Discover more from The Creative Shift by Dan Blank
The best way to build your author platform today
Substack is a game changer for writers
My updated workshop, Launch & Grow Your Email Newsletter on Substack, is now available. I’ve added so much new content, including:
I’ve added so much new content to this workshop, including:
Updated ideas on how to get engagement and grow your subscribers.
Loads of new advice on how to launch and grow your paid subscriptions.
Bonus: All who register will also receive an additional 40-minute video where I walk you through how to create a Substack account from scratch. You will look over my shoulder as I show you how I do this for myself and clients.
Of course, the workshop includes a full Q&A.
The testimonials from people who have taken earlier versions of this workshop have been off the charts:
“Dan Blank is the bomb! Okay, more than that. Basically, the workshop was clear, validating, and encouraging. Dan has a way of making all of it feel entirely manageable. What’s more: he made Substack feel like the community I’ve been waiting for as a writer — like we’re all in this together.”
– Maria Hanley
“The workshop is an A to Z overview of Substack for beginners to those already using it. Dan shared so many aspects of Substack that I wasn’t aware of.”
– Monica Cardoza
“This workshop was full of incredible content, and Dan was generous in his presentation. This couldn’t be more valuable — highly recommended to anyone who wants to start or grow their Substack newsletter.”
– Judith Fetterley
Why an Author Platform?
Something I have been thinking about a lot recently is this: what does it meant to truly build an author platform that works for you? Now, that may be unique for your personal needs/goals, but it may include:
Developing an audience for your writing.
Convincing agents, editors, and publishers that you can reach readers when marketing your book.
Feeling as though you can share with a sense of authenticity.
Creating a truly meaningful connection between you and readers, instead of focusing on faceless “followers.”
As I wrote about recently, social media has changed — pretty radically — in just the last year alone. So many of you may feel as though you have tried blogging, and podcasting, and social media, and so much else that just… fell flat.
If you have read my work for a while, you know that I have been excited about Substack, and today I want to explain why. At the heart of it is this:
Substack feels old-fashioned.
What works about it goes back to very traditional ways that we as human beings connect. You may know that I have this phrase I use, “Human-Centered Marketing,” to describe how I help you learn to share your writing in ways that are effective, and also feel truly meaningful and authentic to who you are.
I started blogging back around 2006. For years, the comments section of my blog was thriving, but then social media took over. The comments on my blog completely died because people preferred to share and talk about my ideas on their own social media feeds. This, by itself, is not good or bad, but as a writer it felt like a big shift in my ability to engage with readers.
But once I moved to Substack, I noticed something: the comments section was thriving again, with dozens of comments on some of my posts. People were sharing my writing with their own audiences, and other publications on Substack were recommending my work. I see this with the writers who I work with as well. For the first time in years, they feel a close connection to their readers, and are seeing their readers act as a supportive community, not just as a vague number next to the word “followers.”
More and more, I am seeing people leaving social media in order to focus on a smaller audience in a more engaged community such as their Substack subscribers. I am seeing influencers with tens of thousands of followers on Instagram now turn most of their attention to their Substack that has a small fraction of their audience. Why? Because this smaller group is the group that will truly support their writing, help ensure they earn money from their writing, and who will make the entire experience feel more meaningful.
One writer who took my Substack workshop, Maria Hanley, recently shared this:
I have 95 subscribers. But guess what happened to me yesterday after I posted [my most recent Substack essay]:
A friend texted to tell me she enjoyed my post. And she thinks I’m talented!
A new reader I’ve never met told me that she can “relate” to my work, she was “cheering” me on, and I am a “beautiful writer.”
I had the most comments I’ve had on any post, resulting in several genuine, meaningful interactions about my work.
Isn’t this what we all dream about when we consider sharing our writing?
Now, maybe you are a pragmatist reading this and saying, “Actually Dan, I could care less about a ‘community.’ I want book sales, plain and simple.” I’m from New Jersey, so I love jaded pragmatists! The thing is, I have been finding with my clients that Substack helps deliver that too. Here is a quote from my client Melinda Wenner Moyer:
She just announced her second book and is already involving her Substack audience of 20,000 subscribers in that process. If you are thinking, “Dan, that’s wonderful for her, but I have nowhere near that many followers,” then it’s worth noting: she had less than half this many subscribers at the start of the year.
To be honest, I have worked professionally in online media and social media for more than 20 years, and I have never seen anything like the growth for writers that I have been seeing with Substack. But more than that, I keep hearing from writer after writer that for the first time in a long time, they feel good about sharing online. And it’s all because of Substack.
Does that mean you “have to” use Substack? Of course not. Is Substack the correct path for absolutely every writer? Nope. But I can say that all day, every day I work with writers, talk with writers, and study what is working for writers. What Substack is providing is an ecosystem that is delivering on so many areas that writers hope for when they consider developing an author platform.
This all aligns with what I love: connecting readers with writing that moves them, and with writers who inspire them. As so many other social media platforms have moved to short-form video content, where they encourage you to entertain others, Substack is squarely focused on writing, writers, and readers.
In my workshop, I’ll be diving deep into:
How to Get Started with Substack
Defining Your Substack Publication
Creating Substack Content
Growing a Paid Newsletter
I’ve added so many new strategies, tactics, and examples to this workshop, especially around growing your subscribers and launching a paid newsletter. Even if you can’t make the live call today, or missed it, I will keep registration open through end of day Monday so you can receive the recording.
And if you want direct advice from me, personalized to your specific goals and challenges, I’m also offering two ways that you can engage directly with me.
Inspiration of the Week: I pass this little free library on my walk every day, always fun to be greeted by books!
Kids of the Week: our younger son built his own computer to be like his big brother: