1442 Comments
Jan 5, 2023·edited Jan 5, 2023Pinned

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Hi Katie!

I'm curious if you have any advice for connecting with other writers on substack. I love writing and reading other people's work, but I still feel sort of disconnected from the larger community on here. I'm also unsure how to bring my writing to a larger audience than the one I can communicate to via instagram and twitter. What are some ways to not only grow your publication but also find a community of writers?

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I would love to see Substack hosting more spaces for writers to get to know each other. I think this idea has been batted around Office Hours a few times. Some kind of forums, maybe, or open chat rooms, for different genres of writers. (Did I age myself with the word "chat room"?)

I know it made a huge difference for me to participate in Substack Grow over the summer. Before then, I really felt like I was throwing pebbles into a big, indifferent pond. But getting to know a bunch of different Substack writers through those weeks made a huge difference in how it felt to be here. Then, I started coming to Office Hours for the same reason. The more writers you get to know, the more at home you feel... Anyway, I hope the brains who develop these things are working on more tools for us to all connect with each other.

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There's a very active Discord community you can join! https://discord.gg/afNk4avu

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Thanks for the tip, Valorie. I joined now too. So much media to connect it kind of seems like where will the connection be found? But if you don't try, your don't know :)

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<<So much media to connect it kind of seems like where will the connection be found?>>

This is my concern/hang-up, too, Faith. Counting my personal and Substack pages, I manage five accounts for IG and FB. Like many others, I'm in several groups on FB and have real life networks I'm trying to keep up with as well. I don't know how to find the time to be engaged with yet another resource. But, I get the value. Maybe I need to jettison something else.

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So true, Elizabeth. I am on LinkedIn, Instagram (but honestly don't post much there because with my content took hours to create and I just don't have the time and the payout is really just a hamster wheel), and just joined Facebook because of my interest in dance and that's how the dance communities communicate. I'd say LinkedIn has been really great about making connections for my work (as I am integrating being a therapist, survivor, and a writer), but I wouldn't say LI has helped me build over here. I guess what I am noticing is that I have to feel that the media is worth my energy and time. I love to create pieces that are thought-provoking (here on Substack) and love connecting with others on LinkedIn. So that's all we can do...good luck!

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I got off all that. I have LI and SS. Much easier to manage. And honestly more effective.

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What's substacks "4 digit tag" I'm being asked for when trying to find substack on Discord?

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I just joined! I have such a hard time forcing myself to check on the Discords I've joined, but since that's basically what I'm talking about (chat rooms) I will make a real effort to get involved on there. Thank you!

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To be honest I find them overwhelming a well. I recommend the Substack discord for people wanting to connect, but I'm rarely in there because I can't check it every day.

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Glad to hear that, Valorie: I thought it was only me!

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Same. I belong to a handful of Discord communities (?). Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of Discord and its structure so I miss out there. I will make more efforts here and connect directly with the articles/people on Substack itself.

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Agreed. I've tried Discord several times for different reasons. I quickly tire of trying to deal with the structure and end up never going back. We need to have private and group messaging boards here on SS so we don't have to go elsewhere.

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Thank you, Valorie!

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Thank you so much for this link! Joining now :)

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whoa i didnt know about this hell ya

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Hooray! Thanks for sharing this resource. I just joined Discord for another New Year's manifestation/meditation practice and I think it's a great tool.

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Just joined. Thank you Valorie.

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Thanks for sharing this! Sounds like a great resource.

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Brilliant idea. I tend to get overwhelmed as I write true crime news for the news and then balance the chaos in my brain by writing for my column in another newspaper. Your idea of different genres is brilliant!

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True crime :) - just subscribed to your SS

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The way I've connected with other writers on Substack is by offering a "guest writer" opportunity on my publication, "moviewise: Life Lessons From Movies":

Be Our Guest! "moviewise" Cordially Invites You To Share Your Movie Recommendations

https://moviewise.substack.com/p/be-our-guest

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I've done that on other blogs: definitely a great idea. I haven't forgotten my guest post, btw, just trying to organise my own 'stack while dealing with decorator mayhem

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I’m about to do an experience on LinkedIn.

I’ve read that if you are up a LinkedIn newsletter and publish part of your post in there with a link through to Substack full post you get massive engagement.

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oh, i'll try that. thanks, Martin

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Nice idea.... thinking ...

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This is such a cool opportunity! Thank you - I’ll be sure to check it out

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Sorry, I'm not Katie...But I'd like to offer a suggestion. Search for the types of writers you'd like to connect with. I'd start with your number 1 niche and do a search of fellow SS writers in that niche. https://substack.com/browse

Then I would comment on their posts. Ask them questions back. Even email them. We all love to communicate with our readers.

You can start your own community of like minded writers by asking them to join you with a collaboration article, chat, video call, and so on.

You are on the money by reaching out to others with larger audiences.

Keep commenting in these forums. You'll find that we are pretty much good people who love to help out!

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I've always been a fan of commenting on other writer's SS articles as it helps build relationships that would otherwise be missed. We really need private and group messaging boards attached to our Stacks to open up communications here.

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Great advice, Paul. It works for me!

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This is great advice! Thank you Paul. It’s so great to see that everyone else loves engaging with other writers & readers as much as I do.

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I've connected with other writers in a few different ways. I've used these Office Hours to find other climate change and environment writers, then I've subscribed and left comments on posts. I've also searched directly on the "discover" page. Sometimes I've put links to their articles in my newsletter, then let them know. I've recommended them (mostly i've recommended writers of smaller newsletters than me, so I figure they will really get some real value from my recommendation). I joined Elle Griffin's discord community (this invitation link should work for the next week https://discord.gg/R6Cqqaha).

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Hey! Just checked your newsletter out and I’m glad I did that. I write personal fiction on mine and am working on a story that’s environmentally sensitive and based on a real life event. I’d love to discuss more about it with a environmentally focused writer!

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Sure, I'm happy to talk. I'm no particularly expert but I'm good at finding information. Send me an email. Do you know how to email someone via their Substack? (just email substackname@substack.com, so you can email me on theturnstone@substack.com)

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Dropped an email!

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Melanie hopefully ok if I email you. I follow back anyone that follows my SS.

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Out of curiosity, how do you know the newsletters you are recommending are smaller than yours?

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In most cases, I don't know for sure, but in general they are ones where there are usually fewer likes and comments than I get on mine. In a few cases, I knew because I had some contact with the people who wrote them. But in all cases, they were newsletters that I liked to read myself. I did recommend one large Substack, so it wasn't a hard and fast rule. In a few cases, newsletters that were smaller than me have overtaken me, or I suspect that they have.

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Got it! There is a lot of mystery in all of it, isn't there? :)

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Envirinmental issues are of interest to my publication which is also about economic and social issues. I started a section called Society of Correspondence after a 18th century snail mail subscription newsletter started by the English working calss in London,. I was hoping to get guest writers but so far no takers. My newsletter is the Individual vs the Empire.

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It can take time to find the right people to connect with. One thing that helped me was searching for other Substack writers in my local area. I literally typed New Zealand on Substack's discover page and then wrote to the people whose newsletters were interesting, just to connect with them.

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I'll try typing Maine. There is are huge issues happening in my backyard and I have gained a lot of local followers for writing about it but I can't find others to do the same- but maybe Maine would work.

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One of my favorite ways to connect with other writers are these office hours! It’s like the substack writer’s water cooler.

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ha ha same here!

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Me too, but I'm in Australia, which means if I wanna be here live I have to get up at 5am! I have managed it a few times.

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Bummer!! But the good news is I can still get notifications about your comments. So even if you aren’t with us during the actual office hours we can still hang out and connect days/ hours later!!

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I do appreciate that about the current set up!

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Hi Sophia - https://fictionistas.substack.com/ is a very supportive, welcoming group of writers. Check them out.

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Thank you Julie! I’ve seen fictionistas on Substack before and can’t wait to catch up on your posts

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Thank you, Sophia! Hope you enjoy them.

Fictionistas is very helpful. They have monthly Zoom meetings which you might be interested in.

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Writers might try subscribing to newsletters that address the same audiences as theirs do. Take as many free subscriptions as you can that let you comment as a free subscriber. Skip those that only allow comments by paid subscribers.

Then post intelligent, relevant comments on posts that interest you. Help your competitors show readers how they can interact with writers. When you get comments, reply with thoughtful comments and keep the conversations going as long as commenters stay involved.

Comments can be more interesting and important than the writers' opening posts. That is what writers should want. The goal is to create communities that are interested in your writing and your issues.

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Nine times out of ten, I learn as much or more from comments beneath a mainstream news piece than I do from the headline article. I think this is good advice!

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This is such great advice! Thank you. I definitely haven’t been as active through comments as I could be and agree it can be a great place to discuss and expand on ideas

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Hi Sophia, my Substack page, Writer Everlasting, is a writers' salon and a safe place to ask questions and air fears and successes. We're a friendly group, always welcoming newcomers.

Feel free to take a look and if you like what you see, by all means, join in!

(Click on the link next to my avatar above. Thanks.)

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Hi Ramona! That’s sounds like such a great space and exactly what I’ve been looking for. Excited to subscribe!

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Fabulous! I just subbed.

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Hi Sophia! I find that just participating in these Office Hours really helps! Comment on other people's Substacks too. It's a little old school that way, but it helps. There's also a Substack Writers Discord and Twitter group, if you want to join those.

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There's a Reddit (I know......shudder......) Substack page, also: https://www.reddit.com/r/substackpostmedium/

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Ooohhh... I didn't know about that. Thanks so much!

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I've actually gotten a couple of site compliments from what I'm guessing are subreddit 'Stack admins! Every time I open an e-mail telling me someone commented to me on Reddit, I prepare for the worst, and usually get it from the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathers who typically inhabit that swampy blog bog! But, we'll be safe there, on the 'Stack sub!

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Lol. Fingers crossed!

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Thanks, Brad. I meant to ask you about that.

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Thank you Valorie and Brad! I’ll be sure to check these out :)

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Is anyone here on the Facebook Substack Writers group? I've dipped my toes in there a bit, but with the exception of a few posts, it seems to be mostly populated with recent newsletter shares but without much engagement from group members.

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I haven't logged into Facebook in years. No idea there was a Substack writer's group there!

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I didn't know that existed either! I don't frequent facey much these day, but will check it out. Thanks for sharing!

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I was inspired by the Iowa Writers Collaborative (https://iowawriters.substack.com/) to reach out to a few likeminded writers about organizing our own group. Still in the talking stages, but feels promising. As others have said, the first step is to engage with content by writers you admire and see where those conversations go. I think community is hard to build for a reason: if it's real, it will take a little time.

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So, what I did was search for other people writing about books on substack (simple google search) and then emailed them.

More here: https://on.substack.com/p/grow-series-6

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I'm assuming that proved successful for you? I love the name of your publication by the way!

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Congrats on growing your publication! This seems like a solid method I’ll have to try out. Im also excited to check out your book recommendations!

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Hi Sophia! I'm happy to look at your publication, and potentially recommend it, as I've just finished a memoir!

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I will look at both of your publications! I too wrote a memoir that published at the end of 2021.

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I'd love to learn about your memoir as well. Please send along info for me! You can email me at info@sueferrera.com, or just comment here. 💟

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Thanks Maura! I really appreciate your interest and willingness to help

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Hi Sophia, Office hours is a great place to meet people.

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Hi, Sophia. Just connected with you on Instagram. Please follow up. Happy to share ideas with you.

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Not specifically writers but Zoom Networking ? During the Pandemic ( and already before ) I went into virtual networking meetings and obviously the number of virtual meetings increased massively during the Pandemic. A lot of these were physical networking meetings that just went virtual out of necessity. Some stayed pretty local but some went global. Go Connections is one that went global over time and is a network of networks with networks from all over the world. A mix of people from different industries and some meetings actually provide a contact list. Others put their details in the chat. Link here https://goconnections.net?aff=200

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Hi Katie, I added a suggestion above before I saw your comment. My suggestion is that a user/reader be able to set the theme that *other* stacks are displayed in. Some people (like me) can't read a dark theme; others can't read on a light theme. If we could override the theme set by the stack author, it would open up more possibilities. I've run into several stacks I'd like to check out, but I can't due to the theme.

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Great feedback on web! Whenever you read in the app, you are in control of the view as Meg mentioned. So that might be a good place to read for now?

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I prefer the black background! It's easier on my eyes :)

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This is an interesting suggestion! I like setting the background on my kindle. However, some of my site graphics have transparent backgrounds that would be incompatible with different backgrounds. They would render aspects of my page invisible and defeat a lot of my design aesthetics (such as they are). I guess that's a small price to pay for accommodating the needs of readers. I wonder if making the text size manually adjustable would be a useful compromise, or is the background the real concern?

On a separate note, white on black text is very tricky to pull off and is used very sparingly in print. I know "night mode" is more common in digital, but the font still has to be weighty, crisp, and spaced adequately because dark backgrounds tend to close in around white text, making it appear thinner and lighter than normal. The font options supplied by Substack are pretty good, but the font used for comments is not able to hold up to black backgrounds as well, and is especially hard to read. Is that maybe something that can be tweaked?

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For me anyway, it's much easier on the computer (web browser) because (a) it's a very large screen and (b) it's way easier to follow someone's name to their stack and the stacks they read, etc. For items that are already in my inbox/app I get it. But I'm exploring stacks outside of my subs, etc. and would be great to be able to set the theme to something that works best for the user.

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Agree! White font on black background is a particular challenge. Victor, I have discovered that if I read those posts either in email or on the app (rather than in a browser) it overrides the theme. For visually challenging posts, I save them to my library and then read them in the app. Easier on the eyes. 🙂

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Yes, that's an option. Still, I prefer the web application because I have a giant screen on my computer. The app is pretty nice too, but the screen is way smaller.

Also, I'm talking about posts that aren't in email. I sometimes come across a stack I'd like to read to see what I think and maybe subscribe, but I can't get past the dark theme. :(

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Good to know! I've chosen neither dark nor white... but never consciously thought about it--thank you!

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Just stay away from plaid as a background. That's a mistake you only make once! Signed, One Who Knows........

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I like the tan, sort of parchment color for th background color. I was sent an email that made a background of a photo I uploaded, but do not know how to use it or similar images

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I much prefer black-on-white - I too find dark backgrounds with white text very difficult to read. Thanks so much for this tip, Meg!

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I like the tan, sort of parchment color for th background color. I was sent an email that made a background of a photo I uploaded, but do not know how to use it or similar images

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Hi meg,i agree about the font colours,i only have one eye and it gets tired after two thousand words,i write farming stories,and romantic novels,but scared of the out side world,retiered farmer,Nigel

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Subscribers can always "choose" to read black on white background, because there is no other choice via e-mail. For my subbies who prefer white on black, they know to click over to my website page. As for "outsiders" who may read me (from, say, my links on social media), and hate white on black, I say, "Feel free to subscribe, and you're then able to read my articles solely black on white."

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Oh, that is a very interesting suggestion. Never thought about that. I don't have a dark theme, but I can imagine both can be challenging. Would be indeed a great step towards better accessibility.

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I prefer black text on white as well. People who use color as their backgrounds with white text makes my eyes go crazy. Those I read in my email where it is the usual white background. Then if I want to comment, I do it in a hurry so my eyes don't go bad when I view it on my browser.

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That is a very good suggestion. Although I prefer to read black text (at min 16pt) on my desktop/laptop I prefer darker backgrounds when on my phone (as long as the text is large enough and people don't try to get fancy with text). There was a writer that would put a light-ish colored background with medium gray colored text and it was impossible to read without getting a headache. Too much fussing. It's unfortunate because her articles were great.

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Yes, I agree. My old eyes can't tolerate the dark themes and I don't go there, no matter how intriguing the subject matter. On the other hand, I wonder how many are turned off by my light theme and do the same? Giving us a choice would be great!

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Reading a lot of the comments, it might be useful to have “verticals” to help people get discovered. Those who are already well-known have built-in fan bases, esp in the political sphere. I know I categorized my Substack when I started (poorly, as I cover a lot of topics with the singular goal of “let’s feel better together”), but I haven’t yet tripped across where those categories are featured or promoted. Thanks for pointing me there!

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We hosted a Category Tour last year! Maybe we should bring it back? https://on.substack.com/p/category-tour

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Yes, please! I write about being vegan, which isn't all that popular I think, but it's part of a much bigger picture: caring for the environment, caring for other creatures, caring about one's health, to name but a few. What categories fit best?

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This is great! Thanks Katie. Do you have suggestions for how to figure out what categories your newsletter fits in? I'd love help with that :)

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Oh, yes! Love this idea. Thank you, Katie.

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YESSS! That's so fun!!

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Oooh yeah, this was fun!

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Hello Katie! I have started paid subscription last Sunday. My topic is quality investing ideas.

I had almost 10k free subscribers, 50-60% open rate and the price will be 144€/year, with an offer the first 15 days of 120€.

I have got just 45 paid subscribers…and following your metrics I should get 5-10%…Am I doing something wrong? I should wait? I send an email to my free subscribers to refresh and remind the offer.

Thanks

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I've been running paid subscriptions since I first started in August and just this week I hit 10% . I think it takes a little time to build that need in your readers. I don't know how much you give away for free, but I started out giving away a lot, just to build up my free list. However, in 2023 I'll scale back on the free posts and up my paid posts to help convert more readers to the paid side. I think patience and consistency are the keys with all of this. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.

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Patience and consistency. It's not sexy advice, but it's the best advice.

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My numbers always make fellow 'Stackers feel better about themselves, Jen: I've been on 'Stack since August '21. I now have 275 subbies, the vast majority are free. I have about 5 paids (2 annual, 3 recurring monthlies), with about 10 comps. There's somebody on here who repeatedly whines about having 24,000 subscriptions, but not enough, he/she/they/it/we/us complain incessantly, paid.😭We'll pause for a moment of solemn silence and sorrow for this person's sad plight.

I'm sure my numbers have now placed a wide grin on your face, and I'm willing to bet your subby numbers are, at least, twice what mine are, and you've been on the 'Stack 4 months, far shorter than my 1 year, 4 months! Congratulations, and keep on keepin' on, Jen!

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Hi Brad, thanks for sharing your numbers. I think it's great you have 275 subbies! And 5 paid is 5 paid. Good for you! I find the whole conflict of valuing my work vs accessibility an ongoing thought exercise. I have only been here just under 3 months, my topic is controversial and not dinner-party approved (but touches on real issues many struggle with and are too ashamed to discuss). One day I will go paid and find that sweet balance we all seem to yearn for.

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Thanks, Faith! I think it took me about a month to stop agonizing about paid/not paid, and teeth-gnashing about "enough," "why not more," blah blah. That's why I share my numbers so freely (while many 'Stackers don't'/won't---how could THERE'S be any tinier than mine?!?)---for the sheer punch-line value!

I should add that while, I suppose, my numbers could/should be well over 300, I've done a couple bouts of winnowing my sub list during the past year. If someone hasn't opened or obviously read an article in 4-6 months, I'll delete their e-mail from my list. If they've not read an article in that long, they certainly won't miss seeing future ones pop into their inbox.

For fellow 'Stackers constantly whining about hundredths of percentage points of their total subs should be paid by this date and time...I just don't want to expend the energy quite that pointlessly. I do what I do (thankfully, that would be writing), and let the far more OCD than I among us wring their hands in fuming consternation! Maybe that's a healthier way to wake up and get the blood pumping than drinking coffee!!

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It sounds like you've struck a helpful balance between assessing your numbers and whittling those away that aren't a fit and not fretting about what grows when and where. I have many less than you. I think we just have to make peace with our personal missions, whatever that is, and set our own goals. And many times what we think are goals we have control over - for example, I'll add 100 subscribers in the next 3 months - is not really under our control.

Oddly enough, my latest new year's post addresses this very thing - what we have control over in our goals and what we don't (and it's not what you might think). My piece is called "New Me, New You? No, thank you"

https://faithcbergevin.substack.com/p/new-me-new-you-no-thank-you

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Thanks for the reply. I like your idea of winnowing the list. I definitely have some deadwood that I should cut. If nothing else, it would make my open rate look spectacular. Haha!

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BINGO, Jen. It’s about nurturing community over time. Patience and consistency, yes!

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Honestly, I know so many folk who are doing legitimately well and *aren't* getting into the 5-10% bracket for paid subs. It varies so much! (Especially according to topic - the business/finance-oriented folk generally seem to do better than everyone else here, I think? But also, as other folk are pointing out in other comments, you've only just started!)

The much more important thing is getting those paid subs up to the point it's properly useful income. If that means building a bigger free list than other people, not a problem! So I'd see a lower conversion % as an opportunity to look for a way to improve it a bit (which is true for any %, really), but definitely NOT a handicap or a sign you're doing something wrong.

(Personal example: my free list is 13,500 and I'm converting around 2.5% of it. That's giving me enough to hit my targets right now.)

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I have two Substacks and only one of them is even at the 5% paid subscriber mark. I would love to have more but closing off parts of my pages is just not in my nature, and, frankly, goes against what I preach at Writer Everlasting--that we're open and welcoming to everyone.

I guess I understand (though not really) why people would want to incentivize paying subscribers by shutting them out of much of what they do, but as a potential subscriber, it turns me off. I do pay for some of them, but I'll be honest--I don't feel good about the fact that others can't be privy to what I'm seeing.

We each have to make our own decisions about what is best for us. Just throwing this out as an alternative thought.

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I don't like shutting people off from my work. Not one bit. But here's the thing: The whole point of Substack was supposed to be get professionals paid. One reason so few voices are platformed anywhere today is that journalists must put enormous amounts of work into what they do. Most of their time isn't spent writing, but researching. But paying jobs for writers have been in steep decline for years. I can assure you that when I paywall, it isn't greed. I work full time on my Substack for 11 months of the year, I have four thousand readers, and I think it's not unreasonable to expect far more than do to at least chip in. As a missionary for history, if I could keep things sustainable by posting everything for free, I would. But it doesn't work. I know. I've tried. And it's not fair on my paying subscribers not to give them something in return for their support. The work I do requires funding: That's where the money goes, to support the work. I don't know what I owe those regular readers who won't even chuck a couple of bucks into a Buy Me A Coffee fund, and yet are happy to pay high subs to wealthy celebs. Do you?

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As usual Annette, you're right on target!

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100%. Trust me, I don't love "shutting" people out and I want every word I write to be read by as many people as possible. But human nature is human nature -- if we can get everything for free, well, then we're a lot less likely to pay for it.

And I love what you say about the point of Substack is seeing writers paid for writing.

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I just launch paid tiers this week and I grappled with the concept of a paywall quite a bit. Ultimately I considered my own behavior: when I see a paywall and want to know what's behind the curtain, I pony up. Others will too.

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Hear hear!

I have to admit to being a little bummed when I see someone willing to pay for a Name Writer, who's had a high-profile career while someone took care of his (or her!) children... and people will pay for that but not my little corner, from which they can gain one-on-one care and knowledge of the real-day ins-and-outs of working writing. I can actually speak to what it is to eke a writing career out of life, out of raising kids, taking care of home, and how to live on little to make it all--the mythical "all"--happen.

Oooo...that sounds whiney, and I don't intend that. But it would be amazing if maybe the pay-scale was a bit different and there was more incentive to go with mid-tier folks... dare I say.

I cannot say too many times: some of us are here to earn a living.

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Your comment struck a little chord here in the Bay Area, Alison - the wild rainstorm of the past 2 days meant schools were closed and suddenly I was parenting instead of joining this Office Hours - just catching up now. The juggle...

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Sounds like you are off to a good start with 45 paid subscribers already — especially since you just opened it up.

Just include a clear call-to-action and explanation of benefits every time you post a free newsletter. With an audience base of that size, paid subs will surely trickle in.

The ability to send free previews is helpful, as you can begin to show free readers what they are missing.

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I do think people who are used to getting "free" can take awhile to get on board, too. 45 really is an excellent start... but I'm with you on wondering "why not more?"

FYI, been here since April '21, went paid 6 weeks later, now at 2000 subs, with almost 120 paid. DIFFERENT content, but just sharing...

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Thanks Alison! Your experience is really motivating!☺️

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Agree. It is always wise to test the waters and change what is not working well for you. Different content may be the answer. My struggle is narrowing down the ONE key genre/tool offering to others.

Your post has encouraged me to start sharing shorthand tips for others, which can save anyone an abundance of time. Thank you for the reminder of offering different content.

We are all underdogs and we can do this!

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I've had this "problem" too, but I think I know at least part of the reason why: I need to give my readers a clear reason to buy in. For me, that's the scary part. What writing should I put behind the paywall vs. leave free as advertising? There's a hesitancy to put stuff behind the paywall because I fear that will just mean it's left unread. But I know I have to take the plunge in order to convince people to upgrade to paid.

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One reason for them to upgrade to paid is - they just want to see you create the stuff you're doing! This is proven by the Substacks that have a paid version but *don't* put anything behind a paywall - like Sari Botton's https://oldster.substack.com/ (which has a really great conversion rate too!)...

So I'd say: never be afraid of just making a hand-on-heart emotional appeal to your audience and say "you're helping me make this thing" (after you've clearly defined what "this thing" is). You might be surprised at the number of folk who don't want more of your work - they just want to help you keeping making what you're currently making.

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Yes to this! I don’t like the pandering aspect nor the begging for subscribers and there are those who do want to support us. OTOH, I did get another idea here for a monthly gift to paid subscribers so I’m going to add that. For me, it’s all in the energy. I gave a special price (annual and lifetime savings) on my birthday as I am very new to Substack, and it did indeed convert. For me, it was a thank you gift to those early readers who took a chance, but mostly I want a community that is not divided by a paywall. “Opt-in” remains a powerful force in humanity vs FOMO.

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Yup! Every now and then we remind people that we need their support if we're going to keep doing this. I don't think it has a huge impact because there are a lot of folks out there understandably saying the same things. But I don't think it hurts either.

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I've been gearing up (mentally) to introduce a paid option primarily for this reason. Relative to some, I have a small group of subscribers, but there may be a few who feel capable of and are willing to invest in that like they might another form of art or entertainment. But, if I put anything behind the paywall, it won't be my primary content. And, making time to create *additional* content that goes out only to paying subscribers is something I haven't figure out how to do yet!

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This works if you already have a strong base of free subscribers, but it's hard to do if you don't. That's been my experience anyway. I've made the emotional plea already, but no dice. Want to take a quick look and offer some advice???

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I'm not sure what constitutes a strong base of subscribers. And I will say that it is the least effective of appeals for us. We've done much better offering discounts.

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My most effective appeal is "I know where you live, and if you don't upgrade to paid, I'll send the boys round."

That said, I also lost 90% of my free list when I sent that one out.

But those remaining 10% are REALLY on board, let me tell you.

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I'll have a look in a bit! (My advice might be terrible, though...)

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That checkmark says otherwise…😉

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Yup. As writers we want our stuff read and shared. But as a business, you have to incentivize them to want to subscribe. At first it was hard to put stuff behind a paywall. Now it's just part of what we do.

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I do not like paywalls on the main stream publications, but have at times paid, to gain access to an article by a "paid journalist". Many have a 5 or 10 article free paywall. Does SubStack provide that?

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I don't understand the asterisks around "paid journalist." Do you object to paying for articles you read? Do you object to paying for meals or movies?

As for Substacks providing free a paywall, it's up to every Substack writer to decide which of their newsletters is behind their paywall, if they have one at all.

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I have no objection to a journalist being "paid", I maybe should have said "salaried Journalist", as compared to "subscription Journalist". Does that clarify for you? My question is there a "count-down" free paywall on Substack?

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Same, nearly 24k free subscribers, very little conversion to paid.

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I don't think it's very useful to compare your conversion rate or your number of paid subscribers to what others have. Different content, different writer personality, perceived value of the type of information/expression offered will all skew people's willingness to subscribe, one way or the others.

On the other hand, I think it's helpful to see what other Substack authors do to encourage paid subscriptions and to try some of those ideas to see if they work for you.

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45 right out of the gate is a great start. I may be mistaken, but I believe they rounded that 5-10% expectation down to 3-5 %? That’s the mark most of the people I talk to are hitting.

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FWIW, we're at an 8% conversion rate after about a year and a half of paid. And I will say that your price is one of the highest subscription rates I've seen. That's going to definitely limit you numbers.

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This seems like a huge number for your first week! Give it time. After a couple weeks of seeing free previews, they will upgrade:)

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I would love to see more expansive categories - like entertainment, tv & film, memoir, creative process, personal essay, observational, life in general/human experience.... obviously, these would be perfect for Outsourced Optimism, but I notice a lot of substacks I read (and love) also fall into these categories and don't fall under the existing buckets.

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Hi Tami, happy new year! I shared this above but the ongoing tension with categories is that there are never enough cover all the nuance of writing that writers do and if we spotlight too many, we will overwhelm readers looking to find great writing. We're keeping an eye on categories bubbling up and will continue to update categories when the time is right.

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Happy New Year, Katie! I literally just saw that thread and was commenting when you commented. I always appreciate how receptive and proactive the Substack team is to feedback and adjustments. I can also understand that tension, though it does seem like some big common categories are missing that could hold a lot of the more niche nuance.

i.e. Personal Growth/ Healing (which feels very different than what you'd expect to find under health & wellness).

There's a Music category, but no TV& Film or Entertainment (which could hold something like Outsourced Optimism- which is part memoir/ part tv&film reflection/review- but I image will also be really relevant as the video beta grows)

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My substack is similarly observational/personal creativity based. I write You Are Here

https://jodiemeynwrites.substack.com/.

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Hi Katie!

I'm wondering if you would consider expanding the topics to include some sort of self-help, psychology, human experience section?

My substack is on grief, loss, and healing and I don't really know which of your existing categories I fall into!

Thanks so much!

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Hi Sue, we are continuing to monitor other categories of writing bubbling up on Substack. Do you think that your work might fit somewhere in Faith & Spirituality or Health & Wellness, two of our existing categories?

The ongoing tension with categories is that there are never enough cover all the nuance of writing that writers do and if we spotlight too many, we will overwhelm readers looking to find great writing.

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Well I'll throw my vote in for adding one on Personal Growth! Because no, neither Faith & Spirituality nor Health & Wellness really fit. Totally understand your conundrum though!

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I have an issue with Faith - it is often the opposite of Spirituality. So while my writing fits in Spirituality, it is the antithesis of faith and religion so having that word in the category, and especially first in the category, is a non-starter for me. And yes, I hear you on the word challenges, Katie. That’s why I like something like self-improvement as it’s very neutral and can cover all kinds of topics. LOL, I also love Consciousness.

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I have the same feeling.

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Also think having a Self Help/Personal Growth would be a really good category to have, and trawl through to find Substacks. It's such a huge area in itself in literature too!

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True dat! The more I think about it, the more this whole “categories” thing can use updating. All the platforms default to the same ideas and none of them allow for people who are “generalists” either. People who write about all sorts of au courant topics vs the specialists.

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1 more vote for personal development/personal growth!

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And a question to go along with that...

I would love to understand how to search works. Because though grief is a part of my tagline, when I search grief, my substack does not come up. I scrolled far enough down that 95% of the substacks in the search results had nothing to do with grief.

How do I help myself rank for search keywords?

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"Grief" is a popular keyword but if you search something more specific to your publication, like the publication title or your name, you will see your publication appear.

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I hear that... But then how can I use my keywords to help get discovered? How can I help people who are looking for a substack like mine actually find mine?

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Whoo, boy, this doesn’t sound great. Thanks for posting it so they can look into it.

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Hi Sue,

I have the same issue. My substack is on healing too, although mine is focused on recovery from trauma and ipv. I am in the health and wellness category but it is not a great fit.

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Hmmm, maybe Healing is more inclusive than Health and Fitness. I used to be in that field and it conjures up images of people exercising. Healing is so much bigger and can include health and fitness along with grief, etc. It’s like our language is trying to evolve along with us. Healing can be mind, body, and soul, where Health and Fitness is somewhat “owned” by the body right now. 🤷‍♀️

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I agree, Roxanne. Healing does seem to encompass more as opposed to fitness and food. Sometimes I want to just switch to Philosophy but that feels like it wouldn't reach who might actually be into what I'm writing. I do use the Culture category since we get to choose two and I am addressing cultural issues.

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Yep! I defaulted to Culture and Philosophy AND they don’t do the job for me… If people are interested in those topics and come to my Substack, I imagine they will leave…

Now that we’re talking about this, it’s as if somebody at the early platforms set these very generic, mainstream topics without really understanding the gist of it all and Substack could really take the lead on establishing a whole new mindset for categorizing content. I’m hopeful they take this on and maybe even have a short-term advisory group to assist. I am available as words have so much power! Writers understand this.

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Yes. words do have so much power! I think this platform is simply evolving and you never know what people will write until us writers get on here and get going. Somehow things evolve and hopefully we can find the right wave to help us along, so we are not washed under (I went for a walk by the ocean today so I guess we're having a water-themed metaphor!)

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Hi Sue, I would like to know if there is a perfect category for those who cross into many fields. I could be in the self-help, psychology, or human experience category. Still, many other areas pop up in my writings, as occurred in my professional career, where I ended up calling my work holistic or integrative. The answer might be in the evolution of your articles and themes. I came up with a new category for myself—Idiot. As I fell into a scam and almost lost my bank account. See my article on my Mind Wise: https://www.inmindwise.com/p/a-criminal-syndicate-scammed-me-with

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Just placing a vote for "Healing" and I also feel like Wellbeing is more inclusive of both health / wellness and personal growth / healing. My Substack is about my cancer journey, but as it is a look back for insights versus a current journey, it's much more aligned with the idea of personal growth and healing. The vast majority of my readers are not cancer patients but not sure there is a better categorization.

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Non-denominational, personal growth perhaps, spirituality is not faith and yada yada. 🤓

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Just posted something similar in this feed! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one.

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Hello, Katie and Substackers,

In less than a month, my new site Chasing Nature has become a “Substack Bestseller” and cracked the top 20 in the paid “Climate & Environment” category (which has been tremendously gratifying). Beyond recommendations and collaboration with other writers, I’m wondering how posts might get noticed or selected for “Staff Picks” and what it takes to become a "Featured" site, or whether you might suggest other ways to be found by readers on the network Thanks!

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Hi Bryan, congrats on a great first month and becoming a bestseller! Our team is always keeping an eye on what's happening across Substack. We aim to feature writers on our homepage who are going deep into a clear topic and exemplify best practices, like posting regularly and engaging with readers. I just flagged their publication with them in case they missed it.

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Got it. Thanks!

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Just to say Hi from UK ... Happy New Year of course ... signed up a while ago .. just doing some work on my Substack this month..

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Happy new year, Chris!

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