Skip to main content

Facebook will court independent writers to its Substack competitor with paid deals

Facebook will court independent writers to its Substack competitor with paid deals


Starting testing soon

Share this story

Illustration by James Bareham / The Verge

Facebook wants to be a part of the newsletter business, and it’s willing to pay for it. Axios reports today that the company will soon start testing its newsletter product, which will integrate with Pages. As part of that test, Facebook will also court writers, some of whom the company will pay.

Axios doesn’t name any writers and says the product itself is still unnamed, but it also reports the initial user group will be composed of small and independent writers. This newsletter tool will also help writers set up a website outside Facebook. The idea is that writers can charge for subscriptions to their work and potentially create additional revenue streams while relying on Facebook to engage their community. Facebook will let them create Groups for their work as well, and it will also provide metrics on their newsletters.

The product is still unnamed

The push from Facebook comes as the newsletter business is building significant momentum across the industry. Substack, most notably, has paid advances to multiple writers in order to bring them over to its platform. The Verge’s former Silicon Valley editor Casey Newton now runs his newsletter, Platformer, through Substack.

Seeing the success that writers are having on the platform, Twitter acquired newsletter platform Revue in January in an attempt to keep them in the Twitter ecosystem. The difference between Twitter’s efforts and Substack and Facebook’s is Twitter hasn’t yet specifically sought out writers to pay. Doing so could suggest an editorial slant, although Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie views them as “business decisions, not editorial ones.”

Facebook, which already receives criticism from both liberals and conservatives in the US for the way it moderates its platform, might face backlash to its newsletter product, particularly depending on which writers it seeks out for the program.