Substack Review: What To Keep In Mind With Email Newsletters

Let’s dissect the buzz.

 

 

So You Want To Start A Paid Subscription Newsletter

And you keep hearing about Substack left and right. Trust me, I get it – I’m hearing a lot about it too.


It seems like everywhere I go (virtually) these days, all I hear is people saying email newsletters are the hot new thing – especially paid newsletters.

“Join my Substack newsletter!”

Substack is where the magic happens.”

“That one history professor is making a million dollars a year on Substack, which feels like a fit for me, so I’ve decided I’m going to do the same.”

“Substack, Substack, Substack!” 

I feel like I’m Jan in an episode of The Brady Bunch, except instead of long, gorgeous blonde hair I’m taming my cowlick with a quart of pomade every morning.

 



For many people, Substack has turned them on to the idea that publishing content via email is cool – even though email marketing and both paid and free newsletters are well over 20 years old.

From that perspective, I suppose I’m grateful for Substack: The platform proposes that pared-down design and well-written content are all you need to bring your dreams to fruition.


➡️ Boston College professor Heather Cox Richardson writes about the intersection of history and politics to hundreds of thousands of readers via Substack;

➡️ Food and beverage writer Alicia Kennedy accidentally enabled the paid newsletter button on Substack last year and soon had 400 paying readers according to an interview with Digiday; and

➡️ An article from Axios noted that Substack has over 250,000 paying subscribers. The top ten earners combined make over $10 million annually.

If you want to get paid to create exclusive content and make money from a newsletter platform, you have many options. Let’s break down the pros and cons of Substack newsletters.

What To Keep In Mind About Substack

#1: Substack Has No Traffic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Look, A Free Report On Email You'll Actually Read

If you're an online entrepreneur with a small list, you need to approach email differently.

My free report The Future Of Email outlines 6 important insights to keep in mind if you want to generate big bucks from a tiny list.

#2: Substack Has No Personalization Tag Features










Yes, this is a little more detailed. But you do detailed things all the time: You tie your shoes, you drive a car or book a flight, and you can cook a mean fettucine alfredo. Resist the urge to feel overwhelmed and give up. Details like these are what make email marketing and newsletters so powerful.

 

Substack doesn’t allow you to take any information other than email address. Whatever you write has to go to everyone and look the same way, whether it’s the first newsletter someone has ever received or the 100th newsletter they’ve read from you.

If you’re going to take this much time to write and send email newsletters, let’s use a tool that will give you flexibility down the line. 📈

#3: Substack Has No Automations

 

 

Example: My automated superhuman dog email

I had a newsletter I sent months ago asking for advice about our dog. His name is Hefty, and apparently he has a not-so-hidden talent: He can jump over a 7-foot fence.

 

substack-review

This newsletter was engaging content got a terrific response. It was fun and relatable, and it gave subscribers permission to turn the tables and offer me advice, which builds rapport.

 

So I put this email into an automation, and now every Friday some new-ish readers on my list who’ve never seen it before are sent this newsletter.

substack-review

 

 

 

 

#4: Substack Will Probably Become a SaaS Soon Anyway

 

 

 

substack-review
substack-review
substack-review
substack-review

 

 

How To Set Up A Paid Newsletter In 10 Minutes

Step 1: Choose An Email Service Provider

I’m an ActiveCampaign stan myself because the interface is visually appealing, but if you want an option that is free to start with, ConvertKit and Mailchimp both do the job.

substack-review

Step 2: Set Up A PayPal Business Account

 

 

substack-review

On the completion screen, the default was a website embed tab. but there was also an “email tab”, which gave me a URL.

substack-review

Here’s how that link looked when I opened it in a new window. Looks good enough to me! If you want your links to look a bit more pretty, use Bitly to make them shorter and cleaner.

substack-review

Step 3: Connect PayPal To Your Email List With Zapier

 

substack-review

In my example, I connected to ActiveCampaign since that’s my email service provider. I couldn’t directly connect to a list in this integration, but I could drop a subscriber into an automation that then adds contacts to my “paid subscribers” list.

substack-review

Once you’re set up, give your PayPal link a test drive with an email of your own to make sure everything works. From there, you’re all set and can launch your own paid newsletter product.

Final Takeaways


Thanks for reading. 🙏🏼

 

Keep up the momentum with one or more of these next steps:

 

📣 Share this post with your network or a friend. Sharing helps spread the word, and posts are formatted to be both easy to read and easy to curate – you'll look savvy and informed.

 

📲 Hang out with me on another platform. I'm active on Medium, Instagram, and LinkedIn – if you're on any of those, say hello.

 

📬 Sign up for my free email list. This is where my best, most exclusive and most valuable content gets published. Use any of the signup boxes in this article, or go to the newsletter page here.

 

🏕 Up your marketing game: Camp Wordsmith™ is my business and writing program for small business owners and online entrepreneurs. Get instant access to resources and templates guaranteed to make your marketing hustle faster, better, easier, and more fun. (It's also "glamping"-themed – who doesn't love luxurious camping?!) Learn more here.

 

📊 Hire my marketing company: Hefty Media Group provides consultation and done-for-you services in content marketing. We're a certified diversity supplier with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and we'll make you sound damn good via the written word. Learn more here.

 

 

 

© 2021, 2022, Hefty Media Group. All Rights Reserved.

Nick Wolny is a media and marketing strategist for entrepreneurs. Named a “40 Under 40” by the Houston Business Journal, he’s a contributor for Entrepreneur and Fast Company and a technology commentator for NBC and FOX with over 60 live TV appearances.