The Amazon approach to setting your newsletter goals #Substack #Revue

Most writers start their newsletter because they want to share their thoughts and writing with others. There are over 50,000 individual newsletters on Substack and over 30,000 on Revue alone. Of these, only 12,000 are active monthly. Of the active monthly newsletters, only about 1,100 are paid email newsletters.

That means 85% of newsletters are abandoned within a month of getting started and less than 10% of active newsletters are getting paid subscribers.

This compares to 60-80% of blogs being abandoned within a month of getting started. After discussions with 20 people who abandoned their Substack newsletter withing a month of starting one, there are 5 main reasons that came up:

a) lack of subscriber growth,

b) lack of time to manage newsletter,

c) lost interest in the newsletter / topic,

d) other priorities came up,

e) day job takes up too much time.

Why do writers abandon Substack?

Most writers plunge right in and start a newsletter since it is free and easy to do so. They go to Substack, sign up and send their first “newsletter”. Then they may post it on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, reddit and one or two industry specific websites and expect a flood of subscribers. When that does not happen, nearly 60% of people give up.

After a week or a month passes, they realize the amount of time required to manage their newsletter is upwards of 4-8 hours a week they are forced to prioritize. Since over 80% of newsletter writers start their newsletter as a side hustle, their time become valuable and the trade off becomes more important. Send an update to a “small and not growing very fast” list? Or focus on their day job? Most end up focusing on their day job.

In drilling deeper, one thing that stands out is how many people don’t have a goal that they start with to work on.

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” –Zig Ziglar

In this post I want to share an alternative way that I learned at Amazon on the best way to setup a goal, a plan to achieve your goal and metrics to track progress.

First set a goal. A SMART goal.

Here are 7 examples of real goals we have helped creators put together.

  1. Create a newsletter that inspires 1000 people to take climate change seriously in 6 months
  2. Build a community of 500 enthusiastic Node.JS developers who want to learn about growing from 0 to hired in 12 months
  3. Educate 2000 people about pet adoption and get 50 paying subscribers in 3 months for our newsletter
  4. Grow my millennial finance management newsletter to over 10K subscribers in 12 months
  5. Become an expert in all things DeFi with a focus on developers by growing my newsletter subscribers to 12,000 in 6 months
  6. Generate over $10K ARR from my newsletter in the first year from subscriptions with a focus on stock analysis research
  7. Build thought leadership in Indian business community by writing about deep dive case studies and gaining over 7500 subscribers within 6 months

As SMART goals state, they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

There are 3 important elements we help writers understand:

  1. Put a number, what ever number to your goal. That makes is easy for you to work towards. One metric (or number) is better than 2 or 3 (don’t try to work on # of subscribers, open rate and subscription revenue all at the same time)
  2. Be realistic – even if your target audience is 50,000, you need to start small with a realistic goal in 3-6-12 months.
  3. More specific is better. Notice we do not have goals that are broad – Be the best DeFi, newsletter or Be a thought leader. Those are nebulous and don not motivate you to work towards something measurable.

Second, work backwards to create a plan

Now that you have a goal, build 3 plans:

  1. Editorial calendar – what you are going to write about – it need not be specific about each post, but you need to have a calendar of items for 5-10 newsletters (depending on your newsletter’s frequency).
  2. Marketing plan – how and where are you going to promote your newsletter. What incentives are you going to provide users to forward your newsletter to others. If you want to gain 2,500 subscribers in 3 months, you need to get to add about 80 new subscribers weekly on average. That’s after people that unsubscribe. Here is a roughly weekly growth chart for one email newsletter. As you can see some weeks were great, some went backwards, but there was long term growth.
Weekly New Email Subscriber Growth
  1. Time and Calendar: Plan out your day or week when you will take time from your calendar to do the research, form your thoughts, write the outline, and edit your final newsletter post.

Third, focus on executing your plan every day and week

This is easier said than done, but you need to spend time doing the hard work of executing to the plan. Along your journey you will learn new ways to promote your blog and grow readers. You will learn new areas of content that you did not think about when you get feedback from your subscribers.

The best way to execute the plan is to review metrics every week. At Amazon there is a mechanism called WBR (Weekly Business Review) where you look at your goal, what your planned to do for the week and how you are progressing towards your goal. Or how you are executing to the plan.


The most comprehensive bake-off SubStack vs Revue


The two most important platforms for email newsletter platforms are SubStack and Revue. In this blog post we dissect the two platforms across 17 categories and over 50 different features to give you a comprehensive comparison.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with information to base your decision on which platform to use. We don’t want to tell you one is better than the other. They are different platforms and suit different needs based on your own situation and requirements.

The information obtained for this blog post is from managing newsletters on each platform. We will update this post every 3 months to accurately reflect the progress and new feature capabilities of these platforms.

The best way to use this comparison is to quickly skim the features, highlight the support offered by each platform and then put a check against each feature that is important to you.

Then go to the end of the table and review the key questions that can help you decide on the right platform for your needs.

SubStack Vs Revue
SubStack Vs Revue

Pricing and Cost

For free newsletters, SubStack is free, but Revue charges a fee even if your newsletter is free for over 50 subscribers. For paid newsletters, SubStack charges you 10% of your Price and Revue charges you 6%.

For paid newsletters, SubStack charges you 10% of your Price and Revue charges you 6%.

Free newsletterPricedFree
Paid Newsletter6% of your price + per subscriber fee10% of your price
Private NewsletterYesYes
Pricing and Costing


If your personal branded website is important to you, Revue wins. With SubStack you must host and manage your newsletter on the SubStack domain. Both platforms require you to put their logo in the footer of your email. Revue supports the ability for you to embed the subscribe button easily on Twitter and other sites.

Support for your own custom domainYesNo
Removing logo of the provider in your content / email footerNoNo
About the author page, bio, and photo (Profile page)YesYes
Embed subscribe form on other locationsYes*
Change the color / brand of the “subscribe button”YesNo
Allow Twitter and Facebook users to sign up to newsletter in your postYesNo
*= limited

Analytics and Reports

Both platforms have decent analytics but limited capability to export data for offline analysis. Neither allows you to export data for offline analysis in Excel. Revue has better engagement metrics.
Key metrics dashboard
1. Subscriber Count &
2. Growth
3. Open Rate
4. Click Through Rate
5. Engaged Audiences
Custom reportsNoNo
Audience engagement metricsYes*
Recommendations on problem diagnosisNoNo
Integrate 3rd party tracking pixels for analytics (Facebook, Google, etc.)YesYes
* = limited

Writing and Editing

Both platforms are simple to use and easy to manage. Image are supported in both, but videos, tweets and Instagram photos are better on Revue.
Ease of useYesYes
Scheduled PostsYesYes
Support for rich media typesYes*
Support Instagram images in postsYesNo
Support for content formatting via MarkdownYesNo
Thumbnail images for curated, embedded linksYes*
Embed Tweets withing newsletterYesNo
Video embeds within newslettersYesYes
Multiple author newsletters as a Publisher (not just for individual authors)YesYes
Support for subheadings in email newslettersYesYes
* = Limited

Integration with other tools

SubStack little integration capabilities or APIs, whereas Revue is more “open”. If you care about publishing from your blog to the newsletter, Revue is better. If you want to curate links to send, Revue has options, SubStack – not so much.
Integrate seamlessly with Medium / WordPress and other blog platformsYesNo
Integrate with your own hosted blogYesNo
Integration with ZapierYesNo
Integration with GetPocket, Instapaper and other bookmarking toolsYesNo


SubStack has better monetization options than Revue and support for discount codes, gift subscriptions and multiple subscription options.
Monthly payment planYesYes
Annual payment planYesYes
3rd (Forever) planNoYes
Support for SponsorsNoNo
Support for in newsletter advertising**
Group subscriptionsYes*
Gift subscriptionsNoYes
Complimentary subscriptionsNo*
Setup special offersNoYes
* = Limited

Community Capabilities

Community features are important to keep your audience engaged. Overall SubStack has better community features than Revue. Revue however has feedback option for each newsletter update, which SubStack does not.
Reader feedback*Yes
Reader comments & discussion threads*Yes
Feedback on each newsletter updateYesNo
* = Limited

Technical Capabilities

Although both platforms are relatively stable, users have reported fewer bugs with SubStack. Revue has strong 3rd party integrations which make them a technical person’s favorite. SubStack does not provide an API.
API for 3rd party integrationYesNo
Scalable to thousands and millions of subscribersYesYes
Available and does not go down oftenYesYes
Support for 3rd party designated administratorsYesNo
Technical Capabilities

Subscriber Management

If you want to manage subscribers, export your list, and clean up your subscriber base, then both platforms support them equally well. Neither does a good job of segmenting your audience for A/B testing.
Exporting your subscriber email addressesYesYes
Import your subscribers via Excel, CSV, or other email tools such as MailChimpYesYes
Subscriber segmentationNoNo
Remove and clean subscribers who have not opened email for a long timeYesNo
Subscriber Management

Customer Service

Helping you get questions answered when subscribers have question or if you have a question is important. Since SubStack is better capitalized, their support has been mentioned as better.
Phone supportNoNo
Email support*Yes
* = Limited

Multiple Content Types

As writers move from written email newsletters alone to podcasts, courses, and other forms of digital content, it is important to have support for those media types as well. If you want to integrate with a 3rd party course platform such as Podia, Revue is better.
Other digital media**
* = Limited


Both platforms only support Stripe for payment management. If Stripe does not support your region or country, you are out of luck. You can do your own integration via API with Revue, but it is challenging.
Stripe payment platform integrationYesYes
PayPal integration*No
* = Limited

Discovery and Promotion

While both platforms do not have great discovery capabilities to support authors by helping them find new subscribers, Revue does a slightly better job.
Easy ways for subscribers to find your blog*No
* = Limited

Content Curation

If your newsletter has curated links that you share frequently then Revue has a few options to support link collection and collation, but SubStack does not.
Plugin to bookmark your favorite links to shareYesNo
Share or save content on your Mobile phone to share with newsletter subscribersYesNo
Content Curation

Newsletter Archives

Both platforms do a good job managing your archives and older email newsletter updates.
Old newsletters published and hosted for reviewYesYes
Manage and export archives to other blog platformsYes*
* = Limited

Email delivery

Both platforms do a good job of the basics – help you onboard new subscribers, ensure double opt-in to prevent SPAM and comply with CAN-SPAM act.
Welcome email to subscribers to confirm subscriptionYesYes
Double Opt-in for subscribersYesYes
Email Delivery

Company Profiles

SubStack is better funded, better resourced and has multiple programs to set the stage for their success. While Revue is smaller and nimbler, they are more open and focused more on publishers and media organizations right now then individual creators alone.
Funding$400K in 2017Over $15 Million raised
LocationNetherlandsSan Francisco
# employees< 10< 25
# of writers / authors as customers20,000 – 30,000Over 30,000
Revenue estimates< $1M$1M – $2M
Company Profiles

Important questions to consider

  • Are you going to have only a free newsletter?

SubStack charges you no money for free newsletters regardless of the number of subscribers. Revue charges you if you have more than 50 subscribers – paid or free.

If you expect to have paid subscribers, then SubStack charges you 10% of your price and Revue charges you 6% of your price in addition to their base platform fee.

  • Do you care about your personal branding and owning your domain?

Revue supports your own domain and branding, while SubStack does not currently.

  • Do you already publish to your blog (Medium, WordPress, etc.) and want to ensure integration between the email platform and your blog?

Revue has multiple integration capabilities, while SubStack is standalone as a platform.

  • Are you technical enough to want an API that can integrate with other systems such as Zapier?

SubStack does not have an API, while Revue does.

  • Do you intend to have podcasts, videos, and other content that you want to monetize?

SubStack supports podcasts and other content formats. Revue has limited support for other content formats.


What are the Pros and Cons of Paid Email Newsletters? #SubStack #Revue #ButtonDown

Writers and creators who wish to make money for their work have used advertising (e.g. Google Adwords, DoubleClick) or affiliate links on their blogs and websites since early days of the Internet. While this model has some benefits, many writers find it hard to create a sustained living from online advertising. Since generating content is a very labor intensive and creative process, the monetization models have not been sufficient to support creators. Journalists, writers, analysts, and editors are all looking find a different model to help them create a stable revenue stream, while producing content that is valuable to their readership.  

Pros and Cons of Paid Email Newsletters
Pros and Cons of Paid Email Newsletters

In the last 5 years, few writers such as Ben Thompson (Stratechery) and Jessica Lessin (The Information) among 1000’s of others have started to offer subscription offerings to their readers. Subscriptions start at $10 per month or $100 annually (many are lower or higher). Even with a small number of paying subscribers (e.g. 1000), the creator can start to make over $100K annually, creating a sustained living for them while pursuing the creation of great content.

As of 2020, SubStack, a platform for newsletter creators had over 20,000 writers and hundreds of paid newsletters. Similar platforms such as Revue, ButtonDown and ConverKit have together over 50K newsletter writers and over 100 writers are now making over $100,000 publishing paid newsletters.

The benefits of paid newsletters are multiple. First, they provide a sustained revenue stream for writers. Second, since writers don’t have to focus on “generating more traffic” for their blogs, they can focus on the research and content. Third, it requires fewer committed readers (thousands as opposed to millions of page views) who really love your content to create a sustainable business model.

There are downsides, however. First, if you are not a recognized brand as a writer, getting to 1000 paid readers will take a lot of time (months or years).  Second, if your subscriber churn rate is high (more readers unsubscribe after their subscription period), then your model becomes unsustainable. Third, readers expect consistency, which adds to the pressure of ensuring you have great topics and information to share constantly.

There are strategies to mitigate the downsides and create an enduring, reader driven sustainable revenue stream for you as a creative writer.


What is a good open rate for a email newsletter? #SubStack Newletter #StartingPoint

The 2nd most frequent question we get from potential clients after “How many paying subscribers can I get“? is What are good email newsletter “open rates”?

Email Newsletter Open Rate
SubStack email newsletter open rates

Most newsletter creators are early in their journey. We get this question from creators who have fewer than 1000 users and have been curating and editing their newsletter for fewer than 6 months.

We track and manage over 67 newsletters across multiple categories. Most are technology newsletters (22%), followed by general news, politics, self help, sports and business.

70% of our newsletters are paid, and 30% are free newsletters. 7 started before 2018, 49 in 2018 and 2019 and 9 in 2020.

Free newsletters have open rates between 35% and 62% with subscriber counts ranging from 300 to over 7200.

Paid newsletters have open rates between 47% and 64% with paid subscriber counts ranging from 150 to over 2800.

Some interesting insights from our free newsletters alone.

  1. Open rates for users of newsletters in 2020 are higher on a cohort basis than those that opened in 2019 by 7%. That means, email newsletters X weeks after starting their newsletter in 2019 had 7% lower open rates the same number of weeks in than those the started in 2020.
  2. Open rates for Politics and General News are the highest, followed by Technology. Open rates for Self Help category are the lowest.
  3. Open rates for weekend newsletter episodes than during the week newsletters in 73% of the newsletters
  4. Open rates for morning (before 11 am) newsletters are higher than evening (after 6 pm) in 63% of the newsletter episodes
  5. Newsletters that are sending 3 updates or more a week have higher open rates than those sending only 1 update weekly.

Competitive Landscape for Newsletter as a Service (NaaS) – SubStack Competitors and Alternatives

SubStack makes it simple for a writer to start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions. They provide a platform to publish, distribute and monetize independent writing by paid subscriptions from readers. This is different from most media businesses which make more money from advertisers than subscriptions.

SubStack Competitors
SubStack Competitors

If you look at the competitive landscape for SubStack, there are over 24 companies you could potentially see as options, SubStack alternatives or SubStack competitors.

In fact, if you look at the SubStack pitch deck, you will find them talk about subscription-based competitors such as Medium, Button Down, Revue and Pateron, vs Head content (Social Networks).

SubStack Pitch Deck – Competitive Landscape

However, the competitive landscape is a lot more fluid and complex.

Depending on the creator’s goal – making money from their writing using newsletters, or “building a brand”, or “positioning themselves as a thought leader”, or “getting an audience for their content” – the competitive landscape narrows dramatically.

For the purposes of our discussion I am going segment creators into 3 types:

1. “I dabble in content” users – who are social seeking, want to build their brand and don’t have a large following or traffic. These users are looking for an audience for their content. They will start with Medium, WordPress, or any other free platform to being their journey.

2. “Content is my side gig” users – who want to showcase their talent, and make money from their content, but dont have a large audience yet, but are making progress towards building a fan base of subscribers who might pay for their content. A subset of these users are technically inclined and tend to invest in a blog platform such as Ghost, setup payment options with Pateron and send emails via Sendy.

3. “Content is my business” users – deep experts, reporters, journalists, authors, and writers, who have a brand affiliation (former reporters, journalists, etc.) or have a strong social media presence and want to monetize their content with a steady income stream using subscribers instead of advertising.

These users want a single platform for publishing, payments, email newsletters, and community.

They are writers first and content is their domain. They are less interested in integrating multiple platforms together. A subset of these users are technically savvy as well and will end up with a “best of breed” solution with different products for each use case and integrate them together.

SubStack Competitive Landscape

In the competitive landscape graphic above, as the creator gets more serious, they go up the scale from publishing on content aggregation platforms, to managing their own paid newsletters.

If you need a platform as a “Content is my business” user, which does the following:

  1. Help you create and distribute content while you get paid for it,
  2. Have an audience that you can start with and grow,
  3. Help you engage with your community of readers and subscribers directly instead of going through a platform,
  4. Help you monetize your content with simple payment options, and
  5. Help you build your individual brand as a content creator

If you are looking for all those things, then the options for you are limited to: SubStack, Revue, Button Down, Convert Kit, Tiny Letter and Qazy.

Since the acquisition of Tiny Letter by MailChimp, the platform as languished.

Revue has mentioned that they focus more on media companies than individuals.

Qazy is a blogging first platform with email distribution, suitable for those who want to have users to come to their site.

That leaves Button Down and Convert Kit, which really are the two other companies closer to SubStack than any of the others.

Over the next few weeks, we will dig deeper to compare each of the top competitors of SubStack, but this post was to set the competitive landscape.

If you want a personalized assessment of your potential audience, feel free to reach out to us via email at admin @ and we will respond to create a market assessment plan – absolutely free with no further commitments!


Profile of SubStack the company, founding, SubStack investors and Growth metrics

SubStack Revenue Growth and Paid subscriber growth

What does SubStack do?

SubStack makes it simple for a writer to start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions. They provide a platform to publish, distribute and monetize independent writing by paid subscriptions from readers. This is different from most media businesses which make more money from advertisers than subscriptions.

When was SubStack founded?

SubStack was founded on 28th July 2017 at 1448 Cortland Ave, San Francisco CA 94110, which is the home of co-founder, Chris Best. The company, SubStack Inc. was incorporated on 29th of November 2017 in Delaware. The California state filing was completed on July 27th 2018.

Who are the founders of SubStack?

SubStack has 3 founders. Hamish McKenzie, who was a part time writer at Kik; Chris Best, who was the Chief Technology Officer at Kik and Jairaj Sethi, who was the head of platform and lead developer at Kik.

Hamish McKenzie serves as the Chief Operating Officer (COO of SubStack); Chris Best serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO of SubStack); and Jairaj Sethi serves as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Where is SubStack located?

SubStack headquarters are in 244 California St, Unit 204, San Francisco, CA 94111.

What is SubStack’s mission?

SubStack’s stated mission is to “Make it simple to start a publication that makes money from subscriptions”. It has evolved from: Substack’s mission is to make it simple for a writer to start a paid newsletter.

Is SubStack public?

No, SubStack is a privately held company, with investments from multiple individual investors and institutional capital from A16Z, Garage Capital, YCombinator and Zhen Fund.

How much money has SubStack raised?

SubStack has raised over $17 Million. There is a mention of $19,086,734 on July 23rd, 2019 in a document filed with the SEC.

SubStack raised $120K from YCombinator as part of Winter (Jan) 2018 cohort.

In May 2018, SubStack raised $2.2 Million in a seed round from Bill Bishop, The Chernin Group, Fifty Years, Zhen Fund, Garage Capital, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear, Zynga co-founder Justin Waldron and others.

On July 16th, 2019, SubStack raised $15.3 Million in a Series A round with Andrew Chen from A16Z as the lead investor and YCombinator also participating.

Who are the investors in SubStack?

According to the filing with the SEC, there are over 32 investors in SubStack since their inception. They include among others:

1. Wie Guo

2. VentureSouq

3. UpHonest Capital

4. ZhenFund

5. YCombinator

6. The Chernin Group

7. Kenji Niwa

8. Justin Waldron

9. Garage Capital

10. Funders Club

11. Emmett Shear

12. A16Z – Andreessen Horowitz

13. Fifty Years

What is SubStack’s business model?

SubStack charges a fee for paid newsletters. The fee is 10% of the newsletter’s price. An overview of SubStack pricing indicates they also have payment processing fees (that goes to Stripe which are about 3% on average of the newsletter’s price.

SubStack does not charge for free newsletters. In the industry this is usually referred to as a freemium model.

How many people does SubStack employ?

As of August 2020, SubStack has about 20 employees across technology, writer operations and marketing.

Is SubStack hiring? What jobs are available at SubStack?

SubStack has 10+ open positions in engineering (technology and data), Writer team (recruitment, community and strategy) and support listed on the SubStack careers page.

Is my SubStack subscriber list confidential?

SubStack accidentally revealed hundreds of subscribers’ emails on Jul 2020, by emailing them in CC to an entire list. Other than that incident, there are no other reported incidents of data breach at SubStack. As a newsletter editor, only you will have access to your subscriber list.

What is SubStack’s revenue?

Since SubStack is a private company, they do not disclose revenue. However, doing a simple estimation based on publicly available data indicates they had over 100K paying subscribers (July 2020). Some newsletter brand such as The Dispatch alone, doing over $1 Million in revenue on SubStack. SubStack charges 10% of all newsletter fees. Given the average subscriber pays about $50 – $100 annually, we can estimate SubStack revenue is in the $1 Million to $2 Million run rate range.

SubStack Annual Recurring Revenue Growth and Paid Subscriber Growth

Do you have a copy of the SubStack Pitch Deck?

SubStack pitch deck for raising Series A indicates they were looking to raise over $17 Million after having raised over $15 Million from A16Z and YCombinator.

Their positioning in the pitch deck was

We empower any individual to launch their email newsletters that make money from subscriptions of “super true readers”

In the pitch deck they also indicate that they view Revue, Pateron and ButtonDown as direct competitors and Medium as secondary.

Is SubStack growing?

SubStack is growing dramatically. Of all reported metrics, there are 3 that we track. Paid Subscriber Growth, Average Revenue Per Subscriber, Paid Newsletter Growth and Annual Recurring Revenue Run Rate. SubStack’s core growth loop starts with great creators who attract subscribers, which attracts other great creators to the platform.

From July 2017 to July 2020, SubStack has grown subscribers by 110,000 and Annual Recurring Revenue (Run Rate) to over $1 Million. 2019 growth in subscribers was 355% and 411% in ARR.

If you want a personalized assessment of your potential audience, feel free to reach out to us via email at admin @ and we will respond to create a market assessment plan – absolutely free with no further commitments!

Pricing Subscribers SubStack

How much does SubStack cost? #SubStack Pricing

SubStack Pricing

SubStack, the newsletter platform allows individual writers, editors, and curators to publish content and get paid for their work.

Here are the most frequently asked questions we have received from users about SubStack cost and pricing.

1. How is SubStack priced?


If you publish a free newsletter, SubStack wont charge you. It does not cost you anything and the price of your newsletter is zero even, if you scale to thousands of subscribers.

If your newsletter is priced, the SubStack charges you 10% of newsletter’s price. For example, if you charge $5 per month, then SubStack will take $0.50 or 50 cents every month. If you charge $100 annually for your email newsletter via SubStack, they will charge you $10 for a year.

SubStack uses Stripe for payment processing. Stripe charges you an additional 2.9% of your billing rate, plus 30 cents per transaction. So, if you charge $5 per month, expect to pay about $0.44 or 44 cents each month to Stripe. If you charge $100 annually for your SubStack newsletter, Stripe fees will be $3.2.

Your net payout if you charge $5 per month, per subscriber will be $4.05 and if you charge $100 annually, will be $86.8 per subscriber.


If you subscribe to a free newsletter you pay nothing. It does not cost you anything and the price is zero even if you subscribe to thousands of free newsletters.

If you subscribe to a paid newsletter, the pricing varies by newsletter (which is set by the publisher). We have seen prices from $2 per month to over $200 annual.

2. When will I get paid for my SubStack newsletter subscribers?

Since SubStack uses Stripe, it varies based on your location. Once you setup your Stripe account, it will ask you to “link” your bank account. Your first payout from Stripe will take 7-14 days (to establish the account). After that, expect to get paid between 2 days (US and Australia), 7 business days (India), 7 calendar days (most countries), 30 calendar days (Brazil), and Weekly (Japan). For a full list of payout dates, you can view Stripe’s schedule.

Payout dates will get longer if you get a lot of subscribers who request a refund because they are no longer interested in your content or they subscribed by mistake. If you have more than 2% chargebacks or disputes in each period (month), you might be subject to a Stripe withholding or reserved funds for up to 90 days or longer.

3. Can I use another payment provider besides Stripe with SubStack?

SubStack does not support any other payment option currently (Aug 2020) Stripe is the sole payment processor for SubStack.

4. If Stripe does not support payments in my country what can I do to get paid for my SubStack newsletter?

A few subscribers have used PayPal, Buy Me A Coffee or Instamojo, but these are not “integrated” with SubStack, so you will have to setup a separate payment option to get paid for your newsletter. The problem is you cannot seamlessly integrate paid content with free content into SubStack. If you don’t use Stripe, or if Stripe does not support your region or country, you are out of luck.

5. How much does SubStack cost?

For the newsletter publisher, SubStack is of no cost if your newsletter is free an as explained. It is 10% of your fee if you charge for your newsletter, plus payment fees.

Newsletter subscribers do not pay for free SubStack newsletters. For paid newsletters, they will pay the monthly or annual fee.

The other option that SubStack offers is an Everything bundle. Subscribers pay from $20 to $200 annually depending on the newsletters they choose. It is a very convenient way for subscribers to get multiple perspectives for one price. Publishers benefit as well by getting their content paid for as part of a bundled offering.

6. How much does it cost to map your domain to SubStack?

If you have a domain that you own (e.g., then you can point your custom domain to your SubStack URL ( and there is no charge.

SubStack does not offer custom domains. (August 2020)

7. How much should I price my SubStack newsletter?

Pricing your newsletter is long topic with its own set of frequently asked questions. For the purposes of this post, we will give you 3 pointers.

First, you can price your newsletter at whatever amount you choose.

Second, keep in mind there are heuristics or “comparable” newsletters, which have a price already. If you price much higher or lower, expect to get more questions asked by subscribers.

Third, what we have noticed is that if you offer multiple “media types” of content – for e.g. text, images, podcasts, videos, you can charge higher.

SubStack fees

8. Are there other SubStack fees? Are there fees for storing images or podcasts?

Besides the fees mentioned (10% of your newsletter’s price + Stripe payment processing fees), there are no other fees for SubStack currently (August 2020).

9. How does SubStack pricing model scale?


SubStack pricing scales linearly. As the number of subscribers grows your payment to SubStack is 10% of your total newsletter revenue. We are not currently aware of any discounts for large subscribing newsletters.


SubStack pricing for newsletters is priced by newsletter. The other option is the Everything bundle mentioned above.

10. What are the other costs that I must account for in my paid SubStack newsletter?

There are no other costs and fees for publishing your SubStack newsletter. Of course, you will have to pay for your internet access, or computer, but we assume you have paid for those already.


How many paying SubStack subscribers can I get?

This is the first question we get from most new SubStack writers. As the world’s first SubStack Agency, we understand that is one of the main reason’s writers are starting a newsletter on SubStack.

The worst answer we can give based on our experience, is “It depends”. We have tried it hundreds of times and got “Ghosted” after that first 15-minute introductory call.

If we cannot answer their #1 pain point and question, why bother?

So, we started to put a methodology to answer that question, with the best way we can – data and facts.

There are 4 primary and 5 secondary variables to help you answer that question with data. Our Assessment service helps you leverage our data from 1000’s of SubStack newsletters and surveys to give you a tighter range. You can do this calculation yourself, but we do this for free, after a 15-minute discussion with you, so it helps to use our experience.

What are the variables to help you determine the # of subscribers (paying) for your SubStack newsletter?

SubStack subscriber variables
The important things to grow your SubStack subscriber count

First, the category and subcategory of newsletter. We track over 8000 newsletters (free and paid) as of Aug 2020.

The top 5 categories are: Politics, Sports, Technology, Food and Self Help. Subcategories within Politics (for paying subscribers) are conservative, opinion, economics, and foreign policy. For sports, American Football, Basketball and then Baseball are top.

Within American Football for e.g. Fantasy Sports does better than most team newsletter. To give you an estimate, we have political newsletters with over 700 paying subscribers, and the top Self-Help newsletter has fewer than 200 paid subscribers.

Second, How big of a brand the author is. Authors with a large following on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and an engaging social media presence have a larger subscriber count.

Third, is the location or country of subscribers. SubStack subscribers are very much focused on North America (US, Canada).

For the same category and subcategory (e.g. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence within the Technology category) we track 2 different newsletters – one written by a writer in SF and another based in UK. Both have similar social media profiles and similar tenure (7+ months on SubStack). The one from SF has over 50 paid and 400 free subscribers, while the European one has 3 paid and 100 free subscribers. The free subscribers are also in the United States. For the European newsletter, of the 100+ free subscribers, over 70 are in the US, to 12 in all of Europe and 2 paid subscribers in the rest of the world.

Fourth, the tenure and consistency of your publication. Paid subscribers expect frequent, dependable, and regular news.

We know of 2-3 SubStack writers who received emails within 3-4 hours of a “delay” in their newsletter being published. Longer tenured newsletters get more subscribers.

The secondary things to grow your SubStack subscriber count

There are a few secondary variables as well.

Length of each update in your newsletter. Writers who writer longer (> 1000 words) on average have more subscribers.

Use of images and visuals. Writers who write only text (old school) tend to have fewer subscribers.

Multiple offerings enhance subscriber count. Writers who supplement their newsletter with podcast content do an order of magnitude better than those that write only text-based newsletters.

Uniqueness of content (controversial, different, distinctive, quirky). This is highly subjective, so we use AWS Comprehend and our own humans to score each newsletter on 1-5 for “uniqueness”. The bottom line is the more “controversial” the news article is, the more subscribers.

There are other unknown variables which we are trying to score and map including

a) Newsletter name and Logo,

b) Age demographic for your content – Email is still a largely older, 35-year-old audience,

c) Author’s background – those from “known publications” such as New York Times, are doing better than those who are just getting started,

d) Time of your posting – Saturday and Sunday work better for politics and sports, and Wednesday works better for technology categories.

If you want a personalized assessment of your potential audience, feel free to reach out to us via email at admin @ and we will respond to create a market assessment plan – absolutely free with no further commitments!