Two Weeks on Substack

What I’ve learned in starting an anti-racism newsletter

Photo by Csabi Elter on Unsplash

RACISM | WRITING

A couple of weeks ago, I started a Substack newsletter. My reasons for doing so included creating my own space for anti-racism writing, and also having the potential to earn enough from that writing to be able to make it a full-time gig. You can read more about that decision, and the reasons for it in Why I Started a Substack Newsletter.

So far, it feels like the right decision. Publishing on Substack is super easy, though as I pointed out to someone recently, if you love delving into stats, you’ll be underwhelmed by the reporting. However, I can easily tell how many people have opened my emails and what they’ve clicked on, which is enough to guide me when considering what content to include.

Similarly, if you’re looking to send email sequences, Substack isn’t the way to go. If you prefer your emails to be like a letter, then it totally is. I’ve actually signed up for a second Substack and plan to move what’s supposed to be my customer email list over. I’ll have to give up on personalized emails, but I don’t think my email subscribers mind being called “friends”.

A cool Substack feature is the email you get 24 hours after posting new content. This tells you how people have responded, and how many subscribers you’ve gained.

Substack email stats
Screenshot by author

Even though I can’t see the working, I know people are reading and sharing. I’m picking up new free subscribers after every issue, and some of those have chosen to upgrade. I hope that after I’ve been there a month, I’ll get a monthly report.

On site, I can see more details, including what links people have clicked on.

Substack stats dashboard
Screenshot by author

Plus the dashboard highlights popular content for subscribers (and therefore, for me), plus there’s a community tab that shows you what people are discussing.

It’s been simple to move some of my Medium articles (copy and paste). That’s given me the chance to make a couple of tweaks. I’ve also written some original articles.

There’s also a regular reading list feature (if it can be called regular after only a couple of weeks) where I share the work of other anti-racism writers, many of them from Medium.

For the future, I plan to include single-author spotlights, and a few perks for paid subscribers, like the chance to shoot the breeze on anti-racism with me via Zoom.

Just over two weeks on, I’m happy that I made the right decision. Watch this space for a more detailed Substack review once I’m a few months in.

© Sharon Hurley Hall, September 2020

Sharon Hurley Hall is an anti-racism writer, a professional B2B writer and blogger, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.