This isn’t a unique problem to Substack. Blogs disappear all the time; either the author has moved on (or worst case scenario – crossed over to another domain) or stopped writing without a suitable warning. Substack appears to suffer from this problem more uniquely. There are entire substacks disappearing; I checked on a few saved bookmarks, and they all returned a 404 error.
Did the authors assume money will start pouring in after they saw an eye popping “advance” to specific hard hitting authors? In my case, I had set up a Stripe billing, added my “newsletter” and assumed it would be feasible to generate a “passive income”. However, the “community” on the Substack or in any blog ecosystem depends on “references” and “recommendations”.
Substack had one shot during the pandemic to push through their subscription newsletter business; something which didn’t pan out universally. Others tried to copy the simplistic business model – a subpar CMS, stripe billing and a third party email mass mailer. There’s not much engineering chops involved in this. VC money brings marketing+PR+contacts and a hype machine. It doesn’t equate with “success”. Everyone knows that the majority of the users will eventually drop out. Therefore, the hype machine is only to get (and earn money as rent seeking) from a small subset of “stars”. The super-stars are required to attract the “stars” even if the “super-stars” don’t stay back on the “network”.
Thats the reason for the 404 errors.