Substack: Connecting the Readers & Writers in All of Us
Substacking is a Verb
I had the urge to write something down.
I flipped open my laptop and then typed in “Substack” on Google.
From the Substack homepage, I clicked on the “Writer Dashboard”.
My personalized writing dashboard for Grow with Aidan appeared on the screen.
I moved my cursor to the right and went to create a “New post”. From there, I was ready to write publicly online for anyone in the world to access.
I don’t often consider just how modern it is that anyone in the world is just two clicks away from hearing my voice.
The fact that this platform is accessible to anyone to write something thoughtful down and instantly reach millions of people is insanely powerful!
After this utopic thought, I opened up the blank page and asked myself,
what’s the most important thing I could write right now?
I had a few topics in mind that I was thinking to write about it. I started to take a few notes on the ideas I had.
As I read through what I wrote, I noticed when I wrote the word, “Substack”, that it was in red (due to “incorrect” spelling).
I paused and wondered when Substack would start to be used as a verb like “ubering”, or “googling, or “tweeting”.
But I quickly realized those days were already here as I had just told my girlfriend that I was Substacking tonight.
I just crossed my 100th Substack published on the platform, which was a goal I wrote about wanting to achieve a few months ago.
I am incredibly proud of writing consistently and getting to 100 posts.
I am also approaching my first year since my first post on the platform.
With both writing 100 posts and this 1 year milestone, it felt like a natural point to reflect on my experience about writing on Substack.
The platform has provided me with a creative outlet, a new way to connect with friends and a tool to develop professionally.
After gaining a deep sense of appreciation for the Substack platform, and my personal milestones with the tool, I thought it would be fun to write an article about Substack (which you could probably tell if you made it this far :) ).
Substack is Empowering Both the Writer and Reader
Substack is part of a broader trend happening right now on the internet usually referred to as Web 3.0.
This new internet renaissance is about empowering both the creator of the content and the consumer of the content.
These new tools of Web 3.0, such as Substack, are functioning as public goods to those that use them.
Substack is applying the Web 3.0 model to written media.
The current system of real-time written media is predominately run by top-tier media outlets like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
These outlets are great distributors and aggregators of news and content to the masses. But we all know each media outlet has a stance.
While the outlets do have independent writers, the consumer signs up to have a relationship with the outlet and not the writer.
Here lies the opportunity for Substack.
Substack is empowering readers to connect directly with the people and ideas they want to learn more about. Before, it was the media companies that told you what to read. With Substack, individuals are empowered to choose the written information they want to consume.
In tandem, Substack is empowering writers to connect directly with their audience and build a community. Substack is creating more writers by providing all the support structure to get started and go independent. This is giving more writers a unique and authentic voice.
Substack is a perfect name for what this platform represents as it signifies the art of how the tool empowers the people who use the platform.
You (stack) your (sub)scriptions. This includes:
Curating which newsletters that you subscribe to for developing your personalized information experience, and,
As a writer, to build your community of subscribers to follow your content and engage in conversation with.
Substack is empowering readers and writers more everyday.
Substack is Developing an Entirely New Offering
I believe Substack will be the one of the most impactful services for people to engage with written content on the internet.
Substack providers services and offerings that are truly unique compared to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other blogging sites like Medium.
One of Substack’s initial differentiators was the belief that reading is mostly done in the email inbox in today’s age.
With this understanding, Substack decided to meet readers where they were and brand the platform as a newsletter offering.
Whenever I publish a piece on Substack, my writing goes directly to my subscribers inboxes rather than them having to visit my website.
Substack also connects well with other platforms like, Twitter for sharing content and helping you choose who to follow, and Stripe for processing payments.
Substack is predominantly used for reading and writing which each have different interfaces.
On the reading interface, I can see all the newsletters I subscribe to on the left, and on the right, I see my Substack specific inbox.
For the writing interface, on the left you can view stats on all your articles very easily, and on the right, you can publish more content.
The interface is super intuitive to set-up and use. Every feature feels very thoughtful and there are no buttons that feel superfluous and not needed.
Substack is also empowering some writers through their Substack Pro program where they provider writers will a small stipend to get started in exchange for an initial revenue share.
It’s great to see a new platform that really cares about supporting more writers.
Substack, like many other platforms, has a comments section which can result in shared ideas from the community.
Substack Business Success
Last month, Substack passed 1M users on their platform who pay for newsletter subscriptions. This is up from 250K the year prior.
Substack raised a $65M Series B led by a16z in March of 2021.
Now the company is well financed, and is bringing fresh developments to the media space.
This includes bringing prolific writers to the platform like Bari Weiss who didn’t align with the cult of the New York Times and had a large enough following to go independent for her writing. She is now retaining much more of the value both financially and her ability to communicate directly with her audience.
The internet made writing become commoditized where nobody wanted to pay.
Substack is now on the frontier of helping bring back written content that people want to pay for.
Building the Grow with Aidan Community
One of the core differentiators of Substack is the focus on empowering the creator and the community to engage with each other. I think there a lot more things Substack will do to empower these relationships.
People are disenchanted with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and want to connect more with the content they consume.
This has led me to want to do a better job at building more of a community on Grow with Aidan in 2022.
I’ve been emailing many of you back and forth about my writing but these conversations are one-off and in siloes. I want to engage everyone together so we can have a collective conversation about growth.
Most of my conversations that are happening over email after I wrote a post, are happening with my close friends who are passionate about personal development. Since we are running on the same vibe from spending time together, it makes sense why they would be the first initial engagers on Grow with Aidan.
But I would like to see some of you connect with each other. I believe others will see this and may feel more inclined to join the community. Then, more of us can grow together which is what this is all about.
Therefore, if you email me, I will kindly tell you to engage in the comments.
After reading, it is highly encouraged to write back, since writing goes hand and hand with reading. This is how we grow.
So PLEASE, leave any of your thoughts in the comments and not in my email. I want to have these conversations in public and grow together in a transparent way.
I think that would be a fun future to live in where a bunch of people are authentically leveling up and growing together.
The CEO of Substack, Chris Best, to bring it all together on why Substack is so empowering:
We see our job and the fundamental benefit of our platform as putting writers and readers in charge. So, whereas, you know, if you go to your Twitter feed or your Facebook feed or your various sort of attention-monster social apps, they’re trying to, like, decide for you what to see. Whereas the whole idea of Substack is returning power to writers and readers. We take a very strong stance kind of in favor of freedom of the press and letting writers and readers decide for themselves how to set up those relationships.
I’d say we’re almost the thing that’s enabling a million media companies to bloom.
I am grateful that Substack exists to make Grow with Aidan possible. And I am grateful for all of you for tuning in.
Look forward to hearing from you in the comments and growing this community.
There’s a good analogy here with other tech companies in general. They innovate, bring information that people want to have, grow large and unwieldy, are subject to concentrating control which deviates from the viewpoints of a large percentage of people, experience dissenting subscribership, and ultimately are out-innovated.
Congratulations on 100! Wonderful accomplishment and foundation. I've been enjoying the disparate fields that you integrate, as well as the future they point to. Keep up the great work!