Have questions about publishing, growing, or going paid on Substack?
The Substack team, and your fellow writers, are here to help!
Today we’re gathering the writer community and members of our Community, Product, and Writer Development teams together in a thread to answer writer questions for an hour.
How do you communicate to readers what makes your publication unique?Category Pirates explores how businesses (and writers) create new categories and redesign old ones. Get inspired by reading their post, Languaging: The Strategic Use Of Language To Change Thinking.
Do you want to start a podcast? You can host your podcast on Substack!Some inspiration: True Hoops and Time to Say Goodbye host their podcasts and write their newsletters on Substack.
Hoping to build an independent media business on Substack?Isaac Saul, the writer behind Tangle, recently broke 25,000 free readers and 4,000 paying subscribers on Substack. He generously shared his insights on what worked and what didn’t in a recent tweet.
Drop your questions in the thread and we’ll do our best to supercharge each other.
Our team will be in the thread today from 9 am - 10 am PST / 12 pm - 1 pm EST answering questions with you.
We’ll host this thread again next week. Save it to your calendar so you don’t miss it.
PS - Our product team just built something new: hover cards for comments and bylines.
Thanks for being here for this week's Office Hours thread and jumping in to answer each other's questions. We'll be back next week same time, same place.
In the meantime, our new (!!) resource page is here for you: https://substack.com/resources
Katie + Bailey
Three feature requests:
1. Embed article previews within a newsletter (see e.g. Revue: "Instead of hyperlinking text, you can add links to external articles and we’ll automatically create beautiful previews" http://help.getrevue.co/en/articles/4648579-how-to-write-a-newsletter-in-the-revue-editor)
2. Embed tables and interactive data viz (e.g. from Tableau/Datawrapper)
3. Embed PDFs—the first time I checked out an Office Hours somebody else requested this and a Substack employee replied saying they were in the pipeline!
Hello. And thank you Substack team for continuing to meet with us each week. I have been learning a lot - and I'm guessing I'm not alone!
To the Substack Team:
I am looking for an update on the ability to house a pdf within substack. I would love to give my readers downloadable guides or other digital products. Having those within Substack would really be so much more professional than sending folks to a google download. Can you please talk about this and give us an ETA? Thanks so much.
LOL, I made the hover card example image. Substack, I love you.
My whatiscalledthinking.Substack.com just passed 100 paying subscribers. What’s the best way to try to convert non paying subscribers? (I have 750 total)
The hover cards are great! It's making it so easy to subscribe to other writers. Thanks for adding them!
I have a substack called FIRES and I have gotten more subscribers lately. As I continue to ramp things up (it's been inactive due to my day job and I'd like to produce income from it) I am wondering how I can get my readers chatting with each other. These are scientists, wildfire specialists, and folks who are interested in learning more about the history of wildfires. I also want to build more readership bc I have a book coming out next summer. So essentially what I am asking is: how can I create more community engagement for my readers?
I just want to say how much I'm enjoying my time on Substack.
I have two newsletters:
I'm considering starting a podcast too and want to know if you get good analytics through substack platform.
Hi, would love to know the recommended/optimum image size and resolution (dots per inch) for including within Substack newsletters and for using as the thumbnail
Hi! Thanks, as always, for doing this! I saw you're planning on launching Substack Grow — it sounds very exciting. Do you have a sense of when we'll get more info on the program?
I want to start a podcast but I’m stuck because I don’t know how to do production. Could substack provide a link or resources on how to record, software, microphone, editing, etc? Really need the podcast 101 to do it.
Hey party people, I have a general question for everyone: has anyone experimented with publishing on various days of the week? I run a weekly newsletter -- https://www.stockduediligence.com/ -- that publishes on Fridays. I average 50-60% open rates, but I'm curious if any authors have tested different days (e.g. Monday vs. Friday). Looking forward to your replies!
What's the aspect ratio that substack thumbnails *doesn't* crop at? I am working with an illustrator to do a unique image per post for my essays on bridging the arts and sciences. AFAIK it'll be the first substack with this sort of unified aesthetic (one writer, one illustrator) so I'm quite excited about the experiment. But the issue is in cropping. Substack seems to center the image and go to a chosen aspect ratio for thumbnails - what exactly is that?
Is there a good way of integrating a reader poll into substack?
Hi there, George here - I write The Strategy Toolkit newsletter! Thanks for these regular office hours.
Regarding how I try to communicate uniqueness, I just had the good fortune of being featured in Publishers Weekly's Soapbox section, in the July 19th edition, in which I spoke about the wonderful experience of Substack for myself and a few others.
I'm interested in learning more about podcasts and the best way to use this Substack feature.
My Substack, TheEndGame (on joyful and purposeful aging), has about 260 non-paid subscribers. My plan is to add a podcast that will be by paid subscription, with the newsletter remaining free. Has anyone had success with this model they can share?
I started a cooking and memoirish newsletter Between the Layers a few months ago with a solid email list over 20K. Free on Tuesday but it’s tough getting them to pay to subscribe for the Friday post. Nearing 100 paid. Any tips? Loving this experience and the regular writing deadlines but feel I’m doing something wrong!
Regarding how to get more subscribers. I have been pretty successful with LinkedIn and am looking at Twitter. I've used it some, but haven't seen the followers convert to subscribers. I am participating in an online event tomorrow called Humanity for Life, bringing together speakers from Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, India, and the U.S. My newsletter is about daily kindness habits, so there is a big correlation between my work and the event. I'm hoping it increases my exposure to a larger audience. If anyone is interested, the zoom link is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9552839859. It starts at 10am PDT. The host organization is Theatre of Solutions, based in Nigeria. I have already received several new subscribers from attendees, so I'll report back to the group next week to let you know if this is useful.
I'm really enjoying working here. I started in April, went paid June 1, try to be generous with sharing material. Am posting 8-10 pieces/month on creative writing. Have about 20% signing up to be paid. But numbers are still very low.
I have to say I'm a bit stymied by how to be "found" by Substack seekers. Under the "Discover" button, then the search, "writing" yields nothing. Why is this?
How do we show up once in awhile on the "featured" page?
Many thanks for your time--these Thursday mornings are very useful :)
I have a newsletter where I write about various things (living with terminal cancer, parenting, literature) - usually for free, and publish a chapter a week of a novel I wrote (which is behind a paywall). I've heard that you can divde things into categories and I would love to make the story easier to follow for the readers who are mostly there for the novel. Where are these "categories" that I have heard of because I can't find them anywhere.
Hi, I'd really like to send an invite to a group of email addresses from my account that includes a "subscribe" button and some custom copy in the email. I don't want to subscribe them, just invite them to subscribe. Would your product team be interested in building such a thing? There must be tons of users like me - folks with a group of email addresses we'd like to invite to our new substack pub without being so rude as to opt them in automatically. TIA!
How do I add an option to tip like Dam Rather’s Steady?
Any thoughts on promoting one another on our substacks? If any fellow writers want to get featured in my substack/feature mine in theirs, reply. I think the best way to grow and go far is to do it together. You can see mine here https://youtopianjourney.substack.com/
Yoooooooooo! This is dope!
My question: getting more notice for new posts. Google News will pick up the smallest mentions of me in local blogs, Patch, etc. but never for the latest Substack post. Is there a trick to this that I'm missing? My newsletter is http://jeffersongraham.substack.com
I’m 5 months into this and still haven’t done any PR/marketing or updates to my site because I just can’t self promote. I will continue to procrastinate unless I find a work around to do the necessary marketing but not about myself. Advice ?
To Substack Writers:
I would love to hear from those who have either created a second newsletter within your main one and/or created 2 separate newsletters....your reasoning behind either decision and any feedback on how they are working for you? Thank you. 📰
Hi! To grow in substack you must have an audience on other social (Youtube, Instagram...)
Have you got any suggest on how to grow without an audience? How the people can to find my newsletter on the app? Thanks a lot!
I am looking for other newsletter writers who are willing to do cross-marketing.
I run a Substack called Asian Century Stocks (www.asiancenturystocks.com), which focuses on stock ideas within the Asia Pacific region.
I am looking for other Substacks in the region who might want to collaborate, perhaps by interviewing each other. I found that it's been helpful to bring in new readers to each other's Substacks. Here is a recent collaboration for your reference: https://www.asiancenturystocks.com/p/10-questions-with-aaron-pek
Let me know if this might be of interest to you.
I have a Substack called Piffany and want to fully launch the new expanded version of it, growing it by folding in elements from my pre-existing comedy news website of 14 years, as well as my pre-existing interview podcast of 6 years. How can I do that smoothly via Sections without completely disrupting my pre-existing sites? Any advice or pointing me to the right person would be fabulous, thanks!
From time to time Substack profiles pages. What is the criteria to be considered for profile
Hi, for some reason it asks me to log in every time I try to respond to a comment from the email. Readers also have told me they have problems logging in to post a comment. Do you know what's causing it? Thank you!!!
Going to re-ask since it got a number of agreement replies below - what's the aspect ratio that a thumbnail image is not cropped at? A lot of us are doing things like adding custom art to our stacks, so it's important to try to have non-cropped images.
Any resources or thoughts on writing an attractive headline? I have seen some publishers using the issue number as the headline and others using catchy lines.
My newsletter is a curated one and has multiple topics discussed in a single issue. Was wondering what is a proven way for better engagement?
For example my latest issue is titled: Build a City, Curator Economy, Hacking Tractors and Microneedles.
Any feedback is appreciated!
Thanks for doing this.
My main thing is still finding a way to make it clearer for free subs who are logged out of substack on a particular device/browser and that want to become paid sub that they need to log in to see the paid options.
Many readers have expressed to me that they're confused and can't find it, because when they click the "subscribe" button I put in my NL, they just get the page with an empty field to put your email (and they're already free subs, so don't want to re-sub again).
Thank you 💚 🥃
Can I make one of the secondary newsletters paid only?
Hey, folks. I'm interested in answers to the first bullet above -- viz., "How do you communicate to readers what makes your publication unique?" Beyond a solid About page and author bio, what other strategies, tips, etc. do you recommend for communicating uniqueness?
I am wondering how much to draw from my real life in my Substack newsletter. My life veers toward the incredible and the two problems I have with sharing too much truth is: 1) It’s so amazing people might not even believe it (both in a good way and in a terrible way.) 2) I don’t know that I want to share too much, because I used to be a private person. I like the idea of doing a Substack newsletter and am flattered that I have the opportunity to do so, and I am pre-brainstorming at this point.
I am at day one with Substack and would like to launch a newletter/podcast soon. What is the most important thing to focus on?
I want to ask some question that you might face too in substack. Do you know why my subscribers need to sign in again when they want to comment on my post? And sometimes our email goes to their promotions not their inbox. Please let me know if any of you have this issue - I’m trying to resolve this! Thank you before.
Hey, someone. I would like to know how to preview a post before I commit it to posterity and embarrass myself. Thanks!
Ok. Here is the deal. It is hard enough to get people to subscribe and then to keep them reading. Most of them have a gmail ID. And the ********* at Google have no clue what the hell their algorithm is doing but more likely maliciously sidelining newsletters. To add to this you guys go ahead and create a new ID for every folder that I create. Now I have email@example.com and two other ID sending mails on my behalf. Why?
Why is substack sabotaging its writers because some coder wanted to find a half assed solution to classifying comments or something like that?
I've missed the Office Hours but I have an administrative question: I just started my blog yesterday and am just getting to know Substack's platform....one thing I discovered is that when I tried to search for my page -- another person with the same name comes up....how can I fix this? The page doesn't let me edit that?? HELP! thanks!!
I like the hover cards! They are very helpful. I also noticed that search is working much better. It's so nice to see continual improvement and added features. Thank you so much Substack!!
what are costs, if any?
Wondering when we will be able to embed TikTok videos in the same way as YouTube and Vimeo - it’s time!
Are there costs associated with this service?
Well maybe sometimes later still fighting on a Hoban abuse and how people need to fuight it also money is not good not all of us feel we should sell our heritage
Can I remove annual subscriptions and only have monthly? If so how do I go about doing that?