Substack User and Revenue Statistics (2021)

Substack User and Revenue Statistics (2021)

Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Feb. 24, 2021

Substack User and Revenue Statistics

Substack launched in 2017 as a tool for monetizing email newsletters.

Within a year, the company had turned a mission to “help writers, artists, and other creatives solicit donations from people who love their work” into a platform with 25,000 paying subscribers.

Besides their flagship newsletter offering, Substack also recently added support for podcasts.

So, how fast is Substack growing? And what are the details behind their rapid rise?

Here’s a summary of what you’ll find out on this page:

Substack Usage Statistics (Top Picks)

  • There are over 500,000 paying subscribers on Substack.
    There are over 500,000 paying subscribers on Substack
  • Substack has raised over $17 million to date.
  • 14 investors have put capital into Substack.
  • Substack launched in October 2017.
  • The top 10 authors on Substack collectively make over $15M per year.

How many paying subscribers does Substack have?

“Paying subscribers” describes how many unique users pay for a premium newsletter subscription on Substack.

Substack’s paid subscribers over time

Here’s a full breakdown of Substack’s paid subscribers over time:

Paying subscribers Date
11,000 July 2018
25,000 October 2018
40,000 April 2019
50,000 July 2019
100,000 March 2020
250,000 September 2020
250,000+ December 2020
500,000+ February 2021

Sources: Niemen Lab, Tech Crunch, Axios, YouTube, Substack.

How many writers publish on Substack?

There are thousands of writers who post newsletters on Substack. The majority of newsletters are free to read on the platform. Many have a paid tier that includes access to additional content.

Source: YouTube.

How many people read newsletters on Substack?

According to Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie, there are “millions” of active readers on Substack.

SimilarWeb data shows that 12 million people visit the Substack website every month.

12 million people visit the Substack website every month

Sources: YouTube, SimilarWeb.

How does Substack make money?

Publishing is free for creators on Substack. For paid subscriptions, a 10% commission fee is charged by Substack. And another 2.9% + 30 cents per payment is charged by Substack’s payment provider (Stripe).

Source: Substack.

Substack used to feature the most popular newsletter among all categories on their homepage. Today, Substack ranks newsletter popularity by category. And doesn’t provide an aggregated ranking among all categories.

Also, Substack’s rankings don’t list absolute subscriber totals. Instead, they provide a range.

With that, here are the most popular paid newsletters on Substack across all categories:

Newsletter Approximate number of subscribers
The Dispatch Tens of thousands of subscribers
Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson Tens of thousands of subscribers
Bulwark+ Tens of thousands of subscribers
Reporting by Matt Taibbi Tens of thousands of subscribers
The Weekly Dish by Andrew Sullivan Tens of thousands of subscribers
Sinocism by Bill Bishop Thousands of subscribers
Glenn Greenwald Tens of thousands of subscribers
Popular Information by Judd Legum Tens of thousands of subscribers
PETITION Thousands of subscribers
Everything Thousands of subscribers

Here are top the 5 paid political newsletters on Substack:

Politics newsletter Approximate number of subscribers, price
Letters from an American Tens of thousands of subscribers, $5/month
The Dispatch Tens of thousands of subscribers, $10/month
Bulwark+ Tens of thousands of subscribers, $10/month
TK News by Matt Taibbi Tens of thousands of subscribers, $5/month
Glenn Greenwald Tens of thousands of subscribers, $5/month

Here are the most popular paid business newsletters on Substack:

Business newsletter Approximate number of subscribers, price
The Bitcoin Forecast by Willy Woo Thousands of subscribers, $50/month
Lenny’s Newsletter Thousands of subscribers, $15/month
The Pomp Letter Thousands of subscribers, $10/month
PETITION Thousands of subscribers, $49/month
Jonah’s Best Growth Stocks Thousands of subscribers, $9/month

Here are 5 of the most popular paid newsletters under Substack’s “culture”: category:

Culture newsletter Approximate number of subscribers, price
The Audacity Thousands of subscribers, $6/month
Culture Study Thousands of subscribers, $5/month
Maybe Baby Thousands of subscribers, $5/month
Hung Up Thousands of subscribers, $5/month
Webworm with David Farrier Thousands of subscribers, $6.99/month

Sources: Alexey Guzey, Substack.

Search interest in Substack

Google searches for “substack” are up 1739% over the last two years, Exploding Topics data shows. And have increased by 1000% over the past year alone.

Exploding Topics – Substack

Source: Exploding Topics.

Substack funding

Substack has raised a total of $82.4 million across 4 funding rounds.

Substack funding

Notable investors include Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz.

Funding round, Date Amount
Pre Seed, January 2018 $120 thousand
Seed, April 2018 $2 million
Series A, July 2019 $15.3 million
Series B, March 2021 $65 million

The startup currently has over 20 employees, an increase of more than 100% since early 2020.

Sources: Crunchbase, Business of Business, ZoomInfo, Axios.

How much is Substack worth?

After Substack’s latest Series B round, the company is now valued at $650 million. That’s up from a valuation of only $48.65 million in July 2019.

Source: TechCrunch.

Substack revenue

The top 10 authors on Substack collectively make more than $15 million a year. An increase from $10 million in December 2020, and $7 million in September 2020.

Here’s the complete breakdown of Substack’s author earnings:

Date Yearly earnings of top 10 authors (in US dollars)
September 2020 7 million
December 2020 10 million
February 2021 15 million

Sources: Substack, Axios, YouTube.

Conclusion

That’s it for my collection of Substack growth data and figures.

Demand for non ad-based media models has been taking off. With newsletters leading the pack.

Substack is both riding and driving this growing trend.

In fact, major tech players are looking to get into the paid newsletter business as well.

Twitter recently announced their acquisition of the newsletter platform Revue. And there are rumors that Facebook is working on a Substack-like tool designed to support independent writers. So it will be interesting to see what’s coming next for Substack.

Now it’s time to hear from you:

Do you have any questions about Substack? What other data would you like me to include here?

Feel free to drop me a line in the comment section below.

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *