One year of my indie journey on Substack

jasonleow  •  19 Nov 2023   •    

Exactly one year ago I started a Substack newsletter documenting my indie hacking journey.

One year of newsletters later:

  • Total 65 posts published.
  • Started as a monthly newsletter in Nov 2022.
  • Quickly switched to weekly in Dec 2022 – every time I post there’s a peak.
  • Slow but steady climb to 366 subscribers currently.
  • 40% open rate.
  • 1300 views / month.
  • 1 pledge by @benparry with $96 pledged annualised revenue.
  • Email and Twitter are the top 2 sources of views. Surprised by Twitter as I assumed Substack would be more, but come to think of it, makes sense that Twitter is high due to my following (~8800) there.
  • But surprise surprise the main source of new subscribers are actually the 13 other publications recommending me. Together they brought 216 new subscribers - two thirds of my total followers!
  • Read read across 26 US states and 66 countries – USA (21%), India (12%), UK (6%), France (5%), Canada (4%). Surprised by India being the 2nd! But it is similar to the mix as my Twitter following, which is USA (27%), India (11%), UK (10%). I do interact with quite a few indie hackers from India but was surprised India is 2nd in place!
  • Highest open rate of 41% for this post about my very first business, which was surprising because I thought no one read it.

In summary:

  • Recommendation partnerships are a killer for gaining new subscribers. Best way to gain subscribers it seems (if subscription growth is what you’re after).
  • Posting more often really helps with keeping the momentum going. Before Substack, I was on Revue and only posted monthly. I don’t recall the growth being this much.
  • What you think will not be popular is often wrong. We can’t predict what will do well.
  • I often think I’m just publishing to the void. But I’ve gotten email replies pretty often, from closer friends on Twitter. So people do read! Just many lurkers.

To be honest, I still have zero plans for monetization, no clue about how I can leverage this newsletter. I write daily anyway, and will continue to keep writing daily. That means, the weekly newsletter will keep going… till I figure out a way to do something with it. Or not.

I’m in no hurry.


Good summary. I’d say that’s a solid first year on Substack. I think once or twice a week would be the sweet spot for a newsletter. Monthly isn’t enough to generate momentum. Daily is excessive unless you are covering current events. #keepgoing #teamstreak

therealbrandonwilson  •  19 Nov 2023, 11:53 pm

Thanks Brandon! Nice to hear that affirmation from another fellow newsletter writer! Yeah I think for a newsletter, twice a week is max. Daily would be annoying, and should be reserved for a social media account.

jasonleow  •  20 Nov 2023, 4:07 am