Sub what? Substack!
I’ve been active on this platform for a around a year now, so I thought I’d give you the lowdown and give you my best answer on if Substack for authors is a good combo.
Table of Contents
What is Substack?
Substack is a blogging platform that also doubles as an email marketing platform which is unique and actually something we authors
can truly wrap our head around. For anyone out there who struggles with what to send to their list, Substack makes this stupid simple by saying, “Just blog to them.”
Substack’s interface is intuitive and very simple to learn and create with. If you can handle a Word document or sending an email, you should have no problem with Substack.
It does something else for authors that solves a huge problem: it can act as your website. So, we’ve solving a lot of proble
ms for many authors here:
- We eliminate the website learning curve
- We eliminate the email marketing learning curve
- We eliminate the mystery of what to send to our subscribers
That last one may still exist to an extent, but we’ll cover what you can do a little later.
Essentially, this is Substack in a nutshell.
I Already Have Email Marketing, So…
I did too, and I still do.
I approached Substack as a way to expand my audience rather than just move it around.
What do I mean by that? Well, most email marketing platforms allow you to export your list of subscribers. You can then import that list onto a new platform if you decide to move or change your email marketing service.
Substack is no different. I could have imported my existing list, but I chose to build a new one instead and then cross promote a bit. This allowed me to expand my audience.
I’d recommend that you use an email marketing service like Mailerlite in addition to Substack.
Because there are things Substack doesn’t do very well, like landing pages or sending a short, one-off email to promote your books. Mailerlite handles these things much better. Mailerlite will also automatically deliver your reader magnet. Substack won’t. So, you can’t escape the email marketing learning curve completely, unless your Substack is your reader magnet!
What Substack Does Well
What Substack does really well is help you build some basic infrastructure for your author brand quickly. In a couple of hours, you can have a blog, makeshift website, and email list in place.
Once you decide to publish your book, you should immediately start building your email list. It’s very important that you make your readers your own and not just customers of the respective bookseller where they found you.
Start sharing your sign up link everywhere. You can always export your list to a different platform later if you’re unhappy and that goes for pretty much all email marketing platforms.
Include your opt-in link in the front matter of your books. It will show up on Amazon in the 10% preview and you can leverage that traffic.
Right off the bat, Substack clears up the question of what you should send your subscribers. You simply blog to them. Odds are, as a writer, you’ve probably blogged before or at least explored the prospect. If not, then you still might be at a bit of a loss.
If you’re a non-fiction author, this will probably be easier for you. Most non-fiction topics come with their own audience and set of problems to be solved.
If you’re a fiction author, knowing what to write to your subscriber about will be a bit of a challenge. This post will help.
If you’re savvy with online marketing, you may just want a Mailerlite account and a landing page. That will certainly work and you won’t need to blog per se. However, you do still need to have some type of plan to stay in touch with your subscribers and keep them engaged.
Substack allows you to network and pull in subscribers in a different way than a regular email marketing platform. Substack is a community in and of itself and you’re able to leverage that community to find like-minded folks on Substack itself.
With other email marketing platforms, that’s not the case. All users have their own private accounts and aren’t public knowledge to other users.
So, not only will you pull in subscribers through your own efforts of sharing your link, but you’ll also get some organic subscribers from Substack itself.
In turn, you can also find people on Substack that you resonate with and network with them through the common bond of writing. You can recommend folks to your own subscribers which is often reciprocated, giving you even more reach.
Substack really is a platform designed for writers.
Substack has monetization options. Sure, you can monetize any email list with your own products or with affiliate products. With Substack, you can do both of those things and also monetize with paid content and market that to your existing subscribers.
You can do donations as well. It’s all run through Stripe.
So, if you want to offer exclusive content, early release book excerpts, stories from your book world not available elsewhere, you can do all of that with Substack and monetize it.
It really is a unique platform and worth your time if you’re interested in doing what you do best and releasing written content.
One of the things Substack does best is offer all of this absolutely FREE. You may not fully understand the value of that unless you’ve had to pay for email marketing with a sizeable list.
Most email marketing platforms charge you according to the number of subscribers you have, and it gets expensive quickly. This is one of the reasons that I recommend Mailerlite because you can get started for free if you have under 1,000 subscribers. That way you don’t have to pay until you’ve had a chance to build a list that will cover the cost.
With Substack, you never have to worry about paying. You might be wondering how they make money then. Good question. They make money off the folks monetizing their Substacks. They take 10%. The trade-off is pretty fair considering you don’t have to monetize ever if you don’t want to.
Other Things Substack Does
Native video is in beta on Substack and you can upload or record a video by selecting Video from the New Post drop-down menu.
It also handles YouTube links beautifully. Just paste your link and the player will appear in your post.
This is important because video is the most consumed form of content online (Source).
If you’ve been thinking about starting a podcast, you’re in luck because Substack will host it free and distribute it to:
- Apple Podcasts
You can distribute even further by submitting your link to various platforms like iHeartRADIO, Pandora, Castbox, Acast, Google Podcasts, and tons of other places.
Starting a podcast will expand your online footprint exponentially. You’ll be places you never imagined.
Once you create your Substack account, you’ll begin receiving emails. Not obnoxiously, but if you don’t have time to read them, stash them in a folder to look at later. They are worth your time.
They send out helpful info on different aspects of the platform and how to leverage them to your advantage. They also regularly release new features which they announce via email/posts to their blog because that’s how it works!
One of their most recent features is Notes. Notes is an alternative to Twitter/X which has been a hot mess as of late. Folks can also participate in Notes without subscribing to other creators on the main Substack platform.
What Do You Think?
I look forward to seeing what else Substack will come up with, but it’s already a robust platform that is centered on writing.
What about you? Will you create a Substack? If you do, please consider using my referral link – https://dalelinks.com/startasubstack
If you already have a Substack, let’s network. Link it below!