Have questions about publishing, growing, or going paid on Substack?
The Substack team, and your fellow writers, are here to help! Today, the Substack app team will be here to help answer any questions about the new Home experience in the app. 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.
Some product updates and reminders from the Substack team:
A new front page for Substack: This week we unveiled a new Home experience for the Substack app that puts new posts in an elegant reading queue at the top of the screen and pairs it with a feed that showcases the vitality of the Substack network.
If you’re enjoying the new app, invite your subscribers to read with you in the app by including the “Get the app” button in your next post.
In case you missed it: Over the past month, we’ve shared a series of posts that dive into our philosophy for building a great home for reading and how, ultimately, we believe this will help writers grow their audiences. We hope these posts make our intentions clear to both you and your readers.
How the Substack app helps writers grow
Making the internet work for writers
An algorithm for quality
A better internet for readers
Join us on our AMA tour: To celebrate this universe of great minds writing on Substack, we’re gathering a lineup of experts including Hunter Harris, Emily Oster, Joe Posnanski and more to host ask-me-anything sessions on a variety of topics ranging from parenting to pop culture, coming directly to the Explore feed in the Substack app. The first AMA is happening immediately following Office Hours today with Erik Hoel. Join us.
Got questions about Substack or feedback about a feature or tool? You’re in the right place! Leave a comment in this thread.
To help organize the conversation, please use one of the following emojis when you start a new comment.
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✏️ - when asking questions or seeking feedback from fellow writers
🟧 - when asking a question you hope the Substack team can help answer
Use your emoji keyboard or simply copy and paste the emoji at the beginning of your comment.
Just want to say that the updated app looks great!! & would love to see features that are geared more for writers (for example, I think can only access my drafts through the web browser version of Substack, unless I’m totally missing something).
🧠 Morning all! ☕ Happy Office Hours!
If you need your weekly boost, here's some words to live by:
Your goals and dreams are the ONLY north star you need to keep you on track. You don't need to compare yourself to others, compete against people who aren't even playing the same game as you are, or worry that you're not where you're supposed to be.
You are EXACTLY where you're supposed to be!
If you're here, you're growing.
So keep going!
Don't give up. Don't give in. Follow your goals, ask good questions, realign where necessary, and always KEEP WRITING. 🌿
How much could a Substack stack if a Substack could stack subs?
Hey everyone! Some amazing updates recently, thank you for continuing to support this community (:
Looking forward to discovering some new writers 🤭
🧠Hey, all! Quick word of warning. When you pay someone to help you with your Substack, make sure they’ve helped others and have gotten results. Courses too!
Ask for numbers. How many people have they helped and how? More subscribers? More paid subscribers? They should have data to show.
I want you to be smart and always get your money’s worth.
For instance, the writers I’ve worked with have doubled and tripled their subscribers, seen a sharp increase in real engagement, and been chosen as Featured Substacks. Most importantly, they’ve found purpose in their writing and direction in their careers.
I can show you stats and point you to the Substacks I’ve helped succeed. You deserve that!
And yes, I’m partly writing this because of course I want you to subscribe to Writers at Work, where I give away as much advice as I can away for free. All the guidance I offer is based on the advice Substack gave me.
And I want you to book a meeting, so I can help you in the most efficient way possible:
But I also want us all to succeed and not get hoodwinked! Substack is unlike any other platform and is the hardest to succeed in. Get the right help—and draw on Office Hours and your fellow writers.
Getting this out of the way: I'm not fond of the changes that have been made to Notes. Shoving random top posts into my feed is intrusive and goes against the whole reason I use the 'following' feed exclusively. At the very least let me set it to only show posts from people I actually follow, or just turn it off. Though if it showed posts from the backlog of publications I'm subscribed to or brand new substacks, then I might be interested.
Also I'd greatly prefer an option for chronological scrolling. I want to see things as they happen, not in some order that's obscured to me. What I'm after is conversation with fellow writers and chronological order is the one that's best for that, algorithm order makes it like overhearing bits and pieces of a conversation.
Moving on, I've recently had the realization of how easy it is to not know about things on substack. I saw people on notes say it'd be interesting to see serialized novels or public domain works on substack when that's the entire reason I came here. Made me appreciate just how vast the range of substack is.
And for an attempt at some S.E Reid style encouragement, have you thought about what exactly you're after with your substack or in general? I've been writing a post where I tried to dig deeper into some long held desires of mine, and had the realization that I already did the things I wanted to do without fully realizing it.
So if this also leads you to realize you've already met a goal of yours, take some time to celebrate the fact that you achieved something important so smoothly you didn't even think about it. If you write, you are a writer. We try to put tons of disclaimers on things, but if you want to educate people on a subject and you've educated two people on it, you have in fact educated people on that subject.
Just stopping by to say I really, really like what the Substack team has done with the new app. Of course we’ll have to wait and see how it works over time, but I’m really excited about the potential for discovery it offers. Great work, everyone!
✏️ - howdy everyone -- there's a lot of talk about how to increase visibility and subscribers via the substack app but how are you all engaging and growing with people who DON'T have the app and are exclusively email readers?
Just want to say hi to everyone here. It's been a long, tiring week and it can be tough to stay both on schedule and in touch with what you need. Combining jobs and studying and having a life in between and all that. The good news is, I have been having tons of inspiration to write, only need the time/energy to actually do it! More motivated than ever to make this all work. Glad to connect with you all here.
Any update on our ability to turn off the public display of our subscriber lists?
It’s really not a solution to say that each individual subscriber can opt-out. How about a switch at the publication’s level for those of us who wish to respect our subscriber’s privacy? That would be great. Thanks.
🧠 Took a month off. Came back and had an even bigger open rate and a ton of new subscriptions. So take a break when you need it.
The best thing you can do as a new writer on Substack is:
1. Write quality, engaging material
2. Post regularly and consistently (I recommend 2-3 times per week but this is wildly variable; you want to hook people’s interest without exploding their email inbox)
3. Read other Substacks and comment on them; try to be courteous, thoughtful and positive.
4. Reach out to other writers who write similar material after you’ve been writing a while and ask to cross-post, collaborate, etc.
5. Remember that Substack is a writing community; support others.
6. Attend Substack Office Hours
7. Read, subscribe, and pay for my Substack, Sincere American Writing. *(This is required.)
**I just hit 1,000 subscribers!
‘Sincere American Writing’
I love notes because there are several hundred (probably thousands) of you that I want to follow, but my inbox simply can’t handle that many subscriptions, nor will I ever get to them all. So what I’ve been doing is going through all the mentions and lists of Substackers and following all the accounts that are writing, sharing and talking about things I want to have in my news feed every day. However, I’m also frustrated with notes because when I filter by “following”, the notes don’t appear to be in chronological order and I don’t know if anyone I’m following is showing up in that feed. Some posts are from 4 days ago on the top and I have to scroll quite a ways down to find something posted 30 minutes ago. I wish there was a way to additionally filter by the newest notes (I believe you can do that with the comments here). I think I speak for many people who are weary of social media when I say that I'd like this platform to not be like everything else, where the only things you can find is what’s popular and all you’re getting is what an algorithm has decided you should see. Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks for reading my long comment.
🧠 Approaching 24k subscribers in 125 countries. Happy to collaborate with others/cross promote. I write about motivation, inspiration, personal growth, and self-help so it needs to be a fit. Check me out.
🟧 ✏️ Hi folks, I write personal essays about films and have been using Canva for my graphics so far. I took a break for the last couple of months to finish my PhD (which I did today!!!) and when I come back next week I wanted to change up my graphics.
Does anyone know the legalities of using still from films in blog posts? I've done multiple searches to try and find a definitive answer and nothing. I'm prepared to sign up to a paid service for licence use rights but I also haven't found one like Shutterstock just for film! Any advice would be dearly welcome!!!
For my newsletter, I often include academic articles and books. It would be great if using a DOI (which is a persistent identifier), Substack can generate citation.
I realize that there are reasons for the changes and am aware that I'm someone who is always slow to adapt to updates. So it's not that I want to complain about the update per se but rather to say that it's not ideal for me and to explain that what I really want from any app is to be able to toggle and customize and choose whether or not I want these options.
Ultimately, I want my version of the app and someone else’s version of the app to look entirely different based on the choices we make about what we do and don’t want to see.
We all learn differently, experience differently, and want different things from these tools. It’s frustrating that we are fed a certain way of looking at it and that’s usually it.
Going back to earlier days of Instagram, as a simple example, I liked the chronological feed and would have loved the option to toggle between chronological and algorithmic. Here on Substack, a simple change I would love would be in activity to toggle on and off “mentions” and “restacks” etc to rid myself of some of the noise there. With this new change on the Substack app, I’d love to be able to turn off all of the new visual clutter that just distracts me but might be of great benefit or pleasure to someone else.
It can’t be that challenging to create such filters and toggles. So to not do so is a choice that companies make. I want to see that choice shift to give US more choice.
Primitive caveperson writers like me who prefer desktop for everything would appreciate any updates on Notes. We've been hearing a lot of interesting things, but our hearing isn't all that good any more.
🟧 🧠 -- Brains are weird. I woke up at the crack of much-too-early and had a thought out of nowhere: Are there ways Substack could do more to protect content from plagiarism? Pretty much everything we post is easy to download. Photos are especially vulnerable, I think. I often post original images, and I imagine this is of even greater concern to fine artists and photographers. Thoughts are welcome! Thanks.
🟧 - Congrats on the app re-launch! I think the new app provides a slick new user experience and cuts down on clutter.
However, I really miss the estimated reading times on each post. That's how I prioritize which posts to read when. Any hope we can get that feature back?
✏️ 🟧 I feel kinda awkward asking this, but does anyone have any advice specifically for autistic writers to grow their audience? I don't have a following on social media--I've never been good at building a following or networking (or, to be perfectly honest, making friends) because I struggle so much with social interaction due to my autism. However, I love to write, and I would love to share my writing with others (and ideally maybe earn a little bit of money from it one day). Are there any fellow autistic writers here who have any tips on how to grow their audience when one is completely hopeless at being social lol?
🟧 I noticed a new "Publication introduction" section in the Dashboard Settings, where we can add a 50-100-word intro. Could you please let me know where this appears (since it's not on the Welcome page)? Thank you, Substack Team!
Hey everyone! I am loving the new app update! I started my movie/music/pop culture blog about two months ago, and it has a steady following. I am looking to rise to the next step, hoping to reach out to new readers and further mark my presence on Substack. I know it's sort of a broad topic that varies from different publications, but any tips are appreciated! :)
The updated app is pretty, but I’ll actually use it less now. It seems more difficult to find things now, like the app is shouting at me. I like Substack because it’s about writing. Cramming the top of the app with images makes it far less useful for some of us.
Hey team! First of all, i want to say a big congrats on the app update launch. I've already shared my praise, but as a product designer of 11+ years, it's really exciting, and a user experience that is already becoming one of my favourites right now. I particularly love your new search and alert icons. Great job team!
I'm writing practical design and UX advice in my newsletter https://www.designingfutures.co/, my question this week is, do you have any rough guidance on the varying Substack categories regarding how long it took them to get to 1,000 subscribers?
I love what i write about, but i also want this to be a business i can eventually support myself on, so i can continue serving my small but growing audience.
✏️ By the way, I've been up for 3 months, have 1030 subscribers and 22 paid. Is that good?
Also, I'm publishing my memoir here and would love to connect with other writers who are publishing book episodes. Is Substack a boon to traditional publishers or are they threatened by it?
🟧 Hi Substack team! I was wondering if there will ever be the option to have one post that can be accessed via a one time payment. Like perhaps a longer length research paper or a short book manuscript?
Also, on the website version of Substack, there are many tabs visible in the navigation bar on many newsletters that aren’t accessible via the app. Is there a way to make them accessible in the app or is this something that could he considered for the future?
🟧 ✏️ I am enjoying many of the updates you've made recently and the resource series on building an editorial strategy. Substack has showcased very tactical examples of what is working well for other writers in gaining subscribers and building their brand voice. Is there a way we can learn from other writers who may not necessarily have as big of a following? While inspirational, it's also overwhelming. I'd like to learn from writers who built their audience completely on Substack slowly and steadily.
🟧 Is there any chance we are going to get memoir as its own category soon?
I think discoverability is an issue in general here, & I understand that y’all are working on it, but categories seems to me a really easy place to start. I ask as a writer because I want people to be able to find the memoir I am serializing here, ofc, but also as a reader, because I would love a memoir leaderboard that I can peruse. I know there is good memoir stuff here that I am not managing to stumble on!
🧠🎉 HAPPY ONE YEAR! We're celebrating our first anniversary! It seemed a bit self indulgent at first but a needed boost for another year. CELEBRATE WITH US! What are some milestones you've hit recently, big or small?
✏️ 🟧 We are still trying to figure out how to take advantage of SOCIAL MEDIA! We have our brand/posts down, but still having trouble (1) growing a social media presence and (2) converting into subscribers. We are happily taking advantage of the new Substack tools/mission, but we want to only have an insular Substack audience. We love our Substack friends, but want to reach everyone! What social media strategies do you love? What seemed to help you engage and grow your readers?
🟧 last question promise -- anyone using the tagging feature? Anyway to select articles and bulk add tags, really tough to go back and tag 19 months worth of writing....
✏️ I’d love to explore guest posting and cross posting. Any tips on pitching other writers on how you might serve their audience?
The redesigned app looks amazing.
On my Stack, you'll find essays, prose poetry, novel chapters, short stories, noir prose poems, flash fiction, art, life, freedom of thought.
🟧 Suggestion for the inbox on the app. I like having a chronological list of everything so that I know what I’m missing or what’s been happening, so as a way of staying organised and not miss certain posts I would like to have an option to categorise my newsletters, so I can decide ‘hm I want to see what all my politics newsletters have been up to’ etc. I do the same for youtube channels, it helps me find things based on mood and interest.
🟧 can you guys look into the very slow/laggy Substack editor? It's difficult to type pieces within Substack because it is so slow. Several other writers had this issue too, I asked about it on Notes.
oh dear, I'm about to be 82, do not have anything but a landline, and hoped this would be a place where I could find out how the hell to post an essay, as it seems to be beyond me, except for the one I somehow magically got up there. Do I need to have and an APP/? I HAVE NO IDEA IF I CAN HAVE AN APP WITHOUT A CELL/SMART PHONE. Didn't mean those caps
🟧 could you change the language between readers and paying subscribers? I think it’s really confusing for people to think they’re subscribed-- because they have a free subscription-- and they don’t see quite what upgrading means... for example if you go to the NYT website you’re not a subscriber, you’re a reader.
🟧 ✏️ - I've heard some differing advice about how best to pitch readers on upgrading to a paid subscription. Some say that enumerating all of the different kinds of content, to show how much value there is in the archive, is good. Numbers might be persuasive. So, I might say that paying members have access to 15 longform interviews with academics transitioning to industry, 50+ thought pieces on higher ed, etc.
Others suggest that a more modest list -- like mentioning 2 or 3 paywalled articles that an upgrade would open -- is more effective.
I expect that there's no "right" answer, since each of our newsletters is unique and readers aren't necessarily predictable, but I'd be curious about others' thoughts based on their experiences as either readers or as Substack writers.
The app update looks great! I am a game developer with 5k+ followers on LinkedIn!
The gaming community is very active & huge over there & on Medium as well
Although I find it a bit difficult to find a gaming community on Substack :( It feels content here is more related to tech & finance!
So finding a bit difficult to connect over here 😅 But I am planning to use Substack as a newsletter.
Any tips you would suggest to grow a super niche audience here?
How does Substack perform in SEO?
How do you get higher ranked in a category on Substack? Is it purely subscription based or is it related to how much you publish?
🟧 Katie@Substack - The #1 book category on Amazon is Personal Growth. Would you all consider making this a category on Substack? Health and Wellness just doesn't really fit.
Thanks for your consideration.
I write about the fun of being retired. Which probably is not going to be of interest to most of you (yet!). But in case you or someone you know are pondering that next stage, I’d love to hear from you.
🧠 Substack is not a zero sum game. "Cooperative" recommending among those who publish aligned newsletters increases subscribership for both. So, find others who write something akin to your topic or style and recommend away. An even dirtier little secret is that getting on On Substack's recommended list for a few days provides a very nice boost. People who might not otherwise find you suddenly are willing to give you a shot.
✏️ Let's network
I'm interested in meeting in the entertainment industry: writers, producers, assistants, coordinators, location managers, stunt performers, intimacy coaches, construction crew, photographers, set design, makeup, sound design.... the list goes on.
These jobs bring so much value and I would enjoy chatting.
Here is my Substack, The Cottage featuring a curated list of new entertainment: podcast, TV, film, vlogs, digital series, music, books, and kids content.
🟧 How do I make sure a paid subscription doesn't renew? I bought a year subscription for someone who no longer posts. I would like to be sure it doesn't renew automatically. Thx!
Hi all! I write a newsletter about cross-cultrual living and books that help me make sense of the world. I'd love to connect with any writers who write about the immigrant experience, intercultural learning, and/or book reviews on similar themes. Comment below and I'll follow you!
✏️ Hi, writers! I'm new here and have three posts under my belt. I want to create paid content for my readers, but am having a hard time getting creative. My creative writing centers around Mental Health Advocacy and Journaling Prompts. How do I create content in that niche that's worth subscribing to?
I don't have a smartphone or use apps, so could never install this, but I guess it's a handy update for those that do. :-)
🟧 Does anyone know where the "Publication introduction" displays? I've tried viewing my Substack in a private browser and still never see it. The box note says "Describe your publication in 50-100 words as if you were introducing it to a reader with absolutely no context as to what your publication is about" but has no link to where it displays. Thanks!