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Determine a publication schedule for your Substack newsletter

After setting up your Substack and personalizing it, you need to consider a successful (and sustainable) cadence and schedule for your newsletter. This helps you in terms of fitting your newsletter in and around your other projects, and it helps your audience grasp an expectation of when they will receive your newsletter in their inboxes. The next step in creating a successful Substack newsletter is to establish (and stick to) a planned publishing pattern.

Sample newsletter posting schedules

The strategy I would suggest is following one of the two sample newsletter posting schedules, below:

  • Strategy 1: Post 1–3 free posts per week for three months (to build an audience), and then switch to 1 free post per week plus 2 paid posts per week (we’ll talk more about turning on paid posts later).

  • Strategy 2: Post 4–5 posts per week from the start, with 1 or 2 of the posts being free and the other posts for paying subscribers only

However, there is no single magic posting schedule that will work for every newsletter. If you’re sticking with only sending your audience free newsletters, retool these schedules to make sense for you. Perhaps this means sending out 1-3 free posts per week, or just one newsletter a month. More isn’t necessarily better—it’s whatever makes sense for you within the parameters of your freelance schedule.

Build a schedule that works for you

  • Create your newsletter schedule. Will you publish weekly? Multiple times a week? Multiple times a month? What time of day and what day of the week will you publish? 

  • Work backwards. Start with the day or days of the week (or month) you want to publish. Add those dates to your calendar of choice—I use Google Calendar, and I set up a calendar specifically to track my publishing dates.

  • Consider what time you want to publish your newsletter. Weekdays are better than weekends; midday is better than late at night or too early in the morning; and mid-week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) tend to get better open rates than Mondays and Fridays.

  • Build in time for writing, editing, and QAing. You likely do this for other writing projects already, so this cadence should feel familiar.

Have realistic expectations

One of the major reasons creators fail to maintain consistency is a lack of production schedule. You have to think logistically about all the various components that go into creating, editing, and promoting a single piece of content and then set aside ample amounts of time to complete all those tasks. 

Instead, so many creators approach their content production in an ad hoc manner, and it doesn’t take long for them to start missing deadlines. Suddenly, your weekly newsletter is only coming out twice a month, then once a month, and then not at all.

If you have a full roster with other clients, be strategic and realistic about when you’ll have time to write and publish your newsletter. 

Look at your other freelance work

If you’re publishing content on other websites, consider integrating links to that content into your newsletter to promote it. For example, if you have a weekly column that runs on Mondays, perhaps you want to send out a newsletter every Tuesday that includes a link to that week’s column in it.

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