812 Comments

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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Thanks Katie! I look forward to these posts. You can get the word out and find so many opportunities to grow your page here. Like this...https://benwoestenburg.substack.com/about

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My favorite part of Thursdays! Love the new, more focused format, too. I would like to be able to close up the comments, as we did before, and there's still the issue of 'losing' a comment as the site refreshes, but those are just technical issues.

The overall feeling here is one of community and camaraderie and I love it!

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I liked it but got stuck in the wrong thread, lol - my bad, didn't realise there were multiples and had a lovely time there anyhow :)

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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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The Grow interview you linked to happens to be the only one I've already read. It was interesting. But, while I was impressed with what those guys did despite supposedly not having any credentials, I have to admit that they didn't feel super-relatable (to me — obviously, everyone is different).

I hope there are or will be some interviews with successful Substackers who are just ordinary schleps. I know there are plenty of them. Maybe some stories of growth from, say, 100 to 1000 subscribers so we noobs don't feel like it's out-of-reach.

Don't get me wrong, though. Perfectly Imperfect was a good interview and enjoyable read. Those guys earned all the recognition they are getting.

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I am also interested in reading some growth stories from 100 to 1,000 subscribers. Great point! :)

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I'd even appreciate 43 to 100.

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Shameless self promo: There's me. I started w/ zero and no platform. Here's how I did it. https://on.substack.com/p/grow-series-6

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That's beautiful honesty you have there.

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I like how you shared about reaching out to other Substack writers, and the positive responses you received from them.

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Thanks for sharing!

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Thank you for sharing this! I love this type of growth stories. I'll enjoy reading this so much! 😄

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Yes I’d like to read that!

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I do sometimes get some ideas from the grow series, but many seem indeed not very applicable, whereas the category from 100 to 1000 is very fitting for me now. I'm there, and I am not completely sure what is contributing to my growth. I saw a bunch of new subscribers last month, and I have no real idea why.

Still, I would like to try out new things.

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I agree Bob, I'd enjoy reading some organic growth posts about someone who perhaps never expected to grow their Substack so much.

For me, I'm not using social media of Twitter/FB/Instagram, so if there are people out there doing it the same then I'd be keen to hear different thoughts.

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very well said, Bob

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I love these interviews. They help keep me motivated and inspired. I've definitely learned something from each of them! Would love to see more stories of people who've grown their Substacks from scratch (no prior claim to fame or built-in audiences).

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I like them very much. I'm open to any tips that might help me grow my newsletters, but I will say I take the advice of the more famous and successful writers with a grain of salt.

Most of them come with a built-in audience or have ways of promoting we can only dream of. Some of them are people you at Substack brought in yourselves, so any advice they might give to those of us who have to start from scratch is almost irrelevant.

I'm more interested in writers who have built their newsletters up from scratch and are growing and happy with the results.

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well said, Ramona, I am organic here and growing with my audience.

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I like these. There's always at least one good nugget. It helps to be reminded. Some people are quite ingenious about it -- I think the people think about it in unorthodox ways are my favorite interviews.

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I'm also surprised sometimes at how out-of-the-box some people think and how they combine growing their content with growing their subscribers. The newsletters gets more interesting and at the same time it gets in front of more people. I think that for me one of the biggest take away was how collaborations play such a big role in the growth curve.

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I can't remember anything in particular, but at the time I read them I usually take one particular thing the person has done and either try it myself or add it to a 'to try' list. So they are definitely useful, and encouraging

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Hi Bailey, jumping on this Grow thread, no doubt will want to read all 3 eventually :)

I read each Grow interview and look for ideas - I find something relatable / usable about half the time. There are so many different types of authors on Substack with differing models and objectives. I don't expect every interview to fit with what I am trying to achieve.

For example, the one about the 3 "pirates" who write collaboratively was very helpful.

Seems there is an appetite for more insights into those authors without pre-existing brands / huge pre-Substack email lists, who have made meaningful progress, and how.

George

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To echo what Bob Merberg said, the Grow interviews are great but not relatable. In these interviews, the people had large social media presences to pull from. I worked in media as a reporter for EW Scripts and an ABC affiliate. Each time I left a publication or a TV station, I lost basically all of my work and most of my social media followers. I did freelance work for various companies based on different topics, but nothing cohesive enough to build a dedicated social following. I debated as to whether to even start a Substack instead of building out a paywalled website, which I know how to do as a former social and digital media manager. However, as a member of the Author’s Guild, I have been part of several webinars talking about different growth opportunities and Substack was part of that. But part of the Substack community are people who are working on building both social followers and Substack followers, so it would be nice to have Grow interviews with people who started with nothing and built up. Miigwech! (thank you in Chippewa)

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Just subscribed to your Substack, Maghan. Look forward to checking it out.

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Thank you! I hope you enjoy it!

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They're very helpful! I always learn something, and they're good reminder that while there are best practices for growth, there's no *right* way to grow.

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Quality content that is valuable to the reader seems to be a common thread though...

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Did not know about these, Bailey, but will take a look soon. Thanks for bringing them to our attention.

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I love reading the Grow series. And while I'm curious about the growth tips shared in these interviews I think that I'm excited to discover new Substacks. If there is one thing that all these Substacks have in common is good content, and I'm always fascinated by their growth journey in terms of how the content they deliver evolved over time and how they learned what brings value to their subscribers.

I would like to see more examples of fiction, literature, game, comedy writers and their journeys on Substack. I know that fiction authors don't have huge followings on Substack like other type of newsletters... would be interesting to know why and also understand how the audience of a fiction newsletter is different than the audience of, say, a business or a lifestyle newsletter. Also, is there a type of creative writing that is more engaging than the others? Thank you.

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This. Would love to see some growth interviews from fellow fiction writers.

(And to add to Claudia's point, these threads are in themselves a slow but steady way of ensuring growth. I perhaps wouldn't have found Claudia's Substack were it not for such threads.)

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And the other way around, it must be said ☺️

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They're great for giving me motivation and letting me know I'm on the right track!

It's also really cool to hear people's stories and how they got their start.

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I get a lot out of them, especially if they’re more actionable. Particularly loved the piece on reaching your first 100 subs.

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Me too, very good

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I loved Action Cookbook I resonated most with his approach of writing about anything happening in his world and the way he structures free and paid posts. I love his writing voice, too!

I love hearing tips and how people grow, and I also don't find it too inspiring if it's someone who was like, an editor somewhere major or just well known and posted on IG "hey I'm moving to Substack with a newsletter!" then their hundreds or thousands of fans just followed.

Don't mind hearing about them! They just don't resonate as deeply as "helpful" since they already had a pretty big audience that would convert to a pretty hefty following over onto Substack.

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I get a lot of value out of them; especially when they feature writers on a similar trajectory to me.

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I’ve always gotten an idea or two that I think adds to my newsletter or at least will get readers to engage. While I cannot relate to the trajectory, I’m hoping to build more quickly. I am not banging out fiction but I’ve gotten into a more comfortable routine with just getting ideas, keeping up with deadlines or deliverables, and publishing. It’s a process that brings joy which I think is worth a lot.

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Did the ability to collapse threads go away?

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Looks like it. That's too bad. I really liked that feature, though it was harder to get back into a conversation later on.

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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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Great advice. I keep reminding myself that word of mouth is probably the most important factor for growth, and for that to work, you have to have great writing to show people. If they enjoy what you put out, they'll come back and they will tell others about you. Here's hoping I'm lucky/talented enough to run a great newsletter.

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Word of mouth & the recommendation feature have been game changers for this platform.

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Really underrated advice.

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Totally agree. Even in the Grow series, interview after interview I can see that all the newsletters that stand out have great content. The work and craft that go into those newsletters is unbelievable.

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Love "Give more than you take." :)

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Soooooo important! It's the secret ingredient to building community, but it shouldn't be a secret.

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So true, even for the newsletters who are small like mine. We tend to think that we have nothing to give (yet). But that's not true. Being an engaged member of the Substack community, showing interest in other people's work and supporting them are always welcomed (right?).

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You have *so* much to give, Claudia :D

(I'm checking my email every day, awaiting that next post...

No pressure, I'm just letting you know that's how much I already value your writing!)

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Thanks Nathan, I am working on my next short story and I hope to have it ready for Monday. I already rewrote it so many times, I'm getting tired 😩 but at some point it has to stop. Otherwise I'll keep rewriting it for the rest of my life.

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#relate

I just did the same thing with my latest post. I rewrote it too many times, editing and reshuffling and changing. Glad to have had my self-imposed Substack deadline.

Send it out there. It's OK if it's not perfect. It'll never be perfect. Nothing ever is. But that's OK, it's what we strive for and keeps us going :)

To probably use totally the wrong term, perfection is the asymptote of creativity.

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Yes, self-imposed deadlines cannot be underestimated. I started writing this short story in 2020...

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All very well put by the best citizens on Substack. All I would add is take advantage of any opportunity to participate in Office Hours or any other forum offered by Substack - it can always lead to a new subscriber/reader. I also fundamentally believe that anyone who approaches this work in good faith will make his/her/their own luck.

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I was very shy to participate in the Office Hours in the first 5 months of my journey on Substack. I didn't want to seem like I'm pushing myself out there... but after I started participating in the talks I realised how silly I was.

There is, of course, a level of self-promotion when participating in the threads, but I was surprised by how much I enjoy exchanging thoughts (and sometimes jokes) with the community, reading what other writers think, discovering interesting newsletters... now I'm looking forward each week to the Office Hours. Also, everyone is very decent and only a very small percentage of people just shamelessly push their newsletters without contributing. This shows what a good crowd this is. 👏

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It's honestly one of the nicest internet discussions places I've ever come across. It makes sense, because everyone here is writing on Substack, so there's a good pre-filter, but I still find it surprising and warming to read all the kind messages of support and advice.

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Exactly, it feels like a real community, like a conversation. Not just everyone talking at each other. 😂 Or worse, insulting each other as I so often see on Twitter.

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Haha, yep. I can't really enjoy being in those places. Reddit's the only other social place I flit in and out of.

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Reddit? Where exactly? I sometimes read some stuff but I can't find my way around really.

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Wholly agree! I like to say, trust in yourself more than you trust in the algorithm..

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well said robert - it is my 2 year birthday on Substack this week and fellow Substackers have been supporting me alot with recommendations for a feature, great platform and community of wordy types :)

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Congrats on the anniversary, David!

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What great advice. I’ve just started out a few months ago and am slowly finding my grove with writing. Slow and steady is how I’m approaching substack, I’ve just discovered to wisdom in Office Hours.

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I so believe that! It's a matter of being patient. Word of mouth usually starts off as a whisper before it becomes a shout. One of the things I like to do is SHARE my "About" page, so people can see what I have to offer. Like this: https://benwoestenburg.substack.com/about If you share it when you make a comment--not every time because that's "troll'ish", isn't it?--but once in a while so that people reading your comment might be inclined to looking at your profile.

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I have been getting subscribers from The Sample. I have also included my Substack link on my personal and work email for more visibility.

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Have not heard of the sample. Can you offer me a link?

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Here you go! https://thesample.ai/?ref=edd7

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Thanks. Didn't know about this. Do you have to submit things to it, or does it automatically just pull things from your Substack?

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You don’t have to do anything. It just sends you a notification when your subscription file is ready to be downloaded!

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If you use the button 'Submit a newsletter', your Substack newsletters will be pulled automatically from Substack and sent out. You get a weekly overview of your performance on the sample.ai. And if someone subscribes, you get a csv file with the email that you can either copy-paste or import to Substack.

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Thanks, good to know. That's great. Just signed up, will see how it goes.

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Thank you!

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I signed on with them for the free option a few weeks (months?) back. As they suggest is likely, I picked up some new subscribers (less than 10), and now it's tapered off. Can't expect much from a free service. I'm sure it would improve if I were willing, and able, to sink some money into it.

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I agree. I'm retired now and have a limited income. Maybe if I grow my paywall page I can use that money to invest in myself?

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I had the same experience and I'm curious if the paid option works better. I also wonder if the audience of the sample.ai prefers a certain type of content. I had a newsletter about how Substacks helped me find my writing process that brought in 3 subscribers (0.8% conversion). I wonder if their audience consists mainly of writers...

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i think i filled out the form for the sample correctly but not sure i added them as a subscriber correctly ,

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I hadn't heard of The Sample- thanks for sharing!

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This worked well for me for about the first two weeks that I was on The Sample, and then I didn't get many more after that. Grateful for that initial batch, though!

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The same happened to me. I got 12 subscribers the first week or so and a lot of traffic but now...zilch. I'm wondering if you have to start paying to keep the benefits?

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My guess is that the referral links play a big role. I haven't personally tried using them though so am curious if people really did see a difference from using the referrals.

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same for me

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i think i filled out the form for the sample correctly but not sure i added them as a subscriber correctly ,

how will i know when this is completed correctly ?

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what is The Sample?

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It's a (free) service that will send your email out to their audience. Readers can then subscribe to it. That's obviously helpful, but if you like to /read/ newsletters, it's good for seeing new ones you might not've other wise. There's also a dashboard of all participating writers, so you can connect/collaborate.

The more you use it, the better it gets at knowing what you want to read. On the writing side, the more traffic you send their way, the more they'll send your work out.

Check it out: https://thesample.ai/?ref=85a1 (aff. link)

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I have had good luck with the Sample.

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ooo didn't know about the Sample! That's fun site. Are there others like that?

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The Sample

Lettergrowth

Inboxreads

Radletters

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Ditto didn't know about these. Thanks, Kevin.

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Thanks a lot, didn't know three of these options. I'll try them out. 👍

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I don’t know if others. I’d love it if anyone else that knows shares!

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

Spot on, and thank you for the reminder.

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so well said

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I feel a bit like the doom and gloom but I have to say that quality work doesn’t always rise to the top on Substack - from my experience, it’s a huge social media following or being promoted by those with a large Substack following that seems to work best. But there’s something to be said for not panicking about growth and keeping true to yourself in terms of what you write, not always chasing the numbers but rather the connections that truly appreciate what you do and read it!

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Yeah, agree.

The focus on growth can be somewhat demoralising if you spend too much time dwelling on it. I love to see the stats, but really I want to be reading and writing quality, interesting and inspiring work, even if it's for a limited audience. Over time, I'd like to hope that anyone writing such work will be found and rise, but it just might be a slower process. But that's OK. The journey is everything.

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Totally agree that actually there’s something about having a more niche audience that truly appreciates how you write and your unique voice. Part of me isn’t looking for large numbers or amazing stats as then that might mean I’m too mainstream or middle of the road! But maybe I am just very strange about what matters to me!

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So true. Not strange at all. We should all aim for that mentality.

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I agree so much, sometimes you write a newsletter as a creative outlet. Nobody wants to hear the crickets, but even a small audience can be such a source of inspiration and support for a writer. Fortunately, I have a day job and I don't have to worry about monetising my newsletter. I am so happy that I finally found a place that keeps me on fire about writing my stories and putting them out in the world.

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+1

There's only one Deborah Sloan.

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Always great advice, Kevin. I'm not at the crosspost or guest post place yet, but I do like reading them when others do it.

I haven't had much luck with Sample but it's me, not them. I'm not exactly sure how to promote them, and I don't see much promotion anywhere else.

But patience, helping, and paying it forward--I'm all in!

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I believe this fully because I've seen Kevin do all of this himself. A man who practices what he preaches.

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Thank you! You are a good example to follow. :)

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Love that last bullet! Any suggestions on how to guest post / cross post? Are there certain best practices you'd

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"moviewise: Life Lessons From Movies" is open to Guest Posts. For more information, please see:

https://moviewise.substack.com/p/be-our-guest

Prompt:

If you've ever felt that you learned something about life from a movie, please share it with us 🤗

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For me, I found other newsletters I genuinely enjoyed, and after awhile just offered to write a a guest post. I didn't ask for anything in return, so it was an easy "sell."

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👆

Yes, to all of this, Kevin! Especially "give more than you take."

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Yes!

Growth takes time, a lot of time. Shortcuts make it not worth it.

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Thanks for the advice!

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Some fantastic tips here, thank you. Love ‘give more than you take.’

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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.

https://mostlypython.substack.com/p/using-substack

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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Curious if you think that these separated conversations are helpful - make it any less overwhelming? Would love to hear feedback!!

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yes, it is helpful, thanks Bailey -- but, and, the jumpy interface and unreliable notifications / link-backs, as Eric Matthes noted in his post, still make it really hard to work with... any improvements on those would be much appreciated!

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I like this very much. Office Hours was getting a bit unwieldly, so dividing interests is a brilliant option! Thanks.

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There's something fun about seeing how big office hours can be, but in terms of utility, breaking out into separate spaces is really helpful. Like, today is the first time in months that I haven't felt overwhelmed at office hours.

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confused me slightly but i need coffee today :)

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WAY less overwhelming! I think one more option could come up for threads, maybe “talk around the water cooler” for any general discussions?

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CAP OFF THE CHARACTER LENGTH. Less scroll = more engagement back and forth. Also, who are the people who can write paragraphs this fast? Do they come prepped with cut and paste. Curious!!

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Personally, I type 70 WAM so yes, I can type paragraphs that fast! LOL

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This is also the first live chat I’ve been in, so cannot speak to the formatting before. however, I’ve been toggling between two threads. Lots of great stuff and people. But some really lengthy explanations that slow down the experience fwiw.

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I don't think it's the length of comments that make the pages jumpy, it's the rate at which new comments come in. It's the auto-refresh that makes everything move around while you're reading, or worse, while you're trying to write a reply.

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They certainly are! I think it will take people a few weeks to sort out exactly where to post. But I already see more focused conversations. If one or two of them are less used but those conversations are more focused, that's a big improvement.

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Love the new format. Very helpful, thanks Bailey.

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Yes, it's a good thing to have implemented, thanks.

These spaces always feel a bit exhilarating to jump into with how unwieldy they can get, but I enjoy it.

I've experienced less jumping around today, but maybe that's because less people are in and Liking each section, causing them to move up/down?

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Yes, I like it because it's easier to look at the page without it hiccuping while it loads. Thank you!

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I think this is super helpful! I feel like I'm back in a conversation again - not scrolling crazily trying to find where I'm at. Thanks for doing this!

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Yes, really great so far. Helps organise the threads into different categories.

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Still a lot of content to get through, but I think that's the nature of the "beast" (we should come up with a better idiom for when the case in point is not exactly beastly - ha!) Segmenting conversations like this helps!

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Agree, I can hardly keep up! (and to get visibility you have to sit in constant refresh to watch the link pop up so you can actually get a comment near the top! :)

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I've actually realised I quite like getting to this a few hours in because then I can scroll through all the goodness and comment on what people have written.

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I feel like both the app and web have gotten better at handling the conversation. It is definitely still overwhelming in general, thanks for the tips!

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Agreed! This thread is barely 15 minutes old and already there's a tsunami of comments to get through!

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And what happened to collapse!!!! This is a nightmare for me now. I'm only going to stay on a bit because it all gets so unwieldy.

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The collapse works. I just did it. I just clicked on the line leading from your icon on the left, and it collapsed.

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THANK YOU, BEN!!!! (Yes, I am shouting for joy!) I was accustomed to seeing something that said "collapse" or "collapse thread"--not just having to know to click the line. Would be better if they added an arrow to make that more intuitive. Again, thanks so much!

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Same. It was the one Office Hours trick I knew. Some good tips are in the guide Eric linked to. If you can find it again on the page!

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This! It's really tripping me up.

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This is awesome. The time stamp tip alone is huge!

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Thank you for this! It is so useful. Office hours are a terrible time for my time zone, so that adds an extra layer of frustration.

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Great! I can't wait to read it. Thanks!

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Nice! Thanks, Eric.

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Thanks Eric, will check it out. The current interface is a peeve of many here

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Thank you for the tips, Eric!

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Thanks for this, Eric. I needed it. It's a very well put together guide.

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great post Eric -- totally agree!!

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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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Hey! I needed to hear this. A couple of days ago, after a bout of work-related exhaustion, I almost quit my newsletter. But I got a good night's sleep and I'm back in the saddle. Writing is hard business, especially if you've got a full-time job, but it's worth it. So worth it.

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Don't give up, Andrei! I definitely know the feeling. But you're right: the challenges are SO worth it.🌿

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well said! :)

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Maybe don't think of it as a 'business' but more as a calling, a craft, or an art form. Don't think of it as a 'job'. It's what you do for love!

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I agree with that Ramona. When I was working I was getting up @ 3:30 just so I could get 2 hours of writing time. I loved it. Now that I'm retired, I'm getting up @7:00 am. But don't give up whatever you do, because time slips away and that's something you can never get back.

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Two months after I started my newsletter, I took a two-month break also due to work-related stress. I'm so happy that I got back and already wrote 3 newsletters. I did have to get a bit more realistic about how often I can send out a quality newsletter and settled for bi-weekly instead of weekly.

Don't give up! 🌟

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It's so hard to remember to celebrate the wins!

3 months ago, when I turned on paid subscription I didn't really know what to expect. Now I have over 200 paid subscribers. 🤯

But it's still really easy to overly focus and obsess about day-to-day growth, thinking that new number is the baseline, and I have to grow more, faster, etc. Thanks for the reminder to celebrate the wins!

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Congrats on that win, Jesse. 200 paid is terrific. What is your subscriber total? Is 200 in that 10% sweet spot that Substack suggest is the average?

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Ha, I WISH I had 10%! 😅

My newsletter is around 56k subscribers, so I'm more like 0.3% paid. Hopefully that gets closer to 10% as the year goes on, but hey, I'll settle for 5%! 😂

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That is amazing! And how long did it take to get 56,000? I just turned on my Paid page yesterday.

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Thanks! I started my newsletter just over two years ago. Good luck!

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Congrats on all of your success! It certainly looks very well deserved! I'm curious: do you think paywalling content helped drive paid subscriptions?

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Thanks! I'm still trying stuff out and learning what drives subscriptions the most.

The two largest growth spikes were 1) when I launched paid subscriptions, 2) when I ran a 20%-off annual sale (which I advertised for 2 weeks).

As for the content, my main newsletter goes out on Tuesdays, and that one is always free, not paywalled. Then I usually (but not always) do an additional issue on Thursdays which is sometimes paid-only, and sometimes does the paywall preview thing. It does seem like the paywall previews helps drive additional signups, but not significantly so compared to the regular free issue (at least at this point).

I usually only do the paywall preview if I can offer value above the fold. I do reader Q&As where I list all the questions at the top and then put a couple of the answers behind the paywall. So they still get value from the answers above the fold, so it doesn't just feel like spam or something.

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Thanks for answering. This is all so helpful!

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That is fantastic! Just took a peek at your stack and I see why it is so popular. Going to send a link to my son...

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Wow, great success story! 👏 You should be featured on the Grow series (if you weren't yet).

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Love this! Thanks for calling it out. Sometimes it's so easy to get stuck in the slog it's hard to remember to celebrate. I just celebrated a year of my publication, and that felt pretty good!

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Congratulations, Sara!! One year is no small feat!! 🌿

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Celebrate every little win! I make a point of punching the air with every new subscriber I get. That's one more person that wants to hear what I have to say, and that's amazing!

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Yes, and thanks for your continued reminders that every little step is a win. I had my first unexpected shout-out from a reader I didn't know, in a post she wrote for a larger online community, and gained a few followers that way. Once I calmed down, I realized it only happened because I was writing what mattered to me, and it resonated with one reader. I didn't orchestrate it or pitch it. I just wrote. Celebrating that!

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YES! When what we write about matters, it shines through and people get engaged.

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Yes! This is where the magic happens--when you're writing from the heart in your authentic voice!

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I so agree. When you write about what interests you and don't think about trying to pick up subscribers, or if they'll like it, and why aren't they leaving comments, it's like a weight falls off. The readers will come. So what if it takes a year or two? Cheer those who have double your readers in half the time it took you. It's not a competition.

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The challenge for those of us who are new to Substack but not new to writing is that there's a little bit of each of the discussions I'd like to behefit from. I'll admit that I tend to answer posts from new writers with suggestions, and benefit most from interaction with other experienced writers. Not sure how to unpack that, but having early trouble with this format.

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Stick with it. I've been here 9 months. I worked on my ABOUT page. I wanted it to stand out so that anyone looking at it would know what I was offering. I looked at all sorts of other pages to try and figure out what to do; experimented with the video, and podcasts, tried the Cross-over and recommended pages I liked and followed. I only have 120'ish subscribers, and while I tell myself that's not a lot, I am picking up 10-20/month. But I don't think you'll find a better platform.

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I hear you, Howard! I'm curious to see how this all shakes out, too. Regardless, I'm glad you're here! 🌿

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A good reminder! I've been disappointed by how few subscribers I'm able to convert to paid - but it's important to remind myself of how many free subscribers I've gathered, and the amount of quality work I've been able to produce in the last couple of years.

Thanks!

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Thank you for this. It is really reassuring to read comments like this. I started on Substack during lockdown in 2021. But due to hiccups with the substack system and lack of paid subscription growth, I found it hard to sustain and it deflated me. So I quit. In retrospect, I shouldn't have. But I am back now with a renewed mindset and a focus on good content over the growth. It feels right and I agree with so many voicing a similar sentiment here. In the end it is all about staying true to your writing and fostering a community that appreciates your effort. And little wins do matter. Thank you :)

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Welcome back, Sneh! I understand what you're going through so much. I almost quit a couple of days ago too, for various reasons. Mainly life getting in the way, but also disappointment due to slow growth. But writing is truly fulfilling and, as you said, the Substack community is so great, and I want to stay on here as long as I'm able to, because it's probably the most positive space for writers on the internet.

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Thank you for the warm welcome Andrei. I agree, it is a noisy world out there and it can become very hard for your voice to be heard over the noise. But you have to keep persisting.

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I'm SO GLAD you came back, Sneh! Just keep moving forward, following the joy, and the right people will find you. When you focus on fostering community over growing numbers, all kinds of magic can happen. I believe it! 🌿

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Love your motivational words.

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If I can add:

Anyone "just starting" is already light years ahead of all the people still standing at the start line staring at their shoes.

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Your additions are always welcome! They're supposed to be staring at the finish line and moving towards it, not looking back at their track shoe