Substack creators are making 6 figures off newsletters. Here’s how they built their audiences from scratch.

Aleksander Chan, co-founder Discourse Blog Substack

The platform Substack makes it easy to create newsletters for free and charges a 10% service fee if creators start to make money off their product.
Building a sizable audience from scratch can be challenging because newsletters are inherently difficult to discover.
Business Insider spoke with a variety of subscription-supported, ad-supported, and free Substack publications to discover how top-tier creators built out and monetized their audiences.
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Newsletters are having a moment.

The platform Substack, in particular, has gained traction among newsletter creators by dramatically simplifying the user experience. The platform is also free to get started. It encourages creators to monetize their newsletter only when they feel comfortable doing so, at which point Substack charges a 10% service fee on their revenue.

In the first three months of the pandemic, overall usage of the platform doubled and revenue increased 60%. Readers have found themselves with more time to spare, and a wave of newly unemployed writers, victims of COVID’s evisceration of the media industry, have found a financial side-hustle in the outlet.

Substack also circumvents many of the problems that plague internet entrepreneurs. Where digital advertising returns only pennies on the dollar, Substack provides a reliable income source in its subscription model. And instead of grappling with SEO minutiae and the black-box algorithms that website copy relies on, newsletters go straight into the inboxes of opted-in readers — that is, if you can find those readers in the first place.

One of the platform’s primary challenges remains how to build up an audience sizable enough to monetize. While internet surfers might stumble upon a new website through search, they are less likely to happen upon an unfamiliar newsletter.

Despite this built-in hurdle, a number of Substack creators have turned their email operations into lucrative side hustles, and some have even been able to make newsletter writing their full-time job.

Business Insider spoke with a handful of the most successful Substackers to find out how they built an audience and turned their readership into a source of sustainable revenue.

1. Have a consistent cadence

Releasing content on a consistent schedule helps build habit, and habit breeds familiarity. If readers come to anticipate your newsletter in their inbox on a given day of the week, it means you have worked your product into their front-of-mind thinking, which means they’re much more likely to share or mention it with others.

Bill Bishop, the creator of Sinocism, a Substack newsletter about China with thousands of subscribers paying $15 a month, says releasing content on a fixed schedule is one of the most critical, yet most challenging, components of growing an audience.

“Especially if you want people to pay, and you’re not someone who’s already well-known, you really need to create a schedule and send material out on-time,” Bishop said.

2. Borrow big, similar audiences

One of the quickest ways to reach new audiences, according to Dan Shipper and Nathan Baschez, the creators of the Everything newsletter bundle, is tapping into other people’s …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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