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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.
As you settle into the new year, we want to remind writers of important resources available to you:
Getting started guides: Whether you plan to launch a media business, kickstart a community, or just need to get the basics of your publication up and running, our guides are here to walk you through the process.
Growth resources: Substack Grow provides essential knowledge writers need to succeed on Substack in six blog posts. Additionally, our Grow interview series offers case studies on how writers have successfully gone independent and grown their audiences. Remember, growth isn’t all on your shoulders. When you publish on Substack, you get a world-class growth team that is always searching for ways to drive growth for your publication so you can focus.
Going paid checklist: If you are ready to go paid, or perhaps you are curious about what’s involved, the going paid checklist documents the essential steps writers take to turn on and grow their paid subscriptions on Substack.
Resource center: Explore the best of Substack resources curated for you all in one place. Learn more about growing your list, going paid, starting a podcast, fostering a community, and more.
Support center: For frequently asked questions for both writers and readers, our support center is your best resource. If there is a technical or billing question you don’t see the answer to, you can write to our support team at any time.
On Substack Chat: In our chat on the Substack app, we host informal, impromptu conversations among writers and share product updates in real time.
Legal support: The Substack Defender program provides advice to writers who face legal uncertainty or pressure because of their work.
Got questions about Substack or feedback about a feature or tool? You’re in the right place! Leave a comment in this thread.
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If you're new here, welcome! Reply to this comment and let us know, what can we help with as you get started on Substack?
Great to see everyone returning to Office Hours today, old faces and some new ones too! Our team is signing off but we encourage you to keep the conversation going. We'll be back next week to help answer your questions.
See you then,
Katie, Bailey and Ben
Hi everyone! This is something I wrote in a previous Office Hours but I thought I'd bring it forward because, hooray for a new year and also because January is a bit of a brutal time if you're a writer, I think? (I've never known a late January and February that didn't feel like it was all uphill...)
So - regarding the topic of growing your publication and staying proud of yourself for the good work you're doing (and you SHOULD be proud of), this post by Katie Hawkins-Gaar from last year may be exactly what you need:
Especially this bit:
"The more I’ve witnessed other people pour time, energy, strategy, and, yes, self-promotion into their work, the more I realize how much I’ve been short-changing myself. Although I’ve been losing paying newsletter subscribers, I continue to gain new readers. My ideas have value. My essays are worth reading. My work means something."
So if you're having a rough time with the usual occupational hazards of newslettering (especially comparing yourself to others, which is always a reliable way to feel terrible) - please keep going. Because your ideas have value, your words are worth reading (or hearing), and your work means something. And if you keep going, all those things will finally become clear to you, in a way they maybe kinda aren't right now. Your special magic is already working - it's just that you can't see its effect yet. *Keep going until you can see it.*
Hello all! Happy Office Hours, and Happy 2023! Here's a little bit of encouragement from one small newsletter to all of you!
I posted a version of this message to my Instagram several days ago, and it seemed to really resonate with people there. So I thought, perhaps, it would be good to share it with all of you, too, because I think this message is especially key for creative people:
It's okay if January doesn't feel like "the new year" to you. The dead of winter (for us in the northern hemisphere) is the wrong time to focus on new things, new goals, new habits. In my opinion, the new year is the perfect time to plant the seeds of what will become your goals. You drop little nuggets of inspiration into the cold, dark soil of January and then you wait, watch, and wonder. Patience is required. Germination takes time. Don't rush. It's still winter! Nourish yourself.
And always remember: keep going, keep writing, and DON'T GIVE UP! 🌿
I'm feeling simultaneously inspired and discouraged as I'm having some of the best time writing my substack and then doing the soul crushing job of trying to have people read it that aren't my family 😓
I wish substack would allow side-by-side content, such as a small photo with a caption to the side or a mugshot that ran beside a story instead of huge above it. or a pull quote off to the side. Any chance of this happening?
Hi there, I'm celebrating my 2-year anniversary on Substack this month! I have a decent amount of subscribers and grew by 30% last year but I'd like to experience more growth and exposure with other audiences. How do I do this? My Substack is: https://bethlisogorsky.substack.com/ (BEVP - Beth's Exceptional Video Playlist)
Glad to see you back.
I would love a better way to access stats for individual articles. Right now, I have almost 2 years of content and having to scroll down to July 2021 of weekly posts to find out what the stats are for an article from then is very inconvenient.
Quick one. I often link to other writers in my posts, but am never sure if they know I've referenced them. Sometimes I shoot them an email to say thanks for the inspiration, but I was wondering if writers get a notification if someone references / quotes them in a post (not a cross post.) Is there a preferred way to quote other Substack articles so that not only does the writer get credit, but it allows them to know that other writers appreciate them? What's the protocol (if any...)
I'm relatively new here (2 months deep) and I wanted to share my perspective on the most effective way to grow a newsletter/blog. I'm very curious to see what everyone thinks about this take:
The most effective way to grow your audience is to become a better writer.
I like to think that as your writing improves it will naturally get more eyes on it because more people will share it, recommend it, and stick around when they do look at it. The writing will speak for itself.
There's heavy correlation with amount of posts on a blog and traffic.
Focusing on improving your writing instead of marketing it is a better long term investment. My goal right now is to hit 100 posts before I go out of my way to market my page.
P.S If anyone wants to connect I'm always looking for new (or experienced) writers to join forces with!
Oh, hello, is it 2023 already? I suspect in one of your many resolutions you decided to start writing more, and that's why you're here, on Substack, asking questions about how you can use your writing to take over the world. If that writing just so happens to be fiction, then I've got news for you -- there is a community that exists, that is now 1,100+ strong, that is also interested in taking over the world. Well, the universe really, but we're going to start by enslaving Earth. That community is called Fictionistas, and you can go there now and bask in the glow:
This community is free, active, and full of fiction writers who also dabble in non-fiction. We're welcoming, want to see you succeed as a fiction writer on Substack, and if I do say so myself (which I'm about to do) we're a delightful group of miscreants. Read, lurk, subscribe, get involved... we would love to have you. There's always room for fellow Fictionistas, since taking over the universe involves a great deal of effort.
I have been skimming these comments as always and I see a pattern. How do I get subscribers? Then saying they write for themselves. I write for my readers, who are other writers. You can treat your substack as a journal (self therapy) but don’t be surprised if that does not resonate. Think about the name newsletter. It is a letter delivering news. That is how I approach it.
As for finding subs, like almost anything, it takes perseverance and consistency. Set a schedule and stick to it. Showing up in readers’ inboxes on a regular basis is important. You’re building a relationship with that reader, one on one, and it can’t be entirely about you. A little blunt but that is my experience as a reader and a long time professional writer. M
I'm always curious to know how is Subatack promoting or recommending posts of new writers to the community? I feel like new writers who don't have a big following before substack is very difficult to be discovered 🤔
One feature I've been wishing for is the ability to do a richer search of my old posts. It's easy to search for a keyword, but if I want to see posts from June 2020, for example, it seems the only way is to scroll way way down my list on the dashboard view. Is there a better way? Is this a feature that could be added?
My Substack goals for 2023 include:
1) Doubling my subscribers for this Substack and my podcast SS (litthinkpodcast.substack.com)
2) Making money with both Substacks
3) Promoting my self-published book and cross-promoting the book and my Substack 😊
I'm excited for what 2023 could bring for me as a writer and podcaster!
A quick question. Did the text on our “welcome” screens change from “read first” to “no thanks”?
I’m not too big a fan of the change personally because “no thanks” still lets you see the person’s work first. A “no thanks” feels like it would exit completely? Yeah?
Tall order, but I would love to have emails be personalized, e.g. Dear Annette.
My advice to writers this year is to keep writing. Substack can change your life, but only if you keep at it.
I love Substack. I've been writing on here for a year now, but I've reached a plateau in reaching new subscribers. It's frustrating, but I'm going to focus more on growth strategies this year. Anyone else relate?
Happy New Year, all! Does anyone else have the experience of losing a few subscribers every time you post? I post about once a month, and the first thing that happens is that a few people unsubscribe. Not a lot--just a few, but I find it odd. Is it that they just remembered they subscribed or didn't realize it?
In other news, here are my 8 Writing Tips for 2023 in case they are helpful ( write about writing):https://writinghacks.substack.com/p/8-writing-tips-for-2023
Happy New Year to All!
Has there been ANY news or update regarding only the Top 25 Paid and Free being shown in the Leaderboard of Substack’s web version? Readers used to be able to Search and scroll to see ALL Stacks in a category.
I haven't participated in an Office Hours since my Dad died in December. It feels so good to be back and seeing familiar avatars. Hi y'all.
Just popping on in my very first Writer's Office Hours attendance to say I'm a scaredy cat but trying to be brave by posting here. I technically started my Substack back in maybe March(?) but have SUCH a hard time deciding what I want the focus to be that I rarely publish things. I moved from another platform but am switching my focus away from "selling" stuff to wanting to share about personal experiences, travel, fun stuff I find, but feel like maybe I need a better "mission statement" so to speak. I have started about 10 posts that I don't finish or publish because I get caught up in the "who will care about this" loop. Anyway....just reaching out to try to be brave and say I'm here! I already love this community even with my meager amount of activity!
Great to be back on Office Hours. Love these sessions with you lovely people.
My advice for those getting despondent with their growth is to keep going. This is a long game we are playing here and it takes time for people to discover, get to know you and then hit subscribe.
My latest post is about building habits which I think can really help us writers because when we show up every week out of habit it really starts to make a difference to the engagement you get.
I'm so excited about those substacks that are recommending me but I get most excited when I can send some subscribers back to them in return. There is a real symbiotic relationship between substacks that I love. It's not a competition. When one of us wins we all win.
I have nothing profound to add, except wish you all a happy new year. May your newsletter flourish and may you fall in love with writing! 2022 was that year for me, and I hope you get to experience it too :)
I have a very silly question. Is the only way to get the little hearts on your home page to turn red by liking your work yourself? 😂 When my first story earned a red heart I assumed it had to do with "like" count, but many of my other posts have earned more than that number of "likes" and the hearts remain transparent. Upon further investigation I learned that I must have accidentally liked that one post with the red heart myself. By the way, if you tell me I need to "like" my own work to turn the hearts red, I have no problem with that. I will go make them all red immediately. For they are like tiny Valentines to me. ❤️❤️❤️
One feature request for the Substack team: e-mail only content. I'd love to be able to add a unique intro or additional content just for people who read via e-mail (or get it delivered via the app) that doesn't show up on the website. I think this could also be a selling point to get people to subscribe -- even for free -- as they'll get unique content they wouldn't just by checking out the 'stack on the web.
it would be nice if you let readers toggle between light mode and dark mode on their end
I frequently mention other writers by using @ and linking to their posts in my newsletter on writing and publishing, The Caffeinated Writer, as well as in my newsletter The Wandering Writer. Do writers to whom I have referred see those mentions? Thank uou!
Also, I would LOVE to see a feature where we could "grandfather in: certain paid subscribers if we ever change our pricing! And, I'm sure it's been said before, but "tiers" rather than just "free" vs. "paid" would be amazing. Certain benefits to each tier.
Happy 2023 everyone, and Happy Office Hours. I appreciate this community and look forward to seeing all the newsletter updates — the victories AND the challenges.
I began "Writers' Haven by Christine Wolf" (http://christinewolf.substack.com) just over a year ago in November of 2021. To date, I have 170 subscribers, and 23 are paid. I feel I have so much room to grow, and I'm trying to approach this process slowly and intentionally despite my inner critic that asks, "Why don't you write more often? Why don't you have more subscribers? Why aren't you more actively promoting your newsletter?"
I offer nearly all my content free but I added a paid option immediately, and I've been SO pleasantly surprised by subscribers' willingness to invest in my writing. It's HUGELY motivating. One benefit of being a paid subscriber is that I promise to list paid subscribers' names to the "supporter page" in my memoir once it's published. I have a separate tab for my memoir-in-progress, and I also send subscribers exclusive "sneak peaks" of the process.
I'd like to offer regularly scheduled live write-ins to all subscribers — kind of like writers' office hours — in which we gather as a community and work on our current projects. It's obviously keeping in theme with the Writers' Haven brand, but I'm torn between adding a livestream video element (maybe through a YouTube live link in a post? I don't know!) or just keeping it in chat form (which feels a little flat).
I'm know I'm overthinking this (who, me???), but if anyone has suggestions or knows of another Substacker who offers something along these lines, I'd be grateful for any feedback and/or intros.
I'm a li'l scared to launch this feature — particularly if I live stream, something I've NEVER done — but we've gotta scare ourselves now and then, amirite?
Cheers to all of you who've reminded us all not to fall into the trap of DOING IT ALL in January. This is a marathon, and I'm grateful to be on this course with you all.
I’m curious if anyone has any suggestions on using Substack to offer a 7-day “course” format. It would be separate from my newsletter and would be something a reader could sign-up for to receive in addition or just for that course.
For context, I write a weekly meditation practice newsletter called Calm Point. I’d love to offer something like, “Beginners Guide to Meditation” in a course like format that they receive via email.
Hopefully this makes sense. Thank you so much for your time and ideas/thoughts. All ears! ❤️
Hi any plan to support PayPal aside from stripe? Since stripe is not available for some country. Do you have any suggestions for creating a template for an outline of a post that can be used as a draft and then duplicated?
I started my Substack journey last month and so much love and enjoy writing again. (If you love UI Designer subscribe now 🤗)
Happy new year, all! Here's to another 12 months of writing great stuff while trying not to obsess over stats too much.
While I'm here I have a couple of requests:
1. When someone unsubscribes, is there any way the notification email could include data on what sort of reader they were before they noped out? I tend to inbox search the email address to see how recently they signed up, which helps me to an extent, but every so often someone will leave after 18 months on the list and I'll wish I could see some more granular info on, say, lifetime open rates and stuff like that. Really I'd just like to be able to tell the difference between the person who's super new or has never really opened the emails, and the one person in 20 who I've managed to really upset somehow.
2. Please, please can we get a 'video games' category? We're increasing in number while Elon continues his crusade of personal embarrassment — I've seen plenty of writers and developers starting Substacks in the last couple of months as a way to keep in touch with their following in the event the Bird Site goes the way of the dodo, and my recommendations from games-related 'stacks have more than tripled too — and it'd be nice for us to have a home. I've been doing this for 18 months now, am closing in on 5k subscribers, and it's very weird that I am unable to be easily found by people browsing /discover because Substack (I presume) doesn't consider it as sexy a topic as Design or Politics.
We're continuing to have a bug where an upcoming newsletter reverts to a previous draft.
This primarily seems to happen when we schedule newsletters to go live later. We set up five today and when we went back to double check something, the most recent newsletter had reverted to an old draft.
I'd reported this bug once before and was told it was fixed. But it seems not. I'll report this to the tech side again, but figured I'd raise here as well.
It’s over 45 minutes until this “starts” and there are already 76 comments! Seems like an inefficient method for a very useful service. Can you move it to another platform that is live (TW Spaces or Zoom) tho I realize that takes it off of Substack. But this is hurting my desire to learn and making my organized self cranky. I’d be willing to volunteer to take notes now and then if we did a live session so the info can be captured and re-purposed in a digestible manner. It could be a community-supported effort that helps instead of just adds more words to the internet. (No headings, no organization, just a lot of threads based on time not topic…) Thank you for listening!
Happy New Year Substackers! I was wondering if there is a way to edit the "No Thanks" link below the subscribe button pop-up when non-subscribers follow a link to your Substack? (oh boy, not sure if that makes sense but hopefully someone will know what I'm talking about!)
I was certain I've seen some that say "Let me read it first".
My substack goal for 2023 is to go full tilt into my impostor syndrome and pretend I am a hilariously clever writer even though there's no doubt in my mind it ain't true
Wishing you all a wonderful 2023, filled with the fun of writing your newsletter and lots of engagement on it. And of course good health, happiness and lots of love.
If you're writing poetry, let me know. I will subscribe, read, engage and share your work.
Happy New Year, Writing Pals! A benediction before we begin:
- May this be the year, we stop scanning the horizon for big leaps and start now with consistent, small steps instead. May this steady progress move us farther forward than a single jump ever could.
- May we reject the promise of overnight success and instant change and show up a little bit better every day.
- May we recognize that falling short and falling down are just part of the process. The growth is in the return.
... And speaking of growth, may we give, freely and genuinely, the exact support we are asking for.
Hi Katie and all! At a NYE party I met someone who said it's impossible to grow an online presence organically. I'm REALLY HOPING that some folks on this thread would disagree with that statement! Please leave your two cents!!
I've been getting one or two new sign ups each week, and they're mostly all people who know me, which means there's a natural ceiling for subscribers. It could be that my content isn't portable for a general audience? Or I'm not promoting it well? I also took 4 months off recently :-/. I was once ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest and my newsletter is kind of a kitchen sink of reflections on the various ways we seek meaning (I have a masters in religion; now I'm in a PhD program for anthropology). I'd be grateful for any advice. My purpose here is to get out a message as well as build a community.
Best wishes to everyone!!! <3
I'd love everyones thoughts on an idea of subscription. I propose the following:
Substack establishes a credit system where a member can buy a dollar value each month, which can roll over. A credit can = $1 and can be used in the following ways:
1. They can pay for subscriptions with credits where there might be a reduced cost option (say 3 credits vs. $5)
2. They can pay for individual essays with credits (1 credit / essay)
3. They can send credits to writers for free essays as a 'tip' for good writing.
So this would break down to allow someone to buy 20 credits - $20 each month.
They could use 9 credits on three subscriptions and have 11 credits to buy / tip for other essays. This would allow a micro-monitization vs. the expectation of a fully committed and yet independent subscriptions. It would help build the broader community aspect of a network of authors as well.
I got a HUGE boost in free subscribers last month when i was featured on the Substack home page (to whoever is responsible for that thank you, thank you, thank youuuuu) but I have to admit that I've been kind of flailing with a strategy for converting to paid subscribers.
I wanted to do something with voice recordings, as i get a lot of requests for audio of my essays, but have been unsure about doing a separate podcast of a written post, putting a voice over that is just available to paid subscribers, or doing an audio recording below a paypal at the end of the post.
Any thoughts or wisdom welcome.
Hello! I would like to make a suggestion. It would be fantastic to be able to separate subscribers into groups. This way some articles can be sent out to a specific group of people and not everybody (for people who are writing in 2 languages for example). Thanks!
Any fellow Substackers with history newsletters or just an interest in history? Let's connect!
I started a Substack about the Whitechapel murders and the harsh double standards in Victorian society that marginalized women: https://canonical5.substack.com/
Happy New Year everyone! Quick reminder to give yourself a break from time to time. Don't overwhelm yourself with writing goals right out of the gate. Take one day at a time. Slow, substantial progress is worth more than rushed fulfillment.
Seeking guidance on the best category for my blog + newsletter. I write about mental health struggles, healing, vulnerability, personal stories, etc. Right now, I have Health & Wellness selected, but is that the best option to ensure people searching on these topics will find my blog (With Grit + Grace)? https://reaganf.substack.com/
Thanks everybody for all the helpful links. I've got to run but I've got tabs open that will keep me busy for a long wile. Blessings!
I recently started a second substack page using a second separate email account because I want a different subscriber base. When I use that second email address to access the second account it did not give me an option to create a new password so when I try to sign into the second account it kicks me back to my first account. Will I be able to create a second password for the second account or will I have to keep using the temporary sign-in password that Substack provides?
I'm new to Substack and I don't know anything about publishing. As a first-generation student along with English being my second language, I feel like I'm uninformed about the world of publishing. I've written two pieces of work, fiction and creative non-fiction but I don't know what to do with them. Looking forward to any advice, thanks!