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Chapter
10

How to promote your Substack

For your newsletter/website to receive traffic and subscribers, you’re going to need to promote your newsletter. Substack handles most of the technical details associated with creating a subscription email newsletter, allowing you to focus more of your energy on writing. However, Substack is a publishing tool, not a marketing tool. The last step to building your Substack is promoting it externally.

There are several promotion methods to consider:

  • CTAs on other websites: Include a link to your newsletter in the call to action (CTA) section at the end of articles published on other platforms. 

  • Include links to your newsletter on various social media platforms in the bio section.

  • Share your newsletter on forums or niche sites related to your chosen topic. I like to share my newsletter in Study Hall, a resource for freelancers—there are discussion threads and forums on Study Hall specifically for writers to share their newsletters, so it feels like a low-effort way to share my writing with a like-minded community of other writers.

  • Use targeted Facebook advertising to sort people by their interests and promote your newsletter to people who already like the topic you write about (but have likely never heard of your newsletter). For example, if your newsletter is about college sports in the northeastern US, use targeted ads to target people who like collegiate sports teams at schools in the northeast; people who follow some of those teams on Facebook; and people who live in the states you write about. 

  • Share your newsletter with friends, family, and pretty much anyone who will listen to you. Remember, getting paid subscribers is very hard, but the ROI is extremely high because, if you do a good job producing content, you have now found an audience that will continue to pay to read about your passion, on a recurring basis.

In this Playbook, you’ve created your Substack. That includes:

  • Defining your newsletter’s goals. Who is reading your newsletter? What do you hope to achieve by having a newsletter on Substack?

  • Setting up your Substack. What’s your logo and your domain name? 

  • Personalizing your Substack to your audience. How will you draw in readers and make yourself stand out from a crowded audience of other writers?

  • Creating your newsletter schedule. How often will you publish? Remember to be realistic about your publication expectations — especially taking into account your other freelance clients and projects.

  • Writing your first post. How do you use all of Substack’s CMS tools to your advantage?

  • Learning about how payments work on Substack. How do you decide when to publish and what to offer to paid subscribers?

  • Using Substack’s community-building features. How do you engage your audience? Is it through reader Q&As, collaborations with other writers, or having a lively comment section?

  • Tracking your Substack metrics. What can you learn about your readership through analysis of your metrics?

  • Promoting your Substack. How do you share your newsletter with intention to attract a wider audience?

Go forth and build your newsletter! You have all the tools, and you’re already building the foundation for success by following this guide. Regardless of how you freelance, Substack can fit into your goals and your workstream as a freelancer. Keep brainstorming your pitches, sticking to a schedule, and practicing your craft.

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