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The Newsletter is Back: The Rise of Substack, and Opportunities for Communicators

Substack was born out of a frustration with the “social media diet” and an abundance of bite-sized content that delivered little value or purpose. The founders of the platform saw long-form writing and journalism taking a backseat to listicles and clickbait. So, they created Substack — a platform that allows writers to share subscription-based newsletters directly to readers, with the option to monetize their content behind a paywall.

The internet is a noisy place. It’s cluttered and messy and easy to miss content from your favourite journalists, writers or creatives. Substack allows writers to connect with their audiences — directly through their inbox.

Industry-specific newsletters are nothing new, but Substack has grown the proliferation of newsletters in other fields, like culture, sports and the arts.

It seems that Substack was right in its prediction that people would have an appetite for long-form writing — a welcome alternative to a 280 character tweet. While the US media industry had more than 30,000 jobs cut last year, Substack has grown to have more than 250,000 paying subscribers, and the platform’s top ten publishers bring in $7 million in annual revenue.

Though bite-sized content isn’t going anywhere, Substack’s success may indicate a swinging of the pendulum — for some — and a desire for longer-form content.

Does the success of Substack hint at a broader return to long-form content? It’s hard to say at this point, but what is clear is that there are opportunities for communicators, marketers and writers to make the most of the platform’s success.

Opportunities for creators and writers

For the creatively inclined, Substack presents an opportunity to monetize one’s craft. Like how Patreon changed the way podcasters make a living, Substack presents vast opportunities for writers.

No longer do writers or journalists need to write for an established outlet to earn an income. Substack allows writers to connect with and monetize their own audience.


Substack also presents the opportunity to marketers to reach their ideal customers through sponsorship — much like how a business may sponsor a podcast. Substack newsletters attract niche audiences and connecting with and sponsoring a newsletter in your field can help you connect with the customers you’re most interested in reaching.

Thought leadership

Thought leadership has been used as a public relations tactic for a long time. It helps develop and strengthen relationships and establishes organizations and their leaders as experts in their field.

Thought leadership has exploded on LinkedIn in recent years, but why not take it one step further and deliver thought leadership directly to reader’s inboxes?


About the Author:

Carter Hutton is a Coordinator at NATIONAL Public Relations and a member of the IABC Maritime Board. He is an alumnus of Dalhousie University’s International Development Studies program and holds an Advanced Diploma in Public Relations from NSCC.

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