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You Don’t Need to Follow the Same Old Advice When Starting Your Substack Newsletter

  • 4 min read

SERIES: HOW TO START WRITING ON SUBSTACK

Instead, consider experimenting, exploring, and having fun with your newsletter.

Setting aside the controversies and Substack’s push towards monetization, one concern I’ve noticed is the increasing homogeneity among newsletters following the same old “best practices” on Substack.

Substack is essentially a newsletter tool, meant to assist users in achieving their goals.

So my tip is, if you’re a writer considering starting a Substack, ask yourself what you aim to achieve with this tool, rather than solely focusing on generating income to cover your time investment.

A strong push towards subscription can be a disadvantage

The platform’s strong push towards paid subscriptions is mainly because it’s their primary revenue source.

While there isn’t definitive proof that paid Substacks receive preferential treatment (some say Substack gives them a boost so that more people are seeing them), it would align with the company’s interests.

As on Medium where people (me included) love to write about Medium, some of the recommended best practices I see include…

  • frequent publishing
  • paywalling content for unpaid subscribers
  • repurposing existing material,
  • engaging in discussions
  • promoting paid subscriptions consistently

While I’m a fan of best practices and as a marketing professional I know these practices have their merits, they can lead to a proliferation of similar newsletters — particularly in crowded niches like #writing, #fitness, #health, or #creativity.

Ideally, readers want unique newsletters that arrive unpredictably, cover a wide range of topics, and showcase the author’s distinct voice.

Am I right?

Or do they want to see an inbox of you every Tuesday if you’re a part-time writer and this isn’t your main business?

For me, it’s essential to avoid sending low-value emails, such as…

  • apologizing for missed schedules — reminds me of my corporate job as a manager when I send an email to my boss that I need to postpone a meeting or will miss a deadline. I didn’t send an email where I apologized when I was pregnant and couldn’t write because I felt sick.
  • overcompensatory messages — too long emails with too much fluff explaining why things are or aren’t. Again reminds me of emails in my day job when colleagues need to write texts full of fluff to prove their worth. I write fluff-free newsletters.
  • sending ads to free subs — wait what? Paid ads on Substack? Well, if someone wants to convert someone into a paid subscriber he can give him a snippet to read. There are often really long snippets before the good stuff comes… for the paid subs. I turned on the paid button last week. I’m not sure how to customize this experience but I don’t want to make it too hurtful 😀 for free subs.

These three pain points can drive subscribers away.

Substack, after all, is a tech platform following a familiar playbook.

You don’t need to conform to their paid subscription model if it doesn’t align with your writing and goals.

This isn’t meant to criticize those with paid Substacks.

Some writers excel with these practices or have a family to feed as I do 🙂

However, not everyone should chase best practices for monetary gain.

Instead, consider experimenting, exploring, and having fun with your newsletter.

Many opportunities come from unique and creative approaches, not rigid adherence to best practices.

Newsletters, even unpaid ones, can offer substantial benefits, such as networking and feedback.

Remember, you don’t have to transition to paid subscriptions, constantly expand, or use Notes (the Twitter for writers on Substack).

Focus on your goals, experiments, enjoyment, and the value you gain from the platform.

Today someone asked me:

“Kristina, shouldn’t you have thought this through? I you go paid you have to offer something specia for your subs.”

I know. In my corporate job as a manager, it would work this way.

I would have sent my boss an email and pitched my ideas first.

This is my passion project. I figure things out while building and creating.

That’s fun and being creative, isn’t it?

My motto: Have fun writing on Substack!

What are your thoughts on the same old advice you hear about cadence, consistency, having a content calendar, having figured everything out, and having a plan when writing a newsletter or on Medium?


👋Hey, I’m Kristina. A 30-something mompreneur with a toddler and a baby. I’m writing on Medium and Substack and building in the evenings when my kids are asleep.

I run a successful 5-figure part-time online business with my husband.


Wanna have fun writing your newsletter, and building and growing an online writing business? I hear you! Join my newsletter and my brand new Substack School experience to connect with like-minded people and learn everything about the art and business of newsletters in 2024 😀

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