🎧 1-to-1: What I Learned Helping Hundreds of People Succeed on Substack
I’ve worked one-to-one with over 250 people—helping them succeed on Substack. That means I’ve been behind a lot of dashboards and mentored a lot of different people—with different interests and goals—to
double and triple and quadruple and septuple their subscribers,
substantially increase their revenue,
build a readership with real engagement, and
be Featured Substacks—the pinnacle of quality on the platform.
Personalized guidance is the fastest, most efficient way to start and grow on here. I love strategizing and figuring out how a person’s talents, interests, and expertise will work best on the platform.
There’s nothing better than helping someone see how amazing they are and how Substack can help them have the life and career they want.
I’ve learned and know a lot about Substack. Some of it also comes from building my own bestselling, Featured Substacks with over 9000 subscribers in eight months starting with a list of 400 (this is very important, friends—many people came here with big numbers) and guiding over 7000 subscribers here at Writers at Work.
Here are seven things I hope will bring you growth and joy on Substack in 2024 and beyond.
What I learned helping hundreds of people succeed on Substack
1. Substack can be different things to different people
When I came on Substack, I thought of it as a platform for “writers.” That was a very narrow view. I’ve since learned how expansive the platform is.
those in the health and wellness space,
philosophers and religious thinkers,
people in tech,
real estate agents,
elders sharing their life stories,
fashion and beauty writers, and more.
(Check out some of my amazing clients here.)
Together, we’ve strategized and succeeded in using the platform to connect with their subscribers, earn an income, and advance their careers.
2. Take advice from people who know
Before meeting with me, some of my clients had gotten really bad advice about Substack—i.e., uninformed, ineffective. It came from people who are selling “how-to-be-on-Substack” and either aren’t on or don’t know the platform.
Seek out those who know Substack and are helping others succeed:
- , , and others who use their expertise and experience as models for success;
- who takes a creative approach being on Substack;
- —the master of all things newsletters and media;
- for a great beginners guide;
- for ways to use Substack in tandem with self-publishing and other platforms;
- , , and for how to use branding and marketing on Substack as a way to build community (note: branding used to scare me, but I’ve had an awakening thanks to these four powerful women); and
- who helps female business owners on Substack.
3. Define “success”
Success is different for each person, and Substack can be dizzying in all the ways we can judge ourselves: subscribes, unsubscribes, likes, comments, recommendations, earnings, badges, checkmarks, etc. If you pay attention to all the metrics, you will get more discouraged than is necessary.
Success, of course, can’t be quantified but relying on a metric can prevent us from feeling like failures. Pick one. Just one: x number of free subscribers, y click-throughs (when someone clicks a link), z number of times we connect with someone on Notes. The metric doesn’t have to be monetary or have to do with subscribers; it can be all about connecting with others, including your readers.
4. You're far more interesting than you think
I work with many people who think they aren’t “interesting enough” to succeed on Substack. Across the board, without exception (okay, one exception, but he’s not on the platform anymore), the clients I’ve met with have been curious, talented, passionate, wonderful humans.
Substack seems to attract them. Why? Because the people who run Substack are just that: wonderful humans, full of talent, wisdom, and curiosity.
My clients who thought they weren’t talented, wise, and interesting enough to be on here didn’t see that Substack is a place to discover all the ways they are those things and can share them with others.
Then—and this is the tricky part—you have to apply it to the platform, which is much easier to do with help.
5. Have a strategy
I’m not sure why people think they’ll be “discovered” on here. Being successful in any profession or endeavor demands having a strategy, especially on Substack. In our meetings, my clients and I come up with a strategy for them—not in a mercenary, salesy way but in an I-know-what-I-want-and-respect-my-readers way.
I make sure the strategies my clients and I come up with are proven—i.e., they’ve worked for multiple clients, not just once but often. And we create a strategy that will enrich their lives not drain them.
6. Recognize the four Substack emotions and allow for them
I do end up being a coach sometimes helping my clients through the four core Substack emotions:
New subscriber joy
Paid subscriber elation
Unsubscriber panic (studies show that people are more likely to be upset by a loss than pleased by a gain)
Allow for them—the moments of despair, moments of motivation, periods of I’m all in, stretches of Ugh, this isn’t working—and keep going.
7. Quality, not quantity
Substack is its own world, unlike anywhere else. For most people, being on here demands a total reframe and re-education. No more needing to churn out two thousand words for Google’s sake (which isn’t true anymore anyway). No more needing to scream to be noticed like on social. No more posting all the time to please an inane algorithm like on Medium.
Just quality posts that serve your readers.
The biggest tip not on this list?
Take all the help you can get. Take these tips. Test what works for you. And join Substack Writers at Work for support bringing your good work into the world.
People spend years flailing around on Substack, feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, not understanding the platform, following bad advice, and not seeing real growth.
⇢ The way to succeed is through personalized guidance based on the advice Substack gave me—helping you see how your gifts, talents, and expertise will work best on the platform.
These meetings are the quickest, most effective way to attract subscribers, generate income, and create an email list of loyal subscribers.
📈 What you can expect
My clients have
doubled and tripled their subscribers,
substantially increased their revenue,
built a community of readers,
seen real engagement, and
been chosen as Featured Substacks—the pinnacle of quality on the platform.
My mission is to help people use this amazing platform to bring their good work to the world. You can’t find this level of mentoring, attention, and expertise anywhere else.