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Substack Announces One Million Paid Subscriptions

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at November 15, 2021

Topline

Substack, the newsletter platform that allows writers and creators to charge readers a monthly fee, announced Monday that its publications have over one million paid subscriptions, a milestone for the four-year old company that’s shaken up the media landscape.

Key Facts

In a blog post on the platform, co-founder Hamish McKenzie said that the one million paid subscriptions to the site’s publications “are subscriptions that didn’t exist before,” and did not take away from the subscriber bases of traditional media outlets and “represent a rush of new money into the media ecosystem.” 

McKenzie also wrote that the platform’s top 10 publications collectively generate $20 million a year. 

While Substack does not rank its publications overall, it does show which newsletters are the most popular in certain categories and gives a range of their readership size: Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American tops the politics category, faith is led by Jimmy Evans’ Tipping Point Prophecy Update, TK News by Matt Taibbi leads the podcast category and chef Alison Roman’s a newsletter tops food and drink, all of which have “tens of thousands of subscribers,” according to the platform. 

Big Number

10%. That’s the percentage of revenue Substack receives from the subscriptions paid to its writers. Stripe, which processes the payments, takes about 3%. The rest of the subscription fees go directly to the newsletter’s creators. It is free for writers to use the platform, and newsletter owners have the option to release content both in front of and behind a paywall.

Key Background

To entice creators to join its platform, Substack has offered some writers with large audiences huge advances — some writers have received over $400,000 to start their own newsletters on the site. Popular journalists have left their legacy media publications to start their own newsletters through Substack, including the New York Times’ Bari Weiss, New York Magazine’s Andrew Sullivan, The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald and Vulture’s Hunter Harris. 

Tangent

Both Facebook and Twitter have launched their own competitors to Substack. Facebook’s product Bulletin will not take a cut of writers subscription fees. Twitter’s Revue takes 5%.

Further Reading

Facebook Launches Its Substack Competitor, Bulletin. Here’s How They Compare. (Forbes) 

The Rise Of Substack—And What’s Behind It (Forbes)

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