One year in: Writer reflections on publication milestones
Writers are using milestones to take a look back and share what they’ve learned.
Writing consistently is no small feat, so it’s important to recognize milestones as they come. And while not everyone will have reflections from four years of writing like early Substack writer Bill Bishop, writers are using their own Substack milestones to share what they’ve learned so far, from what’s been working to what they’d like to try next.
Read on for a selection of recent one-year milestone posts from Rekt Capital, Construction Physics, Platformer, and Culture Study, plus a tale of summer hustle from The Novelleist—and join us in congratulating any writer hitting a milestone that’s meaningful to them.
Did we miss a good one? Share the link in the comments.
Rekt Capital, a publication that offers level-headed analysis of cryptocurrency markets, shared lessons from a year of writing in a recent special edition.
One takeaway: It’s important to find a balance between paid and free content. Rekt writes that “free editions are the necessary baseline upon which the paid offering is built.”
Brian Potter of Construction Physics, a publication that delves into how the construction industry is and, more frequently, isn’t innovating, reflects on how he’s grown his publication from zero to 4,000 subscribers in his recent retrospective.
One takeaway: Growth isn’t linear. Brian didn’t start with a preexisting audience, and most of his publication’s growth has been through word-of-mouth over the last four months.
A year after quitting his job to start his Substack publication Platformer, Casey Newton dug deep into what he’s learned, from conversion rates for paid subscribers to the “superpower” of Discord.
One takeaway: Platformer grows when it’s publishing good journalism. “The biggest spikes in both free and paid membership over the past year came after I published the best reporting I did this year,” Casey writes.
When Anne Helen Petersen of Culture Study quit her job to go independent about a year ago, she wasn’t sure if it would work. Her milestone reflection is full of gratitude for the reader community that’s shown they’ll subscribe “simply because they value the work.”
One takeaway: Community is key. Culture Study readers are highly engaged in weekly subscriber threads, and they’ve “made the comments section a place where you might actually want to hang out again,” she writes.
Before Elle Griffin began serializing her new gothic novel on her Substack The Novelleist, she set herself the challenge of a “full-send summer” spent focusing on promoting the publication using everything from paid advertisements to cross-promotions to pitches and more.
One takeaway: When it came to promoting her Substack, it was a combination of things that worked. “In the end, all of it was experimentation. Some of it didn’t work. But some did!”
Are you writing about a milestone in the life of your Substack publication? Send us a note about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll consider it for a future milestone post roundup (just make sure your post is available to free subscribers). It doesn’t have to be at the one-year mark, but we’re most interested in writing that shares thoughts and insights about what you’ve learned along the way.