Can you really start an email newsletter that makes money from subscription using Substack? In this Substack review, I reveal the truths behind this email newsletter platform.
Nowadays, it seems like most people are launching newsletters. Well, according to Chris Best, the founder and CEO of a popular newsletter platform known as Substack, writership, and readership has more than doubled on the platform since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
First, the reason for this huge rise is that people have more time to do things that they previously found boring.
Currently, a lot of people are ultimately getting around to writing new projects and reading more content they earlier put off.
Moreover, there is also an influx of new writers, particularly journalists – who, besides launching newsletters, are also building their personal audiences on the Substack platform. Read on to find out the truths about this newsletter platform.
Substack Review: A Quick Overview
Owner: Chris Best
Price: Free to Join
Summary: Yes, you can start a newsletter, build your community and make money from subscription. You can join the platform for free. As a member, publishing is also free with no limits. However, the major downside is that it is just a platform without advanced tools. So, I would say, it is great, but lack advanced tools.
Overall Scam Rank: 5.5 Out of 10
Recommend: Yes, but It Lacks Advanced Reporting Tools
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What is Substack?
Started in 2017, Substack has tremendously drawn attention from the media fraternity due to its possibility to create a perfect business model for writers.
According to the platform, its simplest promise is to ensure that the process of configuring a subscription and collecting payment from the readers is as effortless as possible. Now, is Substack the best place to make an income from writing?
Are you still confused about what Substack is? If so, it is typically a subscription email newsletter platform made for the small publishers who need to charge the readers for accessing specific content on the newsletter.
In fact, there are a couple of pros to publishing content on Substack compared to having your personal blog or any other digital publishing channel.
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How Does Substack Work?
Think about this; you want to create a site designed to cover a specific niche. Also, perhaps you need to make extra cash from this particular site. Moreover, probably you are passionate about a certain topic which you need to make some money online writing about it.
You are also not into the idea of running advertisements on your website, and you do not essentially have personal items to sell. With all things to consider, you resolve to monetize your content by selling your subscriptions to the faithful readers.
Basically, for you to achieve this, you will have to:
- Design and maintain a site
- Incorporate a paid subscription to handle the subscriptions
- Create a funnel by providing restricted free content and limit access to the remaining content to encourage the audience to subscribe.
As you can see, you will have to develop the above besides providing incredible content as a writer. Fortunately, Substack offers all the above tools via an email newsletter platform.
The good thing about the Substack platform is that regardless of your technical expertise, you will have a platform to monetize your content by selling some subscriptions to the faithful readers.
The business model offered by Substack is quite simple. First, in exchange of the tools given to writers, the company normally charges a commission of about 10% to every paid subscriber.
Secondly, the writers that opt not to monetize their content can still use the Substack platform for free.
Generally, according to the company’s CEO, their primary objective is to enable the creators and writers to operate their personalized media empire.
Furthermore, the platform invented audio content support for the content creators that want to sell their audience some podcast subscriptions.
Basically, Substack for podcasts operates similarly to the written subscriptions. So, content creators can opt to either give audio content accessible to all members or only to the subscribers.
Here’s a Short Video on Substack
How to Make Money with Substack?
Now, is it possible to make money on Substack? Well, the answer to this question is a big YES. Since its invention, many writers have been making passive income online via this platform.
As I mentioned earlier, Substack is an email list platform primarily designed for writers. As a writer, it will help you accept subscribers, send emails, see analytics, manage email lists, and also have a platform for payment management.
As a matter of fact, it is one of the easiest business ventures to configure technically. Generally speaking, the process of signing up and creating a publication with Substack only takes a couple of minutes.
Another thing is, you can import your email list if you have one and connect or set up a stripe account to get your payments.
Basically, the readers subscribe annually or monthly, and most publications provide a discount to the annual subscription model. Similarly, Substack recommends publishing some free editions to enable readers to test the platform before making an investment plan.
In most cases, you will come across a subscription of $5 per month or $50 per year. Other newsletter platforms, on the other hand, charges around $15 per month and $168 yearly.
Furthermore, you can also come across those that charge $60 monthly and $100 yearly. With this in mind, you can easily come across a plan that works perfectly for you and your audience.
If you have a free publication, you can opt to use the Substack platform for free. However, if you charge a subscription fee, Substack takes 10% of the subscription plus another 3% in processing fees. Actually, you do not need to have a substantial subscription base to make it big in the paid newsletter.
Think about this, with 200 subscribers that roughly pay $5 per month, and it means that you will have $1,000. In general, you will have around $870 after the deduction of fees from the company.
Besides, the good thing about the newsletters is that the volume of the work to be done does not increase as the revenue increases.
All in all, building a huge paid subscription base can be quite challenging than starting one for a free subscription.
See Also: Is American Writers and Artists Inc a Scam? Important Review Facts!
Substack Ugly Truths Revealed!
A Poor Structure of the Subdomain
First, the subdomain takes substantial time to be ranked on popular search engines. Consider this type of your blog URL ‘yourname.substack.com/title.’ Basically, this type of URL will ordinarily face a hard time getting high ranks on search engines.
It Lacks Advanced Reporting
The ugly truth is that you will only receive a total number of the views you get on your Substack story. That’s the ugly truth that hurts. You will not know where the traffic comes from as well as the geographical area of the readers.
Poorly Designed Homepage
Substack does not offer the most attractive homepage compared to other newsletter platforms. For instance, if a reader wishes to read some of your articles on the Substack blog, the content needs to incorporate a good title and image to lure the reader into reading more and more stuff.
What I Like About Substack
Whenever you create an account on Substack as a writer, you will gain entry into select publishing tools for free.
First, you will receive an inbuilt CMS (content management system) to publish email newsletters.
Second, you will have payments integrated via Stripe.
Finally, you will get a site that can host subscriber-only and free content.
It is quite challenging to find all the above tools in one publishing platform. As you can see, Substack flawlessly connects these functionalities into a single platform, and it gives the writers the features for free.
The ability to Directly Connect with the Readers
One of the primary issues that arise when it comes to the blogging platforms is that they fundamentally serve as a broker between you and your audience. For instance, on some platforms, you may have thousands of followers, but you’ll not have the contact info page.
As a writer, the inability to directly communicate with the readers is always a huge disadvantage. All in all, Substack solves this issue by acting as a content publisher while still giving writers the ability to maintain freedom by sustaining an email list. Here you’ll have total freedom as the platform makes it easy for you to collect emails.
Substack gives you the ability to efficiently charge a subscription fee to your subscribers to access your newsletter continuously. Substack lures members with an amazing registration form for your Substack newsletter. Indeed, you only have to link your Stripe account to initiate monetization.
Is Substack a Scam?
Substack is 100% legit. But is it the ideal platform for you?
First, if you want to write occasional articles like one or two per month, Substack may not be the right option for you as it requires you only to write top-notch articles at least once a week.
Secondly, if you already have an existing fan base, Substack is an incredible way to give value to your audience.
Moreover, if you plan to write about an incredible niche topic, especially about the migration patterns of particular animals, Substack is also a sure bet.
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Substack at a Glance
Owner: Chris Best
Price: Free to Join
Overall Scam Rank: 5.5 Out of 10
Verdict: Legit, but Hard to Make a Full Time Income On the Platform