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7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Substack

  • 7 min read

Elon Musk is open to acquiring the platform and within minutes you can become a newsletter entrepreneur.

The traditional media industry has been somewhat disrupted by Substack.

2022 showed that the San Francisco-based tech company definitely is on the rise.

According to SimilarWeb data, Substack generated 50.6 million visits in December 2022 and is growing pretty fast.

Similarweb

I think, one of the reasons for Substack’s traffic growing 14%+ from November to December 2022 was the announcement that Elon Musk will shut down Twitter’s newsletter service Revue (which he did on January 18, 2023).

Substack’s business model is easy enough to understand:

“Start a newsletter. Build your community. Make money from subscriptions.”

It’s a true newsletter platform that makes it super simple and fun to set up an account, start creating a newsletter, grow it and monetize your content.

It’s a powerful tool for marketers and content creators who want to get a piece of the (paid) newsletter boom.

Here are 7 things you probably didn’t know about Substack

1 — Elon Musk is open to acquiring Substack

In my opinion, Substack is both riding and driving the growing trend for paid newsletters.

So it’s not surprising that Elon Musk is open to acquiring Substack and is looking into the paid newsletter business with Substack as a real driver and game-changer.

He tweeted that he could imagine buying Substack in the future.

He said he’s “open to the idea” of buying the newsletter platform.

He agreed with a user saying that Substack would give him “control” over the “narrative layer” of the web:

Twitter thread

Twitter tried to acquire Substack at some point in 2020 but was rebuffed.

Back then, Substack’s co-founder Hamish McKenzie tweeted:

“this is not going to happen.”

That’s one of the reasons Twitter purchased the small Dutch newsletter startup Revue instead (which was shut down in the mid of January 2023).

2 — Substack has more than 500,000 paying subscribers

Launched in 2017, Substack raised rapidly.

In its first year, it went from zero to 25,000 paying subscribers.

Substack now has millions of readers and over one million paying subscribers generating more than $9 million in revenue (Substack charges a 10% cut on subscription payments, which is how it makes money).

At the beginning of 2022, Substack was valued at $650 million.

3 — Substack is on the rise

SimilarWeb data shows that Substack generated 50.6 million visits in December 2022 and is growing pretty fast:

Similarweb

It’s no wonder, Substack has raised more than $82 million with 15 investors putting capital into the platform.

At the beginning of 2022, Substack was valued at $650 million.

In regard to Musk’s potential acquisition of Substack, I also found out that Substack gets most of its social media traffic from Twitter.

SimilarWeb Pro

Additionally, the audience who visits Twitter is also very interested in visiting Substack:

Similarweb

4 — Substack’s demographics are interesting

Apparently, Substack users are primarily male and between 25 and 44 years old — meaning Millennials and Gen X.

Similarweb

Most users come from the United States.

SimilarWeb Pro Dashboard

5 — Substack’s Top 10 authors earn more than $25M p.a.

Besides people like me and you, Substack is attracting writers like…

  • Mathew Yglesias with Slow Boring
  • former BuzzFeed tech reporter Alex Kantrowitz
  • Andrew Sullivan after leaving New York Magazine
  • lately Matt Taibbi, a longtime political reporter for Rolling Stones

The Top 10 authors on Substack collectively make over $25 million per year.

In December 2020, it was $10 million.

6 — Substack adds more and more valuable features

Besides the flagship newsletter offering, Substack also offers podcasting, video (in beta), a new chat function, opening a private Substack, and is constantly working on improving the writer-centric platform.

For instance, they introduced mentions and cross-posts.

You can learn more about Substack’s awesome new features in my latest video:

Kristina God’s brand new YouTube channel

In their official launch announcement, the company stated that there are more features to come in the near future:

“…these are just the early days for Chat and all of Substack’s social features…”

7 — You can build a newsletter empire within minutes

The newsletter publishing platform proposes that minimalistic design and writing skills are all thought leaders need to bring new subscription revenue to life.

When food and beverage writer Alicia Kennedy from Puerto Rico was laid off in 2020, she started her own Substack newsletter.

It was a niche newsletter called From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy where she analyzed culture and food media and shared awesome recipes.

From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy

Soon she grew her newsletter to 3,000 subscribers with hundreds of avid followers.

One day, she accidentally enabled the paid newsletter button and her digital tip jar started to fill up.

Soon she had 400 paying subscribers who paid $5 a month or $30 a year for a bonus Friday Q&A with Alicia.

Earning $2,000+ a month was a great foundation for her newsletter business!

And just like that…from one minute to the next, she became a newsletter entrepreneur.

Why am I telling you all this?

If you haven’t started your own newsletter on Substack, do it now.

The newsletter business is booming.

More and more creators are coming to Substack and making it one of their marketing channels.

Me too.

I started my Substack newsletter in October 2022 and now have 380 subscribers:

My recommendation: if you’re already part of the blogosphere and sharing your content on Medium you can promote your stories via Substack by linking to it:

at the bottom of my Substack newsletter I link to my best performing Medium stories

I’d start with a free newsletter and then (maybe when I reach 1K–2K followers) also offer content with added value for paying subscribers.

If you have already an added value for paid subscribers in mind, you can also offer a paid subscription model right from the start.

From my experience, people feel good about giving creators they trust and like money so they can continue to make stuff they like.

Update: YouTube video


Kristina God is a Top Writer on Medium. Besides being a full-stack marketer and manager, she is the co-founder of SCM and owns a 5-figure online business together with her business partner.


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