Substack offers a suite of features that support cross-promotions amongst writers. None of these tools require the writer to be marketing-savvy, and none rely on clickbait, but writers are using them to drive 40% of all free subscriptions and 20% of paid subscriptions across the Substack network.
Substack’s growth features include:
Recommendations: The most powerful way to grow your Substack is through Recommendations, a human-powered system built to help writers suggest other writers to their readers via the subscribe flow, on their homepages, and in automated emails.
Notes: Where writers and readers can recommend posts, links, images, and quotes, leave comments, and more.
Cross-posts: Cross-posting is a meaningful way for you to share another publication’s post with your audience. Add your commentary on a post published by another Substack writer, share the post with your subscribers via email, and now publish to your publication homepage. Cross-posts are great for resharing posts you were featured in or really believe in and want to amplify to your audience.
Guest posts: Authoring a post on another writer’s publication, or inviting another writer to publish on your Substack, encourages discovery and give you exposure to another writer’s audience. Simply click the “+” sign under a post title and search for the name of any writer on Substack. The writer will receive an email to confirm they are an author of the post and their byline will appear when you publish.
Mentions: From any post, you can add hyperlink mentions of other Substack writers or publications in your own Substack posts. Simply use the “@” key and then search for the writer or publication within the Substack network you want to tag.
How have you used these features? Let us know in today’s threads and ask any question about how they work.
Our team will answer questions and share insights with you in the threads today from 10 a.m.–11 a.m. PDT / 1 p.m.–2 p.m. EDT. Go back to today’s Office Hours hub to explore other threads.
To help organize the conversation, please use one of the following emojis when you start a new comment.
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🧠 Hello all, and happy Office Hours! Here's a little bit of encouragement from one small newsletter to all of you:
I've read a LOT of advice and wisdom about growing on Substack, and it all seems to boil down to two key things:
Craft and Community.
The best way to grow on this platform appears to be a combination of constantly improving in your craft of writing--practicing and trying new things and studying those you admire--AND putting your all behind sharing, engaging, supporting, uplifting, and just plain having fun with the writers and readers who make this place their online home.
There's no big secret. There's no "gotcha." The more you can focus on your Craft and your Community, the better and more robust your presence will be on this platform. It's work, for sure, but GOOD work, and it will never let you down!
Most importantly: keep going, keep writing, and DON'T GIVE UP! 🌿
🧠 Hey everyone! For me, all these community features have been game-changing. I’ve gotten almost 20% of my subscriber base from Recommendations, and the steady increase in numbers is all thanks to the Substack community and networking features. It’s allowed me access to subscribers I never would have gotten on other platforms! I’ve also gotten to know many wonderful writers and I can tell you this, hand on heart: THE PEOPLE ON THIS PLATFORM ARE HAPPY TO HELP YOU GROW. Just ask, but ask nicely. And you might just get a new friend, too.
🧠 - Yeah, recommendations are definitely a great way to get subscribers.
But, even more important than that, to connect with fellow authors.
Which is one of the most meaningful things I realise we can do on Substack!
❓ How to get recommendations?
The core point is making sure to present a case. Why would it make sense for the author to recommend me? What is my unique perspective? Where am I coming from?
For instance, I write on principles for personal impact, growth and decision making. Combining rational techniques with grounding methods. With a focus on analytical people. My partners deal with burnout (which is often a consequence of overanalysis and pure rational thinking), bioenergetics analysis (which helps grounding) and the nervous system (which relates to the body mind connection).
Sometimes I ask directly, sometimes I wait for the right moment.
For sure, I need to do my homework first. And then... "Just ask"!!
I have written a short encouragement (and celebration) article on the matter, that was found useful by fellow authors. Have a look! https://livmkk.substack.com/p/just-ask
✏️ Is there any good resource list or other way to search for Substacks that accept guest posts?
✏️ Have other writers found any relationships between depth/length of post and audience reaction? It seems to me that shorter posts with relatively less analysis get surprisingly more engagement despite offering less meaningful content and I’m wondering whether that’s unique to my newsletter or a more generalizable observation.
🟧 Can we get the option to remove the aggressive, in-your-face subscription request page that readers are met with when first visiting our Substack (without them even having read any of our content yet)?
It seems unnecessary, rude and kind of desperate to greet people like that. If one’s content is good and of high quality people will naturally subscribe.
Thanks and have a great day.
I'm enjoying Notes and it's definitely a hit or miss when it comes to engagement. However, I'll say that once I published my Note celebrating my reaching 100 subscribers milestone, that in itself almost got 100 likes and lots of comments. It was wonderful to see.
GUEST POSTERS & INTERVIEWEES WANTED I write about career changes, working remotely, becoming a digital nomad. My newsletter is more of a magazine style with small articles on various topics including interviews.
I would love to interview people who have made successful and radical career changes. We can do it as a written interview or you can write a short article around 500 words.
🧠- I have found collaborations to be really helpful. I did one and it seemed to work well, and I am hoping to do a few more. They’re just a good way to reach a new audience and make relationships! I would def try them!!
✏️ Looking to build up the addiction/mental-health community here on Substack.
Anyone interested in connecting?
🟧 Hey, any advice for growing your readership? I’ve a few subscribers but would love more. I’ve interacted with lots of writers and shared lots of Substacks but it mostly seems to be a one way thing. Cheers.
✏️ hey there one and all! Hope you’re having a good day. How do you get people to read your Substack and how do you use it different to a blog? Do you share the same content or different content?
My blog is hanplans.co.uk- I started my Substack but I’m not sure I’m doing it “right” and not sure how to get it out there... help! Please!
✏️ Hello Substackers! I just posted my first note last week from my very quiet corner. I see its potential but wonder if it’s rather futile if you only have a handful of subscribers. I’d love to hear your experiences thus far with notes - especially from other small pages. Have you found it to be valuable?
32 days into my Substack journey, and I just hit 100 subscribers. Since I started with zero, this has felt like very fast growth. I achieved much of that growth by really thinking about adding value - how can I use my experience to improve the life and work of others? What advice and tips can I share that make someone else's day easier? How do I get away from a "What's in this for me?" attitude.
One of my greatest subscription channels has been through Substack Office Hours - sharing advice, experience, and tips that I hope are very useful to other Substackers. I've found it's a good way to get organic growth from an audience interested in growing a creative business (which is precisely what my Substack is about).
www.ironcladcreative.com if you want to know more.
✏️ Hi everyone! Glad to see collaboration as a topic today! I’ve been very lucky to be recommended by some great writers so far, and it’s really helped grow my publication.
I also never expected to be collaborating with people so soon. I’ve always been introverted and so working with others hasn’t always come naturally, but the culture and platform here are set up perfectly to encourage it!
Anyone in the space of parenting/fatherhood that’s interested in collaborating? 🙌
✏️ 🟧 for both fellow writers and the Substack team.
I understand that tags were recently introduced. Can you suggest the best way to use them? Also, how is the platform utilizing them? Fellow writers, how are you incorporating them into your work?
✏️ would love to cross-post / recommend / guest post for or with anyone whose work relates to mine which is the exploration of the complex relationship between art and mental health (how art helps individuals and communities, how mental health challenges impact creative process and content) ... I also do interviews and am happy to email interview anyone on this topic.
Notes and recommendations have both been great for Beyond Bloomsbury. And I’m really grateful to Substack and the readers who have supported us! In 16 months we’ve gone from 0 to 2,820 subscribers.
If anyone would like to collaborate, I would be open to chat! I run a poetry Substack, and I would be happy to post poetry or exchange ideas and things! Check out my Substack and see if you’re interested!
✏️ Hello and Happy Thursday everyone! Just graduated college, and it would mean the absolute world to me if you checked out my FREE spirituality-themed Substack. Thank you and have a lovely day :)
🟧 Is there value in asking your loyal readers to be sure and hit ♥️ - Does Substack's algorithm see a high rate of likes? I have over 200 people reading nearly every post and they tell me they like it in person but I don't necessarily get a lot of likes. Would that be helpful?
✏️ Question for my fellow writers: Have you actively sought out and asked other writers with aligned audiences/ topics/ themes for Recommendations or Welcome Page Plurbs? Or has it just been a wonderful, supportive surprise when it happens?
🧠 Here's a tip: add a clear Contact Me section on your About page, so that folks have a way to reach you directly. Most people don't know that you can always send email to YOURSUBSTACK@substack.com, e.g. email@example.com for me, but that doesn't work for Stacks with custom domains.
AN ORDINARY DISASTER
A book-length memoir of a man learning to listen to himself, serialized right here on Substack:
🧠- Recommendations are driving a high number of my subscriptions lately. Especially grateful to Liz Newman (https://liznewman.substack.com/) for including my work in her recommendation!
I’m glad to connect with other writers in grief/mental health/spirituality spaces. I’m a progressive writing pastor from the Pacific Northwest. ❤️
🧠 - I've just Restacked for the first time and am waiting to see what happens!
✏️ Some of my new subscribers subscribe to dozens of free substacks, 50+ or more. No one can open that many posts in a day or week! I am wondering if the increasing popularity of Substack may lead to fewer posts being opened. I am seeing that happen to my Substack. The open stats are going down. Anybody else seeing this?
🧠 One unique benefit offered by collaboration is that of insulating some of our work from being replaced by AI like ChatGPT. That type of writing is very homogenized, bland, and generic. Recommending and linking to other's work is a powerful way to amplify their voice. It helps us connect with writers who share our interests and values. It lights the fire of inspiration, something that AI will never be able to replicate. Sharing our humanity is one way to build a bulwark against artificial intelligence.
🟧 - My understanding is that when we cross-post or mention, the specific author is NOT specifically contacted and prompted to respond in the way that a Recommendation, causes Substack to prompt reciprocity? Is this true? My cross-posting and mentioning top authors has not appeared to yield anything. I still think there are a lot of top authors who are going to ignore all this noise much more than a Recommendation. Although, I would add that MOST of my recommended Top Authors have not reciprocated. It's their choice, but at least I know they were prompted...
🧠 What can help is to go to your analytics on Substack and what newsletters the highest percentages of your subscribers read, then check those out and if it's a good fit, be active in the comment section of that newsletter. Odds are other subscribers of that newsletter could be interested in your work as well!
Just sharing my mileage here, as someone who's been writing since the start of the year and doubled my subscribers since I first started.
🧠 - Recommendations: I don't know that this has been the "most powerful" tool for me in terms of growing subscriptions. I've had more traction with posting my work on social media and converting friends and friends-of-friends (i.e. I gained 30 just from posting something on FB this week, while the max number of subscribers I've gained from my recommendations is 4).
🧠 -Notes: This has turned out to be a great networking tool, despite my initial reservations. I find it's a great way to share praise for posts that only allow paid subscribers to comment, and thus to let a high-profile author know you like their stuff, without having to pay every single one for the privilege. I think I've probably gained a dozen subscribers from Notes-based interactions with people who are writing at the same topic intersection as me (nature, parenting, grief).
🧠 Cross-posts: I had one extremely generous well-known memoirist cross-post my stuff. I gained about 10 subscribers. It was hugely validating in ways that went beyond that metric. Something to consider for established newsletter writers -- this is such a gift that you can give to those just starting out, if they merit that recognition.
✏️ - Related: I notice not every author allows cross-posting. What are the benefits of turning this option off, I wonder?
🧠 Guest posts: My version of this is doing an interview series with people who already have their own established audiences. This has definitely been a driver of page views overall, and has led to my converting some people in my guest's audience to my own subscriber base. Example: https://ryanroseweaver.substack.com/p/exit-interviews-reporter-ashley-locke
I'm always on the lookout for more interviewees, so if you're interested, please feel free to let me know via comment here!
🧠 Mentions: This has been a great way to let other writers I admire on Substack know when I'm name-checking them. It's fun to see that they've "liked" a post. I've converted a few into regular subscribers as well, which again, is hugely validating. Again, something for established writers to consider: if someone is kind enough to mention your work and promote it to their readers, simply letting them know you've seen and appreciated it with a like or a comment can be solid Substack etiquette, and good karma to boot. :)
✏️ Substack team: I wonder if you yourselves have noticed "good etiquette" or "good manners" being displayed around each of these tools. I know the community is really concerned right now with keeping the collegial feel of this space. As an educator, I know that sometimes it is more powerful to highlight exemplars of "good behavior" when shaping culture vs. focusing on the negative... so it would be cool to see something like this come out of the Substack team's blog at some point soon.
✏️ I think that dividing Office Hours into streams is a great idea. However, and I hadn't reckoned on this, I end up suffering from a serious bout of FOMO whichever stream I'm in!
✏️ - Need a song or a playlist for your post? I could collaborate picking them for you. Here you will find the kind of music I choose for my biweekly playlists: https://reflectandrelaxcafe.substack.com
🟧. I have now raised more than once (haven't completely kept track) that it would be helpful to those of us who don't write in any one category to have a category that describes us. There seem to be quite a few of us. But no action. Would love to see a new 'generalist' (or similar description) category. Thanks.
✏️ I'm looking for other writers in the "weird culture" space. I'd LOVE to collaborate and swap guest posts. I'm trying to find my people but when you write about extremely niche subjects it seems hard to track down the right readers. I feel like collaboration with writers who understand the hinterlands of culture that fascinate me will be mutually beneficial.
🧠 I love this thread! So helpful.
In my experience, all of these growth strategies (mentions, recommendations, cross-posts, Notes, guest posts) work best when you're thinking about how you can promote others, not yourself. It also feels better. It's the Substack spirit: community, joining, serving. Of course, it should also come from an authentic place. What goes around comes around. Promise! (The only exception might be guest posts because that's really about your work and your chance to shine. Take the limelight and enjoy it!)
🧠 I love the opportunity to collaborate with others. I'm starting to reach out to other writer sin the freelancing and content creation fields to see if there's an opportunity to work together. It can only benefit everyone - a rising tide lifts all boats. It also allows us to provide unique perspectives and incorporate different voices, which only helps our own writing to grow.
✏️ I’ve been struggling to use Notes in a way to connect to other readers/writers. I usually try re-stacking articles in my fields (science, societal critique) but without many followers, it usually feels like the Notes just fall on deaf ears. Is there another way to use Notes to connect that other writers have found?
New White Noise:
“Though others might lack the will and resources to build, improve, or invest in themselves, you must pick up the slack by bettering your mind, body, and soul.
You must choose greatness and become the most extraordinary version of yourself you can be.
After all, no one is coming to save you. As my late grandfather, John Timothy Landers, used to say: “Your only security in life is yourself.”
Time is money and the clock is ticking. Leverage your private equity wisely.”
🟧 hello all! Question for the Substack team: is there a way to offer a discount on gift subscriptions only? There are times, like right before holidays, but it would be nice to be able to promote that to subscribers and a discount would help. Right now the only way I can see to do it is to offer a blanket discount, including to all new subscribers. Sadly, I am heading into an appointment, so can’t hang out for the hour, but I’m here in spirit!
Playing catch up on tags and need some clarity. Seems like there are two usages ... search function and page header identification of specifically tagged posts.
"Search" seems to be an undirected way for readers (or me) to find posts ... but unless they knew the tags I'm using, it would not be very useful. For instance: I googled "purple" and search found it in one of my posts. When I googled "cottoncandy," (a word I apparently have not used), search took me to a list of Substack offerings.
I assume if I go back and tag my posts, if someone hits on those particular terms, they will get a list of related posts.
If I really want to help readers find a series of posts, I need to put the tag identifier into the home page banner. I need to do this asap.
Are their other uses of tags that would help bring organization to the rapidly filling bucket of posts I'm generating? Thanks for ideas and help.
2 Questions: 1) Is there some way to see who is sharing my posts? The shares are so far a number only, but no link to a name. This does matter to me.
2) A regular reader of my posts listens to them audibly. !! I had no idea such a thing were available on the sites. She says there's a microphone at the top of each article. Hmm. Can I ALSO hear this? I don't see a microphone when I open my page.
Thank you kindly for replies. Victoria
✏️🟧 Hello all! Question about Notes for writers or the SS team: I've seen other writers get surges of growth from notes, and I want to tap into that. I've been posting notes pretty consistently, about one a day -I've also been commenting and restacking. Unfortunately, I've seen maybe one or two subscribers come out of it. How can I better engage with Notes to boost my subs?
🟧 any updates on when @mentions will become available in the app Instead of only online?
Check out my newsletter "The Great Awakening" where I write what I learn along my spiritual journey.
The cause of all the crises in the world today is our ignorance toward our true nature, and returning to that is the only permanent solution to climate change, nuclear war threat, overpopulation, war...... you name it.
CHECK HERE: https://awakes.substack.com
✏️ Hello fellow writers, here is my open invitation to help me form a writers virtual support group to help each other write better and grow more on Substack!
One of my primary goals of writing on Substack is to improve my writing, but I don't have anyone else to edit my work before publication or provide feedback. I talked to an MFA faculty member about this and she suggested that I get a small group of people together for peer-editing and support. And I thought, what a great idea!
I'd like to start a writer's peer-support/peer-editing group and this is what I have in mind:
1. We will utilize a Slack channel as our communication platform.
2. Before publication, we will share our drafts with the group on Google Docs for others to review and provide feedback.
3. Occasionally, we can schedule Zoom meet-ups to exchange writing tips and ideas.
4. We will also help each other in staying committed to our writing goals with check-in messages.
I have a full-time job working at a university and read/write for fun at my free time, so I'd prefer to connect with people who write in their free time. However, professional writers are more than welcome, but you might not get the same out of this.
If you're interested, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me a little bit about yourself. I will then add everyone to a Slack workspace. I am excited to see where this might lead to!
Let's Make a Deal:
I will recommend you if you recommend me.
🟧 Is there a way to get more theme options or be able to personalize the homepage a bit more?
🟧 - Is it planned to have statistics related to Notes, like, for example, number of views? Thank you!
✏️ How does one approach another writer for a collaboration without seeming like you're just doing it for personal gain?
🧠 I've generated over 80 subsribers for the 4 publications I recommend so I know how powerful recommending other publicatigons can be. Sadly I've only recieved 7 subscriptions from the publicatuons that have recommended me. I'm hoping that overtime more publications will recommend my publication and I can continue to grow orgaically that way.
As for mentions, I love mentioning other people's posts in my posts. Substack makes it really easy to integrate posts and tags. They stand out from original text and I've noticed my readers actually click on them and interact with the post or person I've tagged!