Substack Income Report – Subscription Newsletter Earnings (March 2022)
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
When I was building my first Substack newsletter, there were no third party resources available for newsletter creators. Getting my first 250 paid subscribers was hard! That's why I created the first Substack Course.
Founder, Blogging Guide
While I have been writing about my journey publishing a paid newsletter on Substack, I haven’t posted any earnings data publicly (in the traditional format of an income report).
However, after publishing my Medium income report and my Mediavine income report, I decided to keep going and also publish my Substack income report covering the Month of March for 2022.
So this raises the question of what is the purpose of sharing an income report, at all?
Motivation. It can be a little strange publishing income reports for all the world to see (including family, friends and even rival online creators). To be clear, these income reports are not published to brag.
Instead they are meant to be helpful and to show readers and writers that it truly is possible to make a decent stream of income writing a subscription newsletter on Substack. I joined Substack fairly early on, so there were no similar resources available to me as a writer (which I know I would have found useful!).
Transparency. When you’re looking for an online creator for inspiration and guidance, it’s important to understand that this creator has actually been able to accomplish goals similar to your own.
In this case, I’m trying to show newsletter creators what is possible, if they dedicate 12+ months writing a Substack newsletter and building the corresponding audience.
Yes, there are certainly top Substack writers who make much more than I do on the platform. But at least you know that my earnings data is (1) real and (2) current.
Data Analysis. I mostly write on Substack for fun, but I do try to keep track of my earnings data to share with other writers. I primarily share this content through my Blogging Guide newsletter, but I also wanted to post the content in a single accessible location for all readers to find (hence, it being posted on my personal blog).
How Much Money I Made with My Substack Newsletter in March 2022
Anyone who has closely read some of my past posts about my review of my first year on Substack or my Substack platform review, probably has a rough idea of how much I make on an annualized basis. However, in this post I’ll be specifically breaking down my Gross Annualized Revenue, and calculating my approximate Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) for March.
But earnings data matters little without a little context and a quick recap of my publishing timeline:
Launched Newsletter on February 3, 2020. I launched my newsletter in early February 2020 without a clear plan. But I was excited by the tech stack that Substack was promising writers. However, I was skepitcal that anyone would pay for access to my newsletter.
Got My First Paid Subscriber on February 7, 2020!
On February 7, 2020 (only four days after enabling monetization), I received my first paid subscriber! I was stunned to receive the email notification:
Reached 100 Paid Subscribers on April 20, 2020. Over the next few months I worked hard to promote my newsletter to my existing audience (primarily readers on Medium).
Reached 250 Paid Subscribers in December 2020. Reaching 250 paid subscribers after I started my newsletter was shocking to me!
But it was around this point that I peaked in terms of the number of paid subscribers. To be clear, my revenue did keep going up anyway, because I was no longer offering heavily discounted subscriptions. In fact, I actually raised the price above the initial baseline list price.
So where am I in March 2022? After some ups and downs, I am at ~ $10,300 in gross annualized revenue (GAR):
This equates to ~ $858.33 in monthly recurring revenue.
Because I heavily promote my annual subscription my revenue tends to vary less than other Substack creators. Over the last 3 months I had 17 new subscribers. There “source” can be somewhat interpreted from the network data provided by Substack:
Substack platform features. Readers who subscribed as a direct result of Substack features like the leaderboard, recommendations, or promotions.
Substack saved credit cards. Readers who could subscribe in one click because they already had a payment method on file with Substack.
Substack existing accounts. Readers who could more easily subscribe because they already had an account on Substack.
Imported accounts. Readers whose information you imported.
New accounts. Readers who came directly to your publication.
You can also get a sense of where my subscribers came from based on the unique visitors, free subscriptions, and attributed paid subscriptions by each major traffic source:
When you look at the data closely, a trend quickly emerges: my personal channels are by far the most effective channels for generating paid subscribers, whereas organic search, third party platforms, and social media are better at driving free subscriptions.
Of these top traffic sources, 4 came from truly unique Substack sources (Substack discover, 4 paid subscriptions).
The other traffic sources (bloggingguide.com, Google, direct, and Medium can all be attributed to my promotional efforts).
I mention this because the source of your paid subscribers will greatly affect your monthly income from Substack over time. For me, most of my paid subscribers are from properties that I control, which means that it is easier to scale these efforts. That said, this requires more effort on my part. And as seen from the earnings plateau over the past 6-8 months, even a high rate of organic search traffic at best covers your entire churn rate.
This means that in order to reach viral paid subscriber numbers, you need to get abnormal surges of traffic. This could be a back-link from a major news publication, a shout-out from a major influencer, spending money on a large ad campaign, or some other effort.
Regardless of the challenges of building and maintaining a newsletter audience, Substack is without a doubt one of my favorite digital publishing platforms. It offers some of the best features of any free tool currently available. Still, building a successful Substack newsletter requires significant effort and careful planning.
But as demonstrated through this income report, it has been a relatively solid stream of income over the past two years, so I certainly think it is overall worth trying!
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below! I’ll do my best to answer them all!
If you want to learn more about Substack, check out my free Substack guide. You can also check out my Substack writing course, if you really want to accelerate your growth as a writer on the platform!