Substack terms


A platform for publishing newsletters and monetizing content.

What is Substack?

Substack is an online platform that allows writers and creators to publish paid newsletters directly to their audience. It was founded in 2017 by Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie, and Jairaj Sethi with the aim of making it simple for writers to start a subscription-based publication. The platform provides tools for publishing, payment, analytics, and design, enabling writers to focus on their content while Substack handles the business and technical aspects.

Substack operates on a freemium model, where it's free to use the platform, but they take a 10% commission on subscription revenues. This model has attracted a wide range of writers, from independent journalists to well-known authors. Substack has been credited with reviving the newsletter format and providing a new revenue stream for writers and journalists in an era of declining traditional media revenues.

How does Substack make money?

Substack makes money primarily through subscription fees. The platform allows writers to create newsletters and charge their subscribers a fee. Substack takes a 10% cut from these subscription fees. For example, if a writer charges $5 per month per subscriber, Substack would take 50 cents.

In addition to this, Substack also makes money from its paid services. These include offering writers additional features such as advanced analytics, design customization, and priority customer support. These services are optional and come at an extra cost. Therefore, the more successful a writer becomes on the platform, the more money Substack can potentially make.

How much does Substack cost?

Substack offers a free version for writers, but it also has a paid version. The paid version allows writers to charge subscription fees to their readers. Substack takes a 10% fee from these subscription earnings. For example, if a writer charges $5 per month for subscriptions, Substack would take 50 cents.

In addition to the 10% fee, there are also payment processing fees which are typically around 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. These fees go directly to the payment processor, not to Substack. So, the cost of using Substack can vary depending on how much a writer charges for subscriptions and how many subscribers they have.

Is Substack free to use?

Yes, Substack is free to use for writers. It allows writers to start newsletters and build their audience at no cost. However, if writers choose to monetize their newsletters by charging subscriptions, Substack takes a 10% fee from the subscription revenue.

In addition to the subscription fee, there are also payment processing fees that are charged by Stripe, Substack's payment processor. These fees are deducted from the total subscription revenue before the remaining amount is split between the writer and Substack. Despite these fees, the platform remains free for writers who choose not to monetize their content.

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