A smiling woman leans on a table in a fashion designer's studio and types on an open laptop. Beside the laptop are folded lengths of fabric in various shades of brown and white. Behind the woman is a wall covered with snapshots of models in dresses and a mannequin dressed in a dark purple dress with a pale mint green sash and lavendar arm straps.
The lack of an algorithm on Substack can be both a blessing and a curse. Readers can determine what they want to see, but that may mean you have to work harder to find an audience. — Getty Images/LWA

Substack is a popular platform for publishing blogs and email newsletters for businesses and writers of various levels and industries. With over one million subscribers, Substack helps manage email deliverability and subscriber management. But is it the right move for your brand? Here’s everything you need to know about creating a Substack newsletter for your business.

What is Substack and how does it work?

Substack is a free email newsletter platform that gives publishers direct access to their audience. Creators can expand their portfolios, reach new audiences, and generate money. Substack does not rely on algorithms, allowing creators to freely express themselves by posting directly to websites or via email. When you publish new content, your existing readers and paying subscribers will be notified through email.

[Read more: How to Monetize Your Blog]

Should I write a Substack for my business?

To determine if a Substack is right for you, consider your intended audience and goals. Keep in mind that email newsletter subscribers have greater purchasing intent and engagement ratings than other marketing audiences.

Notably, Substack is a publishing tool, not an email marketing tool; it currently lacks the functionality to help build clients, advertise, or sell products. If those are your goals, you might consider another strategy or platform.

For businesses looking to start an email newsletter, Substack has many pros:

  • Vast potential for content creation. Substack offers various publication features, including discussion threads, podcasts, notes, and video uploading/recording for users to connect and share content.
  • No algorithms. By delivering fresh content straight to subscribers' inboxes, you avoid the internet algorithm that determines what people see and read, as well as keyword selection concerns.
  • The ability to monetize. You have the option of publishing paid or free content — or both. Writers and creators can monetize their published work by establishing paid subscriptions.

There are also a few cons to Substack:

  • You need to bring in traffic. Unless users come across your work while browsing — which can be difficult when trying to develop your audience — you must promote yourself, build a case for the value of a subscription, and demonstrate how your content will positively impact readers’ lives.
  • There is no automation, personalization, or segmentation. Substack, unlike other platforms, does not allow users to automate email sequences and sends, personalize messages, or segment audiences into smaller, more specific groupings.
  • Limited analytics. Writers may track when their newsletter is opened, the source of traffic, and a handful of basic analytics. However, Substack cannot track subscribers' locations, user hyperlink and button interactions, audience engagement, or growth.

[Read more: New to Email Marketing? 5 Easy Ways to Get Started]

Substack does not rely on algorithms, allowing creators to freely express themselves by posting directly to websites or via email.

How to set up and grow your business Substack

Ready to set up a Substack for your business? Here’s how to get started.

  • Identify your strategy. Determine your intended audience, content, and goals. Maintain consistency in your content development by creating (and committing to) a publishing schedule.
  • Register your account. Sign up for Substack by using an email address or an account on X (formerly known as Twitter). Confirm your username and email address and then upload a profile picture. Give your publication a name, confirm your personal URL or domain name, and share a brief description of your publication.
  • Set up payment information. If you wish to be paid, you must provide payment information. Substack’s payment provider is Stripe, which charges 10% on subscription fees.
  • Add contacts. Build a community by adding family, friends, and contacts to your subscriber list. If you are migrating from another service, such as Mailchimp or Patreon, you can upload a CSV file to import your existing contacts.
  • Create a post. Go to your dashboard, and select the option to create a new post, thread, or episode.

[Read more: A Beginner's Guide to Creating and Managing an Email Marketing List]

Once you’ve built your Substack domain, use these helpful tips to assist in ongoing growth:

  • Promote your Substack. Post your Substack link on your website's home and social media pages, as well as in email signatures, to increase your search engine rankings. Promote and post your business newsletters on social media, and encourage others to share your posts.
  • Engage with others on the platform. In addition to interacting with your audience and responding to their comments, you should also comment on other members' pages and posts so that users can follow a link back to your content.
  • Track analytics. Though Substack’s analytics features are limited, you can use these or external measures to track ongoing success and adapt your strategy as needed.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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