On January 1, 2020, as part of my New Year’s goal setting, I revisited a number of entrepreneurial ideas I had not pursued the previous year. I decided to create a subscription newsletter centered around digital publishing.
So I took a second look at Substack. Substack allows users to create a subscription based newsletter and blog hybrid, which intrigued me. I resolved to launch a Substack newsletter in the following weeks.
Later January of 2020, I officially launched my first Substack newsletter, called Blogging Guide.
I didn’t expect it to be immediately successful, but I had developed a decent following on several digital publishing platforms (most notably, on Medium) and thought that over the course of a year I might be able to reach 20 paying subscribers.
However, even this seemed ambitious. As most internet entrepreneurs can attest, getting strangers to pay for one off products is hard. Convincing them to pay for a subscription information product? That is very difficult.
So Blogging Guide was initially launched as a free newsletter. There was not even an option for subscribers to pay (monetization was off).
I had received a lot of positive comments and feedback during the 100% free sign up only period.
I enabled paid subscriptions for my Newsletter on February 3, 2020. At this point, my audience was still mostly those trying to master writing on Medium, so the paid newsletter launched under the name Medium Blogging Guide.
I set the price as low as Substack would let me ($5 per month or $30 per year) and on top of that, I offered a 50% discount to initial subscribers (so it actually cost $2.50 per month or $15 per year).
Even though this is a very low price point, I was worried few people (if any) would subscribe given that most writers already pay $5 per month or $50 per year for reading articles on Medium.
I thought that I would give it three months or so, and see if I could even get a single subscriber.
On February 7, 2020 (four days after enabling monetization), I received my first paid subscriber! I was stunned to receive the email notification: