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What Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Substack?

What Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Substack?

Starting a Substack can be an exciting venture for writers looking to build their audience and monetize their content. However, there are common mistakes that new Substack creators make that can hinder their success. By being aware of these mistakes, writers can avoid them and increase their chances of building a successful publication.

One mistake to avoid when starting a Substack is not having a clear niche or target audience. It’s important to have a specific topic or theme for your publication and to cater to a particular audience. This will help you build a loyal following and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Another mistake to avoid is not promoting your Substack effectively. Simply publishing content is not enough to attract readers. Writers need to actively promote their publication through social media, email newsletters, and other channels to reach a wider audience. By avoiding these mistakes and implementing effective strategies, writers can increase their chances of building a successful Substack publication.

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Understanding Substack

Substack is a platform that empowers writers to create and monetize newsletters. It provides a simple way for writers to distribute their content and build a following. Substack offers features such as customizable themes, the ability to publish written content, audio, and video, as well as the option to turn on paid subscriptions.

One of the key benefits of Substack is that it allows writers to focus on their content and not worry about the technical aspects of creating and managing a newsletter. Substack takes care of the hosting, delivery, and payment processing, making it easy for writers to get started.

However, it’s important to understand that Substack is not a magic bullet for success. Writers still need to create high-quality content that resonates with their audience. They also need to promote their newsletter and engage with their readers to build a loyal following.

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Choosing the Right Topic

One of the biggest mistakes that new Substack writers make is choosing the wrong topic for their publication. It’s important to pick a topic that you’re passionate about and that you have a lot of knowledge in. This will make it easier for you to create high-quality content that your readers will enjoy.

However, it’s also important to pick a topic that has an audience. You don’t want to write about something that no one is interested in. Research your topic before you start writing to make sure that there is a demand for it. You can use tools like Google Trends or social media to see what people are talking about.

Another thing to consider is the competition. If there are already a lot of publications on your chosen topic, it may be difficult to stand out. Consider niching down your topic or finding a unique angle that hasn’t been covered yet.

Overall, choosing the right topic is crucial for the success of your Substack publication. Take the time to research and consider your options before making a decision.

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Setting Up Your Substack

When setting up your Substack, there are a few technical and design aspects to consider to ensure that your newsletter is appealing and easy to navigate for your readers.

Technical Aspects

One common mistake is not connecting a custom domain to your Substack newsletter. This can make your newsletter appear less professional and may make it harder for readers to find you. Luckily, it’s easy to connect a custom domain to your Substack newsletter by following a step-by-step guide like the one provided by Substack Course.

Another technical aspect to consider is ensuring that your newsletter is optimized for mobile devices. Many readers access newsletters on their phones, so it’s important to ensure that your newsletter is easy to read and navigate on smaller screens.

Design Aspects

When it comes to design, it’s important to choose a title and URL that are memorable and easy to spell. This can help readers remember your newsletter and make it easier for them to share it with others.

In addition, choosing a clean and simple design can help make your newsletter more visually appealing and easier to read. Avoid cluttered designs or using too many different fonts and colors, which can make your newsletter look unprofessional.

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Content Creation

When starting a Substack, content creation is key. Without quality content, readers won’t be interested in subscribing to your newsletter. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating content for your Substack.

Quality Content

Creating quality content should be your top priority. It’s important to create content that is interesting, informative, and engaging for your readers. This will keep them coming back for more and increase the likelihood that they will recommend your newsletter to others.

To create quality content, it’s important to understand your audience. What topics are they interested in? What questions do they have? What information can you provide that they can’t find elsewhere? By answering these questions, you can create content that is tailored to your readers’ interests and needs.

Consistent Posting

Consistency is key when it comes to posting on Substack. Your readers will expect regular updates from you, so it’s important to establish a posting schedule and stick to it. This will help build trust with your readers and keep them engaged with your content.

When deciding on a posting schedule, it’s important to be realistic. Don’t commit to posting every day if you don’t have the time or resources to do so. Instead, start with a schedule that you can realistically maintain and adjust it as needed.

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Audience Engagement

Engaging with your audience is crucial for building a loyal following and growing your Substack publication. There are two key aspects to audience engagement: communication and feedback.


One of the biggest mistakes new Substack writers make is not communicating enough with their audience. It’s important to create a sense of community by regularly reaching out to your readers and encouraging them to engage with you and with each other. This can be done through a variety of channels, including email, social media, and private communities like Facebook groups or Slack channels.

When communicating with your audience, it’s important to be authentic and transparent. Share your thoughts and opinions, and be open to feedback and criticism. This will help build trust with your readers and encourage them to become more invested in your publication.


Feedback is essential for improving your publication and building a stronger relationship with your audience. Encourage your readers to share their thoughts and opinions by asking for feedback through surveys, polls, or open-ended questions.

When receiving feedback, it’s important to be open-minded and receptive to criticism. Take the time to read and respond to each piece of feedback, and use it to improve your publication. This will show your readers that you value their opinions and are committed to creating a publication that meets their needs.

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Monetization Strategies

Starting a Substack can be a great way to monetize your writing and build a loyal audience. However, it’s important to avoid common mistakes when it comes to monetization strategies. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Paid Subscriptions

One of the most popular ways to monetize a Substack is through paid subscriptions. However, it’s important to price your subscription appropriately. According to, finding the right price for your newsletter is an art that balances value and engagement for your loyal readers. It’s important to offer enough value to justify the price, but not so much that readers feel like they’re not getting their money’s worth.

Another important factor to consider is the content you offer for free versus what you offer to subscribers. It’s important to strike a balance between giving away enough content to attract new readers and keeping enough exclusive content to entice readers to subscribe.


Another monetization strategy is through sponsorships. This involves partnering with brands or companies to promote their products or services in your newsletter. However, it’s important to be selective about which sponsors you work with and to make sure their values align with yours and your readers’.

It’s also important to be transparent with your readers about sponsored content. This can help build trust and credibility with your audience.

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Marketing Your Substack

Once you’ve set up your Substack, it’s essential to promote it effectively to attract subscribers. Here are some tips for marketing your Substack:

Social Media Promotion

Use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to promote your Substack. Share your newsletter’s link, promote new posts, and engage with your followers. Consider using paid advertising on social media platforms to attract new subscribers.


Collaborate with other Substack writers to cross-promote each other’s newsletters. Guest post on other blogs and newsletters to reach new audiences. Consider hosting webinars or online events with other writers to attract new subscribers.

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Avoiding Legal Pitfalls

Starting a Substack can be a great way to share your thoughts and ideas with the world, but it’s important to be aware of potential legal issues that could arise. In this section, we’ll discuss a few key legal pitfalls to avoid when starting a Substack.

Copyright Issues

One of the most common legal issues that content creators face is copyright infringement. It’s important to ensure that you have the right to use any images, videos, or other content that you include in your Substack. This means either creating your own content or obtaining permission from the copyright holder to use their work.

If you’re unsure whether you have the right to use a particular piece of content, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and either create your own content or find a different piece of content to use.

Privacy Policies

Another important legal consideration when starting a Substack is privacy. Depending on where you live and where your subscribers are located, you may be required to have a privacy policy that outlines how you collect, use, and protect your subscribers’ personal information.

Even if you’re not legally required to have a privacy policy, it’s still a good idea to have one in place to build trust with your subscribers and show that you take their privacy seriously.

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Maintaining Subscriber Growth

Once you have started to gain subscribers on Substack, it is important to maintain that growth. Here are some strategies to help with retention and churn management.

Retention Strategies

One of the most effective ways to retain subscribers is to consistently provide high-quality content that is relevant to your audience. This can be achieved by conducting surveys or polls to understand what your subscribers want to see more of, and then tailoring your content accordingly. Additionally, providing exclusive content or perks to subscribers can incentivize them to stay subscribed.

Another important aspect of retention is communication. Regularly engaging with your subscribers through email newsletters or social media can help build a sense of community and loyalty. Responding to feedback or addressing concerns can also demonstrate that you value your subscribers and their opinions.

Churn Management

Despite your best efforts, some subscribers may still choose to unsubscribe. It is important to track and analyze churn rates to identify any patterns or common reasons for unsubscribing. This can help you adjust your content or communication strategies to better address those issues and reduce churn.

Another effective churn management strategy is to offer re-engagement campaigns. This can involve reaching out to inactive subscribers with personalized emails or exclusive offers to entice them to resubscribe.

By implementing these retention and churn management strategies, Substack creators can maintain subscriber growth and build a loyal audience.

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