I like that Substack is getting more people blogging. Blogging lets you sit down with a topic and refine your thinking around it. We need more of that.
I like the business model of Substack. Direct pay seems to create better incentives than an advertising-based business model. Subscriptions are focused and topical. Quality is high. I feel like paying customers can only stomach so much clickbait before they stop sending you money.
Substack’s business model encourages authors to write freemium-style. The free content attracts new readers and the premium content supports the author (funded by their biggest fans). Freemium has flaws but it creates a lot of positive consumer surplus.
For example, every Substack comes with an RSS feed. All free content is available in the feed and all premium content is teased in the feed as well (usually with a title and preview snippet). Apparently there are also unique feed urls containing free and premium content for paid subscribers (though I haven’t tested this myself).
Facebook used to have RSS feeds but it ended up removing them because RSS undermined their ad-based business model. With Substack, RSS helps the business model instead of hurting it.
I do have a few concerns about Substack’s popularity. Journalistic integrity is less enforced than traditional media. Media fragmentation can result in filter-bubbles which seems kind of harmful.
And of course, Substack is still floating on venture capital so it’s hard to tell how things will change when they are forced to become profitable. Remember Medium? They got a lot of praise for bringing blogging to the masses and disrupting ad-based publishing… until they ran out of money and needed to set up site-wide paywalls.
But overall, I feel pretty happy about the current state of things. Everyone has a Substack and it’s great.