Looks like we have a number of writers or potential writers here?
I'm currently reading up on what's working in publishing with an eye to doing a lot of it in the near future and thought I would share what I've found so far.
I have one book up on Kindle that bumps along making $40 - 50 a year ( How to be a School Bus Driver ) and was looking into what's working currently. I'll share what I've got so far - warning - big info dump. not logically sorted but hopefully helps with the issues:
This one was an eye opener. An honest voice in the fog of questionable advice:
After reading through more of her stuff, it seemed Substack or Medium might be the way to build a following, assuming I'm patient about making any money for a while. I'm also thinking working with one of those may be a good way to break down the work of writing that book into doing one post at a time then assembling them all.
Going for a quick, generic explanation, Medium is equivalent to a blog, Substack is a glorified email list with some income possibility by people paying to subscribe to you, starting at $5 a month. To make any $$$, (and it won't be a lot) on Medium you have to be selected as one of their best writers.
“What time commitment do I want to make?”
Do you publish only when you have something to say? Or do you want to be like Ben Thompson, creator of the newsletter Stratechery, who typically sends out four emails a week?
If you’re planning to publish around 1–2 articles a month, you’re better off with Medium. Substack subscribers generally expect several high-quality posts/articles per week. That doesn’t mean you should only post 1–2 articles on Medium. More high-quality attracts more readers.
One of the biggest differences between Medium and Substack is how people find your content. On Medium, people find your work through reading recommendations on the platform. Your content has the potential to get distributed widely among Medium’s readers. Substack only features top posts and newsletters.
So if you’re an unknown writer with zero followers, you’ll have to put more work into marketing your Substack newsletter. Meanwhile, the Medium algorithm distributes your work to readers on the platform.
So for writers with a small or non-existent fanbase, I’d recommend going with Medium. Substack is better suited for people who already have a significant number of followers.
On Substack, people generally pay to read newsletters that cover specific topics. From what I’ve seen, news and finance analyses from experts do well on Substack. But if you plan to write about broader topics like productivity, health, relationships, and so forth, Medium is the more suitable platform.
Look whether there’s a fit between your topics and the platform. For example, let’s say you want to write poetry and you can’t find another person on a platform that does well with poetry, it’s probably not a fit. It doesn’t mean no one cares about poetry. It means no one comes to that platform to read poetry.
Find potential readers where they’re at. After you define your readership, research where these people congregate online and in real life: conferences, Facebook groups, subreddits, and more. Create a rolodex of potential outreach opportunities, and start engaging in these spaces and sharing your work. For his local news publication, Tony Mecia partnered with Charlotte’s local radio station, local Facebook Groups, and even hosted an awards show.
Comment on other writers’ publications. Substack displays your reader and writer profile when you comment on other Substacks. Engaging with other writers’ work helps their readers find yours. (Don't know where to start? Attend one of our upcoming Office Hours or Shoutout Threads.)
Substack is a great planform for writing in the Creator Economy since they decouple advertising and give publishers ownership of their Email list and growth. Substack has said that Content creators own their audience data from now on. Forever.
The biggest problem with making Medium your primary blog is that you don’t own your content. If Medium decides to turn off their site, delete your articles, or ban your blog, there’s nothing you can do. They can delete everything you’ve written and the audience you’ve built.
That may seem like a far-fetched, unlikely event, but when you see how Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms regularly shut down accounts, you don’t want to put yourself at risk of that sudden de-platforming. No matter how benign your content is
The true value proposition or unique value proposition of Substack might be this simple: Creative freedom.
This means they are moving away from a follower and algorithmic model that always felt like a carrot and stick (think Medium).
Community Exists on Substack
You write about Trans Rights, I write about quantum computers, we can be friends. For example. Substack has various Zoom events with different kinds of writers.
The business models between the two platforms are completely different. If you are using Medium, then you will get paid based on the total amount of time someone spends reading your content. If you are using Substack, and you have access to a subscription-based model, and Substack takes a 10 percent commission. You are in control of what you're charged.
Even though you can send emails to your readers using either platform, Substack is the better option for doing this. Substack is a platform that has been specifically designed for email newsletters and writers.
If you are looking for a way to improve your blogging profile, then becoming a Medium writer is the better option for doing this. It has a much higher domain authority, increasing your online visibility. Furthermore, you have access to more tools that can help you drive traffic to your blog.
There’s, however, one approach where you can make Medium work for you with acceptable side-effects.
Write on Substack first, publish the majority or all of your newsletter content as free-to-read. That's an existing feature of the platform - it's not like everyone you ever wanna reach needs to pay.
forgot to save the link to attribute this:
I really disliked when Medium put up a paywall to view content. It made me feel like it would be difficult to build up my newsletter beyond a certain point, so I chose substack. When I did, I discovered a couple issues with sharing (leads back to .substack site instead of direct to social/email) and also found out that readers could not comment on the free version. That makes for some lonely posting...
While I think using both is okay, it seems a bit confusing to tell people where to go. "Oh you can see my content on my newsletter which goes to substack, or medium which goes to my substack and blog, or my blog where I post as well and gather leads for my newsletter. "
As for newsletter discoverability, here's a list of newsletter discovery projects you can submit yours to.
While both platforms are free to use, the important difference is that Medium assumes at least some of the responsibility for promoting their writers’ work; whereas Substack leaves this responsibility mostly to its writers.
By assuming at least some of the responsibility for promoting their writers’ work, through content curation, distribution and an infrastructure with built-in promotion capabilities(4), Medium gives its writers more time and energy to focus on their craft which, in turn, can help them to improve and grow as writers.
Although writers should still make an effort to promote their work (e.g. on social media), the knowledge that they’re not doing it alone should be a welcome relief and gives an early edge to Medium.