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Chapter
2

Set up your Substack

In Step one, we set up our goals for our Substack newsletters. You’ve given some thought to what you want to achieve with your newsletter on Substack. Now comes the real work: setting up the infrastructure to have a successful Substack.

Let’s sign up for Substack

You may already have a Substack account if you use Substack as a reader to subscribe to other people’s newsletters. That’s great — you can skip the signup process. But if you’re new here, we’ll start with account creation. 

First, we’re going to sign up for a Substack account. Simply go toSubstack’s website here and click on "Create your Substack" or "Start writing" in the upper right hand corner of the page. You can then sign up using either your email or Twitter account.

Next, you’re going to fill out your account details. You’re not married to any of the choices you make here — you can edit any of these fields after completing your profile. Here’s what mine looks like:

Set up your publication name, tagline, and domain name. You also need to set up your profile. Don’t worry about setting up the paid tier of your account yet — we’ll do that later.

You want to choose a domain name that’s easy to say, spell, and remember. A good test is to imagine that you’re on a podcast and the host has asked you to tell people how to find your website. Make it as easy as possible for the listeners to find you. If you need to pick a new name, you can change your newsletter’s title and subdomain from your Settings page.

If you’re wondering what the above field inputs look like once displayed on your profile, here’s mine:

Choose a logo

Your logo should be square, at least 256 x 256 pixels. It’s small – I think of it more like an avatar. Choosing the right image depends on what kind of publication you’ve got. If you’re writing a personal newsletter, an image of yourself might make it feel more personal, or an avatar people can come to associate with you (I use an illustration of my headshot). If you’re creating an independent publication, you might want to create a branded logo using software like Canva

Bring your readers over from other publications

Next, you can import your contacts. These are people who have opted in to receive email newsletters from you. You can import from TinyLetter, MailChimp, or any spreadsheet — just save the file as a CSV. The import tool will import any email it finds, so make sure you only upload current subscribers. 

From your Substack Dashboard click on Subscribers →  Add Subscribers.

If you want to add emails one at a time (if you only have a few), you can enter them under the “Import free signup for email” section.

Tip: If you're importing paid subscribers and would like to ensure they don't lose access after your transition to Substack, you can offer these readers a trial. After the trial ends, they'll be prompted to enter their payment information into Substack to keep receiving your newsletter. You can also give away paid subscriptions to users you want to grant access to your premium content, but do not want to charge. Enter their email below the section header “Give away paid subscription for free” and choose the length of their free access (free subscriptions can range in duration from 7 days to forever). We’ll talk about this more in depth when we get to setting up your paid Substack tier.

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