Can You Start a Substack With No Subscribers?

No list? No worries!

Karen Cherry


Someone asked me the other day if you can start a Substack with no subscribers. Well yes, you can of course. But that’s not the whole question, is it?

The real question is:

It is easy to get new subscribers on Substack?

I’ve been Substacking for 18 months, I have thousands of subscribers and make thousands of dollars per year on Substack. Here’s my perspective on Substack + subscribers… the good news and the bad.

The good news

You can definitely start a Substack publication without an existing following.

My Pubstack Success publication started from zero, with no followers and no list. It’s growing slowly but steadily, I get a few new subscribers per week. All my new subscribers are from Medium. I know this because I don’t promote it elsewhere (not enough hours in the day!).

My ‘main’ Substack (published under a pseudonym) has thousands of subscribers and grows by 20 to 30 people per week. It also started with zero subscribers, but in that niche I had an existing audience and social media following. My pre-Substack email list in that niche also started from zero.

So absolutely, it is one hundred percent possible to grow an email list from nothing.

The bad news

Growth is not automatic.

You have to tell people about your Substack if you want it to grow. That means sharing information about it in other places, like social media, personal networks and online forums.

Substack won’t show your publication to anyone, that is entirely your job.

If you don’t let people know your publication is ready to help them, they won’t sign up.

How to get subscribers?



Karen Cherry

Substack writer. Secret tree hugger. Aussie business owner with >$13K revenue on Substack. Refusing to dumb it down.