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What is Substack: Everything You Need to Know About This Growing Platform  

Apr 23, 2024

Industry Trends

What is Substack: Everything You Need to Know About This Growing Platform  

What is Substack? It seems this question is getting asked more and more of late by brands and content creators alike. 

Whilst the platform has been around for some time now, Substack has recently greatly increased in popularity. The fall of Twitter and the increasing demand from creators to be paid for their work has encouraged many to migrate over to the traditionally text-based platform. 

Substack seems to be ready for this, adjusting its layout and features to feel more social-media-like and appeal to the consumers looking for a way to scratch their Twitter itch. 

However, does Substack have what it takes to last in the long run? 

Read on to find out more. 

WHAT IS SUBSTACK? 

@vivthemole

#substack #fashionblog

♬ original sound – Viv

So, what is Substack? 

Founded in 2017, Substack is a United States based online platform that aims to put control back in creator’s hands. 

Substack began as a writing only platform, allowing journalists, writers and other content creators to build up a subscription based audience. Over time, the platform expanded to audio and visual content as well, enticing many podcasters to build profiles. At present, creators can upload text, podcasts, discussion threads and videos to their page. 

Creators are able to create and distribute their content, handle their subscriptions, and ultimately monetize their work. Authors are also able to provide their content for free if they so desire. Substack takes a cut of typically 10% of the revenue that accounts earn. 

Substack’s growth has been largely stable since its release. At present, the platform has over 17,000 writers, 20 million monthly active subscribers and more than 2 million paid subscriptions. The ten top authors on the platform collectively make $25 million annually, and readers have paid more than $300 million in subscriptions to their favourite creators since Substack began. 

Whilst Substack has always enjoyed popularity, events of late have propelled it into stardom. 

From 2020 to 2023, subscriptions on the app increased from 300,000 to 1.5 million. Hundreds of major media figures have flocked to the platform recently in the hopes that it will provide them sustainable success and a reliable audience. 

What has caused this sudden migration? Ultimately, the fall of Twitter and the rise of creators expecting to be paid for their work. 

WHAT IS SUBSTACK: WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE IT? 

Substack may provide the answer to two of the biggest questions creators face in 2024. The first, being how to build up a steady audience on social media over time. The second, being how to get paid for your work. 

Twitter 

@color_palette_studio

Premium newsletters = easy passive income for artists #artbiz #artbiztips #passiveincomeforartists #substack #substacknewsletter

♬ original sound – The Color Palette Studio 🎨

With its global popularity, ease of audience retention, and simplicity of use, it’s no wonder that Twitter quickly became a hot spot for journalists and creators in general soon after its creation. 

Content creators of all kinds loved the way Twitter allowed them to build up a relationship with their audience over time. An audience that came back post after post, solving the issue many creators had with their content either going viral or being lost and left unread. 

Yet, with Musk’s recent rebrand and takeover, creators left and right have been leaving X in droves. As such, a power vacuum has opened up, with creators seeking a new platform to continue their work on. 

Enter Substack. The platform is already home to many big names and success stories, making it an easy choice for migrating creators. Bari Weiss, for example, moved from the New York Times to Substack in 2020 and quickly found immense success on the platform. Her account has more than 280,000 subscribers and is quickly gaining more. 

Moving to Substack allows creators to retain their audience and not have to begin all over again. The platform has that text-focused feel of Twitter of old, appealing to users and creators alike. 

On top of this, Substack allows for immense creative freedom. Unlike X and other platforms such as Threads, there is no character limit on Substack. Bloggers are able to upload blogs as long or as short as they wish; allowing them to cater perfectly to their readers’ needs and their own. 

Subscriptions

@vivthemole

#substack #fashionblog

♬ original sound – Viv

For many creators, Substack puts their career back into their own hands. 

Although platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and X are fantastic ways for creators to build up audiences, find brand partnerships and ultimately run their careers, many feel limited by these apps. 

Whilst Substack does take a cut from each subscription fee paid to creators, creators are able to set their own rates. On top of this, brand partnerships are fully in their own hands, as Substack itself does not carry out any advertising of its own. 

With Substack, there is no middleman between creators and their audience. This gives the platform a far more authentic and genuine feel, which greatly appeals to modern consumers and creators. 

This has allowed the fashion industry to particularly find root on Substack. For many fashion fans, major social media platforms have become difficult to navigate. The sheer number of trends and unique aesthetics have made it troublesome for many, as they struggle to find creators and styles they enjoy. 

Substack offers a solution to this, as users can easily pick and choose the creators that they want to engage with. Creators can build up a dedicated, fashion focused audience that are loyal to their style and recommendations, rather than trying to appeal to the thousands of viewers on TikTok. 

As such, affiliate marketing has become increasingly popular in the fashion community on Substack. Users are able to shop trustworthy products from creators they love and want to support, and creators can work with brands they are passionate about to support their career. 

HOW CAN BRANDS GET INVOLVED? 

@nobelltrading

New York Times Freaking Out #substack #writing #writer #politics #corporatecorruption #makemoney #workforyourself #NYT #NewYorkTimes

♬ original sound – Josh

For brands, now is the perfect time to get involved in Substack. As previously mentioned, affiliate marketing is becoming increasingly popular on the platform. 

Much like apps such as Flip, Substack has that intimate consumer-creator quality that lends itself perfectly for authentic marketing. Tight knit brand partnerships, genuine affiliate links, and other smaller scale marketing suit Substack perfectly. 

The platform seems quite set in its decision to not work with advertisers directly, so interested brands will have to put their influencer marketing skills to the test to succeed on Substack. 

Fashion brands should be particularly interested in Substack, due to its blossoming fashion community. Brands looking to become more involved in podcasters should also take a stab at Substack, as its audio content community is growing substantially of late. 

Ultimately, the answer to “what is Substack?” is simple; it is a new way forward. Substack is creating a new future for creators. A future where they are able to connect with their audience week after week, have creative freedom, and financial security. 

With its creator focused business model and format that fosters brand partnerships, Substack seems primed and ready to reach new heights.

 

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@sociallypowerful

Author

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Annette Klar

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