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Is It Free to Start a Substack?

Is It Free to Start a Substack?

Substack has become an increasingly popular platform for writers, journalists, and other content creators to share their work and build a following. However, one question that often comes up is whether it is free to start a Substack newsletter. The answer is yes, it is completely free to create and publish a newsletter on Substack.

Once you have created your Substack newsletter, you can choose whether or not to enable paid subscriptions. If you do choose to offer paid subscriptions, Substack will take a 10% cut of your revenue to cover operating costs such as development and customer support. However, this is completely optional and you can continue to offer your newsletter for free if you prefer.

Overall, Substack offers a simple and user-friendly platform for anyone looking to start a newsletter. Whether you are an experienced writer or just starting out, Substack makes it easy to share your work and build a loyal audience. So if you’re thinking about starting a newsletter, give Substack a try and see what it can do for you.

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Understanding Substack

Substack is a platform that allows writers to create and monetize newsletters. It was founded in 2017 and has since grown in popularity among writers who want to share their ideas and stories with a wider audience. With Substack, writers have the flexibility to publish their content in various formats, including writing, audio, and video. They can also turn on paid subscriptions or publish for free, giving them complete control over their content and revenue.

One of the best things about Substack is that it is free to start. Writers can create a publication with one of the basic themes available on the platform and start publishing right away. However, Substack does take a cut of the revenue generated from paid subscriptions, which is currently at 10%. This means that if a writer charges $5 per month for their newsletter, Substack will take $0.50 of that revenue.

While Substack is a great platform for writers, it is important to note that it is not the only one available. Other platforms, such as Patreon and Ghost, offer similar services and benefits. It is important for writers to do their research and choose the platform that best suits their needs.

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Is Starting a Substack Free?

Substack is free to use for writers who want to publish their content for free. However, if you want to monetize your content and earn money from your subscribers, Substack takes a 10% cut of your revenue. This means that if you make $100 from paid subscriptions, Substack will take $10.

Setting up a Substack account is also free. All you need is an email address and a password. Once you have created your account, you can start publishing your content immediately.

However, if you want to customize your Substack publication with a custom domain, logo, and design, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan. The cost of a paid plan starts at $7 per month.

Overall, starting a Substack is free, but if you want to monetize your content or customize your publication, you will need to pay for it.

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Exploring Substack’s Pricing Model

Substack is a newsletter platform that enables writers to create and monetize their content. The platform offers both free and paid plans to its users.

Free Plan

The free plan on Substack allows writers to create and distribute their content to their subscribers without any charge. This plan is suitable for those who are just starting and want to build their audience.

However, writers on the free plan cannot monetize their content. They can only accept voluntary payments from their readers. Additionally, Substack will keep a 10% cut of revenues for operating costs like development and customer support if the writer turns on paid subscriptions.

Paid Plan

The paid plan on Substack allows writers to charge a monthly or annual fee for access to their content. This plan is suitable for those who have a loyal following and are looking to monetize their content.

Writers on the paid plan can offer exclusive content to their subscribers and accept payments directly from their readers. Substack charges a fee for processing payments, which depends on the country where the writer registered their Stripe account. Subscription plans, such as monthly and annual, are set by writers.

Overall, Substack offers a flexible pricing model that caters to the needs of writers at different stages of their journey.

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Benefits of a Free Substack

Starting a Substack newsletter is free, which means anyone can create a publication and start sharing their ideas with the world. With a free Substack, writers can:

  • Build an audience: Substack offers a built-in audience of readers who are interested in subscribing to newsletters on a variety of topics. By creating a free Substack, writers can tap into this audience and start building their own following.

  • Monetize their content: While a free Substack does not offer paid subscriptions, writers can still monetize their content through other means, such as advertising or sponsorships.

  • Enjoy creative freedom: With a free Substack, writers have complete creative control over their content. They can write about any topic they choose and publish on their own schedule.

  • Access Substack Pages: Substack Pages is a feature that allows writers to create custom landing pages for their newsletters. With a free Substack, writers can still use this feature to create a professional-looking landing page that showcases their work.

While there are limitations to a free Substack, such as the lack of paid subscriptions and certain features, it is still a great option for writers who are just starting out and want to test the waters before committing to a paid plan.

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Limitations of a Free Substack

While it is free to start a Substack, there are some limitations to the free version of the platform. First and foremost, free Substacks do not have access to certain features that paid Substacks do. For example, free Substacks cannot use custom domains, which means that their newsletters will have a subdomain of Additionally, free Substacks cannot use third-party analytics tools, which can make it difficult to track the success of their newsletters.

Another limitation of a free Substack is the lack of customer support. While paid Substacks have access to customer support, free Substacks do not. This means that if a free Substack user has an issue or question, they will need to rely on community forums or other resources to find a solution.

Finally, free Substacks are limited in terms of revenue potential. While paid Substacks can monetize their newsletters through subscriptions, sponsorships, and other means, free Substacks can only monetize through voluntary reader contributions. This means that free Substacks may struggle to generate significant revenue.

Overall, while a free Substack can be a great way to get started with newsletter publishing, it may not be the best choice for those looking to monetize their content or access advanced features.

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Making the Most of Your Free Substack

Starting a Substack is free, and you can publish as much content as you want without paying a dime. However, if you want to monetize your newsletter, you can turn on paid subscriptions and make money from your most dedicated readers.

While you’re building your audience, there are several ways to make the most of your free Substack. One way is to use the platform’s built-in tools to engage with your readers. For example, you can use the Inbox tab to see all of your subscriptions in one place, sort them by audio, saved, and paid posts, and swipe right to save or left to archive. You can also use the Saved tab to view posts that you’ve saved from your Home feed or Inbox.

Another way to make the most of your free Substack is to use the platform’s basic themes to create a visually appealing newsletter. You can customize the colors, fonts, and layout to match your brand, and you can add images, videos, and other multimedia to make your content more engaging.

Finally, you can use your free Substack to build your email list and drive traffic to your website or social media pages. You can include links to your other content in your newsletter, and you can encourage your readers to share your newsletter with their friends and followers.

Overall, there are many ways to make the most of your free Substack, whether you’re building your audience or monetizing your newsletter. With its built-in tools and customizable themes, Substack is a powerful platform for writers and publishers of all kinds.

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Transitioning to a Paid Substack

Once a writer has built up a dedicated following on their Substack, they may want to consider transitioning to a paid subscription model. This allows them to monetize their content and earn income from their writing.

To upgrade from a free subscriber to a paid subscriber, users can follow these steps:

  1. Log into their Substack account and click “Sign In.”
  2. Click on their profile icon and select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Navigate to the “Subscriptions” section and click on “Edit” next to the publication they’d like to make changes on.
  4. Select “Upgrade to paid subscription” and enter their payment information.

It’s important for writers to provide value to their subscribers in order to justify the cost of a paid subscription. This can include exclusive content, early access to articles, and personalized communication with subscribers.

Writers should also consider offering flexible subscription options, such as pausing subscriptions for a specific period of time, to provide more value and flexibility to their subscribers.

To learn more about pausing paid subscriptions on Substack and converting free readers to paid subscribers, check out the following resources:

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Frequently Asked Questions about Free Substack

Does Substack Own My Content?

No, Substack does not own the content that writers publish on their platform. Writers retain all ownership and control over their work. Substack is simply a platform for writers to publish and distribute their work.

Can I Move My Subscribers Elsewhere?

Yes, writers can move their subscribers to another platform if they decide to leave Substack. However, it’s important to note that writers will need to manually export their subscriber list and import it to the new platform. This process can be time-consuming and may result in some lost subscribers.

What Happens If I Decide to Stop Using Substack?

If a writer decides to stop using Substack, they can export their subscriber list and move it to another platform. However, it’s important to note that writers will lose access to any paid subscribers they had on Substack. Additionally, any content that was published exclusively on Substack will no longer be accessible to readers.

Overall, Substack offers writers a free platform to publish their work and build a following. While there are limitations to the free version of Substack, writers can choose to upgrade to a paid subscription to access additional features and benefits.