Substack launched in 2017 as a tool for starting paid email newsletters.
Within a year, the company had turned a mission to help writers reach audiences that value them into a platform with 25,000 paying subscribers.
Now, the company boasts a dedicated paying subscriber base of over 500,000 members and millions of readers.
Besides their flagship newsletter offering, Substack has also added support for podcasts.
So, how big is Substack in the overall economy? And what were the details behind their rapid rise?
Here’s a summary of what you’ll find out on this page:
- Substack Usage Statistics (Top Picks)
- How many paying subscribers use Substack?
- How many writers publish on Substack?
- How many read newsletters on Substack?
- How does Substack make money?
- What are the most popular newsletters on Substack?
- What’s the search interest in Substack?
- Substack by the money
Substack Usage Statistics (Top Picks)
- There are over 500,000 paying subscribers on Substack.
- Substack has raised over $82.4 million to date.
- 15 investors have put capital into Substack.
- Substack launched in October 2017.
- The top 10 authors on Substack collectively make over $20 million per year.
How many paying subscribers does Substack have?
“Paying subscribers” describes how many unique users pay for a premium newsletter subscription on Substack.
Here’s a full breakdown of Substack’s paid subscribers over time:
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.
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 Substack generated 24.57 million visits in September 2021, up from 18 million in April 2021.
What’s the ratio between paying and non-paying subscribers?
According to Substack, paying newsletter subscribers represent 5% – 10% of the total readership.
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).
Most popular newsletters on 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|
|TK News by Matt Taibbi||Tens of thousands of subscribers, $5/month|
|Bulwark+||Tens of thousands of subscribers, $10/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|
|Lenny’s Newsletter||Thousands of subscribers, $15/month|
|Noahpinion||Thousands of subscribers, $9.99/month|
|Nongaap Investing||Hundreds of subscribers, $39/month|
|The Ankler||Thousands of subscribers, $10/month|
|The Profile||Thousands of subscribers, $10/month|
Here are 5 of the most popular paid newsletters under Substack’s “culture”: category:
|Culture newsletter||Approximate number of subscribers, price|
|Proof||Thousands of subscribers, $5/month|
|Culture Study||Thousands of subscribers, $5/month|
|The Audacity||Thousands of subscribers, $6/month|
|Maybe Baby||Thousands of subscribers, $5/month|
|Hung Up||Thousands of subscribers, $5/month|
Search interest in Substack
Google searches for “substack” are up 1900% over the last two years, Exploding Topics data shows. And have increased by 500% over the past year alone.
Source: Exploding Topics.
Substack has raised a total of $82.4 million across 4 funding rounds.
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 75 employees, up from 13 in October 2020.
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.
Substack author earnings
The top 10 authors on Substack collectively make more than $20 million a year. An increase from $15 million in February 2021, and $10 million in December 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|
|October 2021||20 million|
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 introduced Revue integration to the platform to promote paid newsletters (following its earlier acquisition of the service) And Facebook launched Bulletin 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.