Substack now lets you follow writers, offering a way for you to keep tabs on what a writer is doing without having to subscribe to their newsletter. When you follow a writer, “you can stay up to date with what they’re reading, liking, publishing, and subscribing to — through the Notes feed and on their profiles,” Substack says in a blog post.
Substack is perhaps best known as a newsletter platform where writers can make money from getting people to sign up for paid subscriptions. But the platform has also been dabbling with more traditional social networking features such as its tweet-like Notes, and a follow button feels like Substack stepping even more toes into the social networking waters.
The company stresses that follows, which are free, are intended to aid writers as they build out subscription networks. “Following helps writers grow their audience via the Substack network, which is already home to millions of the world’s most valuable readers,” Substack argues. “We built this feature to help maximize — and not replace — subscriptions, which will always be the most important type of relationship on Substack.”
But now, Substack writers may have the added burden of thinking about ways to convert followers and non-followers into subscribers. (Substack is promising that in the future, it will “make ‘upsells’ to subscriptions easier” through notifying followers about “trending posts and other milestones.”)
Last week, Substack’s co-founders said that they want to make the platform a better place for readers, not just writers. The company has already introduced a handful of features to encourage reading things directly on the platform, including mobile apps and the ability to bring RSS feeds to your Substack feed.
For people looking for a new place to read text and post some microblogs given the general degradation of X / Twitter, the follow button might be a useful feature to see what writers are up to without clogging up your email inbox with newsletters.