Daniel Richter, Tuanus, 2000
I started my Substack two years ago. In the first month, September 2020, I posted five times. I was working on the first draft of a novel and trying to write 1000 words a day. But some days I simply could not think of anything to add to the draft. So I thought okay, I’ll just write something unrelated. Substack was my journal, a place for uncategorized thoughts. Right from the beginning I thought it needed to have a theme. It didn’t have one. Two years later, it still doesn’t have one.
For a while, I thought it was going to be self-help, but that wasn’t quite right. All the advice I give is secretly advice for myself (“help-self”, see?). What’s worked for me is just to write about whatever is on my mind, and not worry too much about what category it falls under.
Other things about writing on Substack:
I write everything the week it’s posted, sometimes the day it’s posted. The exception is posts I start and am unable to finish, I let those sit in drafts until I can think of how to finish it.
I always post at least once a week. This is very important. I can’t really articulate why, but I’m convinced that if you want to stay in flow you have to post once a week, and I’ve noticed a lot of other Substack writers seem to do the same thing (though most of them probably do 2x a week). I basically think consistency creates inspiration (if you know you have to write every Sunday, you’ll think of something to write about).
From what I can tell, I don’t think the length of the post matters (except people probably get bored of me when I go on for 2000 words lol).
I tweet every post I write. Twitter is the number one way I get new subscribers. For better or for worse, I will never (can never) stop tweeting.
I try to aim for a ratio of 3-4 paid posts to one public post. Public posts are good for increasing reach, but since I don’t really do subscriber threads or podcasts, the main thing I offer to paid subscribers is posts 4x a month instead of once every six weeks. Someone who worked on the Substack growth team told me that I should do more community features etc, but to be honest I’ve had no problem converting purely through just paywalled posts. However I do want to do more threads etc! That’s one of my goals for this year.
My paid subscriber conversion rate is exactly 10%.