Building a new economic engine for culture

We started Substack because we believe that what you read matters and that good writing is valuable – and as the platform has evolved, we've come to expand that view to include all forms of cultural work. On Substack, writers and creators can publish their work and make money from paid subscriptions while readers can directly support the work that they deeply value.
When readers pay writers and creators directly, they can focus on doing the work they care about most. A few hundred paid subscribers can support a livelihood. A few thousand makes it lucrative.
Today, Substack’s subscription network encompasses more than 35 million active subscriptions, including more than 3 million paid subscriptions. Some of the world's most celebrated writers and creators are here—Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, Elizabeth Gilbert, Mehdi Hasan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to name a few—and they have been joined by a new generation of writers and creators who are building their livelihoods and communities on Substack. As Substack grows to accommodate more writers, podcasters, videomakers, musicians, scientists, and culture-makers of all kinds, we believe that together we can build a new economic engine for culture. We think the internet's powers, married to the right business model, can be harnessed to build the most valuable media economy the world has ever known—an economy where value is measured not only in dollars but also in quality, in good-faith discourse, and in creating an internet that celebrates and supports humanity.
As Substack grows to accommodate more writers, podcasters, videomakers, musicians, scientists, and culture-makers of all kinds, we believe that together we can build a new economic engine for culture. We think the internet's powers, married to the right business model, can be harnessed to build the most valuable media economy the world has ever known—an economy where value is measured not only in dollars but also in quality, in good-faith discourse, and in creating an internet that celebrates and supports humanity.

“I've never been involved in any media project like Substack. In journalism, you struggle just to stay afloat. Something is changing in media and I'm fortunate to be part of it.”

How the Substack model works

We only make money when writers make money.

When a reader pays for a subscription on Substack, an average of 86% of the money goes to the writer and the remainder covers our revenue share and Stripe’s payment processor fees. Since we only make money when publishers make money, our interests remain aligned with those of writers and readers. To date, readers have paid writers hundreds of millions of dollars through Substack.

The subscription model enables independence.

Writers and creators need to be loyal only to their subscribers, not to advertisers, and can focus on quality more than inundation. A few hundred paid subscribers will support a writer’s livelihood. A few thousand makes it lucrative. (The top 10 publishers collectively earn more than $25 million annually.)
Estimate your earnings

Our network helps writers grow and readers discover new writing.

More than 40% of all subscriptions and 15% of paid subscriptions on the platform come directly from the Substack network. This is happening because there are tens of millions of people active on Substack every week, they understand what it means to subscribe to a writer, and they are open to discovering new writing to fall in love with.
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Substack's principles

With every product and feature we build, we will stay true to the following principles:

Great work is valuable and deserves to be rewarded with money.

Publishers should have a way to make a living, or even a fortune, from doing the work they believe in. Money is the fuel that makes our entire engine work, and it’s a healthier, more honest metric than “eyeballs” or engagement.

The people have the power.

Publishers own their content and relationship with their subscribers and have complete editorial control. Readers and consumers choose who they enter subscription relationships with.

A free press and free speech are fundamental to a trustworthy media system.

We take a hands-off approach to content moderation and instead support community moderation, where publishers set their own terms of engagement for their community, and readers choose which communities suit them.

We help readers take back their mind

On Substack, you are the customer. We want to help you be intentional in determining your media diet. We don’t seek to trap you in an attention game that can never be won, and instead we want to help you find and spend time with work that you deeply value.

Don't just take it from us...

“I've been a syndicated columnist, freelancer, successful blogger, and written 11 books over a 25 year writing career. But being on Substack and having a direct relationship with my readers has changed my life, approach to the craft of writing, and sense of vocation.”

Substack more than replaced the income I lost when RT America was shut down, ending the six year run of my show On Contact… Most importantly, Substack permits me to maintain total editorial independence. I am very grateful.
Chris Hedges
Over 49,000 subscribers
My annualized revenue on Substack has been steadily growing for two years and is many times what I was happy to make as a 20-something programmer who couldn’t wait to go read and blog for hours after work
Razib Khan
Over 29,000 subscribers
I had no idea my Substack would grow like this. I am getting hundreds of new subscribers every day and it has no sign of slowing down. The reason it’s growing so fast is because almost 250 other Substackers are recommending it. This is what makes Substack different from the competitive nature of social media.
Emma Gannon
Over 20,000 subscribers
Being able to make a living off my writing has always been my dream since I was in college and I took my first journalism class. Eight years and a lot of failures later, Substack provided me with a platform to be able to succeed. It’s honestly allowed me to achieve my dream. I make more money now than I had at any salaried journalism job.
Emily Atkin
Over 70,000 subscribers
After writing about food for four decades, Substack has allowed me to finally find my voice. And for that, I am grateful.
Anne Byrn
Over 22,000 subscribers
I’ve never worked harder or been more efficient and productive in my life than after I started my Substack. The freedom has liberated me and my creativity and productivity.
Emily Nunn
Over 40,000 subscribers
Substack has helped me feel less like a dying food blogger and much more a part of the food writing zeitgeist. Everyone at Substack has been so supportive and for the first time, in a long time, I feel like I'm really seeing my audience grow and grow.
Adam Roberts
Over 14,000 subscribers
Substack doesn't sell eyeballs to advertisers. Writing on Substack, I feel there is a direct relationship between me and my readers. No one is being "monetized." I write what I can, people pay what they wish, and the words are always front and centre.
Dan Gardner
New York Times bestselling author
I have never before written for such an engaged and present audience, and it’s been kind of a revelation. I have always been suspicious of people who say they “enjoy” writing . . . but I enjoy writing this newsletter?
Mason Currey
Over 17,000 subscribers
In just one year on Substack, I’ve already earned more money and have collaborated with more authors and readers than I did in 6 years publishing 1,300 books, teaching creative writing at the Sorbonne, giving literary walks in Paris, and earning two different master’s degrees.
Samuél Lopez-Barrantes
Writer and musician
Start a Substack. Best thing I ever did. No more living in fear that the next layoffs will hit you. No more dealing with terrible corporate people who have no idea what doing something creative for a living is like.
Molly Knight
New York Times bestselling author
Substack has changed my life. Full stop. I'm so grateful for its existence. No more screaming at editors to say, yes. No more waiting around until someone wants to publish my words. No more waiting to get paid or wondering how I'll pay rent this month.
Deborah Copaken
New York Times bestselling author
I started a Substack in 2020 and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made for my career. More time on writing, less time on marketing sums it up perfectly. If you're feeling angsty/itchy about social media, too, I highly recommend checking it out.
Claire Swinarski
Over 9,000 subscribers
My Substack began as a way for me to break free of the tumultuous and layoff-prone world of media and to start something of my very own, complete with full editorial freedom. Since then, what began as a simple newsletter has grown into a full-fledged community of readers and fellow writers alike. Thanks to the company's ever-updating list of writer-focused products, I've connected with a much larger audience than I'd have otherwise been able to reach on my own.
Parker Molloy
Over 29,000 subscribers
My Substack has been up and running for an entire year now, and I am able to support myself on the revenue. This is huge. The financial freedom has afforded me a lot of editorial freedom - the most I have experienced in my two decades in journalism. It has been incredibly satisfying to be able to do the work that I most wanted to do. And I've had one of the most productive and successful years of my career. I also now have a community of readers that I'm in constant contact with. It's truly wonderful.
Tara Henley
Over 14,000 subscribers
Before Substack, I primarily used Twitter and Instagram, and I found myself wanting to break through the restrictions those platforms impose. In other words, I wanted a space where I could talk directly to potential readers of my book outside of the noise of an algorithmic content stream. Over the years I’ve become less confident that the people who might be interested in what I have to say are actually seeing it. When I write a newsletter, I know people will receive it in their inbox. I can’t say the same about a tweet or an Instagram post or Story.
Josh Riedel
Author and first employee at Instagram

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