something. Thx
Hello! Dropping in here after reallllllyyy long to say A BIG THANK YOU for the new media assets feature! Loving it totally 💯💖
Also - many months ago, when my newsletter completed two years, I reflected upon my writing journey and wrote about my learnings here, in case anybody is interested :)
Hi fellow writers! I just had my first unsubscribe, which although inevitable at some point, still feels like a bit of a blow. It's a hard won effort getting folks on board, and so I'd really like to better understand why this person decided to leave. What's the best way forward here - do I reach out to them with a friendly email to enquire if there's anything I can do to tempt them back? Or do I just get over it an move on? I'd love to know how others deal with this. Many kind thanks!
Happy Thursday, y'all! I'm looking to connect with other Substackers who write about the immigrant experience or personal finance. If that's you, drop me a line! Here's my Substack: https://401que.substack.com/
Hey! I just wanted to say that two weeks ago I decided to take the leap and make my newsletter my full time job. I write Apricitas, a newsletter about economic data analysis—if that sounds interesting to you consider taking a look!
As someone who cross-promotes on Instagram, I just want to say 'thank you' for the media assets. They are very helpful!
I've leveraged the "website" aspect of Substack to post my portfolio of copywriting samples, speculative ads and other goodies. It's on my frontpage if you want to check it out. These weren't sent to my readers as an email because that wouldn't have been ethical of me.
I'm taking advantage of this platform to market my copywriting and newsletter strategy service to help other authors address pain points in their growth or messaging strategy. Also working on an inbound marketing certification to hone my skills and ideas. To anyone reading this: don't just depend on a monthly subscription model because that takes too long to implement and a lot of luck too. Find your niche and use the Substack platform to spread your reach.
Substack is there a specific time/day to post for a higher open rate? I know everyone says avoid Mondays, or 11am before lunch hour, whatever, but looking for actual data.
How did I not know about the social previews??? I'm so excited about using these as another item to put into my IG stories, especially now that I've figured out how to schedule them ahead of time.
I like the idea of the gift referral program that allows current subscribers to give their friends or colleagues free subscriptions. However, I would suggest that writers should be able to set the term of those subscriptions rather than just have it fixed at one month. Also, it would be good if we could have more transparency regarding exactly when our subscribers will receive this opportunity or, better yet, allow us to control this completely. For example, writers could send out an email to paid subscribers informing them of this opportunity and providing a button to click to use up to three referrals.
Hi folks - Excited to share that my future of work substack (https://futurexwork.substack.com) is now the No. 1 category substack on internet! Couldn’t have done this without you awesome people & this incredible community. Feeling grateful & inspired.
After the advice I got last week on how to approach about pages I did a rewrite of the about page for my substack. Thanks again to everyone who responded to my comment last week. I just started the second character story for my fighting game like fiction project, so that's an exciting substack development I figured I'd share.
Announced plans this week to publish a print and ebook version of some of my online fiction content, and it was really interesting to see how enthusiastic the Substack crowd were for it. Despite the content being free to read online in serial form, people still really value a physical product, it would seem. Am now thinking I should bundle up more stuff and make it available in other forms.
In other news, thanks go to Fictionistas for the great online meet-up last week!
I love the subscriber emails that list the source, however it is a bit disheartening to see the subscriber also reads 200 other substacks.
Hi everyone! Media assets feature looks great :) thank you for the tip as well. I'm quite new to substack and do more personal writing, it feels like talking to someone and as a stay at home mom I feel sometimes I need someone to talk to.
Do you guys feel there is any space for growth for personal blogs or did we fully leave them in 2008? If anyone wants to be friends though, let me know/check out my writing tootah.substack.com 🌝
Love the new media assets! Thanks!
Hi Substack Team. How do I track stats for visitors to my ABOUT page? I visit a lot of About pages to help me decide whether or not to subscribe and I'd love to see those stats for my own About page.
Can we put paid ads in our newsletters? I read through the terms and whatnot but didn't see much about not doing it - anyone have any thoughts on this?
I write an alcohol-free newsletter and brands are interested in ad placement.
I love the new media assets, thanks Substack! Here's how I used one yesterday: https://www.instagram.com/p/CiyDUhKvNMj/
Question: I would like to try the Referrals for my paid subscribers. However I don't want the email that goes to them to seem too "spammy." Can we customize the email that goes to them explaining the referrals? if so, how? thank you.
This is my first contribution in the group.
So, please forgive me if anything is out of order. I feel like sharing how Substack, and especially writing a newsletter has been an overwhelming experience for me, maybe even life changing.
🙌 Commitment —
I think and I have finally accepted I have been a procrastinator all my life, with no hope. Maybe it is the way to be. At least when it comes to writing, who isn’t? But even otherwise I guess as we grow older we learn to live with it and now and then, once in a while perhaps ponder what would life be if I would just get up and not postpone. Committing to writing a post every day (yes, I made that deal with the devil) has challenged what I thought was possible. Though I am still a late riser, though that call to Mum is still pending, maybe there is hope.
🙌 Friends —
I do not know if it is an Indian thing, but let us say my computer breaks down, what do I usually do? Scour all over for that nifty little trick which fixes the jinx. Usually from forums where there are a million people as if with all the time in their life to help strangers with obscure wicked problems with stuff. I have wondered where they find the time, but moved quickly on and grabbed the solution. Making a mental note to give back to the community one day, but knowing I’d never do that.
Yes, it is an Indian thing 😅. You see, we are in a hurry. We speak fast, don’t we?
Bam, writing a Substack forces you to give. The friends you make as a result — a blessing in the world where every second person is a narcissist. So, I have learnt to give. Perhaps this post is an example of what that means to me. Old friends, they wonder what is with the dystopian word that I describe myself by — Substacker!
The best thing, is that each one of you, writing a newsletter on Substack is an early adopter. Bursting with ideas, fingers flying long form on the keyboard finally — what better friends, a man can have.
🙌 Human. Irreverent. Joyful. Real.
Four mantras I want to live by. They are weird words. They work in reverse, beautifully. I mean being real makes you not worry much about mistakes you make while writing. You stop caring. Cliches don’t chase you. It results in joyful writing fit for Substack, maybe writing that will never clear a sane editor. Who cares? See, being real leads to Joy. And joy? Well, you can pretty much cook a snook, see there I go, at everything. Starting with yourself. Fcuk with grammarly. You are in a rush. You are on adrenaline. The emperor’s new clothes, you are the one wearing them! You become irreverent.
🙌 Result : You are human. Finally. It feels good to be free, that way. No? Yes, I am not going to go back over what I have written. This is what it is. This is what it is going to be.
🙌 Markdown —
Yes, I wrote it that way, using Paper (https://papereditor.app). It allows me to finally abandon the mouse, or trackpad as things might be. Clunky word processors, buttons to make things bold. The time for all that has come to an end. I am a keyboard Hans Solo. That is the way to be. One ship to rule it all.
🙌 Cigarettes —
The lesser said, the better about this. But I noticed, I smoke less when I write. I smoke more before. I smoke one, afterwards. The formula is clear. Think less, write more. Smoke a solitary friend afterwards.
🙌 Music —
For two months after I started, it was fatigue. Music was something that you listen to before, or afterwards. Like sex. Before the act, or afterwards. The act of a procrastinator. Not anymore. Writing a newsletter and music goes wonderfully together. Wait, let me switch Spotify on. Faure it is! What are you going to listen to tonight?
🙌 The Bluebird —
I sinned once (https://medium.com/illumination/i-have-sinned-henry-13f6ecd7c8c3), a long time ago. Substack is redemption. You can finally answer Henry! You can finally BIM BIM BIM. Finally, it can come all out. Finally, you do not need to tell the bluebird to sleep.
🙌 That was a proud moment of giving out a Medium article I wrote about sinning and the Bluebird long time ago. Faure made me do that 😅.
🙌 What next then?
Tell me what I have missed. I write Voisegram that gives you a real storybook in your inbox every day. Do check it out if you have a storybook situation tonight with a loved little one. What can you send through a newsletter? I have seen Music (https://eons.substack.com) on Substack, a brilliant game (https://if50.substack.com) even — Can I send my love?
🙌 Take care.
PS. I was scared and did a spell check. Sorry. But promise, I just only did a spell check, no edits, no re-reads. What came out trumps? Procastinator, Fcuk, Substacker and Grammerly
Hey everyone! Happy Thursday!!!!
On 9/10 I sat down behind my microphone and recorded my first “personal” episode for the podcast feature. I host a podcast with guests (just published 131st episode Tuesday). Solo episodes, not so much.
So I was nervous about this one. But I had a deadline because 9/11...and it was the topic. I did it! I scheduled it for 9:11am NY time. Later that day I added it to Apple Podcasts and they made it available within minutes.
Yesterday received an email from some podcast trend peeps who said it was in the top 100 in History and Film...94.
I have to thank Betty in Substack for helping me figure out why I wasn’t getting the email to get it into Spotify, now it’s there.
Anyway, I am grateful to this platform and hope it keeps on keeping on because it’s everything I dreamed for! Videos, audio, photos, writing...all that I need now is to finally have that coffee I keep putting off. Been up since 6am and it’s past 10:30am!
You’re all rockstars!!! Thank you to those subscribing to me too. Luv ya! :)
In case you miss the shoutout thread (I love the opportunity to share about great Substackers I like), just head over to Twitter and use the hashtag #substackshoutout.
This week I've been reading Don't Mind Rick (been reading that since over a decade, but now it's on Substack, too!) and The Sneaky Art Post. How about you?
Join the fun: https://twitter.com/hashtag/substackshoutout
Your engineers and UI team keep leaning hard on the greatness button. The new generated media assets are killer. Makes the promotion of my WOODRUFF SS a breeze. Thank you SS tribe.
New post going out tomorrow and I'm so excited to try the media assets!
Normally I design slides in Canva for each essay, but it's an extra step that is not particularly quick and usually throws me into my long running, way overdue, branding 'to do' list, which eventually becomes a more existential crisis about the overall direction of my business and therefore life...
I've been reading Greg McKeown's book, Effortless, and I feel like having pre-populated media assets aligns perfectly with the idea of paring things down to the absolute minimum necessary in favor of ease. So- thanks @Substack team!
That is great about being able to publish a post exclusively for Founding Members. This makes it easier to offer perks for that tier.
I'm serializing a novel here on Substack and this week the introductory free chapters were done and the first post went up only for subscribers. It was weird—I was both excited and felt somehow mean. To assuage my strange guilt, I quickly also posted a free essay about how much I liked being read to and now I get to read to others, even though, at seventy, my voice sounds like an old rocker chick who has played in too many smokey bars.
Any plans on more comics-related events/initiatives? There's a lot of world-class talent in the comics category and would love some community building with those creators and the other writers/creators in that category.
Anyone like formal poetry? Embracing the new paradigm of self-publishing, I am now posting my own formal poems here on substack, instead of trying the usual publication route. Eventually I hope to build a readership rather than win prizes. DantheMeterMan is totally free!
Anybody with more than one Substack, have you had success promoting between the different newsletters? I'm considering starting a second one, although the topic is different so I'm not sure people would cross over.
To everyone who was late to the party: My name is Cole, I write about outdoor adventures. I've been at this a while. If you have questions about getting started -- or anything really -- I've been at this a while. Feel free to email me at email@example.com
Great change to have Founding Tier perks. It's a nice way to say thank you in a unique way for their patronage.
I also love the integration with social media. I like to blast my posts on Twitter and IG (@theone_chiv) and it's nice to have a consistent aesthetic. Cheers to Substack for the continued innovation!
Hey everyone! Any illustrator friends here, I’ll be happy to connect 😀 wonder how your journey with substack has been so far? What are you writing about? Here’s my page https://boujouchantal.substack.com/ feel free to send me a message or just answer here !
How do you guys think on the new referral program? (i.e., "paid subscribers can bring new readers to your publication by gifting them access to your paid content for a limited time").
I think it's cool to empower our paid members this way. But since it's capped at 3 gifts, I would add two extra options: for paid, get a one time x% off your monthly sub fee. This way paid members has a clear and uncapped incentive to spread the word out. Second, I'd also offer a similar referral mechanism for free subscribers, and give them x months free membership of the paid program or extra perk (service or gift).
What's your take?
Hey fellow writers! What is your fav / best way of doing cross collabs on Substack? Guess posts? Recommendations? Or something else?
Keep on going!
Thanks for the media assets! Only problem I've found is with trying to share to my Insta or my Google photos (for later) but that might be me or my phone... We can send posts specifically to Founders now? 😍😍😍
I'm sure this question gets asked a thousand times but I'd like to meet more people via Substack. I am a novelist and fiction writer and I write about a different topic every week. Most of my subscribers tend to come from Twitter and I have built up a decent readership, but I'd like to expand. How do I get more organic growth, being that I am a more personality/creative writing based substack and not a technical one?
Is there a way to search for particular writer’s posts or mentions of them in the Writers’ Hour Discussion? Or “topics?”
Guest Blogging? Is anyone out there interested in guest blogging on my page? I've read that is one of the best ways to increase our followers. I write on Leadership, Sales, and Culture called the Kole Hard Facts ... https://michaelkole.substack.com . If you have something complimentary, I would be interested in having a guest blog, and you in turn could publish a blog from me? firstname.lastname@example.org ... let me know!
Is anyone interested in connecting and reviewing each other's substack? Like "here's what I like", " here are a few areas you could improve" type of feedback?
I try to regularly review my substack from a higher level to see how to improve but that's a challenge being so engrained in it!