What happens to Substack if Elon Musk ruins Twitter?

While some of the most popular writers on the publishing platform were able to convert their sizable Twitter following into newsletter subscriptions, a huge Twitter presence isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for Substack success.

In just a few weeks, Elon Musk has created a number of questions about the future of Twitter—and those questions have trickled down to other media businesses that rely, at least to some extent, on the social media platform’s audiences. 카지노사이트

See, for example, Substack. The newsletter publishing tool launched in 2017 to let people distribute their writing directly to readers, without having to push it through the filter of a big media brand that may have its own ideology and politics, and that very likely relies on ad revenue. Often, a well-known writer will break from their employer—a prestigious magazine or newspaper—to launch their own newsletter, and will pin their success on a substantial portion of their Twitter followers buying a subscription.

But that’s certainly not the only model. While the importance of Twitter cache varies from one newsletter to the next, most have an excellent chance of surviving and thriving without it, according to several newsletter owners who spoke with Fast Company.

While some of the most popular Substacks come from people who were able to convert their sizable Twitter following into Substack subscriptions, a huge Twitter presence isn’t necessarily a prerequisite. At least, it wasn’t for Elle Griffin, who writes The Novelleist newsletter on Substack.

“Almost all of my following came from within the Substack network,” Griffin says in an email to Fast Company. “Of my 6,918 subscribers, 2,799 came from Substack discovery features . . . and another 2,044 already had Substack accounts before they subscribed to mine. That means 70% of my following came from within Substack.”

Very few of Griffin’s referrals came from social media (zero from Twitter). “When I learned this, I deleted all of my social media accounts except for LinkedIn, which I use for my day job,” she says. 안전한카지노사이트

Substack says 40% of all new subscriptions, and 12% of paid subscriptions, now come from within the Substack network itself. (The platform boasts a robust recommendation engine for its readers.) And the company this year launched Substack Chat, which is something like an in-platform social network for writers and their subscribers and provides yet another place for newsletter discovery.

Eric Newcomer, who writes the Newcomer tech and VC newsletter, is a little more cautious in his analysis. He says that a Twitter collapse—something he believes is unlikely to happen—would be a “double-edged sword” for Substack writers.

“On the one hand, new writers depend on Twitter to grow their audience,” says Newcomer, a former Bloomberg reporter who has 44,000 readers on Substack and 36,000 Twitter followers. “On the other hand, without Twitter, readers would probably be hungry to replace what Twitter offered them; and I do think newsletters offer a more thoughtful replacement to Twitter.” Newcomer looks at Substack’s new features, including the Chat tool, as evidence that the company could potentially “try to help fill whatever hole is left by Twitter if Elon really kills it—at least the good parts of Twitter. So honestly, I’m spending zero time worrying about the possible death of Twitter.”

Lenny Rachitsky, who writes the popular business newsletter Lenny’s Newsletter, tells a similar story. He says the majority of his new subscribers come from Substack itself or via word of mouth. He estimates his subscriber count from Twitter and LinkedIn is in the single-digit percentages. “Yes, Twitter and LinkedIn drive some new users, and help spread new posts, but life would be okay without it,” Rachitsky says.

However, Rachitsky suggests, Twitter may have an outsize influence on newer newsletters, which may lack their own dedicated readership from the outset. “Early on, it was really important . . . so I do believe no Twitter would make it harder for new newsletters to get started,” he says. After Rachitsky collected a critical mass of subscribers, the newsletter began to grow through word of mouth and through exposure via Substack’s recommendation engine and discovery features.

He adds that LinkedIn is an untapped well of new subscriptions for many Substackers: “People are sleeping on LinkedIn for traffic . . . I get more traffic from LinkedIn than Twitter.”

For some writers, the popularity of their newsletter may even drive up their popularity on Twitter—not the other way round. Gergely Orosz, who writes the Pragmatic Engineer newsletter, wrote in a blog post in September that he had around 27,000 followers on Twitter when he started his newsletter in August 2021. In its first year, the newsletter grew to 156,000 subscribers, but only about 5% of visitors clicking through from Twitter became subscribers. Meanwhile, during that same time period, Orosz says his Twitter followers grew to around 115,000. This suggests that Orosz’s follower count on Twitter may have been fueled by the success of his newsletter on Substack. 카지노사이트 추천

As of 2022, Substack says it has “millions of users” and more than 1.5 million paid subscriptions. The platform, which launched as a venture-backed startup in 2017, says its top 10 writers together earn more than $25 million in annual revenue, and that more than a dozen publications earn more than $1 million a year. Writers can start a newsletter for free, but once they turn on paid subscriptions—which begin at $5 per month—Substack takes a 10% cut.

It may be more useful to see Substack as an alternative to Twitter’s 140-character mindset, rather than as a dependent of it. Casey Newton, who writes the popular tech industry newsletter Platformer, put it this way in a September blog post:

“Most takes (and many reported articles) are still tuned to perform well on Twitter, and, as such, they tend to emphasize fear and outrage above all else. . . . [B]rowsing the Twitter timeline, or the stories produced in order to appease it, often leaves us feeling empty: we know there is nuance and complexity there that has been sacrificed in hopes of getting retweeted.”

Substack cofounder Hamish McKenzie tells Fast Company his company doesn’t foresee Twitter shutting down. But he believes the site’s current troubles might be a teaching moment for both content creators and information consumers.

“[T]he flux that Twitter is experiencing does highlight for us, and hopefully others, the key differences between social networks like Twitter and Substack,” McKenzie says in an email. “On the big social platforms, you are vulnerable to whomever is playing king. That king ultimately controls your relationship with your audience, how you make money, and what you see in your feeds,” he says in a not-so-thinly-veiled reference to Elon Musk.

He adds: “In this way, Substack is the anti-Twitter.”

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