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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 reminders and celebrations from the Substack team:
Milestones. Congrats to
In case you missed it. In the most recent Grow interview
Got questions about Substack or feedback about a feature or tool? You’re in the right place! Leave a comment in this thread.
Next week we’ll take a break from Office Hours as usual for our monthly Shoutout Thread. RSVP so you don’t miss it.
Who's celebrating a milestone? Tell us what you are celebrating and the sharpest piece of advice you have to share with fellow writers about growing up to this point.
Thank you for coming to Office Hours today! The Substack team is signing off today but we'll be back next week for our monthly Office Hours.
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See you next week,
Katie, Bailey, Helen and Tania
A wee bit of advice for anyone thinking "why should anyone care about my writing when it's not Super Important And Timely":
First: your nerdy passion for your chosen topic has value, and that value can’t be erased by comparisons to other topics of writing. You know this deep down - it’s why you care so much - but the desperate noisy urgency of the rest of the world (eg. the news) can easily drown it out and make you forget why it's worth caring about.
And secondly: the enthusiasm you can bring to your chosen subject has value to other people *beyond* what you’re writing about. If you show up with infectious energy, you’ll have readers who don’t give a damn about, I dunno, teapots, or Greek poetry, or music, but absolutely love that YOU do, in the madly exuberant way that you do. "If only there were more people who enthusiastically cared about their stuff instead of complaining about other people and their work," they’ll think. And they’ll be absolutely right. The world needs both - but right now, I’d say enthusiasm is under-represented (except maybe on Substack).
So - maybe you could start a…what? Enthusiasm-letter? Fun-letter? Nerd-letter? I don’t know what you’d call it. But it wouldn’t be a "news"-letter as such. It also might have nothing to do with breaking headlines, but it could be exactly what someone needed to read, right that very second, and make a total stranger feel like today was worth getting out of bed for, so tomorrow might be as well. A "hope"-letter, maybe?
Make it fun to read with your wild enthusiasm, and you never know who you'll end up helping.
Hello all, and happy Office Hours! Here's a little bit of encouragement from one small newsletter to all of you:
Do you ever feel like the advice to "write consistently" makes you feel worse about yourself as a writer? It's tough to stay consistent with anything, let alone a craft like writing. Yes, there are lots of examples of writers who are able to exercise their creative muscles every single day, but what about the writers who have families to care for, or multiple jobs, or chronic illnesses/mental health struggles that keep them away from the page?
Here's what I say: consistency is rhythm. And your rhythm is your own. Only YOU get to decide what rhythm works best for you. Some music is fast and frequent, others slow and methodical. Whatever your rhythm is, it's the right one. Move gently and intentionally, and develop your own pace. Tell us your rhythm below, and let's see how much variety exists in the writing world!
Most importantly: keep going, keep writing, and DON'T GIVE UP! 🌿
I'm going to be turning on paid subscribers tomorrow. Very excited for this big milestone! (Also for anyone interested, I'm giving any writers a free annual subscription if they subscribe before tomorrow)
I recently passed 1000 subscribers. My advice is write the newsletter you want to read. If you can, build up a stockpile of newsletters and schedule them as far in advance as you can so you don’t feel deadline pressure. Don’t overdo it and burnout. Quality is truly better than quantity. Enjoy it and stick with it.
Reaching 100 subscribers after launching my Substack last month.
Hey friends! Funny thing happened last week: I took a break from writing like a Very Important Person and posted a fluff piece about stuff I posted on my local Buy Nothing site. I thought it would be ignored, but it was a bigger hit than I anticipated, and it reminded me to not take myself too seriously. The bigger reminder is to love what you write and write for yourself. It will come through.
Hi all! I'm celebrating 6 months of Noted and 2000+ subscribers! I'm still shocked that so many people are interested in notes and notebooks.
What I learned: Substack community > other social media sites.
Question of the day: Do you think about Likes/Shares/Comments as Votes of Support (as an alternative or in addition to financial support) or do you use them more as Stamps of Approval (when you really like a particular post for quality or content or creativity)?
In last week's thread around how we invest and support in others' work, there was an overarching desire to support more writers and it has me wondering how we can do that outside of our financial limitations. And are we overlooking engagement as a really meaningful tool....
I'm really pleased with a milestone that I hadn't realised I was after: I hit 50 likes on a post for the first time. I was thrilled! Seems that the trick had been simply to tell my readers: 'I love you'! 😉
My milestone happened this month - two years on Substack, 110 articles, and 480 subscribers. That's a dream coming true. I think my advice is to be persistent and not give up - even if you are discouraged. I started with one subscriber - me - slow and steady has gotten my further than I thought possible.
Wonderful question, Katie. I'm now averaging two to three paid subscribers a week. Sometimes they're upgrades and sometimes they're new. Either way, it makes me happy. I also received a recommendation from a beloved author who has one of my fav ever Substacks, so that was super lovely.
I recently interviewed the brilliant Ross Gay about his relationship with his writing and perhaps this quote might help some of us with ours. It did the trick for me!
"I was just talking about this with a student today. Even if it's not what you would write now, I feel like if the questions are honest, and the confusion is sincere, it's always going to be interesting. And even though I read stuff that I've written, and I think, “Oh yeah, I would change that,” I'm still for the most part, thinking, “pretty neat questions though, and you clearly were trying to make these words just right.”
Haha. I'm always trying to make the words just right!
Advice? Hang in there. Truly. Things do slowly (or sometimes quickly!) build.
Last week I posted about my struggle with writing consistency. And willingness to give up.
I have received a lot of support and suggestions.
And realised I need to “Keep things special” 💫
To rediscover the beauty in what I do. And discontinue what is not serving me anymore.
I’ve now found new motivation. And written a short piece to celebrate what I have been through 🙏
I wish you could keep things special too. And keep writing. We need you!
First substantive post this week, one that I’m very happy with. Still trying to expand readers beyond friends/family.
Celebrating my first week on Substack, and prepping for week two! I'm excited to see how it goes from here. That's the only milestone so far, but I'm pleased all the same.
After writing Kindness Magnet for 1 year, I hit the pause button. I wanted to reflect on what I had written and whether or not I was living what I wrote about. When I hit pause there were 423 subscribers. Today, with no additional writing, there are 575 subscribers reading the 52 weeks of archives. I still get comments from people who feel inspired by what they read. And guess what? Those readers have shown me that there's more to write. I feel energized and grateful and ready to help more people build kindness habits! Celebratory relaunch coming in April, thanks to my readers.
I share this to show that there are people out there who care about what you write. Combine your enthusiasm (thank you Mike Snowden) with your knowledge that you are making a difference.....and keep writing. Make your own milestones!
I’m doing well with subscribers, adding about 100/month, which is amazing and unexpected. Added a paid tier a little over a month ago and subs and free trials are creeping in slowly. That’s exactly what I expected. This Sunday, in my weekly money edition, I’m looking at the conditions needed for viral growth. My takeaway? Be your real self and be patient- I learned from growing a strong following on Medium that the first 100 followers or subscribers here will be the hardest. Once you pass that milestone more people are likely to share, more of those people subscribe and that process just keeps multiplying, if you stick to a schedule. You have to be consistent and not take anything negative personally! M
I got my first 30 subscribers and 100 views on my fav post. Small numbers, but this new seed is growing strong roots!
Hi, I am wondering what people think about multi-topic substacks. My substack started off as part of a music project, then became more about writing towards a book idea but is also a newsletter for my subscribers. I have sections for different topics and I don't email out everything I write as I don't want to spam people! Do you think I should stick to one format and topic, I think I'm may be confusing my readers (and myself!) - thanks
I have just passed 200 subscribers!
Wow! Just wow. Thank you for mentioning my milestone in Office Hours!
Very happy with Substack....600 subscribers and 10 Paid. My question is when my newsletter is sent direct to my subscribers, can I make it go direct to there InBox, rather than get filtered to their Updates or Promotions? Is that just a matter of how they set up their Filters and Labels? Thanks. Bill https://illustratedjournalism.substack.com/
I just started my 2nd year. Did not reach the goal of outputting as much as articles as originally planned. Yet, i am happy to have made it. It's helped me grow and given me the freedom to write the pieces that i've wanted to. Still trying to find my audience.
Happy Thursday! To those that are new, or even not new, remember!
"Slow is smooth and smooth is fast!" Keep writing, keep getting better, and don't worry about those numbers as much. There are a lot of people writing, and I won't deny, I'd love to read from more people but even my inbox is getting full! But keep getting better because I find I'm learning so much just by being here that it's helping my career in general! I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you've learned by writing thus far!
My question this week has to do with unsubscribes. First, let me say I’ve never worried about them and I don’t take them personally. I’ve unsubscribed from plenty of eLetters myself over the years—we can’t read everything that everyone writes! I try to manage what I’m able to read vs write vs everything else.
So here’s the context for the question: I have not had a single unsubscribe since I launched my Substack in January. It wasn’t until I published this piece about an older Latino gentleman I’ve been quietly helping, that the “email disablements” came in. To be fair, it could just be a coincidence. And it was only 5 unsubscribes, nothing to worry about. But it does make me wonder—and ask the community here, have you noticed any trends or cause-and-effect anecdotes about unsubscribe spikes you’ve seen after you publish a specific piece?
One could argue that this piece has nothing to do with “creativity, ingenuity, and deep potential of humans in an AI-obsessed world” but in fact, it has everything to do with it. We cannot lose our humanity in what is increasingly becoming a tech-driven society. We must insist on it. And the way the local community came together is living proof that we can maintain our humanity.
I passed one thousand subscribers about a month ago. One day at a time. Sometimes they come in bunches, other times it’s a person to person thing. I like to post what I think are useful, brief comments on other Substacks, which also sometimes collects the stray new subscriber.
Developmental editor here. If you're feeling stuck in your writing, comment below with a link to a Substack piece you thought would soar but maybe landed differently. And I'll do my best to read and share some specifics on what might help in the future.
Hi everyone! Question for this week: I am still ironing out my paid offering, and I am struggling with a certain tension: I want to provide my paid readership with my best work (they paid, after all!), but it also pains me to put my best work behind a paywall! How do people think about this tension? What have you landed on?
I currently write weekly shorter essays for my free readership, and longer literary essays monthly for my paid readership. The longer essays are my bread and butter, they are what I love to do, and they take weeks or months to develop. It seems natural that these are the work product that I should charge for. But then having worked so long on them, I am also so sad to only send them to a small percentage of my readers. I would like to add threads and more community features to my paid offering soon, but I think my paid readership is still a little too small for those to be robust right now.
I would love any insight into what others have done, and where you have landed with your paid offering!
I'm finally back here after a month long absence. I missed the community and reading you all!
Hoping to publish weekly from now on, which is a big challenge for me :)
A huge issue for me always has been that if I find myself struggling to maintain a commitment I just leave it. I decided there's no problem coming back after an accidental break.
February marks six months of consecutive posting for "the reinspired life! https://catherinehpalmer.substack.com/
Time to accelerate the frequency! Any other midlife women reinventors out there?
Hey Substack! I wrote an article discussing Substack and the Product Life Cycle, and I've been eager to share it. You can find it here:
Many of us come to these office hours and ask "how can I grow?" and "what is the best way to get paid subscribers?" It's easy to look at the other writers and compare ourselves to them, and think they they have something we don't.
What is missing is a good way of thinking about the whole life cycle of a newsletter. The Product Life Cycle offers insights for new substacks just starting out, up-and-coming substacks starting to grow, or firmly established substacks just hitting their stride. The recent Substack Grow article has some excellent graphs and you can see how Melinda Wenner Moyer navigated from Introduction Phase to Growth Phase and seems to perhaps be in a maturity phase now.
The moral of the story: Don't fall into the trap of comparing your newsletter to others. Think about the life cycle, where you *are now*, and the strategies it will take to help you grow.
I hope you check out the article and I hope it offers some insights for you all! Thank you and God Bless!
I've been on Substack for about a month now and love it! I recently hit 150 subscribers, mostly family and friends and friends of friends. My site is about how to live with adversity in our daily lives.
I've been reading the grow series and enjoy learning about what has worked to get subscriptions to the next level.
Question for the group: once you have passed the "family and friends" stage of signups (and hit a subscription plateau), what have you found to be the most useful techniques to continue growth? I know that using social media, posting consistently and engaging with other Substack writers are great options. I'm reaching that phase now. Just curious what others have done.
One thing that has worked for me so far: sending personalized emails to people in my network and those who might be interested in the topic. Slightly more time consuming but I'm finding people appreciate the outreach.
I'm interested in a variety of topics - history, science, sports, psychology, health, self-help, etc. If you have an interesting Substack send it my way!
I am starting to post twice per week on my Substack. "A Struggling Mom" is growing and I want to give out more helpful content for parents and moms that's relatable and useful!
Right now my focus is on posting the best content possible for my current subscribers.
Do writers who upload files like PDFs for their content get back end stats? Such as how many people have downloaded this file?
Also -- I am planning on creating a collective publication here on Substack for memoir. I have a number of other memoirists already interested. Please contact me if you are writing memoir on Substack.
@Substack we would love a Memoir category on the Explore page!
I'm working on this being my goal and also being more honest and vulnerable with my writing.
Does anyone have a good metric to measure what % of my subscribers should be paying subscribers? 1%? 10%?
One other milestone: My first AMA on developmental editing in the Substack chat app went well. A handful of paid subscribers showed up and asked questions about publishing and also starting a Substack. Sometimes the chat app can feel like crickets chirping in the woods, but this time felt meaningful.
Words resemble clothing.
When new and unfamiliar, you have to try them on for size.
More here: https://www.whitenoise.email/p/words-wardrobes-and-worlds
Congrats to Mason Currey and Michael Estrin! 🎉🥳
I know there are a lot of authors here, so I just want to say you really should look at Melinda Wenner Moyer's Grow Interview (link in the post👆). I'm an author too, and I've had a little success selling books through my newsletter, but I learned SO MUCH reading that Grow interview! It's really great.
I'm celebrating many milestones. My advice to all novelists and memoirists serializing or thinking about serializing your work is to learn the form. I see so many writers making the mistake of just putting chapters up on Substack and sending them to their email lists. That’s not serialization and if you haven’t had success is likely why.
Serialization is an art form. I’m a creative writing professor at Northwestern and Ph.D. who loves the form and Substack and wants to see serialization and you thrive! (I'm taking George Saunders's lead and bringing my expertise outside of academia to writers who need it.)
Join me at Serialize: https://serialize.substack.com/
Currently gearing up for doing some one year anniversary specials on my substack. How have/will you guys celebrate your own substack anniversaries?
We are a newsletter that compares historical events to modern times and are still relatively new but eager to grow. We have a few questions, and would appreciate any advice or insights:
1.) We have found that our emails often get sorted into "promotions" on gmail. Apart from asking subscribers to whitelist our email address, are there phrases/word length/anything else we should avoid to prevent this trigger?
2.) How useful is recommendations to getting new subscibers? For newbies, how exactly does it work?
3.) How does Substack choose its featured writers? Is there a submission process?
Thanks again for reading, and we are all ears for any tips or advice. Other than that, happy (almost) weekend to everyone.
Hello out there !
I have just started on here and would love any help or tips or critical looks at my blog so far. I have never done anything like this and I am just going for it ! I am a songwriter based in Dublin and I have decided to write my many frustrations down in a blog to eventually accompany my upcoming album release. Again any help would be much appreciated..x
I'd like to grow my Substack subscribers list, but am wondering if there is an effective way to do so without divulging too much in the social media marketing tactic? I've had some unfortunate situations occur on social media (I've had my photos stolen 3x by people who impersonated me), so I tend to stay more private on those platforms.
I have a newsletter called "THE GREAT AWAKENING" which central point of discussion is how humanity is rushing toward annihilation and how we can ensure our survival on this planet.
We have many problems at hand - overpopulation, climate crisis, nuclear threat, animal cruelty, etc. We are creating hell on this beautiful planet and the reason is not this or that political party or economic system. The most fundamental reason is our current relationship with thought; our ego; our false sense of "I." That's the root.
Apart from talking about all these crises, all the propaganda we go through, we will also talk about spirituality (not in today' sense) because only that can transcend humanity into being a more conscious species.
If it sounds interesting to you, check here:
I made my first post two weeks ago on thepodgest.com. It summarizes popular podcasts such as the All-In podcast. It seems that content rich podcasts (such as business or finance) are too technical, so to speak, to listen to once and understand (and remember). So, this substack summarizes the material in bullet points. How do I let the listeners to this particular podcast know that this substack is available? Should I just post the link under the YouTube video? What do other writers do to get the word out?
Great to be here again. These weeks fly by!
In my post out just 5 mins ago I set out ways you can retire early!
I really enjoyed writing this one. Turned into one of my longest posts. I hope you enjoy.