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How to test the waters on Substack
Not all writers who start a Substack treat it as their full-time job at the outset. Many choose instead to start slow, devoting a few hours to their publications each week or month to see if there’s an audience for their writing.
We recently launched a few features that make it easier than ever for writers to test the waters. If you’re considering one day launching a Substack of your own, you can start collecting email addresses and receiving pledges for future paid subscriptions today with minimal time investment.
Create a publication and begin receiving pledges
Even if you’re not ready to post regularly, it’s a smart strategy to simply open a publication on Substack. Once you have a publication—which takes just 5 minutes to create—readers can begin to both sign up for your email list and make subscription pledges. That means that you will have reliable audience, and perhaps some recurring payments, if you one day choose to take your Substack seriously and enable paid subscriptions.
Pledges have already helped many writers build confidence that there’s a market for their writing. You can use pledges without publishing regularly or aggressively promoting your Substacks. You just need to open a publication.
If you don’t want to encourage pledges, you can turn the feature off at any time in your dashboard.
Not ready to go public?
If you aren’t comfortable creating a public Substack, you still have a few ways to start building momentum here.
A private Substack is a publication that requires readers to request to subscribe to see your posts. As a writer, you can choose to approve or decline each subscription request.
Readers who discover your private publication via your Substack profile can pledge their financial support, just like with a public Substack, but the articles you publish won’t be visible non-subscribers.
If you’re not ready to open a publication, you can still start building your audience as a reader. People who discover you via the comments, your guest posts, or Substack Notes can easily subscribe to your future work.
When someone subscribes to you as a reader, you'll be notified via email. If you open a publication, you’ll be able to email those readers your posts.
Need more help getting started? Explore one of our comprehensive guides.