What I’ve Learned from Two Years on Substack

Lessons learned while building a newsletter business

Karen Cherry


I had just one subscriber when I sent my first email; myself!

Today I have a gross annual revenue of more than US$15,000 from Substack, with 155 paying subscribers and 3,251 free subscribers across three Substack publications.

After one year of publishing, I was selected to join an invitation-only Substack grow program with a bunch of other Substack creators from all over the world. The program allowed me to have hundreds of online conversations with writers from dozens of different publications.

These days I also help other people get started on Substack.

In this post I share the five most important lessons I’ve learned in my two years on Substack:

  1. It’s never too late to start
  2. Quality content is your golden goose
  3. Some topics are easier to monetise than others
  4. Marketing sucks but it’s vital for success
  5. Scalable income is the bee's knees 😀🐝
Scalable income is the bee’s knees

1. It’s never too late

Some platforms reward early adopters. Medium used to be like that; writers who had been around for the longest got the lion’s share of the payouts. Substack is not like that. Their system doesn’t reward early adopters compared to new writers. I have seen dozens of new publications grow much faster than publications that have been around for years.

These days, it’s actually easier to grow on Substack than when the platform was new.

Since I started, Substack has rolled out a tonne of new features which help new publications grow… features that would have helped me grow faster and easier in the early days. New writers get the benefit of these new features from day one!

The other thing that has changed for the better is that audiences are getting used to the idea that they can (should) pay for high-quality, ad-free content, which makes it easier to convert readers to paying subscribers than it was a few years ago.

But! Don’t wait to get started. Every single Substacker I know wishes they had started sooner. The…



Karen Cherry

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