Motivation. It can be a little strange publishing income reports for all the world to see (including family, friends and even rival online creators). To be clear, these income reports are not published to brag.
Instead they are meant to be helpful and to show readers and writers that it truly is possible to make a decent stream of income writing a subscription newsletter on Substack. I joined Substack fairly early on, so there were no similar resources available to me as a writer (which I know I would have found useful!).
Transparency. When you’re looking for an online creator for inspiration and guidance, it’s important to understand that this creator has actually been able to accomplish goals similar to your own.
In this case, I’m trying to show newsletter creators what is possible, if they dedicate 12+ months writing a Substack newsletter and building the corresponding audience.
Yes, there are certainly top Substack writers who make much more than I do on the platform. But at least you know that my earnings data is (1) real and (2) current.
Data Analysis. I mostly write on Substack for fun, but I do try to keep track of my earnings data to share with other writers. I primarily share this content through my Blogging Guide newsletter, but I also wanted to post the content in a single accessible location for all readers to find (hence, it being posted on my personal blog).
Launched Newsletter on February 3, 2020. I launched my newsletter in early February 2020 without a clear plan. But I was excited by the tech stack that Substack was promising writers. However, I was skepitcal that anyone would pay for access to my newsletter.
Got My First Paid Subscriber on February 7, 2020!
On February 7, 2020 (only four days after enabling monetization), I received my first paid subscriber! I was stunned to receive the email notification:
Reached 100 Paid Subscribers on April 20, 2020. Over the next few months I worked hard to promote my newsletter to my existing audience (primarily readers on Medium).
Reached 250 Paid Subscribers in December 2020. Reaching 250 paid subscribers after I started my newsletter was shocking to me!
But it was around this point that I peaked in terms of the number of paid subscribers. To be clear, my revenue did keep going up anyway, because I was no longer offering heavily discounted subscriptions. In fact, I actually raised the price above the initial baseline list price.
Substack platform features. Readers who subscribed as a direct result of Substack features like the leaderboard, recommendations, or promotions.
Substack saved credit cards. Readers who could subscribe in one click because they already had a payment method on file with Substack.
Substack existing accounts. Readers who could more easily subscribe because they already had an account on Substack.
Imported accounts. Readers whose information you imported.
New accounts. Readers who came directly to your publication.