Apr 5, 2022 • 3M

Podcasting, but better

Now we're really talking

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Appears in this episode

Hanne Winarsky
Conversations with writers, bloggers, and creative thinkers about how they got here. Produced by Substack, a place for independent writing.
Episode details

The best thing about being a podcaster is the joy of a really good conversation. It feels like that moment at a cocktail party when you find yourself in a corner by the cheese table, chatting with the most interesting person there. And then it gets even better: you get to share that conversation with your listeners, who come along for the ride and experience it with you.1 

But then you click publish, and suddenly the experience of podcasting becomes very one way. Sure, you get some download numbers; maybe you get some Twitter noise around an episode; maybe you get an Apple review. But for the most part, it feels like you push this rich conversation out… into a strange, empty ether.

That’s what makes podcasting on Substack so different. Suddenly, the podcast can keep the conversation going. With most other podcast platforms, the best you can hope for is to keep a listener’s attention for a fleeting moment. But here, you know who your listeners are. These listeners aren’t just download numbers: you speak to them in a direct relationship, through their email. You bring them into your world, where they read around a bit, maybe comment, maybe even put their email address down right away. 

In this new relationship, your listeners know you more intimately, too. You talk to them not just through the podcast but through writing; through more video, and audio, and images; through show notes that might be more album notes or essays than blurbs. In this podcasting universe, podcasters are more than podcasters, and listeners become more than listeners: they become a community.  They can listen, and read, comment, and discuss—with you and with each other, online, in email, and in the app—and respond right back. 

The Discussion, Harry Willson Watrous

Writers on Substack have done so much more than just create newsletters. They went independent and became media outlets in their own rights. They created new communities. They changed the entire business model of writing, making it unnecessary to pander to algorithms or advertising. 

That’s what’s coming now for podcasting. The same way we made it simple to start a paid newsletter, we’re making it just as easy to produce a paid, subscription-based podcast on Substack. You can push every new episode to your readers and subscribers, on the Substack app and other podcast players, as easily as publishing a post in your newsletter. Owning your own audience also means something very different here than anywhere else: we make it easier for you to get and keep new listeners, and you’re never locked in with constraints around keeping those emails or payment systems. 

Just like Substack gave writers the freedom to be writers again, the Substack model of podcasting will bring the format to its pinnacle. Before, podcasting was a monologue into the void. Now, it’s a rich conversation listeners are invited into, a deeper connection with your own community. The world of ideas doesn’t need to be boiled down to one format—or one direction. 

So take a peek behind the Hollywood curtain with The Ankler; explore science and culture with The Origins; pick apart the news with The Fifth Column; level up your finance game with Fatal Conceits; listen in on the most interesting people in the world with Chris Ryan; unpack diet culture with Burnt Toast; go deep on foreign policy with American Prestige; or understand Internet nonsense with Blocked & Reported. These podcasts—and so many more—are part of the new wave changing the form, and expanding what’s possible on Substack.  

Visit our support center to learn how to start a new podcast or migrate a podcast from another hosting platform to Substack.

Our answers to common podcasting questions are located here.


With huge thanks to Andreessen Horowitz, who took a risk and hired a book & op-ed publisher to host and produce a podcast.