How Did I Get to 100 Paying Subscribers on Substack?

It wasn’t an accident. But…

Karen Cherry
3 min readApr 24


Today I read a thought-provoking piece by @DavidBClear that claimed successful online creators aren’t capable of explaining how they became successful. That they shouldn’t give advice about how to succeed because they don’t know how they got there.

Hmmm…. I love David’s work but I’ve got some problems with this idea.

In his post, David warns new creators not to buy into the success porn industry, which is full of gurus and expensive courses and mentoring sessions. And I’m totally on board with that.

But (were you sensing a huge BUT was coming?). But.

[So, for context, I’m in the middle of writing a book about how to succeed on Substack. OMG am I peddling success porn?!]

Here’s the but. And you’ll notice I didn’t title this Medium post “How you can get 100 paying subscribers”. That’s no accident. Because David’s post scared me. I’m not here to peddle stardust to vulnerable new creators.

People need help when they first start out. Forums and threads are full of new creators begging for advice: people who can’t work out the tech, people who can’t get new subscribers, people who — god bless them — ask why their rambling monologues about their pets aren’t generating revenue. People who are on the verge of quitting.

New creators need advice. Writers like me who are a bit further along the journey can help.



Karen Cherry

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