Substack: Marketing itself “differently”

Here’s from their blog post.

Please stop calling it the ‘newsletter economy’

How many newspaper or magazine writers are making more than $1 million a year? How many writers anywhere have been making that kind of money in the last few years? Even among bestsellers, how many authors whose names aren’t James Patterson or J.K. Rowling have been able to build that sort of wealth? How many names at the tops of the leaderboards on are the same old names you’re used to seeing elsewhere in the media? How many are brand new entrants into this economy? 

In that time, we’ve helped writers make money doing the work they believe in, and sometimes even get rich. We’ve helped launch a myriad of wonderful publications – some of them newsletters – that might otherwise never have existed, covering everything from local politics to food culture to hard science. We’ve created a network that helps writers grow simply by being on Substack, bringing them subscriptions for free. We have built a system that has helped podcasters bring in many hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’ve made Substack into a place where TikTokers and Instagrammers are creating new homes for their communities and instantly making full-time livings. 

I have highlighted a few words for emphasis:

  • Rick
  • Instantly
  • Millions of dollars
  • Communities
  • Podcasters
  • Subscriptions
  • Money
  • $1 million dollars

If you assume that you will crack their “leaderboard” with the number of subscribers waiting for the next edition of your golden words, a reality check is critical. Substack is a private company with no obligation around “real numbers”. Even if they have everything “audited” or fling around the terms like “non-profit”, it is easier to get derailed.

I have included the blog post to highlight just one thing. If you are planning to start your blog, own your content and own your domain. This is critical. Money will roll by building trust and credibility, not “growth-hacks” or “medium”. You’d just be shunted out someday if there is a “change in policy” or the company decides to alter their algorithm to “surface” spammy content. Medium did that, and now they are reconsigned to the dustbin of the internet.

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