my first impressions of Substack

4 min read

You know, writing content on Instagram feels like barking up the wrong tree sometimes. I have to admit that. I mean, it is often more wonderful than painful and there’s a chance you’re here because of the content I write on Instagram, but there are days that it seems I’m banging my head on a brick wall.

I wrote a post once about the gamification of the platform. We play this game of engagement, where likes, shares, saves, and comments work like coins you collect while running desperately to reach the next checkpoint without knowing when you’re gonna finish this game.

But the truth is that sometimes, because we didn’t post at a specific time, or because there’s too much going on and we are not playing the game “as we should”, not even loyal readers of our content know that we posted something new.

So, what’s frustrating for me is not lack of engagement per se on a post I put a lot effort into to write, it’s the fact that an algorithm chooses what my readers will read and it hides my content from them whenever I do something different from the rules of the game.

And since I don’t write every day to tell people what I’m having for breakfast or how the weather is outside, since I write every day to inspire people to write and read, to tell people about reading to encourage them to read it as well or writing to gather other writers who might be on the same journey, it sucks to be in the hands of an algorithm for that.

So I decided to experiment with this new way of delivering my content. It’s the third day and I love it so far. And here’s why.

Like Ann Handley wrote in her book, Everybody Writes, “people on your email list have asked to receive your emails” and “that’s an advantage: you have the privilege of interacting with a person by invitation, in the relatively intimate setting of the recipient’s own inbox.”

In other words, no matter what happens, you’re my subscriber and you’re gonna get my content on your inbox, and I will know that, if you like it, you’ll stay here and open my content and read it, and if you don’t, well, you’re gonna unsubscribe or just leave it there and I will also know.

It feels great. Because now I can know what’s working and what’s not, I can know who my readers really are and what you like. I can work on better pieces of content and improve it day by day based on real and more intimate metrics and your feedback.

Also, and I wrote about it on Instagram, too, I think we have to start getting more mindful about the content we read, about what we like, and what is worth having our reading time, and there’s a huge difference between following and hoping that content will show on your timeline and you see it through a photo on your idling scrolling, and asking the content to be sent to your inbox so you can open and read it.

This leads me to my first impressions of Substack. I’m loving it so far. I mean, I love the layout and the format of this post and how the content is shown in a blog-like structure, and I know it’s not something really new, there’s a lot of other services that do the same, but there’s something about Substack that is giving me pleasure and motivation to keep writing content though it. I also love the way my posts look on email.

And, in general, writing newsletters or blog posts is freeing. I don’t have writing limits (like the 2200 or 280 characters), which is amazing. If you’re still here. *laughs* The subscriptions are growing, which means I might be doing things right so far. People are commenting on a deeper level, which means I’m provoking the conversation I want to provoke. And the whole experience feels great.

So, there’s a good chance this will be a long-term thing and those are my first impressions on doing this every day. And I’m grateful and happy that you’re here with me in this experience.

Now, tell me: do you also have a newsletter? Are you on Substack too? How long have you been writing it, and how does it feel? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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