240 Comments

I love recommendations but please take them out of the subscribe flow - I find the UX of this awful - when I subscribe to someone I want that to be as quick and simple as possible. If I subscribe and love this person then I will look at their recommendations... IMHO anyway!

Expand full comment

21K of my 38K readers have come from Recommendations. It is one of the features that makes Substack an exponentially powerful connection engine, so I am happy to see you guys are continuing to develop this strength.

Something I requested a long time ago but I suspect slipped through the cracks is the addition of a page in the menu (with Notes, About, etc.) called Endorsements or something to that effect. This would then be populated with blurbs from your recommenders. Since we are only permitted to use 3 blurbs on the homepage, this would enable people to share all of the wonderful blurbs currently collecting dust on the Recommendations shelf. (Note that we should have the ability to toggle off individual endorsements if a more curated approach is desired.)

Another cool page could be Recommenders, and people could see at a glance who recommends you. This could get a bit cumbersome (e.g., 307 Substackers currently recommend my Stack), but if it's a simple list of linked Stacks similar to what our own list of recommended pubs looks like, it should be manageable.

Expand full comment

The more you develop your product the less I believe you're doing it for writers (stopped believing this a long time ago). Subscriptions? Followers? Influence? PLEASE JUST GIVE US A MOBILE EDITING SUITE. The fact that you seem to think writers are people who only write when they are sitting in front of a computer makes me believe you are very out of touch with your target audience. Even more concerning is that you're using your role to make us more concerned with clout over content. It is sinister. Please make it easier for us to create by giving us the tools to play with our creativity, starting with writing on mobile, and then give us whatever you want.

Expand full comment

How about also adding the option NOT to show the recommendation screen to new subscribers? I've had complaints from people who felt pushed, and also from people who felt misled into subscribing to things they didn't want because they didn't understand the system, and those complaints are legitimate.

I'd like to be able to have the option to bypass ALL of the pre screens entirely and just have people land on the actual substack and make decisions based on content, not sales tactics.

Expand full comment

Checking and unchecking is great, but will a new subscriber be able to click on the pages recommended in the popup so they can decide if they’re interested before adding, or will it still be a static list? I’ve tended to ignore the recommendations during the subscribe process because I want to look at them first, but there seems to be no way to do that in the moment.

Expand full comment

Can you speak to general subscriber retention metrics for those that came through a recommendation and how long they remained a subscriber vs. those that came direct? "Choice overload", "default effect", "click through blindness", or whatever we call it, is a real usability concept. I'm curious if you're exploring direct connections from within posts instead of during sign up? For example, choosing to include a recommendations widget at the bottom of my posts that allows a subscriber to make a proactive engagement instead of reacting during sign up?

Expand full comment

Love this! I’ve found so many great writers through recommendations.

Expand full comment

This looks like an awesome opportunity for writers to support writers and creators to the benefit of each other and the readers. Also a great way for me mess with setting and avoid my work at all costs.

Expand full comment

One suggestion that comes to mind:

Readers coming from recommendations should count towards someone’s Referral count. I.e. if I recommend X, and bring X 5 new subscribers, then I should be able to earn the referral reward for 5 referrals (e.g. one month free subscription to X).

That way recommenders have an extra incentive (on top of just being nice and a fan of your work) to recommend a substack - they can also gain free access to it if they’re recommendation brings in new subscribers

Expand full comment

As a new writer I am already overwhelmed by all the email newsletter I signed up for and the many others which come with the one I am truly interested in. I am afraid this all will lead just to another social network of followers. And at some point we have to compete for the attention of our own subscribers again as they just have signed up for too many things. Recommendations also lead to overload which in turn will lower engagement as inboxes get too full and become just another doom scrolling field where I need to compete with all other voices. I would like to see Substack addressing this.

Expand full comment

Would you PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE implement private messaging? I have to go to another platform to do this. Seems like you woulda had it here already.

Expand full comment

It would be great if all subscribers who arrive through recommendations are also sent a welcome email just like direct subscribers - otherwise they may not realise they have subscribed to your Substack through the flow process and think they are being spammed/cold emailed.

It would also be v. interesting to see retention statistics i.e. how many subscribers through recommendations stick around after receiving their first email/how long they remain subscribed. My guess is the turnover of unsubscribes is pretty high...

Expand full comment

Why not give the same recommendation screen to "free" subscribers? Any downside?

Expand full comment

Excited to try it out!!!

Couldn’t have made it here without you all 😃

AYNI ❤️🙏🏼

Expand full comment

Ok but the recommendations feature is not user friendly at all. I see a list of writers/publications but can’t even click on them to be directed to check them out and see if I even want to subscribe. It’s just a simple checkbox and the assumption that because someone recommended them I too will like them. Otherwise I have to go to the search function independently and find the publication.

So annoying and such a simple fix that seems pretty obvious. 🙄

Expand full comment

1. The subscribe flow needs to be super quick and painless. Don't frustrate a reader who finally decided to officially subscribe.

2. I read a LOT of different types of writers and I wouldn't necessarily want my subscribers to face such a wide array of stuff. Feels overwhelming and invasive in a way.

3. At the very least, let us opt out of this new feature.

4. Adding/Using the Recommendations experience needs an upgrade. Just yesterday I was trying to figure out how to:

A. Write a blurb recommendation—something I've done plenty of times and I still feel like I'm going through the seven rings of hell to find it.

B. Figure out how to show blurbs more obviously so new folks can see those juicy reviews.

Neither of these are writer-friendly or reader-friendly. Someone here mentioned "endorsements" which would be front-and-center — love this idea.

Expand full comment