Have questions about publishing, growing, or going paid on Substack?
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:
SEO. In part informed by writer requests at Office Hours, our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) team is working hard to make sure your posts get indexed and are searchable so you can focus on writing. Today we drive 60% more subscriptions on posts from search than we did last year. To learn more about search engine optimization tools, visit our new guide to SEO.
Welcome page. Your welcome page helps turn new visitors into free and paid subscribers. After investigating, we determined that showing the number of subscribers on a publication’s welcome page can drive a +10% lift in free and paid subscriptions. We also know this is a sensitive topic for writers, so we’ve made this text customizable. For any publication with more than 1,000 total subscribers, we've updated the Welcome page to include your total number of subscribers. You can always adjust or hide your subscriber number in your Settings.
Got questions about Substack or feedback about a feature or tool? You’re in the right place! Leave a comment in this thread.
We host Office Hours every week at the same time and place every Thursday. Save it to your calendar so you don’t miss it.
Lots of Office Hours writers let us know that they didn't like the "No thanks" language on your Welcome Page.
So we shipped a change that allows people to customize this language. If you want to change the "no thanks" language there back to "Let me read it first" text, you can now do that via your Settings page.
Just as a little reminder: we originally made this text change because "No thanks" performed better in terms of creating sign ups for writers. So if that matters to you it may make sense to keep "no thanks" or at the very least be careful about what customizable language you add - checking to see how it impacts your sign ups. That page is very important for your publication's growth!
Hope that helps. Thanks for the feedback, all!
Thanks for joining us today at Office Hours. The Substack team is signing off but we encourage you to continue the conversation with one another here.
If you still have questions, visit our:
Resource Center for strategic guidance and expert tips - https://substack.com/resources
Support Center for technical walkthroughs of how the product works - https://support.substack.com/hc/en-us
See you next week,
Katie, Bailey, Zoe, Elijah, Jared, Christina, and Sachin
Hello all, and happy Office Hours! Here's a little bit of encouragement from one small newsletter to all of you:
Do you get caught up in the comparison game? Do you see other writers doing the things you do, or the things you want to do, and think, "Ugh, there's no room for me and my work." Here's some amazing news: the people we compare ourselves to aren't our competition. They are our *community*. They are people we can learn from, collaborate with, and look to for motivation. Knowing that others are doing similar things doesn't mean that there's less pie to go around. It means that the pie is bigger than you thought!
Whatever you do, don't let the comparison game rob you of your joy and purpose. Instead, let it light a fire under you to keep pursuing your passion, because the audience is out there, waiting for you to share what you've got!
Keep going, keep writing, and DON'T GIVE UP! 🌿
Hello everyone! Quick tip for everyone who posts during office hours, and then can't find their post or replies:
As soon as you make a comment, your comment shows up with a timestamp. If you click on the timestamp, it brings you to a page that shows just your comment and any replies. You can bookmark this page, or just leave it open in a separate tab. That way you won't have to scroll through 1,000+ comments to find your comments and replies.
For example, here's a link to an individual comment from last week's office hours: https://on.substack.com/p/office-hours-67/comment/12652654
Sustack feature request: please make comment notifications link to individual comments, rather than to the overall thread.
I'm looking forward to having the "over 1,000 subscribers" on my welcome page. At 881, it's a slow climb. I love this platform. H
Hello Everyone! If you have specific questions about writing fiction on Substack, or are looking for a like-minded community of fiction writers, then I suggest you check out Fictionistas.
We're now over 1200 subscribers strong, have our own office hours, zoom calls, prompt parties, guest posts, writing challenges... it's getting wild! We're a laid back, open group, ready to help you succeed on Substack.
I know just enough about SEO to know I don't want to think about it so I appreciate that someone else is.... thank you, Substack! Would love to reach 1,000 subscribers in 2023. Here's to #NewsletterGoals. :)
I hate hopping into the office hours and just talking about my own Substack, but... I DO want to share something exciting!! Little Things was featured in Fortune today, specifically a post I wrote this fall about embracing your "down cycles" -- https://fortune.com/2023/02/16/how-to-feel-ambitious-wintering/?winter The article discusses the ebbs and flows in a creative life and how we can learn to embrace and accept the inevitable shifts.
The article also discusses the concept Wintering, and of course Katherine May, the author of the book Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, has her own amazing Substack, too! -- https://katherinemay.substack.com. (Hooray, I made it not entirely about myself!)
Do you think you could add a few more categories? Such as “Personal Essay”. None of the present categories really work for me.
I'm gratified to have just passed 400 subscribers and I'd like the option to display that on my Welcome Page as well. Showing no figure leaves it to the potential subscriber's imagination, which means they could assume you've got 10 subscribers or a thousand.
Empowering all publications of all sizes to make the determination of what to display for themselves would be more equitable for everyone.
Thank you for giving us the ability to change that "No thanks" text on the welcome page!
Hi everyone! I'd like to share a tip for promoting your work and ask for a small feature change.
The tip. Your subheadings are sharable. If you hover over the subheads (anything that isn't normal text in the text editor's "style" drop-down menu), you'll see a link icon. Copy that link and you can share it on social media. When someone clicks on the link, it takes them directly to the subheading, as opposed to the start of the post. This is a great way to share a single element of your newsletter, or point readers to something specific you wrote in a previous post.
The feature request. Is it possible for the Substack team to make it so that the subhead link pulls the first image in that subhead? For example, if I write a post about going on an Alaskan cruise, and there's a subhead that's about the whales we saw, I'd like the subhead link to feature the picture of the whale, as opposed to the article's main image, which is of a cruise ship. Hoping that's an easy fix.
As always, thank you & keep up the great work, Substack team!
Question of the day: Whose work do you financially support? What Substack writers or Patreon creators or other creative communities do you currently invest in? And why?
Like most of us on here, I am navigating out how to make a living doing what I love. A lot of times, I (we) start by asking how we can get people to pay for our work. But I wonder if the answer begins with a different question.
A feature request: Please allow us to center text. There's a section of my weekly newsletter where I list words & phrases of the week at the top. Being able to center align that text would make that section look so much better. Thanks!
Question: where do you draft your substack posts? On substack? Or is there a software out there that has a seamless conversion to substack? Just curious because I draft my posts on Substack, but have nightmares that they'll accidentally post before the scheduled date. Or, that Substack will be down the night before a post goes live and I won't be able to make some crucial last minute edit. (I'm only kind of joking.)
Shout out to anyone serializing fiction!
Stick with it! Keep writing, editing, and publishing. It may seem thankless at times but if you're reaching even a single person who enjoys your work, it's meaningful.
See it through!
Thank you Substack for the Welcome Page update!
It is wonderful that you not only listen to feedback from your users, but act swiftly to make improvements.
Does anyone have any good examples of people who weren’t public figures/famous before Substack eventually being able to support themselves full time? I’d love to read about their stories
I said to myself this morning, "I'm way too busy to join Office Hours! I need to focus on my business." Two seconds later here I am. Why? Because, community. In the short amount of time I've been on Substack I have found kindred sisters and brothers, new worlds being created by my fellow writers and creators. A new community, new family of like-minded and like-passioned people all over the world.
We should do an offsite. :)
Has anyone else gone a bit dry with their writing or feeling a bit uninspired lately? What's your go to for motivation?
Also I'm struggling with getting my work out there. I suppose the best way to get your work out there is to self-promote! So hey, I'm Natalie and I write On the Verge, I write rambling personal essays at best that change from week to week and share recipes over on my food based newsletter 'Kitchen Diaries'.
Tell me something about your substack below! (I'd love to change up what I usually would read, so anything is welcome, really!)
Are there plans to add more categories eventually?
I would really love there to be a Mental Health category. Right now for my newsletter on ADHD, I have Culture and Health & Wellness selected, but neither of those are quite right.
Who were your favorite new substacks that you've found?
My new finds are:
Never Stop Learning
One Useful Thing
Not On Your Team, But Always Fair
I also find that The Sample is a pretty solid way to both promote, and find new content
**Also, feature request to allow tagging in these comments!
Firstly, let me reiterate that I am a fan of this platform and appreciative of the work you do to support writers. However, I have a concern:
The new “PAID” tags that appear on comments are obtrusive and grotesque. I choose not to display my subscriptions in my profile because I value my privacy. I also turn off the setting allowing my profile pic to appear when I “Like” a post. It is a far MORE egregious violation of my privacy to broadcast which newsletters I PAY FOR without my consent. I would like this feature removed immediately or an option to disable it. I similarly dislike the badge that appears beside my name when I post comments as a “Founding Member” and would also like the option to remove this. How and where I spend my $ is no one’s business. These, like the near-universally reviled checkmark badges Substack has implemented, reek of a $$$-based social credit system. These “credits” make engaging in comments distasteful and I want no part in them. Please reconsider them. I would hate having to withdraw paid support from my subscriptions.
Hi All, I think i achieved a small milestone 75 readers on my substack blog... I am happy and greatful for this. it is exciting to see so many people interested in quite a niche field of bioinformatics.
Hey, guys! Happy to finally get here on time. When plotting new issues for my newsletter, it sometimes seems to me like I'm writing about things that have nothing to do with each other, except for my interest in that particular subject at that particular point in time. My question is: how can I connect my essays, so that I create an identity for my newsletter/blog, instead of it being all over the place? Or should I just lean into that all the way, and let my voice be the driving force for new subscribers, instead of my choice of subject?
Hello! Can you share more information about how or how frequently "Most Popular" on a publication's homepage is updated? I have a story that's been my most read by hundreds of views for over a week with an equal number of likes to my listed #1, and it's not cracked the list.
Thanks for the updates on SEO capabilities. Appreciate it.
the existential crisis I have during every single office hours: https://writingbelike.substack.com/p/quick-question-i-write-about-bicycle
Hi there! Here’s my Substack: https://cheerskelley.substack.com
I know that one of the best ways to grow your Substack is to cross post on other Substacks - is there a list of all the Substacks who are accepting submissions for guest posts so that we know where we can submit / make new connections with other writers?
How many people subscribe for serialized publications and enjoy reading them as they come out?
Just selfishly collecting data over here.
Any tips on converting comp subscriptions to full paid subscribers? I decided to give away some 3 month paid subscriptions as part of my 2 year anniversary and now trying to figure out what I should do. I have a bunch of content planned for paid subscribers only now that I have some but would love suggestions.
It's nice that you can customize the Welcome page to include 'Over 1000 subscribers' but why limit it that way? Those of us with hundreds of subscribers are pretty proud of those numbers, too.
Why not add the option of 'Hundreds of Subscribers'?
I have published a free weekly newsletter for about a year in Denmark (small country, small language). I plan to go to pay-mode shortly. Subscribers have gone up at a regular pace, but after I published yesterday's newsletter (nothing special compared to other weeks) I have had an enormous increase - 4-500 new subscribers in 24 hours. Any explanation?
Not a day goes by that I don't lament I didn't land here sooner. (I lament a little less with every passing day, though.)
Cheers, everybody. Write on ...
Hello everyone! 🙌
I don’t have any questions, just want to leave a comment.
I live in Japan and it’s 3AM here.
Usually I go to bed before midnight and wake up in the mornings checking these threads which are already closed.
YES this is my first time joining the thread! Super excited!
I started my Substack this year, writing about tech & business in Japan. I come from Taiwan and I write in Chinese(Traditional).
Just want to let you know that there are more and more writers start using Substack in Taiwan :D
I hope someday we can build a Substack community in Taiwan.
Btw, would be great if the estimated reading time of my 3,000 word post are not shown as “Less than a minutes.” 😆
Always learning from these amazing threads at office hour. It's insanely beautiful and helpful to see a writers community coming so strong, so supportive, so together! Just amazing and I'm so grateful 💕😊
Also a request .. can we embed or upload videos .. when I write my newsletter especially on travel , I would like to add photos and videos too
Great question! For me, finding writers doing similar work builds community! Community I really appreciate. I interview authors for my Substack. And was delighted to discover Jillian Hess' gorgeous Noted where she so thoughtfully and tenderly explores the notebooks of some of our greatest dead authors and other artists, as well as the note taking methods of living writers! I particularly loved this week's with Lady Caroline! https://jillianhess.substack.com/p/caroline-lambs-heart-break-notebook
What advice do you have for someone who doesn't have a lot of time to promote their newsletter on social media or have time to participate in social hours like this? I have a full-time job and write my newsletter on the side as a fun project, but finding it difficult to devote more time to promote it.
Hallo! I wonder whether you might fiddle with the ALT-text and image caption portal? It is difficult to enter information, and even more difficult to check and edit it, especially the ALT-text, because the entry box is tiny, and the moment you start typing it deletes what you typed before... Thanks!
I don't know. I think of it as friendly competition. I continually encounter writing here that is better than mine. I see it as a challenge to help me improve my own writing.
Hi. I followed the SEO instructions to get my account verified on Google by putting the verification code in the systems thing. Would an admin be willing to check and confirm I'm completely verified now and have optimized my SEO?
Hello! Perhaps this is a straightforward question but I’m just beginning. Does anyone have tips for converting free subscribes into paid? Do I just start create paid content and hope that folks come along?
Has anyone else gone back to work on a draft of a newsletter and found an image replaced by a gray box reading "Image Not Available." We then have to reupload the missing image.
I just wanted to share a little "behind-the-scenes" perspective on how much a word of encouragement or thoughtful comment can make to a writer.
I've been working with an editor on a draft of my manuscript, The Pattern Shop. It's a book I've been writing for almost a decade- one that's very personal for me. I was nervous to ask for feedback but knew it was the next step I needed to take on the journey toward publication.
Working with this editor has truly been an amazing experience! His generous feedback, constructive criticism and overall kindness has been such a boost to my confidence when I needed it most! Had I received a colder response or had I worked with someone who didn't seem invested in this story- it might have stopped me in my tracks.
Instead, I'm taking the next (terrifying!) step to begin pitching the story to agents with his encouragement.
As writers, we can feel like our work is just going into a black hole, that our story isn't resonating, doesn't matter, or isn't worth the effort to tell. Just one positive comment or word of encouragement can make someone else decide to keep going, keep writing, keep sharing their unique and important voice.
I hope you continue believing in yourself and remember to lift each other up! <3
What is the future of office hours? Only a few months ago, there were only a hundred comments and you answered every one. Last week there were 2000. It seems we're quickly headed to a point where it's unsustainable for your team to read every comment.
Loving the new features Substack, keep it up.
Hey Substack, love working on your platform!!! I have an analytics request that would save us a lot of time: Can you add a tab on the analytics page for each post that shows a simple chronological list of opens/reads, with the most recent open/read at the top? That way we can quickly see who the most recent reader was since the last time we looked, without having to look at each reader. It would be extremely helpful and I'm sure it would be easy to add. Please consider it -- thank you!!!
Is there a way to add specific subscribers to a section (that they opted into)?
Request to be able to send video and audio messages in my Substack Chat.