How To Make Money On Substack in 2023: 20 Innovative Strategies

Reading Time: 15 minutes

If you’ve ever wondered how to make money on Substack, you’re in the right place.

This platform has rapidly become a goldmine for writers, experts, and creators of all stripes.

Quick tip to get you started: Leverage social media to build your audience before you launch.

Trust us, an engaged audience is your best asset in turning those subscription revenues into serious earnings.

Keep reading to uncover 20 strategies that can help you turn your Substack dream into a thriving business.

Quick Takeaways:

  1. Premium Newsletters: Your bread and butter for making money on Substack. Offer a mix of free and premium content to build a reliable revenue stream.
  2. Consulting Services: Use your expertise to offer consulting as an add-on service. This not only boosts your income but also adds credibility.
  3. Courses and Workshops: Convert blog posts into lessons and engage your audience on a deeper level. Charge a one-time fee or bundle it in the subscription.
  4. Subscriber-Only Webinars: Offer in-depth, interactive sessions on topics your audience cares about. Adds value and keeps your subscribers hooked.
  5. Networking Opportunities: Build a community around your Substack to offer networking opportunities. This adds a new dimension to your business and can boost subscriber count.

What is Substack?

Substack is an online platform designed to help writers and creators publish newsletters and monetize their content. It’s a popular platform that offers both free and paid subscriptions, allowing many writers to generate subscription revenue from their readers.

You can start writing your first newsletter as soon as you open an account on the Substack website. With its user-friendly interface, you can publish articles, build a social media presence, and attract both free readers and paid subscribers.

While there are other platforms available, Substack specializes in newsletters, making it a preferred choice for writers looking to focus on this type of publication.

screenshot of Substack homepage

20 Ways To Make Money On Substack

1. Premium Newsletters

Premium newsletters are the bread and butter of how to make money on Substack. Start by offering a free newsletter to attract an initial audience.

Then, create a premium option that includes exclusive content, tools, or insights available for a monthly fee. The beauty of this model is that it’s simple but highly effective.

You’ll be sharing the same kind of content that you usually would in a blog post, but in a more direct and exclusive format. This adds immense value for paid subscribers and provides a reliable stream of subscription revenue.

Strategies for Premium Newsletters:

  • Freemium Model: Offer a blend of free content and premium-only posts to keep free subscribers engaged while enticing them to upgrade.
  • Exclusive Interviews: Feature interviews with other writers or experts that are only accessible to paid subscribers.
  • Content Series: Create a multi-part series to keep your audience hooked. Make the first part free and the rest premium-only.

What we recommend:

  • Investment Tips: A premium newsletter focusing on top-notch investment advice.
  • Digital Nomad Guide: A curated list of tools, job boards, and lifestyle tips.
  • Entrepreneurial Insights: Exclusive articles with actionable tips for startup success.

2. Consulting Services

Adding consulting services to your Substack package can help you make decent money by leveraging your specific expertise.

Your newsletter-free content can serve as a portfolio that convinces subscribers of your know-how, making it easier to charge a fee for personalized consulting.

Beyond boosting your subscription revenue, this strategy can also increase your social media presence as satisfied clients are likely to share their positive experiences.

Strategies for Consulting Services:

  • Limited Slots: Offer a limited number of consulting hours per month to create a sense of urgency.
  • Subscriber Discounts: Give paid subscribers a discount on consulting fees.
  • Topic Specialization: Focus your consulting around your niche to attract a targeted audience.

What we recommend:

  • Business Strategy Session: A 60-minute deep dive into a client’s business model.
  • Content Strategy Review: Evaluation and feedback on a company’s content marketing efforts.
  • SEO Audit: A detailed SEO analysis with actionable recommendations.

3. Courses and Workshops

One of the most dynamic ways to make money on Substack is by offering courses and workshops. You can easily create and distribute these via your existing newsletter platform.

Turn your blog posts into lesson modules and charge a one-time fee or offer it as part of the monthly subscription package.

Courses offer not just educational value but also a higher level of interaction, making your social media followers more engaged and willing to pay.

Strategies for Courses and Workshops:

  • Early-Bird Offers: Offer discounts for those who sign up during the first week of the course announcement.
  • Course Bundles: Package multiple courses together for a reduced rate.
  • Interactive Q&A: Include a live Q&A session as part of the course offering to add real-time value.

What we recommend:

  • Marketing 101 Course: A basic course on all the basics of marketing.
  • Copywriting Workshop: A detailed workshop on writing compelling copy.
  • Social Media Mastery: A course on building and maintaining a strong social media presence.

4. Subscriber-Only Webinars

Subscriber-only webinars are a fantastic way to add value to your Substack package. These webinars can be monthly or quarterly events that tackle topics of interest to your paid subscribers.

Unlike free content, these webinars offer a more interactive and in-depth approach to topics. This approach not only retains your current subscribers but can also attract new ones who are looking for more than just a regular newsletter.

Webinars can bring in decent money when marketed right.

Strategies for Subscriber-Only Webinars:

  • Topic Voting: Let your subscribers vote on the webinar topic to boost engagement.
  • Guest Speakers: Invite other writers or industry experts to add credibility and attract their followers.
  • Webinar Recordings: Offer the webinar recording for a fee to those who missed the live session.

What we recommend:

  • E-commerce Best Practices: A deep dive into the best e-commerce strategies.
  • Digital Nomad Lifestyle: How to live and work remotely successfully.
  • Retirement Planning: Focused on financial strategies for those looking to retire but still generate income.

5. Networking Opportunities

Networking opportunities are a secret sauce for how to make money on Substack. Creating a virtual “Substack Lounge” can not only bolster the value of your Substack newsletter but also create a tight-knit community.

This community engagement can lead to an increase in your subscriber count and eventually make you more money.

Many writers overlook the power of community, but with Substack’s popularity as a platform, the opportunity is ripe for tens of thousands of potential subscribers to find value in networking with like-minded individuals.

Strategies for Networking Opportunities:

  • Membership Levels: Create tiered subscription fees for basic and premium networking opportunities.
  • Lounge Events: Organize monthly themes or discussions in the Substack Lounge.
  • Community Management: Use your Twitter account to share updates and insights to keep the lounge vibrant and engaging.

What we recommend:

  • Business Strategy Lounge: Focused discussions on various business models.
  • Tech Trends Lounge: Monthly meetups discussing upcoming tech trends.
  • Lifestyle Lounge: Conversations about lifestyle design, health, and wellness.
screenshot of Travel Differently Newsletter subscription

6. Product Discounts

Product discounts are an easy way to add value to your paid version of the Substack newsletter. Partner with brands that resonate with your audience to offer exclusive discounts.

This adds a tangible monetary benefit to being a subscriber and can help you make money on Substack.

The exclusivity of these deals can also attract email subscribers who are still on the fence about the subscription fees, tipping the scales in your favor.

Strategies for Product Discounts:

  • Brand Partnerships: Target brands that have a similar audience and propose a partnership.
  • Limited-Time Offers: Make these discounts time-sensitive to encourage quick sign-ups.
  • Showcase Products: Include a section in your publishing schedule to feature discounted products.

What we recommend:

  • Exclusive Software Discounts: Reduced prices for project management software.
  • Travel Deals: Discount codes for flight tickets or hotel bookings.
  • Ebook Specials: Exclusive discounted rates on bestselling eBooks.

7. Job Boards

A job board within your Substack newsletter can turn it into a multi-faceted resource. You can charge companies to post jobs while offering free or discounted access to your subscribers.

This approach can make you a decent amount of money on Substack, especially if your audience is in a niche where job opportunities are plentiful.

The job board makes your newsletter a one-stop shop for career growth, enticing more people to subscribe.

Strategies for Job Boards:

  • Categorized Listings: Organize the job board into categories to make it easier for your audience.
  • Promotion Packages: Offer companies enhanced listing features for a higher fee.
  • Job Alerts: Use your Twitter account to broadcast new job postings to increase engagement.

What we recommend:

  • Tech Jobs Section: A specialized board for tech-related jobs.
  • Digital Marketing Roles: A section focusing on digital marketing opportunities.
  • Remote Work Listings: Focused on jobs that offer remote working options.

8. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the most tried-and-true methods to make money online, and it fits perfectly with a Substack newsletter.

By featuring products and earning a commission for each sale through your unique link, you provide extra value to your subscribers while making more money.

Since Substack makes it easy to incorporate links into your newsletters, this can be a seamless addition to your publishing schedule.

Strategies for Affiliate Marketing:

  • Relevant Products: Stick to products that resonate with your niche to keep your recommendations valuable.
  • Transparency: Always disclose that you’re using affiliate links to maintain trust.
  • Performance Tracking: Use analytics to determine which products resonate most with your subscribers.

What we recommend:

  • Writing Tools: Affiliate links for writing software like Grammarly or Scrivener.
  • E-commerce Platforms: Recommendations for platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce.
  • Business Books: Affiliate links for must-read books for entrepreneurs.

9. Resource Lists

Resource lists can be a goldmine when it comes to how to make money on Substack. Whether you enjoy writing about the latest tech gadgets, best business books, or essential tools for digital nomads, a well-crafted list can offer additional resources to your subscribers.

Many creators choose to make these lists premium features, available only to their paid subscribers, boosting conversion rates and encouraging free readers to make the leap.

Strategies for Resource Lists:

  • Curate Quality: Ensure that every item on your list is genuinely valuable to keep subscribers engaged.
  • Up-to-date Info: Regularly update your lists to keep them fresh and useful.
  • Teasers: Provide a free list with a few resources, and then offer an extended list as a premium feature.

What we recommend:

  • Digital Marketing Tools List: A comprehensive list of the best digital marketing tools.
  • Entrepreneurship Book List: An assortment of must-read books for budding entrepreneurs.
  • Travel Essentials: A list of travel gear that makes sense for a digital nomad.

10. Event Tickets

Hosting events—whether live or virtual—is another fantastic way to make money on Substack.

Many creators offer early-bird tickets or VIP packages to their paying subscribers, creating another layer of value that can entice free readers to pay up.

The events can range from generalist newsletter discussions to niche-specific workshops. It’s an effective way to monetize and cross-promote your Substack.

Strategies for Event Tickets:

  • VIP Perks: Offer exclusive bonuses like one-on-one consultations to VIP ticket holders.
  • Subscriber Discounts: Provide reduced ticket prices for your paid subscribers.
  • Event Recordings: Record the event and offer it as an additional resource for those who can’t attend.

What we recommend:

  • SEO Workshop: A hands-on guide to mastering SEO.
  • Cooking Class: A live cooking event for food enthusiasts.
  • Investment Seminar: A deep dive into smart investing strategies.
Screenshot of sample post for selling ticket

11. Subscriber Spotlight

The “Subscriber Spotlight” is a way to charge a fee for highlighting a subscriber’s business or project in your newsletter.

This not only makes you money but also provides value to your readers by exposing them to new and interesting projects. The subscribers who get featured will appreciate the spotlight, and it’ll likely encourage others to consider paying for the privilege.

Strategies for Subscriber Spotlights:

  • Selection Criteria: Set transparent criteria for whose business or project will be featured.
  • Limited Slots: Create a sense of urgency by offering a limited number of spots per month.
  • Value-Add: Include an interview or profile to provide additional depth to the spotlight.

What we recommend:

  • Tech Startups Spotlight: Featuring up-and-coming tech companies.
  • Freelancer Profiles: Highlighting successful freelance writers or designers.
  • Local Businesses: Showcasing local businesses that offer unique products or services.

12. Sponsored Content

Sponsored content can be an excellent avenue for making money on Substack, especially if it’s valuable and relevant to your audience.

As writers, it’s crucial to keep the trust of your readers, so any sponsored content must be clearly labeled but also offer genuine value.

Many creators opt for sponsored articles or even product endorsements that align well with their general content themes.

Strategies for Sponsored Content:

  • Transparency: Always disclose the nature of the sponsored content to maintain reader trust.
  • Quality Over Quantity: Choose sponsors that you would personally vouch for.
  • Engagement Metrics: Use reader engagement metrics to set your sponsorship rates.

What we recommend:

  • Financial Tools: Sponsored posts from trusted financial planning tools or apps.
  • Health Products: Articles featuring a new line of health and wellness items.
  • Educational Software: Endorsements for online courses or educational software that you have tried and can recommend.

13. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a remarkable way to engage your audience and boost your subscription revenue on Substack.

Whether you’re looking to launch a new project or dive deep into an investigative article, crowdfunding allows you to gauge interest and get financial support from your community.

Substack’s platform offers the tools to manage such campaigns effectively, giving your audience a sense of participation and ownership in your work.

Strategies for Crowdfunding:

  • Pitch Perfect: Develop a compelling pitch that clearly explains why your readers should support your project.
  • Milestone Rewards: Offer rewards for reaching specific crowdfunding milestones.
  • Regular Updates: Keep your audience engaged with regular updates on the project’s progress.

What we recommend:

  • Investigative Journalism: Fund an investigative deep dive that your mainstream publication wouldn’t support.
  • Ebook: Crowdfund the writing and publishing of an exclusive ebook for subscribers.
  • Documentary Series: A video series on an intriguing subject relevant to your audience.

14. Archives Access

As you continue to publish valuable articles on your Substack, the idea of offering access to your archives for a one-time fee becomes increasingly attractive.

Your back issues are a treasure trove of deep dives, tips, and insights that new subscribers would find beneficial. Make this an add-on or a stand-alone product on your Substack website.

Strategies for Archives Access:

  • Bundling: Offer archive access along with other subscriptions for a discounted rate.
  • Highlights Reel: Create a selection of your best articles and offer it as a premium package.
  • Limited-Time Offer: Create urgency by offering archive access at a special price for a limited period.

What we recommend:

  • Best of 2022 Articles: A compilation of your top articles from the past year.
  • Themed Collections: Group articles by topic for targeted audience segments.
  • Expert Interviews: A selection of interviews with industry leaders.

15. Podcasts

Introducing podcasts to your Substack platform can add another layer of engagement for your audience.

Podcasts are increasingly popular and can help you reach different segments of your audience who prefer audio over reading.

On Substack, you can have podcasts that follow their own subscription models or even sponsorship models, adding to your earning potential.

Strategies for Podcasts:

  • Subscriber-Only Episodes: Create special episodes that only paying subscribers can access.
  • Sponsorships: Partner with brands that resonate with your audience for podcast sponsorship.
  • Cross-Promotion: Use your articles to promote your podcasts and vice versa.

What we recommend:

  • Industry Analysis: A podcast that deep-dives into trends affecting your audience.
  • Skill-Building Series: A podcast focused on tutorials and how-to guides.
  • Interviews: Conversations with experts that offer actionable tips and insights.
Screenshot of podcasting on substack get started page

16. Coaching Programs

Substack is not just for writing and publishing articles; you can also use the platform to offer personalized coaching programs.

Whether it’s life coaching, business mentorship, or skill-building, the platform provides an organized way to deliver content and keep track of coaching sessions.

This is a high-value offering that can significantly boost your subscriptions.

Strategies for Coaching Programs:

  • Exclusivity: Offer coaching only to a select number of subscribers to maintain quality.
  • Content Mix: Use a mix of articles, videos, and live sessions in your coaching program.
  • Progress Tracking: Keep a log or journal feature for subscribers to track their progress.

What we recommend:

  • Business Coaching: Programs that cover everything from launching a startup to scaling an existing business.
  • Writing Workshop: A coaching program designed to improve writing skills.
  • Health and Wellness: Personalized healthcare coaching for achieving fitness or wellness goals.

17. Collaborations

Collaborations with other Substack writers can be a game-changer for anyone looking to make money on the platform. Teaming up allows you to pool resources, share audiences, and enhance your offerings.

Imagine releasing a bundle of niche-specific articles that provide value from multiple angles. You not only secure a broader subscriber base but also offer your current subscribers something fresh and valuable.

Strategies for Collaborations:

  • Cross-Promotion: Write guest posts for each other’s newsletters.
  • Joint Webinars: Co-host a webinar on a topic relevant to both your audiences.
  • Bundled Subscription: Create a bundled package combining posts or articles from both writers.

What we recommend:

  • Niche Expertise Bundle: Package articles that cover different facets of the same niche.
  • Interview Swap: Post interviews of each other on your respective newsletters.
  • Collaborative eBook: Combine articles or posts into an eBook and sell it to your combined subscriber list.

18. Art and Merchandise

You’re not just a writer; you can also be a creator of physical or digital products. Substack enables you to offer art, eBooks, or merchandise directly through your account.

This adds another layer of excitement and future income possibilities. Imagine a loyal subscriber sipping coffee from a mug featuring your catchy slogan or logo while browsing your latest post.

Strategies for Art and Merchandise:

  • Limited Editions: Offer limited-edition art or merchandise to create urgency.
  • Subscriber Discounts: Give discounts on products exclusively to your subscribers.
  • Product Launch: Use your newsletter to launch new products, showcasing them in your posts.

What we recommend:

  • Signed Prints: Offer limited signed prints of your artwork.
  • Branded Merch: Create and sell T-shirts or hoodies featuring your logo or quotes.
  • eBooks: Write and sell eBooks relevant to your niche.

19. Donation Tier

Sometimes, people want to support you but don’t necessarily expect extra perks. For such followers, a “supporter” tier can be the answer.

This lower-priced subscription model allows them to financially back your writing journey without overwhelming their inbox.

This way, you can continue to focus on crafting articles that you’re passionate about, knowing you have a secure base of financial support.

Strategies for Donation Tiers:

  • Transparent Communication: Clearly state what this tier offers and what subscribers should not expect.
  • Occasional Perks: Surprise your “supporters” with occasional exclusive content.
  • Donor Recognition: Acknowledge their support publicly if they are comfortable with it.

What we recommend:

  • Supporter Shout-outs: Mention these supporters in a monthly post.
  • Exclusive Updates: Offer a quarterly update about what their support has enabled you to do.
  • Access to Behind-the-Scenes Content: Give them occasional peeks into your writing process.

20. Feedback Services

If you’ve got expertise in a certain area, why not monetize it by offering feedback services? Through Substack, you can offer your subscribers the opportunity to have their work or projects reviewed by you for a fee.

This is a fantastic way to generate additional income and it adds a personal touch that subscribers will appreciate.

Strategies for Feedback Services:

  • Tiered Pricing: Decide on different pricing tiers based on the depth of the review.
  • Booking System: Implement a booking system to manage your time and expectations.
  • Feedback Format: Decide on the format, whether it’s written feedback, a video call, or a combination.

What we recommend:

  • Manuscript Review: Offer to review and provide feedback on written pieces.
  • Business Plans: Offer consultation and feedback on business proposals or plans.
  • Portfolio Review: Critically assess and provide feedback on creative portfolios.

How To Make Money On Substack: Summary

Screenshot of possible earnings on substacks

Substack offers a plethora of options to turn your passion for writing into a rewarding income stream. Whether you choose to focus on premium newsletters, offer consulting services, or even delve into hosting subscriber-only webinars, there’s no shortage of ways on how to make money on Substack.

Remember, the secret sauce often lies in diversifying your offerings. Combine free content with paid subscriptions, leverage your social media presence, and don’t forget to network with other writers and potential subscribers.

While subscription revenue might be the most straightforward method, Substack is a flexible platform that allows you to capitalize on a variety of income-generating strategies.

If you’re hungry for more entrepreneurial and money-making ideas to elevate your Substack game or launch other ventures, don’t miss our invaluable tips and insights on the blog, such as;

Your journey to financial freedom and a thriving lifestyle business doesn’t have to stop here.

So start writing that first newsletter, set up your publishing schedule, and decide how to secure a robust subscriber count that will make it all worth it.

How To Make Money On Substack: FAQs

Can you earn money from Substack?

Absolutely, Substack has become a popular platform where many writers are generating subscription revenue. The platform allows you to offer both free and paid subscriptions. You can start writing your first newsletter and monetize it by converting free readers into paid subscribers.

How much money do Substack writers make?

The income varies widely among Substack writers. Some creators may just be starting out and earn a modest amount, while others make tens of thousands of dollars per month. Subscription revenue is the primary income source, but paid subscribers and other monetization options can substantially increase your earnings.

Boosting your social media presence is key to gaining popularity on Substack. Consistent publication and high-quality content will engage your readers and encourage them to subscribe. Networking with other writers on Substack and other platforms can also increase your reach.

How do I get more paid subscribers on Substack?

To convert free readers to paid subscribers, offer exclusive content only accessible through paid subscriptions. You can also run special promotions or partner with other companies to offer unique perks. Strengthening your social media presence can attract a broader audience, leading to more subscriptions.

How do I start writing on Substack?

Starting on Substack is pretty straightforward. Navigate to the Substack website, open a new account, and you’ll have the tools you need to publish your first newsletter. You can choose between free service or various premium features to enhance your publication.

Is Substack better than other platforms?

Substack specializes in newsletters, making it a focused platform for writers looking to monetize through subscriptions. While other platforms offer more types of content, Substack’s user-friendly interface and built-in subscription model make it a go-to for many writers.

How can I improve my Substack subscription conversion rate?

Optimizing your free-to-paid subscriber conversion rate can be achieved through A/B testing. Experiment with different types of content, subscription fees, and promotional tactics to find out what resonates with your readers.

Can I use Substack for more than newsletters?

Yes, besides newsletters, you can use Substack to host podcasts, webinars, and even sell digital products. The platform is versatile, allowing creators to monetize multiple types of content.

How do I promote my Substack newsletter on social media?

To promote your Substack publication, share snippets, highlights, or links on your social media platforms. Make sure to engage with your audience, respond to comments, and encourage shares to increase visibility.

How can I integrate Substack with my existing website?

Substack allows you to embed subscription forms directly into your existing website or blog. This way, you can convert browser traffic into potential subscribers without leaving your site.

Is it difficult to manage subscriptions on Substack?

Managing subscriptions on Substack is relatively easy. The platform offers a streamlined dashboard where you can monitor subscriber count, revenue, and other metrics essential to your business.

Do I own the content I publish on Substack?

Yes, you retain all rights to the content you publish on Substack. The company simply provides the platform and tools you need to reach and monetize your audience.

About the author

Disclaimer: Please note this post may contain affiliate links, from which, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I only recommend products and services I’ve used or would use myself. If you choose to purchase from any of my links, thanks so much for your support! 😊