Substack Sections Explained

Karen Cherry
4 min readOct 28, 2023

… a feature that’s a lil’ bit clunky…

This post is all about the mysterious ‘Sections’ feature of Substack. Substack devs, we love you but hmmmm this feature is a lil’ bit clunky!

Anyways… here’s my breakdown of Substack sections.

Sections are sub-parts of publications. They are used for:

  • organizing a publication’s content into different topics; or
  • providing different content to different groups of subscribers.

Publication owners can create sections just for paying subscribers, or for different styles of posts. For example, a literary publication might have three different sections; one for poetry, one for a serialised novel and one for reader competitions.

Subscribers can receive emails from all sections or only from some sections of a publication, depending on the settings chosen by the publication owner. Each section of a publication can therefore exist like a separate ‘newsletter’.

That’s the theory anyway.

Unfortunately, however, creators don’t have control over which subscribers receive emails from each section. Instead, it’s left to readers to opt-in or out. And the process of subscribing and unsubscribing from individual sections is not easy or obvious to readers. This means that sections are not necessarily effective for reliably sending different content to different segments of a subscriber list.

Do you need a new section or a new publication?

If you have two very different topics or types of content, you might be unsure whether to create a whole new publication or a new section in your existing publication. Use the table below to decide.

Note that if you make a new publication you will have to start a brand-new email list from scratch. It is possible to import subscribers from your current publication but you must ask their permission first.

If you are concerned about adding a new topic or a new type of content to your existing publication it can be helpful to…

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Karen Cherry

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