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.
Today we want to shine a spotlight on insights shared from the Substack writer community.
Got questions about Substack or feedback about a feature or tool? You’re in the right place! Leave a comment in this thread.
Hey everyone Broc, Sylvia, and I are here to help answer your questions over the next hour.
To help organize the conversation, please use one of the following emojis when you start a new comment.
🧠 - when sharing strategy or advice for fellow writers
✏️ - 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.
🟧 Would Substack ever consider sharing a "best under 5,000" list to give a little nod to writers with small audiences?
🟧 Hi Substack. I love it here. Writing on Substack, and the growth tools here, have helped me get 2,300+ readers, close to my first bestseller badge, and a literary agent in under two years. So please receive this as constructive feedback:
We know you care about writers, but there's a feeling lately that you care *most* about the people who are already explosively popular. That makes sense. Big names bring business. But people don't become big names without support, and I think a lot of smaller writers could use more support from the platform here as it continues to grow.
Why not designate someone on the Substack team to curate "the best posts from emerging writers" on Substack Reads? How about a "new to Substack" section in the official Substack newsletter? Invite "smaller" writers to participate in Substack Reads or Substack advice posts? Can you explain what's currently being done/in the works to help the "little guy" on Substack gain more traction here?
🧠 I just crossed the 1,000 subscriber mark. All the usual things have been part of that journey, but most of all, just writing—and the support of my readers. Least of all, but still valuable in some cases—and although I'd love to do more of it—has been collaboration with other writers here on Substack. Sounds good on paper, but hard to do in practice. What's mattered most for me is telling the truth—and my own personal growth along the way ⬇️
We hear a lot on these threads about strategies that worked for people but does anyone have a mistake we can learn from so we don’t repeat it?
Something they tried but had them losing readers or their readers reading fewer posts. Thanks in advance.
Hi all, about four weeks ago I wrote a milestone post and also shared results of a reader survey (in the second half of this post https://sarahrunning.substack.com/p/what-makes-ultrarunning-friendships). Doing the reader survey (using a google form) provided valuable feedback and affirmation for how my newsletter is developing. An added benefit is I now have a lot of wonderful testimonial quotes from readers describing why they subscribe and how they appreciate my newsletter. Question: Any ideas on how I might use these quotes in a way that helps promote my newsletter without being annoyingly self-promotional? Thank you!
✏️ I would like to know how writers here with full time jobs unrelated to their writing balance their work with maintaining their Substack platform.
I’m about to enter a busy work season which lasts from January to June. During this time it is basically 4am-4pm nonstop work (same schedule as now except I will not have breaks) with a lot of physical and mental demands. There’s very little of myself left at the end of the day.
Luckily (but also unfortunately) this job is temporary and I’ll be unemployed in July. I’ve applied to over a hundred jobs since working here, half because this lifestyle isn’t healthy and half because I need a permanent position, and still nothing.
If this is you, what do you do for a living, how demanding is it? How do you contend with this and how has it impacted your writing?
What's the best way to market oneself on substack. I have a few subscribers but could definitely use more. I've already been affirmed as a good writer, so I know it's not my skill. I think it's an issue of interest.
🟧 One thing I've noticed is the continuous promotion of big name writers when I'm scrolling through my feed. The SAME notes keep showing at the top of my feed, not mixing things up at all. A) Those big names don't really interest me and B) They are taking up valuable space in my feed that could be used to show me up and coming writers!
Another thing I've noticed is the "Just Launched" highlights in my feed aren't just launched at all. Sometimes they are newsletters with a long history which again takes up valuable space that newbies could be occupying. Substack needs to help promote people who are NOT already famous lol.
Happy Office Hours! If things can become unwieldy for you (like they do for me), here’s something I try to do:
* Identify one thing you need help on and narrow down common phrases or words. (Like “audience,” “editing,” “readers,” writer’s block,” “about me,” or “bio” to name a few.)
* And then use CTRL+f or command+f to search the page for those phrases in the comments section. It might be a little clunky because you do need to scroll and re-load the comments, but the CTRL+f function will help you bypass the chatter and get to the topic that’s top of mind.
* I’d also identify a few folks who chime in and who usually have creative ideas. I see
Elle Griffin and Mike Sowden fairly often chiming in and offering some Substack gold. So they’d be some good folks to start with on your CTRL+f searching.
I also think if you’re comfortable offering a comment of your own about what you’re curious about or struggling with, it does help to join right when Office Hours starts (which, frankly, I can’t do all the time, so no pressure here from me on that front).
If you offer some identifying information (new/established writer; how many readers you have; and the general topic you write about in your newsletter), folks WILL more easily be able to chime in and offer you some encouragement/advice.
Office Hours is also a great place to celebrate milestones.
OK, let the Office Hours games begin…
One of the things I see in those "10 ways to grow your Substack audience" posts is to engage with other writers—I'm seeing some people suggesting that here too. I'm looking up all your Substacks and bookmarking them rn, I'll check them out later today and leave comments, please do the same with mine (travel and culture focused)! If you have any other specific suggestions about connecting with other writers, I would love to hear them!
🟧 I’m wondering if Substack would consider having a page that would resemble a traditional walk-in magazine store, where a person would see and scan many titles and covers at once, and then “pull one down”, so to speak, for a quick flip-through. With multiple thumbnails on the same page rather than scrolling one by one, which can get tedious.
And just like those stores, divided into categories, even sub-categories, to allow readers to zero in on their preferred subject matter. (Mine would fall under travel and/or photography).
Without rankings, so new subscribers could have as much chance to get noticed as established publishers.
Celebrating 265 subscribers. I know I’m small potatoes to some but I’m excited. I plan to be a big potato someday, maybe even a Yam.
I've been here for just over a year. After passing 100 subscribers, and using Notes, the number of subscribers picked up. Now at 160. I was invited to do a guest post maybe 6 months ago, from
<Mary L. Tabor>. (Thanks, Mary!) Guest posting helps. On the days when you don't post a longer piece, post on Notes, and take part in conversations. Recommendations help. It's more than one thing.
🟧 Discoverability, I know, is an ongoing project but is there any progress on getting a memoir category here? It really is a distinct genre & besides my own interest in readers finding my memoir, I feel like there are probably great memoirs I’m missing out on here because I can’t find them! A memoir leader board would be great too.
I Launched my newsletter 10 days ago and today I challenging myself to get myself featured in Substack next year!
✏️Hi scribes. I’m looking for funny women to interview. I’m starting a new feature on my humor Substack and will post an interview once per month. Know any funny gals? She doesn’t have to be on Substack. Please, no humor based on politics. Thx!
Yo, Wassup, Fam!
Aye, just wanna give you guys a bit of a tip/request— The platform should have the category "Fitness", today it's under the category Health & Wellness, which although indeed fitness is part of Health & Wellness, there's a GINORMOUS bazillion dollar industry that are specifically interested in Fitness for the sake of just looks and performance— and although one might think that Fitness Influencers belong on IG or some shit, actually, the vast majority of influential fitness educators started as avid bloggers, so I'm sure both aspiring talent and established creators would love to find a home on Substack.
I am totally new to Substack. After publishing 5 articles, almost one a week while working 45 hours a week, I am exhausted! Yet still, I am loving it! I went for longer posts partly because I read it is better for Google indexing, and partly because people might feel they are getting ther moneys worth. More importantly, I am just finishing a PhD and I am used to writing longer pieces. Do you think people will read a post that takes 20-30 minutes to read? I guess, if I write well enough, sure. But what if I am not that good?! The thing is, I am dealing with difficult cultural/political problems and I find it difficult to keep them short, but I do not think I can go on writing at this length. Do you have any advice about what I should be aiming at, in terms of length? Any structaral heuristic you have to keep you on track for writing each and every post? Do you often brake up a post and spread them over weeks? Do you announce this to your readers? Sorry, many questions...
I've taken on board all your recommendations and recently turned on paid and to my surprise some people have converted — yay!! I'm slowly but surely learning to have faith in my writing on here thanks to this brilliant community. What seems to work best for me is offering secret tips, tricks and valuable insider knowledge about places I love, as in my latest post about my favourite spots in Istanbul: https://lucyscovell.substack.com/p/how-to-spend-the-perfect-weekend
🟧 I have two questions about content moderation on the Substack app informed by controversies that have besieged other platforms.
First, I read this morning that Amy Klobuchar wrote to Amazon requesting that Alexa devices be configured to suppress links from platforms, including Substack. Is there any push back (either from the platform or other writers)?
Second, many other platforms have intentionally suppressed dialogue about specific issues, such as theories relating to the pandemic or criticism of US foreign policy. As a writer very critical of corruption in Washington, I have endured that suppression most visibly on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, although Instagram seems to have recently grown more like them.
On one hand, substack’s integration with email diminishes the extent to which platforms can suppress speech based on its content. To the extent subscribers also come through the Substack network, however, how does the platform take care to prevent the marginalization of voices that dissent from mainstream views constructed by propaganda?
So love I really appreciate everyone
Are there any plans to add the ability to write new full posts (not Notes) from the Substack app? Seems like that was available for like a week and then it disappeared (unless I'm missing something).
🟧 Has anyone ever posted something on Substack that went viral? If so, what was it? sabrinalabow.substack.com
🧠 In 12 months, I have grown my Subs to 2,400K using my Linkedin (reach 50k) posts, my account and inbox, now, after 2K, I am starting to push paid subs, and I am seeing results.
1. EVERY post, has a link to my substack in the post sig file =
✳️ 2k+ Substack Readers: https://lnkd.in/ep6KzZcD
(sample here: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/rowena-hennigan_roremote-remotework-nocommute-activity-7122169413360836608-rngn?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop)
2. Every inbox AUTO response message on LI, on at weekends and hols - has this link too:
✳️ 2k+ Substack Readers: https://lnkd.in/ep6KzZcD
3. I cross-promote on my popular LI Newsletter: https://www.linkedin.com/newsletters/remote-work-digest-6867082608745050113/
4. And - I have started posting 1-2 a week on Substack - specifically
Ask me anything on this below!
You can cross-promote, if you have an audience on another platform - it just takes intention and planning!
Hi, I am Ro and I publish Digital Nomad Stories, nice to e-meet you!
🟧 - Not a question but a suggestion...with the new beta element that creates A/V snippets from a written work, why not let the author decide which background they want before the production of the clip proceeds?
🟧 I just started my Substack yesterday, and I have a few posts scheduled for publication today and tomorrow. I'm someone with no history of published writing, nor anything remotely regarding journalism. I just want to share my passion for older literature and scientific topics. How can I make this work when it looks like I'm the odd one out as far as Substack goes?
🟧 Is there an easy way to link to headings within your Substack post to create a sort of table of contents within a single post? I have various sections within my monthly posts, and I would like to give readers the option to jump to the section they want to read.
✏️ I've received such lovely notes from paid subscribers but have avoided much horn-tooting for how that changes the vibe of my newsletter ethos, which is intended to be this happy chill inspirational place you can come to once a week for novel/essay/poetry writing encouragement and craft tips. (And daily in November for a write-along inspired by how I wrote my first novel in a month). How do you all balance the way you feel about your letter and its purpose with the inevitable market considerations and promotion? I'd love to err on the side of quietly being there, a sweet apple pie cooling in a window, rather than a candy shop of excessive pushiness.
My goal with my Substack ( https://mfioretti.substack.com/ ) is to popularize the awareness, primarily but not exclusively among parents and teachers, that "your rights and the quality of your life [and of your children/students] depend every year more on how software is used AROUND you". Connections with other authors covering even partly the same topics, or interested in them anyway, would be most welcome. Thanks in advance for pointers, and for getting in touch!
What's the best way to build a community? Would it be through virtual groups outside Substack? I'm considering reddit and another site.
Also, do you have a marketing plan when posting content on Notes? Or, do you just use it for engagement?
Hi, I'm still having trouble with the crossposting feature. I've scheduled a few crossposts, but they don't ever appear in my "Scheduled" section (neither the ones that I've already crossposted nor the ones that are currently scheduled). Am I missing something?
Is there a button to share with free subscribers that makes it easy for them to upgrade? I am trying to think of the best way possible to share. Thanks!
Hello writers :-)
I just published the first edition of my newsletter. And I also wrote some "notes" to test Substack's behavior.
Both the notes and the newsletter are in Italian language. I'm getting a lot of account signups that write in English. And, from what substack says, they appear to be "direct" subscriptions.
They look like fake accounts to me, but I'm not sure. Why does this happen? How can I get only (real) and truly interested people to sign up?
I think more information on paid strategies would be helpful. While it’s all lovely for established authors and arguably big names to just say, put up your paywall immediately, I feel that there needs to be more transparency about what actually works for those with smaller followings. For example: should you put 50% of your work behind a paywall once you reach 100 subscribers or 500 subscribers...
I also think as the platform grows, people will become more discerning about who they pay for and it would be nice to see smaller names getting that paid support rather than just those with already established followings. Thoughts??
🟧 where do I go to get answers to my questions about how to mechanically use Substack?
How does one grow on Notes? Do hashtags work? How do I get my Notes seen by people who aren't subscribed to my newsletters?
I maybe having a unique problem.
I am resident of India, and Stripe does not work in India for accepting payments to individuals.
I don't want to form a company back here.
So my question is;
Is it possible for my daughter, who lives in Germany to give her bank details and collect money on my behalf?
Or is it possible that I change my address to her address, continue to write from India and give her bank details such as she can collect on my behalf?
What are the tax implications, if any?
Stripe allows me to set up a company in Delaware using Stripe Atlas but that too is an expensive proposition for me.
I started about a month ago, have almost 700 subscribers and have pledges of around 1000 USD.
The other problem is most, 80% of my subscribers are in India. And they don't use Stripe. How do I enable local payment for them. Many would like to pay.
Also, how does Substack collect 10% on these local payments, if they are enabled?
A little late for this, but if you happen along, I have ulterior motives today. Let's grow together!
🟧 I notice that, when updating a post, the next button says "Update everyone now." Since subscribers are not notified of updates (which is as it should be), that seems like the wrong phrase, no?
I have a simple question as a year long Subtack follower. What are the steps to post something on Subtack?
One last question please. Are Notes typically shorter, or are they the same content as my regular posts? If so, wouldn't subscribers get the content twice? Sorry if I'm dense on this.
Hi writing friends, just wanted to let ya know I am hosting a virtual writing residency. Would love to have you if you have the time. Here is the link to learn more. :) https://healyourstory.substack.com/p/youre-invited-to-our-virtual-writers
🟧 how can we get more diversity in our notes feed? I often see the same 7-10 people. What am I doing wrong
✏️ Hosting a creative workshop next week? I'd love to include it in my weekly roundup to help get the word out! Drop a link below and feel free to check out last week's:
Hi I am just starting. How can I paste images within the text on Substack? Thanks.
✏️🟧 I’m curious: fellow sustackers and team, do you have any advice about sharing your substack and new newsletters thru Instagram? I’m wondering if the algorithm is suppressing substack-related content. I’m noticing that posts and reels about newsletters aren’t getting many views. Any insights, tips, tricks? Thanks ☺️
I am new to Substack. What is the difference between following and free subscribing. (From both sides.)
I am asking because I very much like flipping through the people I follow (using both my phone or computer) using the Substack icon, however I find my cluttered email a nuisance. Is there a difference between content that I see using the app...and what shows up in email? Do I see different content as a follower v a (free) subscriber.
I assume I will add paid subscriptions in time but am now just getting the lay of the land.
Also, when tagging our content. Should we use commas. Or hashtags?
✏️ 🟧 A question for the community and Substack:
I have two podcasts I host on Substack. I noticed that when I send out new episodes, my emails perform better (get more opens) when I have a good subject line, but whenever I put the episode number and title as the subject line, the opens are lower. For Apple Podcasts and Spotify, I want the episode number and title to show, but the only way to do that is to title the email that goes out with that.
Is there any way to title the episode for the other platforms separately? And then let my subject line be something else more intriguing for my subscribers? The only way I could figure to do this was to send out the email first with whatever subject line I wanted, then go back and edit the post and change the title to be the traditional name and episode number. But still, it would be nice if there was a smoother way to do this.
🟧 I have had some persistent confusion surrounding the podcast function on Substack. I originally posted all of my content in only written form, before later recording audio of me reading them, and releasing those as podcasts with the written transcript in the notes. Is it the case that readers who receive written posts also receive posts formatted as podcasts?
✏️ It seems on reflection as if my podcasts reached fewer listeners than did my writing, so I’m trying to figure out whether & how I should differentiate the content streams. For instance, I’ve been toying with the idea of releasing podcasts, not as word for word audio recordings of my writing, but rather as recorded conversations with subject matter experts exploring the issues raised by my writing.