Substack now allows you to follow writers, offering a way for you to keep track of what a writer is doing without having to subscribe to their newsletter. When you follow a writer, “you can keep up with what they read, like, publish, and subscribe to — through the Notes feed and their profiles,” Substack said in a post on blog.
Substack is probably best known as a newsletter platform where writers can make money from getting people to sign up for paid subscriptions. But the platform is also dabbling in more traditional social networking features like its tweet-like Notes, and the follow button feels like Substack treading more toes in the social networking water.
The company emphasizes that the following, which is free, is intended to help writers as they build subscription networks. “Following helps writers grow their audience through the Substack network, which is already home to millions of the world’s most valuable readers,” argued Substack. “We created this feature to help maximize — and not replace — subscriptions, which have always been Substack’s most important relationship type.”
But now, Substack writers may have more of a burden to think about ways to convert followers. and non-followers to subscribers. (Substack promises that in the future, it will “make ‘upsells’ of subscriptions easier” by notifying followers about “trending posts and other milestones.”)
Last week, Substack’s co-founders said they wanted to make the platform a better place for readers, not just writers. The company has already introduced some features to encourage reading things directly on the platform, including mobile apps and the ability to bring RSS feeds to your Substack feed.
For people looking for a new place to read text and post some microblogs given the general ugliness of X/Twitter, the follow button can be a useful feature to see what writers are up to without getting blocked. in your email inbox with newsletters.