3 reasons why Substack is great for small business

In October 2022 I moved my small business newsletter over to Substack. In this post, I share 3 reasons why Substack is great for small business and give you a peek behind the scenes of my own business.

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I’ve not regretted moving to Substack for a single second—writing my newsletter has become even more enjoyable, I love the community that is growing around it and it’s magical to see that my writing is now adding another income stream to my business.

I’d been reading on Substack for a year or two before I considered moving there myself. During that time, I became more and more curious about the various ways in which people were writing on Substack, how they were building community and how they were making money. I really appreciate the vibe on Substack: there’s an atmosphere of creativity, experimentation and joy on the platform that has become rare online.

One day, in the summer of 2022, I was searching for small business newsletters on Substack. The only ones I found were by white, middle-aged men writing about the hustle and celebrating overwork. I wondered why there weren’t any more people like me on the platform writing about running their businesses differently.

Then it hit me: I didn’t have to look for other publications. I could move my newsletter to Substack and be that publication.

Creating community around my newsletter on Substack feels natural and exciting.

Three reasons why Substack is so great for small business

There are three reasons why I decided to move my small business newsletter to Substack (and, spoiler, these are also the three reasons why Substack is so great for small business):

  • Substack is built to create organic growth, unlike other newsletter clients;
  • Substack is community focused;
  • Substack offers the possibility for paid subscriptions and as such another income stream to my business.

I very much see my newsletter as one way in which I support small business owners, freelancers and artists to create a slow, gentle and profitable business—much like I support them through 1:1 mentoring, courses and more. Creating a community around it felt natural and exciting, as did adding paid subscriptions for more support (and additional income for me).

Want to read more on Substack? Find out what Substack is and whether you should move your newsletter to Substack in my other blog posts.

Organic growth

Building a newsletter list is a long game. It took me years to get to 250 subscribers. The people at Substack very much believe that newsletters can be a cultural engine, more than social media currently is, that rewards creators financially in the process. They consequently focus on new ways in which newsletters can grow and new ways in which readers can find great writing.

For me, this is a fundamental shift in how a company approaches its customers. On Instagram, I felt like I was first and foremost supporting Instagram. Because of its business model, Substack is explicitly invested in supporting customers to grow their lists—essentially the reverse of the Instagram-model.

For example, Substack introduced recommendations that allow writers to recommend other newsletters to their readers more easily. They make it easy for writers to refer to other writers in their newsletter (through tagging, for example). They are making sharing easier, both within the Substack platform and outside of it.

I’m done with the attention economy and that feels great.

Only some of these things require me to take action: other writers can recommend my newsletter without me doing anything about it. They can easily find and tag me in their own newsletters, so that their readers can click through to me.

I love this kind of organic growth. One of the main reasons why I left Instagram was because I hated being rewarded for my attention. The more time I spent on the platform, the better my posts did. On Substack, I write my newsletter and other people can discover it without me doing anything. Of course I still share about my newsletter elsewhere, for instance in podcasts, and outreach remains an important way in which people find me. But I’m done with the attention economy and that feels great.

Looking at my stats, I can see that most free and paid subscribers find me through the Substack network. They find me when someone refers to me, when someone recommends my newsletter or when I comment on someone else’s post and people click on my name. I think that’s pretty amazing.

While newsletter stats aren’t everything, it can be really nice to have a medium-sized or larger list for your business. It’s especially nice if you want to foster more engagement and community, as I did.


I sometimes think that one of the reasons I became a mentor is because I love to hear people’s stories so much. I’m curious about the paths that people take and all the different ways in which they are choosing more space and autonomy through their own businesses.

One of the things that I admire about Substack publications such as Anne Helen Petersen’s Culture Study and Virginia Sole-Smith’s Burnt Toast are the conversations people are having in the comments. People are actually engaging with the posts and with each other, offering advice and sharing experiences.

Having your own business and working for yourself can be very lonely, so creating a community around my newsletter drew me to the platform. My newsletter’s community focus is right there in its tagline: “The online place for small business owners and freelancers who refuse to hustle. Resources, strategies and community to empower and inspire you.”

From a business perspective, fostering community is a great idea. Not only does it instantly connect you to possible customers and clients, it also makes them feel more connected to you and your brand.

So far I’ve found creating this community remarkably easy, probably because of the smaller size of my newsletter list compared to something like Culture Study and Burnt Toast and because I don’t publish multiple posts a week.

Free subscribers can comment on the free newsletters that I send out twice a month, and they do (yay!). Paid subscribers get even more community through the once a month exclusive discussion thread and the bonus posts where I share behind-the-scenes in my business and more.

I was already in the habit of asking questions in my newsletters and inviting readers to do gentle experiments. In combination with Substack’s comment feature this has led to much more engagement than I had previously. Like many people, I didn’t get a lot of direct responses to my newsletters—I think we’re probably not used to hitting reply on a newsletter. The Substack format, however, makes it really easy for people to comment.

Over the past year, Substack has rolled out other features through which writers can grow and foster community, like chat and notes. Chat is not for me right now, and I use notes sporadically, but even without them, I’m seeing exactly the kind of community engagement that I hoped for when I made the move.

Paid subscriptions

As I write above, I see my newsletter as an organic part of my business and as one of the ways in which I offer support to small business owners, freelancers and artists. I was especially drawn to the idea of deepening that support with paid subscriptions. At €5 a month (or €50 a year), paid subscriptions are a lot cheaper than 1:1 mentoring and subscribers get more value through these subscriptions than by buying a small business guide. Paid subscriptions get powerful bonuses and resources, and I’ve noticed that they also tend to ask me more questions as a kind of low-level way of working with me (which I love!).

For readers, paid subscriptions are one step up in the level of support that they get from me—and they support me by giving me the money and thereby the time to write and create resources. Paid subscriptions are now one of three income streams that I have in my business (alongside 1:1 mentoring and courses) and something I’d like to grow.

Interested in making the move to Substack? I’ve created my mini-course Substack for small business owners, freelancers and artists with you in mind—whether you’re Substack-curious, ready to make the move, or already have a Substack newsletter that you want to make work better for your business.

I’d love it if you’d come hang out with me on Substack too!

Please feel free to share it with business friends, in your newsletter or on social media. 💛

I’d love to support you in all phases of your business. Providing clarity, focus and next steps is something that my clients tell me I’m really good at. If you’re curious about how we can work together through 1:1 mentoring, check out what I offer or send me an email–no strings attached. I have payment plans available, and flexible options for mentoring calls (30 or 60 minutes).

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