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Why Substack is the Ultimate Platform for Independent Writers

Why Substack, really? Should it be your #1 writing platform?

You have heard of Substack, haven’t you?

Everybody has.

It’s like a one-stop shop for writers who want to share their musings and get paid for it! Think of it like a super cool fusion between a blog, a newsletter, and a money-making machine. All you have to do is focus on your writing, and Substack will handle the rest of the nitty-gritty tech stuff.

Okay, calm down. Let’s be real.

Substack is no money-making machine, although there are hundreds of writers who make a d*mn decent income from the platform.

But is it the right one for you?

Let’s see.


Audience-grower

Some say you should only start writing on Substack if you already have an audience. Built somewhere else, like on Medium, a blog, social media, or wherever else.

I disagree.

There’s nothing worse than trying to grow an audience on a platform that doesn’t have built-in growth tools. Like WordPress. Have you ever created a WordPress blog? Dozens of hours trying to figure out the platform, create a nice design, and set everything up, only to get zero views afterward.

I have. Multiple times. It’s no fun.

Substack ain’t like that. Substack has growth tools. One of those is Discover.


Discovery

What’s that?

Substack Discover is a feature within the Substack platform that allows readers to find and subscribe to newsletters that align with their interests.

It’s like a personalized newsstand where you can browse and discover a wide range of topics, from politics and technology to cooking and gardening. Substack Discover helps readers find quality content and provides an opportunity for independent writers to grow their audience.

The holy grail is getting into those Discover recommendations.

And yes, the obvious pitfall is: The bigger your audience, the higher your chances of getting discovered through this algorithm. That’s how the online world works.

BUT smaller creators still get discovered there. It’s not only the big players.

For the newcomers, there is another growth tool though.


Word of mouth

… or links in this case.

The second growth tool is Recommendations.

Substack Recommendations is a feature within the Substack platform that connects readers with newsletters that are personally recommended by other writers and readers.

In other words, you can recommend your favorite newsletters, they can recommend you.

This tool isn’t perfect either. It depends on your ability to find people who’d recommend you. But that’s where you build a net of connections. You need that to grow anyway. And the more you build, the more recommendations you’ll get.

That leads to subscribers.


But why Substack

That’s the question, right?

You can use any platform to blog and write a newsletter. There are a gazillion options. So why Substack?

For bloggers, the reasoning is simple:

It’s free, super easy to set up and use, and writer-focused.

Yeah, you can’t customize much, you don’t have a lot of control over SEO features, and the custom domain costs $50. But it is still one of the easiest platforms to get into blogging for free, with a high domain authority to get into search results, and with that built-in audience boosters we talked about before.

For newsletter writers, it’s more complex:

You could go with ConvertKit, MailChimp, Beehiiv, and many others instead.

Marketing platforms like those are packed with features that may not be necessary, especially if you’re just starting your very first newsletter.

That’s where Substack comes in, with its simple one-click newsletter sending and its focus on moving free subscribers to a paid tier.

In fact, Substack is designed specifically for paid newsletters, making it an ideal platform to start on. Plus, it gives you complete editorial control, and lets you keep 90% of what you earn (Substack takes just 10% of your paid subscription earnings).

You can export a .csv file of your subscribers if you ever leave it to one of the others later.

The downsides are notable, of course: No automation, no add-ons via API access. It’s not a marketing platform, it’s a writing tool.

It’s a d*mn nice writing tool, however.


The bottom line

So, why Substack?

Substack is a platform that combines a blog, a newsletter, and a monetization tool for writers. It has built-in growth tools, including Substack Discover and Substack Recommendations, which help writers find readers and grow their audience.

Substack is free and easy to set up, making it an ideal platform for bloggers. For newsletter writers, Substack is a simple one-click newsletter-sending tool designed specifically for “paid newsletters,” allowing writers to keep 90% of their earnings.

Above all else, though, Substack is here to stay, and it will grow exponentially in the coming years, adding more writer-focused features, improving its growth tools, adding new ways to be discovered and to discover other writers, and, yes, eventually even some form of automation, I am sure!

When that day comes, with automation and API access, the competition is screwed.

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