Adam Tinsworth writes about Substack’s apparent financial troubles and asks if it would matter if the service disappeared from the web landscape.
Given how remarkably good Substack has been at building publicity around itself, to the point where many people “start a Substack”, rather than “starting a newsletter”, could its theoretical demise hurt publishers? Sure, the sheer level of association between newsletters and Substack means we’ll almost certainly get a wave of articles from the usual suspects predicting the demise of newsletters. And those articles would be, frankly, asinine. Email newsletters have existed in varying forms for the best part of 40 years, and they’re not going to go away any time soon.
Fortunately, as Tinsworth brings up, Substack has many able competitors waiting in the wings. Is Buttondown is popular or as polished as Substack? No, but it could do the job. Of course, Ghost is a credible and even preferable alternative, as it can be self-hosted. I’m currently self-hosting a Ghost blog (though it’s kind of shelved for now) and the experience is a good one. I keep up with the updates, and Ghost is continuously improving the capabilities of the platform, particularly with regards to the newsletter functionality.
In short, as the piece points out, it would be a pain to switch off of Substack, but it can be done.
→ Could Substack’s troubles end the newsletter boom?
Via Kevin Quirk