Curious to hear: What do you think of the Grow interviews we do? (example: https://on.substack.com/p/grow-series-27-perfectly-imperfect)

- Are they helpful? Have you learned anything particularly memorable or useful from the series?

- Who should we interview next and why / about what?

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Mar 23·edited Mar 23Pinned

Thanks for joining us today at Office Hours! The Substack team is signing off but we'll be back next week. In the meantime, checkout the resources listed at the top of the post.

If you have feedback on our Office Hours experiment today, feel free to respond to this comment.

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•Do good work

•Find other writers in your same space and engage with them

•Be consistent

•Keep doing good work

•Give more than you take

•More good work

•Link in bio

•Offer to crosspost and/or guest post

•Be patient

•Keep on keepin’ on

•Check out aggregators like The Sample and Inbox Reads for more opportunities

•Keep… you guessed it shipping your best work

•Remember that quality work always rises to the top.

•When you get some momentum, help the people that were in your shoes a year ago.

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Office hours is a fantastic way to meet other Substack writers, and to get some questions answered. But it's also so busy that it can be a really frustrating experience.

I wrote up an Office Hours survival guide. If you're new to Office Hours, or if you've been here but found yourself frustrated by the jumpy interface, take a look and get a few pointers about how to make Office Hours a more enjoyable experience.


There's tips about how to bookmark comments you're interested in, including your own; how to read longer comments without the page jumping around, and how to write replies without the page jumping around. There's also a short list of feature requests, that I think would make these discussions more enjoyable for both writers and staff.

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Hello all, and happy Office Hours in a NEW format! Since Growth requires a little push now and then, here's a little bit of encouragement from one small newsletter to all of you:

Something that I think is really important to meditate on is how far you've come, even if it doesn't feel like it. Every single step counts! No matter where you are in your writing journey, you're further along than you were one year ago, or five, or ten. Have you only posted ten posts to your Substack? Well, that's ten posts you didn't have before you started! Did you just start your Substack today? Then you've made a big leap forward, compared to yesterday!

Celebrating the little wins isn't insignificant. Little wins add up! No matter where you are on the path, you've got miles behind you that show you how far you've come. Celebrate it, and let other writers celebrate with you!

Most importantly: keep going, keep writing, and DON'T GIVE UP! 🌿

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Yes, growth is top of my list - and I've been getting discouraged because I see so many substacks that are growing like crazy. But I'm tweaking and re-setting and carrying on with what I want to write. I think when I click into that, the growth will come. With all the AI coming, I think we need to find our voice more than anything. And it's a process.

In that vein, I've changed my substack name to "Diane Discovers" - new blurb is "A newsletter offering insight into our ever-evolving life adventure by exploring purpose, meaning, and the search for Self. And cool things. Join this amazing journey! Free and optional paid."

And I'm excited about this shift - I hope it'll help me connect with others.

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In this newsletter milieu I think growth is at the top of all of our lists. I think as we struggle to build readerships we have to remember that the subscription system means we're also building friends.

The people who choose to subscribe are doing it with the understanding that whatever you write will appear in their inboxes and they'll get to choose whether or not to open that door.

After much trial and error, I found my most comfortable voice when I latched onto what I've just written above. I was writing for friends! My writing became more personal and less broad. I used 'I' and 'you' and thought of my blogs as community centers and parlor spaces, and not just internet entities.

It may not work that way for any of you, but it fit my style of writing well, and I'm enjoying the experience far more than I did when anxiety sat on my shoulder and wouldn't leave!

I invite anyone writing personal essays to join in on our lively conversations at Writer Everlasting. We're a community and a safe place for writers who might need both of those things!

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Hey growth people!

I have been working my little butt off to grow this thing, and some days I feel great about the progress and others not so much! A couple things that have worked really well for me recently:

- I would be remiss if I didn't start with being featured on Substack Reads and Substack app - that has been my biggest win yet by far! Other writers can recommend you, so if you are posting great stuff regularly and want to be featured, see if someone is interested in making that recommendation.

- Once I had a bigger audience from the features, I have been able to start converting to paid more reliably. I am doing this by teasing my paid content at the end of my free content, as well as in free-standing emails. Also, definitely turn off Boost (My opinion). Boost was sending very marketing-y emails on my behalf that I didn't know about, and I found out because it started alienating my readers and they started emailing me about it (angry, mostly).

- Finally, recommendations are key! I am trying super hard not to be game-y about it, no "let's swap recommendations!" emails, at least yet. Just good old fashioned friend-making and trying to keep putting out high quality work that people want to recommend (per Kevin's recs!)

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Though growth has been on my mind lately, I wanted to share something I was thinking about the other day. Think about how many subscribers you have all in a room. For me, that would be the size of a relatively large lecture in college. That would be speaking to a lot of folks! I know the digital age makes us feel like everything is infinitely scalable, and that capitalism has taught us that it's growth at all costs otherwise you're failing, but sharing what you have to say with the people who want to hear it, regardless of audience size is powerful.

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Hey! On the topic of growth, I have a question that's been bugging me. I've been writing for a few months, and although in the beginning I didn't really know what I wanted from my blog or even if I was going to stick with it, things have become more clear. I've managed to find a voice. Now the question: how do I define my value proposition? I write personal essays, but they are on different topics, and what brings them together are usually my voice and my unique perspective. But I don't know how to tie it all together into a neat value proposition. Edit: For reference, you can find my newsletter here: https://sismanandrew.substack.com/

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I get a lot of free subscriber growth through recommendations and reader sharing, so I've shifted my focus to growing paid subs.

For context, I launched paid at the end of December. I didn't paywall anything, just asked those who wanted to pay to do so. That did OK. Better than I expected, tbh. But I got the sense that there was a limit to that approach and that I was heading toward that limit. So I've changed things up by posting the occasional paywalled post. The first one goes out this Sunday. I'm hopeful that I'll have good results, in part because the announcement generated six new paid subs.

That said, like everything else I do on Substack, my paid strategy is an experiment / work in progress / ongoing conversation with my readers. I don't know how it'll turn out, but my advice to anyone trying to grow free or paid subs is as follows:

1) Set realistic expectations

2) Engage your readers in a conversation about what you're doing

3) Try new things

4) Track your progress

5) Adjust as needed

6) Tell your readers how it's going

BTW, if it helps, I wrote a piece recently about what I learned on my way to 2,000 free subs. Here's that link👇


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So I have a newsletter called Five Things (https://www.fivethin.gs) and the subscriber numbers are growing, but not going through the roof. I had 900 subscribers when I switched from Revue and now have 1350 or so, which is a nice development.

Two weeks ago I decided to copy & paste the content of my weekly newsletter to LinkedIn and create a new newsletter there: https://www.linkedin.com/newsletters/five-things-7040583970144571392/ - LinkedIn then pinged a bunch of people in my very extended network (I have 46k followers on LinkedIn) and now I have more than 4600 subscribers for my newsletter on LinkedIn. After two weeks. Not bad, I think.

But, obviously I'd rather have all those people to subscribe to substack, because then I have their email-adresses, have better stats and whatnot.

As anyone ever successfully tried to motivate people on LinkedIn Newsletters to subscribe to Substack instead? Obviously I can nag and put in links to my "real" newsletter, but I want to do it in a away that doesn't annoy people too much. Is there any clever way to do it?

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Hey - loving Substack as a platform and community but still trying to build my subscriber list organically. I obviously want to grow beyond my little social network and find my true audience. Any tips are much appreciated. Secondary to that, a lot of people seem to read but don't subscribe, or subscribe but comment directly to me as opposed to the post. Would love to correct that naturally. 

Anyway, my Substack is SecondRateCities.com. It combines my love for running, bars, and overlooked cities into a long-form, non-conventional travel blog. The premise is short trips to any cities and towns that are not typical travel destinations and exploring them through, you guessed it, running and bar hopping. I think it gives a more honest feel of place than simply listing out "must-dos and sees" and uncovers lots of gems.

With that in mind, I would love to find more travel and culture Subs to follow, holler if you have one!


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Hi everyone, In trying to grow, I'm hoping I can get some ears on my voice-overs and see if you wonderful writers have any tips and tricks! I'm just hoping for some constructive insights since I'm kind of shooting in the dark here.

I'm thinking if I can dial in the audio side of the house, I can really hit a new market to pull people into my substack.

It's come a long was from the start and you can find my latest here:


I did play around a while back with having an AI engine 'read' the text and merged that audio into the voiceove


Also, they are pushed to podcast players so if that works better:


As mentioned, I'm just hoping for some constructive insights since I don't get solid data on the audience from substack on how many are listening (and not hearing from them directly either). Also open to any other feedback on the form/fit/function of the essays.

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Hey everyone.

Seeing some familiar faces in here which is cool! I'm looking to connect with writers in the space of exploring/navigating curiosity and ideas.

My niche isn't super well defined because the more I get into my Substack the more I feel like my niche is my personality. People who like my blog will like it because they would get along with me as a person. The idea here is that this is sustainable because I'll never be on a dry spell since I just write about what I'm interested at the time.

Curious to hear people's thoughts on this.

Also, down to co-write a post with anyone. I'll let you pick the topic. Shoot me a message.

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Hi all! So this week I met my first newsletter fan that wasn't a friend, co-worker or family member:). He works for the ACLU and it was a real honor to know he's reading me. I'd love any tips on ways to target regional audiences... I write about LGBTQ and women's rights in South Carolina and I'd love to grow the list of local readers.

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Hey everyone, here's my obligatory "Just started on Substack" intro (hello) - I'm coming in from a literary journal background and I'm happy to have readers already willing to follow me On Here.

In your experience, have newsletter aggregators proved useful when it comes to getting more readers?

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Yesterday I discovered a writer that I really liked and wanted to support by being a paid subscriber. They had their paid subscription paused bc they were taking a month off from the newsletter. Their past newsletters were still paywalled. Is there any way to give writers the option to be able to have paid subscriptions still on for the past newsletters despite their current newsletter being paused? That would be a great option/feature. I imagine I’m not the only one that has run into this issue and the writer is missing out on gaining future paid subscribers.

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I've been fortunate to have almost 1/3 of my subscribers come from recommendations, but I tended to see a lot of churn from readers who weren't ready for what they signed up for with my publication. One recent tweak I made was to have a short introduction to each newsletter to orient new readers, and along with it I've noticed a big decrease in unsubscribes. Could be a coincidence, but I think it's made a difference. Check out my latest post to see how I constructed the intro:


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Hi all. Thanks for the great posts here. Something I see often (which is a great piece of advice generally but is perhaps not specifically actionable) is “Find other writers and engage with them” or “Find your readers where they are.”

The trouble for me right now is that I don’t know where readers ARE or how to get to them. Twitter is utterly pointless for writers right now who don’t already have massive followings; even if they do, the algorithm does not prioritize links (I recently saw a super popular writer with 55K followers tweet a link, and it has like 17 likes. No one is seeing anything on Twitter anymore).

There are very few subreddits where you can post anything you’ve written without getting flagged for self promotion, even if you are an active Redditor otherwise who posts substantive comments and then just mentions a link at the end.

Instagram faces the same algorithmic challenges and isn’t really a space for writers as far as I can tell.

So, really: Where is anyone posting their work where people can see it, find you, and be compelled to subscribe? Where IS everyone (yes, besides here…)?

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Hey, people. My last interaction on Office Hours brought me almost 15 subscribers in a day, by far the biggest spike I've ever had. Growing feels great. And on that note, I want to reiterate that I'm open to collaborations with other writers, whether through cross-posting, recommending or writing a guest post. I write personal essays, mostly memoir, but also observations on other things I've seen or heard or done that have influenced me. Come join me on this journey. The only way we grow is together!

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My substack growth was quite stagnant for a while, but then I started a new regular slot called Start the Week, as well as exchanging letters with Rebecca Holden (see her most recent one here: https://rebeccaholden.substack.com/p/55-a-letter-to-terry-9) and my subscriber growth has been faster since then. Maybe it's coincidence (correlation not causation) but I think the regular new series plus lively exchange in the letters has had a lot to do with it. So my conclusions (based on limited evidence I grant you) is collaborate, and keep turning up, especially in a regular series. Hope that's helpful cos it's all I've got!

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I'm here for the small wins! I know growth will take time and i'm committed to my topic, so I just keep on keeping on!

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Tips: 👉 Ask Me Anything!

1) Create a spreadsheet for SEO descriptions and titles. After "Direct" as a source, Google search is my #2 source for visitors.

2) Add your publication to Google News:


3) Get media coverage from places like qwoted.com. My newsletter "moviewise: Life Lessons From Movies" was mentioned in an article about dating advice:


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Hey everyone, I´m fairly new on here. I have almost 1,300 subscribers, mostly transferred over from my old list. I´ve gained 200 new ones since I made the shift, but I´ve also lost 100 and I have around 20 paid now as well. Most of my new ones come from Linkedin but I´m having trouble with visibility on there even though I have 7,000 followers (eg posts get less than 200 views some days!). The algorithm is most unhelpful. Where do you find your new subscribers?

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Not able to write? Pay your bills! 💸

A few weeks ago, I was struggling to write. Something was blocking me. Some boring administrative tasks.

Stuff I always postpone. Stuff I hate to do.

But given I had no choice, I surrendered. And took care of the weights first.

Surprisingly, it turned out to be quite gratifying. And could write again!!!

So, my friends, do not underestimate the power to take care of the weights, so you can proceed to the more “important” tasks.

If this resonates with you, give me a little like ❤️ Bliss! https://livmkk.substack.com/p/pay-your-bills

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Hello Substack team and writers! Happy office hour!

My publication, which I write in Mandarin, is about Japan startups and tech trends.

With AI and all those translation tools, I realized that I am able to easily turned my Mandarin posts into English.

Here’s the question. Has anyone done this before? I would like to know what is it like to have multiple publication on Substack, like, how do you grow all of them at the same time.

Also I’m very curious that if anyone is writing posts in multiple languages. Please share your experience with us 🙌

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I love reading the Grow interview series! Including older posts such as the one from Delia Cai: https://on.substack.com/p/how-delia-cai-grew-deez-links-from#details. It's refreshing to hear other peoples' experience with starting from zero.

My biggest growth moment so far has been when another newsletter recommended me. I love recommending my favorite newsletters too and am always open to new ones. I write vessels, a newsletter that explores emotional and literal landscapes through personal essays and film photography. Check it out and let me know if you think I'd be into your writing!

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I've found BookFunnel promos to be an effective way to bring in new fiction readers. Once you've got enough material to create a sample, you can use group promos to attract new readers. Because the sample is of the same material on the newsletter, it keeps churn to a minimum. BookFunnel isn't free, but it's more effective than traditional paid ads, in my experience.

Where I've really struggled is in converting free readers to paid. So I shall now dive into the comments here in search of enlightenment....

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Hi there, thanks for the hours, I need them! Here’s my first question. I am bringing on new “bylines” to my Substack. It’s great. I want to give them a revenue share of any paid memberships their posts garner. Question: What would be a fair percentage? Anyone done this? AND, does Substack do the kind of reporting where I could see, week to week or month to month, which posts are generating (x) number of paid subs?

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I had a talk with one of my subscribers the other day, who wanted to pledge to my newsletter. However, because they had to fill in credit card information, they ultimately did not follow through with it. Is this something that can be resolved, or that others have run into? I mean, I can understand not wanting to leave your payment information if you do not know if and when you will have to start paying for something.

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Hi, I've been writing here for almost two months now and I've come to believe that one of the best ways to grow is to create good content.

For that reason I'm looking for ways to improve my writing skills, so that I can give my readers the best content possible.

Any suggestions?

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What are your thoughts on sending individual emails to prospects on your list? I’m a speaker and I have subscribers who are event planners, L&D professionals and so on who could potentially lead to me being hired for gigs. I’d love to send them a personal email inviting them to a virtual coffee, but I’m not sure if that’s breaking some kind of invisible rule or expectation for the subscriber. Has anyone experimented with this? Would love to get opinions and/or tips for doing this well.

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This is less subscriber-oriented growth and more personal-oriented growth I guess.

I set an aggressive schedule for myself for both of my publications--the Peasant Times-Dispatch (for Catholic lifestyle) and Gibberish (for fiction). This month, I missed my first milestone--my podcast, which is supposed to come out on the second Wednesday of each month. I was really unhappy I missed it, and it derailed everything. I've really been struggling to get back to it. Partly for things going on in my personal life--I have less free time than I had a month ago, much less when I started my substack almost a year ago. But really, missing my schedule really just made me doubt the whole process. I was supposed to publish something yesterday and I couldn't because of this odd mix of lack of time and perfectly valid Things Going On (TM).

I'm trying to figure out whether I need to re-evaluate my substack--if I did, this would be the third such restructuring in less than a year, the thought of which demotivates me. But if I don't re-evaluate my substack, I need to change something else to be able to hit my publication milestones. SOMETHING has to change.

Has anyone else encountered a challenge like this? I am really frustrated by falling off the horse and I am trying to take this time on the ground to figure out what to do differently so next time I'm on the horse I can stay on.

All wisdom welcome! Thank you in advance!

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The best tip I can give is patience. Patience and attention to detail.

If you're putting out good, solid work, your audience will fill find it. Using social media spaces that your audience is likely to frequent, engaging often and keeping links to your writing in your bio can really help get the word out, too.

Networking gets results. Reaching out and engaging with other Substack writers, commenting on similar topics with thoughtful and detailed suggestions or insights will build your name.

If people see your name everywhere, and they find what you say interesting, they'll feel compelled to check out your work!

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Hi Substack writers. I launched on Monday and have had about 10K viewers to my substack. It's free for right now. But, is there a button or way to convert those readers to free subscribers? Has anybody had luck putting up a free paywall -- meaning, give me your email and you'll get to read the rest of the story.

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I experimented with a free version of my podcast last week and saw some immediate results in upgrades to paid. My model was the Cafe Insider podcasts that Preeh Bharara puts out on Tuesdays, with a 10-12 minute sample of the longer conversation, and then some unique outro language that explains what a subscription would include. This drove more paid subscriptions in a single week than anything I've done yet.

What I can't tell yet is how many people who upgrade their subscription to gain access to the full version of paywalled content stick around as paying subscribers. But I've only been doing this for a full year, so the sample size is still quite low.

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still praying nightly for some way to filter for publications with 500-1,000 subscribers who take comments from free subscribers...like I do. This appears the best way to get a sympatico author's attention and to nurture mutual cross-posts...but I would need a part-time person to push through al the pubs manually...argh. Help!

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Happy Office Hours, fellow Stackers! I am so excited because *drumroll* I am about to hit 100 subscribers! 😱 So here's a question - what do you do to celebrate these milestones with your community? I was thinking maybe some kind of giveaway? But I'm curious to learn how others celebrate!

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I started writing on substack almost two months ago, and now I am looking for ways to improve my writing so that I can give my readers the best content possible. Does someone have any suggestions?

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Just a general plea for HELP! Only been posting for around 3 months so early days, and have attracted a couple of subscribers who aren't personally known to me, which is a tiny ego boost. But I don't have a big presence on social media, and it would be inappropriate to share my posts with colleagues. I do follow quite a few Substacks and comment, but I can't read everybody because of, you know, life. Any tips?

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I’ve been writing here for two months, have just under 200 subscribers with 13% paid. It seems I’ve stalled. I use IG to promote and a site called The Sample. Any tips to get my work seen by a wider audience?

Thank you

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Growth and reach has been my focus, so much so that I’ve shifted from one substack a week to a Sunday deep-dive and a weekly Wednesday newsletter where I share some of my best finds: songs of the week, quotes of the week, “What is Denise Reading?” with the creme de la creme articles of the week, and an advice column!

Having two spaces to flex my writers muscle in short and long form has kept me nimble and interested -- my short form Wednesday newsletter has been my favorite part of the week as of late.

Check it out below! This week I chatted about the newness of spring, if we should reread our sad poetry, and the innocent joys of secretly eloping young.


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I have a question about pace for other Substack writers. I have so many ideas and things I'm excited to try to really build a thriving, creative and collaborative community AND I'm a full-time mom of an 8 month old who needs a lot of attention!

I have a lot of enthusiasm but I also don't want to burn out. Or make so many changes it confuses my readers.

I think it can feel urgent to those of us trying to earn an income from this while also maintaining our creative integrity and work/life balance.

I'd love to hear others' thoughts!

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I'd like to have a writing marathon with my Attic Workshop, lauramoreno.substack.com , but not sure how to do it online. Guess it's similar to writing prompts, but with more advance notice and clear goals.

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I listened to my own advice (https://everytinythought.substack.com/p/i-hope-you-get-some-rest) and took a break last month because I was in the process of moving to a new place.

I was exhausted at the end of each day (still am - with unpacking) and there was no energy left for anything else. I knew the importance of writing consistently, but it's okay to take a break once in a while because life happens. I know I can only produce my best work when I am well-rested.

Be gentle with yourself so that you can produce your best work.

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I just published a "Best Of" my work...see how that goes! Shameless plug to get subscribers ;) https://corruptionduck.substack.com/p/best-of-corruption-duck . I write about something fairly boring (mortgage fraud), but I always try to find a different angle, and obviously, the crazy characters help!

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Personally I am writing about what I love and what I have learned. I started in mid-January and gained my 80th subscriber today.

People seem to enjoy the multi-part blogs or maybe it was just because it was about getting ripped off... https://open.substack.com/pub/patricia40303/p/deception-by-omission-of-the-truth?utm_source=direct&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

I have been cross posting to the various socials and gaining followers from the former mailchimp list as well as many brand new ones.

Personally, I like the shorter blogs myself. When I see the ones that are 52 minutes, I have to really be interested and it needs to start off with a spark for me to engage

I’m still posting all for free right now, trying to build the audience

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Hi! I have a good amount of free subscribers but I have been struggling to convert them to paid and have even lost quite a few despite my overall readership going up. Any suggestions for how to convert would be greatly appreciated! I already offer exclusive content and have a big backlog of paid posts. Thanks so much! Allison

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