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The Substack team, and your fellow writers, are here to help! Drop your questions in the discussion 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. PST / 1 p.m.–2 p.m. EST. We encourage writers to stick around after the hour and continue the conversation together.
Some product updates and reminders from the Substack team:
Search: Discovering great writing is a simple search away. From the Substack web inbox, readers can search keywords to find posts, publications, and people. At the publication level, a search button is now prominently featured on web in the top right corner. When searching keywords, the top three relevant posts will appear.
Chat: Recent updates make it easier to start conversations with existing subscribers. When posting a new chat, you can toggle to also send it out to your subscribers via email. When sharing a new post, podcast, or video, you can instantly start a conversation in Chat by automatically sharing the link with a caption in your chat. Learn more.
Serialization: In a recent post,
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Hello all, and happy Office Hours! Here's a little bit of encouragement from one small newsletter to all of you:
It's just a little too easy to be self-critical, isn't it? Especially as a creative person. Many writers have the unfortunate habit of trying to bully ourselves into productivity and inspiration. Does that work? Maybe...but not for long. No one likes to be pushed around! In case you need it, here's a reminder that bullying yourself doesn't work. To stay consistent in your creativity, you need to be gentle and gracious with yourself. Spend time nourishing your instincts and creative hygiene. Recognize your own flow. Read, rest, and spend time looking at something other than a computer sometimes. When you care about yourself, you'll cultivate a much healthier relationship to productivity, and your community will be drawn to your compassionate authenticity!
Keep going, keep writing, and DON'T GIVE UP! 🌿
Are we all in a Substack bubble? 🧼
I love writing on Substack. Authors like us, which are also readers, are very supportive. We comment, we engage, we recommend.
But sometimes I ask myself if this is somehow limiting. If we are closing up in our own protected world. Struggling to find people that might end up economically supporting what we write. Like coaches that end up talking with fellow coaches, instead of finding clients.
Happy to know what you experience is!
P.s.: thanks for being here and reading this! ;)
Thanks to @Rob Henderson for plugging one of my recent posts. It doubled my subscriber base in 72 hours. It appears there is indeed a network effect once you get to 250 or more subscribers. I now get 2-5 new subscribers per day. Up to 318! Write well and often early on and comment on high profile pubs it may take six months...but it does work...
Ending January with just 3 subscribers short of 300!
Contrary to popular advice, I never niched down, didn't really hustle that much, and just wrote and published (hopefully) better and better stuff. At times I wasn't consistent, I opened and closed sections, took breaks, posted on social and kept silent for weeks. In the end of the day, it was slow but sustainable growth that brought me readers that always cheer me up with their messages and comments.
I did feel discouraged at many points of this journey. So my best advice would be: Write. Publish. Try to be better with each issue. And have some fun along the way!
If you look in your heart of hearts, what is your true end goal for your publication?
For most of you, is it to make a living off of your Substack? I am happy doing mine on the side as a creative expression, but sometimes the success stories from Substack actually make me feel a little critical of myself despite my best efforts.
Is anyone else happy to chug along with a small readership? Or are you truly committed in hopes you find your audience and it all takes off? ⚡️
I wish the chat feature was available in the web version. Most of my subscribers aren't substackers so they don't use the app.
Finding it hard to be productive with a bunch of social obligations this week, but reposted an old blog post I wrote about Latvian ethnographic symbols, which was fun to revisit.
Hi, it looks like Substack has expanded the categories; I'm happy to see Health & Wellness as a category now. Any way we can have staff consider a particular newsletter for a category? Of course, I'd love to have mine spotlighted in Health & Wellness, and I also can recommend some. thanks
Wow, 95 weeks later and here's another Writer Office Hours. An opportunity to engage with other creators on Substack and learn and grow with them. So thankful for this platform!
Serialization, you wonder, now that's an interesting concept. I wonder if there are other fiction writers that I can talk to about serialization? Why yes, there are a lot of us, 1200+ to be specific, hanging out over on Fictionistas, talking about that sort of thing and much more. We have zoom calls, including upcoming writing prompt parties, our own office hours (next one is January 31), and we're a welcoming, lively bunch. Stop on by, subscribe (for free) and enjoy the community.
hi all I hit a big milestone today - 2177 subscribers - and so I wrote about it here - https://botharetrue.substack.com/p/how-i-grew-this-newsletter-from-56
thought yall might dig some of the stuff in there maybe I know how much I dig reading other people's posts on this stuff
I just turned on payments on my publication. I decided to go with a "everything is free but donations are appreciated" model. I've only been writing my weekly newsletter for a little over a month. My question is, did I turn on payments too soon? Should I have waited until I grew a bigger audience?
Hello Substack. May I ask, what is the criterion for being listed on the Discover tab of the Substack Reader app? Number of subscribers? Level of notability? Paid/unpaid options?
I ask because my publication is not listed. And I'm certain others might be interested to know also. Many thanks for your time.
Fellow Substackers, I'd love to know what you offer as part of your paid newsletter v's free.
I've considered an option to upgrade to paid, but just not sure what to offer that 1) adds value to the reader, and 2) doesn't distract from my main business (an online course/community).
Interested to hear what creative things others are offering to paid subscribers.
I am actually making a considerable change to paid subscriptions starting in March. My next book is going to be a camping memoir that I started five years ago. I will share a work-in-progress chapter each month until it is published as a way to promote the book. I am also going to save "spicier" takes for paid subscribers, things I want to write but have been afraid to write for a general public.
Love these Thursdays! I learn so much every week and find so many interesting newsletters. So much to read, so little time!
Just wanted to let you all know--especially the Substack beginners--that I've published a short tutorial on how to get your first post out there.
I'm not in any way competing with Substack's own excellent How To. This is just me remembering the terror I felt when I first started, and putting together a short series that might demystify the process.
You can find it here: https://writereverlasting.substack.com/p/exploring-the-mysteries-of-substack
I had posted a question last office hours that never got a response: Why don't you allow writers to use underline in the editor? It is available in most editors and it is a tool I use in my writing quite often, so it doesn't really feel like the platform is giving writers the freedom to express as we wish in the most basic way, which contradicts the motto of Substack. Even if you don't enable the feature I would appreciate an explanation why it is this way.
This must be why I woke up at this forsaken time of 3:30am. Just wondering if there is ever an office hours that suits non-US audience? I'm in Australia, for example, and an office hours a few hours later would be wonderful. Thanks.
Really happy to be here (and awake despite it being past midnight where I am) I run a literary zine in the form of a newsletter on substack called The Abandoned Dreams Collective. I'm currently looking for other writers who are looking to expand their reach through collaborations and cross posting. Please reach out if you're interested. Happy to answer any questions also
Hi everyone! I'm brand new to Substack -- I've been publishing Dear Fiction (https://dearfiction.substack.com) for a few weeks now. I absolutely love the format. I'm a longtime journalist and three-time novelist so I'm very comfortable writing but... What I'm struggling with is how to attract readers! What is the most effective way you've been able to grow your audience? I find that it's really challenging to get readers off social media and on to your Substack so social media hasn't been all that helpful. If any of you could weigh in, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks so much!!
I have a simple question. When I schedule my posts to be published, I don't get the media assets, which I enjoy. They used to be auto generated when I published a post on the spot, and I haven't been able to figure out another way to generate them in my dashboard. How can I schedule my posts in advance and still get the media assets for them?
Hey you all..Happy Thursday:) I wanted to share a very special note with all the writers and authors here.
I gathered all of my feelings today and sent a really remarkable newsletter and deep personal story about my move from India's countryside to a brand-new city. The story recounts the most crucial and influential episode in my life, which utterly transformed me. I am glad I could reflect back and pour my feelings into my writing and share it with you all on this amazing platform. I firmly believe that some people enter our lives for a good reason, so I want to send the word to everyone here to keep working hard as you undoubtedly are doing now and to have confidence in yourself. Keep grinding hard and one day the magic will appear because you are already accomplishing great things without even realising it. Remember to look back on your life and understand how far you have come. Thanks to each and everyone of you for showing love and support.
For someone that only has a handful of followers what would be your top 2-3 recommendations on the must-dos to grow the list?
Question for Substack staff: Is there any notifications setting I can adjust so that I don't get a notification every time someone comments on a writer office hours thread that I also commented on, even when their comment is not a reply to mine and has nothing to do with what I posted?
I've had over 50 notifications in the hour or so I've been here today and it's time-consuming to wade through them to see if any are actually replies to me or related in any way to what I wrote.
Hi everybody! I’m getting my question in early since I’ve got to go to a rehearsal during the official office hours.
QUESTION: Does anyone on here work with sponsors (assuming that’s permitted)? I’m thinking of approaching one or two local businesses to see whether they might be interested in sponsoring my newsletter, but I’m totally new to the idea….
Love your new prompts to go paid. Here's an issue that many of us have: People who subscribe for months, years, and never pay anything, even in response to discounts and, in a couple of cases offers to comp! One Substacker (I know who she is, but no need to dwell on it) threatened to bump such people, and then did it. Her audience seems to be growing, but then she was a Substack fellow or some such, so I won't make a false correlation between her growth and her getting tough. I have no plans to do likewise, but it would be great if Substack could play the meanie: You get X months free, and then it's cough up, talk to your writer (encouraged) or shove off. We're not talking poor people here: The rich are the worst. Said it.
Delenda est Carthago! Please translate the UI (portuguese, in my case). This is urgent! This os easy. This is a must! Losing A LOT of potential paid subscribers.
Any chance that we will be able to have more than one video clip per post soon? Mine are usually less than a minute long. THANKS!
Is there a way to have private posts within a public newsletter along the lines of previews in a paid newsletter or is it all or nothing? All public or all private?
Related, the landing page for a private blog is still public on the web but hidden on an author's profile and doesn't come up in Substack Search. Is there any way to make a private newsletter discoverable on the platform or only on web? Thanks.
I am working with substack on this issue but wanted to know if anyone else has had this happen. I have a subscriber who always opens my newsletter multiple times, like more than 200 times. This week they opened it 26,664 times 14 clicks and 24 devices. Nobody reads my stuff that much(!) so stats are way off. Has anyone else had this happen to them and what did you do about it? Thanks!
I can’t work out how writers feature other writers and it pulls through. I can @ people but I can’t see a function to link to their newsletter properly? Are people paying the url in?
Hi everyone! I'm thinking a lot about how to improve the formatting and art for the newsletter... any tips or advice on design? Hope you're all having a productive week! Oh, and just got my first invite to give a paid lecture on my Substack.... in two weeks at Clemson, if any of you are are in South Carolina! :)
4th time asking, didn't get an answer before. When will Substack deal with the sales tax that many authors with paid newsletters are required to collect, but don't realize it and Substack doesn't bother to warn them about it or provide the information they'd need to do so? The incompetent support response was that authors should talk to tax experts: but the issue is that Substack does *not* provide the information necessary to deal with sales tax so Substack *needs* to address this.
This article from last year says:
"There are 28 states that tax digital products."
Some states require a remote out of state seller to collect taxes for them if they have a "nexus" there, which they often define as meeting a certain sales threshold. Often the $ volume is high: but the number of transactions to be forced to collect sales tax for another state is low. Some can be reached by 200 transactions: which is 17 subscribers for 12 months each. Here is a list:
Authors aren't told how many subscribers live in each state to figure this out.
Has Substack considered a collective subscription? People have mentioned not wanting to pay for a single newsletter. I think it could be cool if newsletters could collaborate to create collective subscriptions, that way people feel like they are getting more for their money. And who knows maybe these collectives could start acting like home grown newspapers!
I guess I jumped the gun by posting without introducing myself. I am new to this. I have worked in the field of Metrology for more than 50 years. Now in case you are wondering what the heck that is, it's the science and art of Measurement. It is a field that deals with every aspect of our lives.
I am starting to write because I need an avenue to convey my thoughts and express myself before my time runs out, passing on my experience to those interested.
In closing I am glad to be part of Substack and a question for everyone. How do you know when you buy a gallon of milk, you are actually getting a gallon? Another is if your doc gives you shot, was it the dosage?
Have a great day everyone!
It’s been nice to get back into Office Hours and see you lovely creatives here. Your work is amazing!
I would consider serializing a book on here. I already released a short story I’m really proud of ( https://theflare.substack.com/p/ithaka-chapter-one ) and plan to do more in the future. It’s the right amount of pressure to produce while yielding great results with engagement. I’m more J. R. R. than King so I appreciate my audience’s patience! Anyone else a slower story developer? Let’s share tips on motivation and organization!
Hey substack would it be possible to display, on the "subscribers" graph, vertical lines corresponding to publication dates? That way we could immediately see if a spike or slump in subscribers corresponded with a specific post. Thanks!
I am new to Substack. I have not hit the publish button. Still trying to set up. Is there a way to see what a subscriber would see and experience? There are different setting areas for things and really like to see it all. Is there a user guide at all?
Hi Substackers! Any illustrators here today?!
Who is using AI enablers to author? I've found Perplexity AI, ChatGPT, Grammarly and WordTune are great ways to get editing, references, and even counter-arguments to make my writing better.
I don't rely on it to be creative because I already investigated that with ChatGPT in this essay. But creativity is what makes our work special!
Hello fellow Substackers! I'd love to hear your thoughts on how many other writers you support with paid subscriptions. I value each newsletter and all the work that goes into it and I also acknowledge that I cannot financially support them all. There are some interesting questions to ponder around capitalism here too but perhaps that is for another day. ;)
Hi all, I just wanted to comment because I got possibly the best feedback yet on my Substack this week - so many email responses mostly or messages sent privately to me on instagram. Obviously, that means a lot, but it seems hard to convince people who don't know this platform to come in here and comment, like etc. I do tell them to, but they seem reluctant. Let me know if anyone has tips! https://tamzin.substack.com/p/i-am-two-people
Also, what do the different colored symbols that appear above the activity bell? They are not just red spots anymore. Thanks.
would love to find other creative/parenting substacks to follow and engage with and collaborate! what are your favorites?
On the topic of serialization, is there a way to tag multiple blog entries into a series? Or provide categories? I have numbers in the title of each of my newsletters. Is there an alternative to creating a page manually to group serialized newsletters together for readers?
I've had tremendous growth since starting two months ago, so needless to say, I'm a huge fan of the platform. That said, almost all my traffic comes from Twitter. Any advice on best practices to get growth from the Substack network itself?
Hi. I'm loving Substack but have a question about spam filters. Quite a few of my friends didn't see my initial few posts because they had gone to the promotions folder on their Gmail. Is there anything I can do as a writer to reduce the chances of that happening, or is it a case of Substack talking to the Gmail spam team?