How to welcome your new readers
A writer's guide to crafting a precise and effective welcome email
By the time your welcome email hits your reader’s inbox, you may think your job to sell your publication is done: they’ve subscribed and are on the list! What else is there to do?
But this overlooked space can be the difference between instant churn (unsubscribe or inactive reading) and upsell from free to paying subscribers. The welcome email can bring your reader deeper into your publication from the get-go and deliver on the promise of your welcome page and your About page—both instrumental in converting browsing readers to signups.
While the boilerplate copy created by Substack for your welcome email is a good guide for length and content, some simple and personal tweaks to your welcome email can make all the difference. Here are some tips to maximize your welcome email, as well as examples from other writers. To edit the welcome email, head to your dashboard Settings and look for “welcome email” under Basics.
Read more: Setting up your publication and How to polish your publication’s About page and one-line description
Greet your new subscribers
Imagine your welcome email is how your reader might like to be greeted on entering a party you’ve put on for subscribers only. What’s the atmosphere and feeling in your reader you want to exclusively create?’s , who writes about the difficult parts of motherhood, addresses her readers personally in her welcome email, acknowledging she knows who her readership is, and the result is incredibly effective:
Invite free subscribers to upgrade their subscription
There is never not a good time to invite subscribers to upgrade. From day one, you can start the messages you want free subscribers to hear.
Our team advises including an upgrade button “above the fold” of the email (before the reader needs to scroll), along with details of the paid benefits laying out the differences for free and paid subscribers.
Here’s an example from:
Include a call to action
The welcome email is also an opportunity to get your new reader into the swing of reading your posts every time they see an email from you.
Some writers like to include links to foundational posts, to archives, or to previous posts in a series they are currently running. Including a list of great paid posts acts as another invitation to upgrade so readers don’t miss out.of gets new readers straight to the goods by sharing a list of his “greatest hits”: includes a link to her latest post, with a question to her readers inviting them to join in the comments:
Get to know your readers
Now is a perfect chance to get to know the person behind an unknown email address.
Some writers ask their readers to reply to the welcome email with why they signed up, or invite them to a Chat or introductory post to share more about where they are in the world and why they subscribed.of asks his new subscribers to answer a key question: Why did they sign up?
When asked about this call to action, Kevin told us: “Someone recently asked me how many people reply. And after the ParentData shoutout earlier in the month, I saw about 1,000 new followers and 25 emails. So around 2.5% of folks reply.”
Here’s another example from Substack’swho writes :
Don’t just reshare your About page
While the About page’s goal is to establish credibility with your readers while showing off your writing voice and style, the welcome email’s is to acknowledge their presence on your email list.
Rather than selling your newsletter to a newcomer, it’s a chance to reiterate that this subscriber is “in the right place.” That also gives you space to be more creative, but also more intimate, personal, and private.
Hot tip: The welcome email doesn’t appear on your Substack website—so this email will be totally private to those who subscribe.
Make it yours
Try not to make the welcome email feel too formal or like it’s been autogenerated. If you took time to write it, make it yours!of signs off her welcome email with a handwritten signature, which makes it feel like a personal letter.: opens with a letter to readers and a family photo:, who writes , includes a photo of her sleeping cat in her welcome email to new subscribers:
Detail special offers
If you are running a discount code or group subscriptions, your welcome email is a great place to give the details.
As well as sharing some of her most popular posts, writerincludes a discount upsell to free subscribers in her welcome email for :
What are your favorite welcome emails? What tips do you think we are missing from this list? Be sure to add your own insights in the comments.
How to welcome your new readers