How I Increased My Subscribers on Substack: Lessons Learned

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In May 2023 I started a new project: The Optimist Engineer. Almost a year already passed but, even though today is not an anniversary or something, I’ve recently achieved an important milestone: Overpass 100 subscribers. But something curious happened and it’s the fact that, since then, the number of subscribers has continued growing and growing in a consistent way daily. In today’s post, I want to share with you how I managed to do so.


Post when I started The Optimist Engineer Newsletter.

I reached 100 subscribers on January 25th. I had 98 just the day before. It took me 8 months to reach 98 subscribers. today I have 162, which means an increment of 64 subscribers just in 18 days. I can tell you, for me, that’s awesome.

For the rest of this post, I will share with you the 3 keys that I was able to confirm that helped me to have such an increment in a short period.

  1. Gaining Visibility through Writers Office Hours Visibility is crucial for the success of any newsletter. Once I managed to get more people to discover my newsletter, I began to see a significant increase in the number of subscribers. One key for me was participating in Writers Office Hours. These sessions provide an invaluable platform to connect with other writers, receive feedback, and, most importantly, gain visibility among a wider audience. By actively participating in these sessions, I was able to stand out and attract the attention of potential subscribers interested in my content. As I said before, the magic day for me was on January 25th with this message. Thanks to that exact message, the number of subscribers just skyrocketed that very day.
  2. Strategic Alliances with Other Writers An effective strategy for expanding your reach is to establish alliances with other newsletter writers. One of the best ways to do this is by recommending other newsletters to your own audience. However, it’s important that these recommendations are genuine and backed by your interest in the content. Your recommendation must distill your taste. By recommending newsletters that you genuinely enjoy and find valuable, you’re not only providing a useful service to your readers but also strengthening your network and building solid relationships with other writers. This mutual collaboration can lead to organic growth in subscribers as writers recommend each other to their respective audiences.
  3. Focus on High-Value Content Last but not least, it’s crucial to focus on creating content that truly adds value to your readers. This means offering helpful information, interesting perspectives, or even quality entertainment. Think about when you learned something: what did you see as valuable to know? By providing content that is important to you, will resonate with your audience, and will meet their needs and interests.

As mentioned, those were to me the keys to accelerate the number of subscriptors to my newletter. A part of that, there some practices that might help, but I do see much impact (at least in my case).

  • Share in Social Media. LinkedIn, Twitter/X, Mastodon. LinkedIn is the one that brings more value from the rest. Twitter/X is problematic because, since some years, this social network blocks the showcase of the links to the * and also (which I see more dramatic) the Twitter/X the algorithm clearly penalizes tweets that contain links to *
  • Use the Substack Notes feature. This Notes thing brings more impact. As you can see in the screenshot above, the majority of my subscribers came from Substack itself.

At the end, once again, it’s about visibility. You can make a great work but if it’s not visible is like you never did.

Let’s wrap up for today. Growing a newsletter on Substack doesn’t happen overnight, and in my case the growth is still smaller than other newsletters I can see around, but with effective exposure and a consistent focus on quality and value for readers, it’s possible to see a significant increase in the number of subscribers.

I hope these lessons are helpful for those looking to grow their own newsletter on Substack.