Why Choosing Substack to Run a Newsletter was a Struggle

According to Exploding Topics, Searches for ‘Substack’ have ‘more than doubled’ this year. This shouldn’t be too surprising.

Substack provides the infrastructure for anyone to set up an email newsletter on any topic, almost instantly. Unlike other newsletter service providers, Substack is entirely free to use with no upper limits on subscriber numbers or email send-outs. For people just starting out, it’s an attractive proposition.

The current buzz around Substack is centered around its paid subscription features. It enables anyone to easily collect monthly subscriptions from their paying subscribers, turning a free newsletter into a premium newsletter with just a few clicks. Substack keeps 10% of your earnings (plus a credit card fee) which is a pretty fair deal considering the work that would be required to set up the infrastructure independently.

My initial reservations

The service that Substack provides is still fairly unique and certainly attractive on the face of it. In choosing how to set up my newsletter, I was drawn by Substack, though I did have some reservations:

  • Ownership. Starting a new project on a free service that you don’t have full control over is always a risk. Who knows what will happen to the service provider in the future. They could disappear completely without warning at any point.
  • Substack’s subscription management features are actually very good (for example, you can gift subscriptions, set up special offers, etc.). Its publishing features though are still fairly limited. You need to be cool with writing mostly plain text emails and dispense with any notion of sending out media-rich emails.

Neither of these issues stopped me from getting started with Substack. They were just things I needed to think about first. Regretfully, this turned into a really long think and, after some time, I realised that this wasn’t actually anything to do with the possible shortcomings of Substack and a great deal more to do with my desire to perfect all of my creative projects.

Once I realised that this was another case of creative paralysis, I headed over to Substack and started to set everything up. If you’re in the market for a newsletter management system and you’re not wanting to pay anything up front, it’s a good choice.

I encourage you to head over to the newsletter I created and subscribe for free. Also, if you’re interested in reading more about creative paralysis, head over to my other post.

Leave a comment