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From Zero to 100 Paid Subscribers on Substack

  • 5 min read

How to Start Writing on Substack

People are paying you to get your twist on things. They are paying you for being you.

“After I saw my first 100 paid subscribers, even just on Substack alone, I was just like, holy cow, you guys like me, you really like me.”

That’s what Medium and Substack writer Ossiana Tepfenhart shared with me in my new interview on YouTube.

The recent Medium algorithm shift and earnings calculation update in autumn 2023 left her vulnerable.

“A lot of opaque behavior, no transparency, people being paid pennies, and a Boost system that’s basically totally randomized.”

This is how she summed up the state of Medium four months ago.

That’s why Substack is in everybody’s mouth and many (seasoned) Medium writers also start sharing their stories on Substack — even legend Tim Denning.

GIPHY

Ossiana wants to earn a full-time income

Although Medium’s CEO, Tony Stubblebine, repeatedly said Medium isn’t a platform to earn a full-time income, some Medium writers want to earn a full-time income (and also have to earn it to make ends meet) such as

Michelle Teheux, who I recently interviewed, or Ossiana.

“These are people who deserve full-time income because they don’t just write well. They put their souls into their writing. Their writing is so beautifully human and talks about things many people won’t or don’t.”

This is how Ossiana describes herself on Substack and Medium:

“I’m a weirdo who loves to write. Deal with it.”

Ossiana worked as a porn journalist.

“In that field, it is illegal to advertise through typical routes. You can get banned on social media in a heartbeat. So, you have to get creative”, shares Ossiana in her newsletter.

On Medium she writes about her life, life lessons, LGBTQ, feminism, dating, living in a man’s world, and many more unconventional and controversial stuff.

She’s pretty successful with 24K followers and nice earnings (which she calls her “golden handcuffs”) on Medium.

Four months ago, Ossiana joined Substack as a result of the writer’s revolt, stating:

“Many writers, myself included, wrote open letters explaining why we are quitting Medium — or why, in my case, we’re trying to quit but have golden handcuffs holding us back.

I don’t think I need to tell anyone that Medium has slashed earnings and views once more. This has been awful. In fact, I still don’t know how I’ll make rent next month at this rate. I’m applying to jobs everywhere. It sucks.”

Most writers don’t know that you can also build an email list on Medium.

She left a “suicide note” telling her followers she’d leave Medium and go all in on Substack.

Whereas followers are just a vanity metric, Ossiana could take her subscribers with her, and then this happened:

photo credit: Kristina God YouTube; Ossiana Tepfenhart stats page; so see the ARR, check out the video :)

See?

You don’t have a HUGE subscriber base on Substack to earn a decent amount of money that helps you make ends meet.

If you want to become a paying subscriber to get the Ossiana twist on things, you have to pay $5 per month or $47 p.a.

It’s recurring income.

That’s what sets Substack apart from Medium.

You can earn recurring income from people who want to read more from you.

They love your content.

You’re not one of the millions on a platform you’re paying a subscription for.

There’s no algorithm.

It’s all about you being YOU and producing content that your audience loves

Ossiana found a way that made writing engaging and meaningful for her.

Professional diversification in the most risk-averse manner possible.

She’s still writing on Medium but is also creating original content for her “true fans” on Substack.

Biggest takeaways from our interview:

  • No matter how weird or wacky, there’s a niche for everything!
  • You’re not crazy, others are seeing it too!

Of course, there’s more.

In today’s video, Ossiana will share how she republishes her Medium stories on Stories, what new opportunities have come her way, and what her plans are.

New VIDEO: Ossiana Tepfenhart — From 0 to 100 Paid Subscribers

ENGAGEMENT PRIZE: This week, not only my newsletter writers can win a special prize. You can too! Just leave a thoughtful comment on YouTube. Make sure you’re telling me your Medium name so I can contact you if you my toddler (Yes, he’s picking a piece of paper with your name on it :D)) picks you.

This is yesterday’s edition of my Substack newsletter. Join my newsletter and SUBSTACK SCHOOL experience to also grow your list in 2024.

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