Setting up your Substack for the first time
A step-by-step guide for writers, podcasters, and video creators
Substack’s tools are designed so writers, podcasters, and video creators can do their best work, supported by their subscribers—whether that’s exploring a creative side project or building an independent media business.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the initial steps all publishers need to take to set up a Substack.
Create a publication
Navigate to Substack’s home page and click “Start writing.”
When setting up your Substack publication, you will be prompted to choose a publication name and URL and to write a one-line description. These elements are the first impression for prospective subscribers, and you can come back to refresh them at any time.
Here are some tips for how to set up the foundational elements of your publication:
Your name: First you are prompted to create your writer profile. Including your full first and last name, or the name that most people know you by online if you use a pseudonym, helps increase discoverability.
Publication name: In a few words, a good title captures what your publication is about at the highest level. Test your ideas by imagining that you are on a podcast saying your publication name aloud. Is it memorable, short, and easy to say and spell?
Write a brief description: The goal of your publication’s one-line description is to signal to your target reader why they might want to subscribe.
Publication URL: All Substacks are automatically set up with a unique URL domain (domain.substack.com). Publishers also have the option to set up a custom domain if they want to remove “substack” from the URL. Using keywords here that new subscribers might search for when trying to find your publication can help make your Substack more discoverable in Google searches.
Some examples of great titles, URLs, and one-line descriptions:
Heated (heated.world): “A newsletter for people who are pissed off about the climate crisis.”
Femstreet (femstreet.substack.com): “Where women in tech lead, shape and fund the future.”
Platformer (platformer.news): “News at the intersection of Silicon Valley and democracy. On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 5PM Pacific.”
Above the Fold (abovethefolddumplings.substack.com): “Stories about dumplings + the people who make them.”
Flow State (flowstate.fm): “Every weekday, two hours of music that’s perfect for working (no vocals).”
Maybe Baby (haleynahman.substack.com): “Chipping away at the inscrutability of modern life, popular culture, and how we feel about both.”
You will see a few other prompts while you set up your publication, including the option to upload an email list and a chance to discover other writing for inspiration. We’ll walk you through each step in our setup video.
Once you create a publication, the next step is to publish your first post. Substack’s simple system lets you publish free or paid posts to the web, email, and our app simultaneously so you can find new readers and always reach your existing audience.
You can choose from four types of posts to work from: standard text-based posts, discussion threads, podcast, and video (currently in beta). Publishers imagine all sorts of formats within each post type, from edited interviews to link roundups, comics to mini books.
Read more: What can you create on Substack?
If you want to pursue a passion project, get paid to share your work, or build a media business, there are different paths you will want to consider. Choose the right path for you and keep going.
Have questions about getting started? Join the Substack team and fellow writers on Thursdays at Office Hours.