This is the longest of all the videos in this Substack Course for Creative People. It covers several things to set up before you send your first newsletter edition (first email).
Remember, Substack not only sends your newsletter to everyone on your email list, it also puts it on the Substack platform for the multitude of other Substack users to read. And it submits it to Google to be included in their search results. This is no small deal. And it’s all for free.
Building an email list is the primary objective. With an email list, you can keep in touch with people and show them your new creations. As your email list grows on Substack, more people will see your work and whatever you have for sale). Or if you just want to share your thought on being a creative person, that’s fine too. But the goal is to build a good-sized email list.
So take your time following Kam’s instructions (video and transcript below) for doing the set-up steps that should be done before you send that first newsletter.
Substack Course Video 03 covers:
- Giving your Account a good name so that the URL is easy to remember.
- Creating your first newsletter edition (aka first email)
- Telling Substack who to send the newsletter to
- Modifying the preview
- How to delete a newsletter edition
- How to publish (aka send) now or schedule for later
- Where to fill in the newsletter’s tags (keywords)
- Where to enter a description of the newsletter
- How to complete your About page (suggestions given in video and transcript below it)
- How to fill out the “Thank You for Subscribing” email
- How to add a publication logo
- How to change your Substack theme colors
- How to enter the “Sender” name that people will see when they get your newsletter in their inbox
- Setting up an header banner for your newsletter editions
- How to edit the “Email Opt-Out” page
TRANSCRIPT FOR VIDEO 03:
The next step in this process is to create a name for your first newsletter. Before we do this, sometimes I think it’s nice to look at what other people are doing. Now, you probably have an idea in your mind about what you’d like to write about, what you want that first newsletter to be about. So it’s a good idea to come over here and just look at some of the other people writing on Substack.
Let’s just browse some of the top writers. We see the names of their publications. The Dispatch, Letters from an American by Heather Cox Richardson, Bored Reporting by Matt Taibbi, Cynicism by Bill Bishop.
So they have some interesting names these top newsletters. Some very interesting names. They’re not always related to the topic that we are talking about, are they? The Corners, Persuasion, Everything. So there’s some interesting names. A lot of times you see these names are kind of arbitrary, almost like the names don’t really say much or mean much.
Now, I think that the lesson you can take away here is if you use an arbitrary name, something that doesn’t really relate to anything, then you can you can talk about whatever you want. It gives you some room there.
However, we all know that if you use something in your newsletter name that is about the subject you’re talking about, it’s gonna make it easier for you to attract people who are interested in that subject. Because if a reader comes to Substack and it says fine writers or publications, and they’re entering in a topic about something they care about, like email marketing, it’s gonna pull up things that have email marketing in their title, or something that says email marketing in the tags, which we’ll get into later.
But the point is, you can help yourself by including something about your subject in the title of your your newsletter. (Such as Skillful Artists Newsletters) But you don’t have to. And we see many of the top writers on Substack making their newsletter titles fairly vague and arbitrary. Just something to keep in mind.
So for this particular example, we’re just going to use the subject of Bigfoot. I’m going to call it the Bigfoot Conspiracy. What’s it about? All about discovering the truth behind the legend of Sasquatch.
Now, Substack is gonna ask me for the URL. And the URL is going to be whatever word you put here. And then it’s going to be dot substack dot com. (skillfulartists.substack.com) You want to make it very simple to remember. We’re just going to call it Truth about Bigfoot. (truthaboutbigfoot.substack.com) Instead of calling this the Bigfoot Conspiracy. TruthAboutBigfoot.substack.com Perfect.
Now Substack is gonna give us an opportunity to bring our list over from MailChimp or tiny letter or Patreon and more. If we have some kind of pre-existing list somewhere else. It gives us an opportunity to do that. Or we can skip the step.
Success! All set. Head on over to the truth about bigfoot.substack.com and tell the world about truth about Bigfoot. Click on [Let’s do this]. And to your first newsletter. So when you first get in here, you’re going to notice a kind of default “Coming Soon” post. This is just a post that Substack creates automatically for you. You can leave it or you can edit it and change what it says. Or you can delete it entirely.
So what we do is we just come over here where we can edit the post. It’s just a simple getting started post, Welcome to Truth about Bigfoot. Change that. Publishing newsletters on topics of interest. Don’t need all that stuff. We are going to be discovering the truth behind the Bigfoot mystery. We publish new issues three times a week. All right, sign up now so you don’t miss the first issue. In the meantime, tell your friends and all that good stuff is good to go.
Now you can easily just delete that post if you want to. And once you get done with that it says publish this post is for everyone, only paying subscribers, we’re going to talk about that later on, allow comments from everyone or no one.
You can put whatever you want in the social preview. You can edit that as well. And you can update on the website. You can also schedule for later. And there it is!
Now, most of what you’re going to need is going to be over on the dashboard. So let’s go ahead and head over to there. Now the dashboard is where you’re going to be able to publish new posts, new discussion threads, and also new podcast episodes once we enable that, which we’ll do a little bit later.
The dashboard is also the place where you’re going to be able to see analytics for each individual, post thread or podcast episode. Now what I want to do is I want to head over to the settings. And we see we filled out some of this information already the publication name, a one line description.
We already filled in tags to help people discover our newsletter. For this one, I’m going to type in Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and conspiracy theory, that’s three of them.
So the next step is to customize your About page. And the nice thing about Substack is they’ve already filled out the About page for you. You just have to customize it. You can go ahead and customize this however you want. For our purposes here, I’m just going to leave it the way it is> This is a great place to mention other properties you might have like a Facebook group or a YouTube channel (or website). It’s a great place to put it right here on the About page. Save that.
The next one is the Thank You for subscribing email. So after someone subscribes to your newsletter, they’re going to receive an email telling them thank you for subscribing. You can edit this email. If you wanted to give someone a free gift, you can do it here when they subscribe to your newsletter. (A free gift can be an instruction sheet for creating something.) This is a great email to put a little link to a free gift. And you could just link right here out to your free gift. And you’re good to go. Notice that the email subject wasn’t filled in.
Once you got your thank you for subscribing email done, now you need a publication logo. The logo is should be 256 by 256 and have a transparent background. So I will just come over to Canva really quick and create this logo very, very simply. Now you do it however you see fit. I’m doing this just for example purposes. 256 by 256. Canva is a free tool that anybody can use for anything.
I am going to simply use this kind of cool Truth about Bigfoot image. (Kam went over to images.google.com) This right here is a little creature. Can I get a cartoon Bigfoot? There we go. I need a commercial-free usage rights Creative Commons licenses. Pretty good. Get the image. Very cool. Upload this image (to Substack). Perfect. And we’ll go ahead and upload our logo.
We can change our theme highlight colors, I will change this one to orange. One thing to note is that your publication logo is separate from your profile picture that we added earlier. Keep in mind that that was a logo for your account. This is a logo for your newsletter. Remember, you can have multiple newsletters under one account.
Next, what you want to do is scroll down to email sender name. This is the name that people will see when you send them an email. You can also edit the preamble settings. This is content that appears in the email version of the posts but not on the web (in Substack and Google Search Page). This includes an optional banner image or anything that you like.
Another thing that you can edit here is the email opt out page. So when someone opts out, you can edit what they will see after they opt out of receiving your email (newsletters). This is “Sorry to see you go” as a default, but you can change this to whatever you like. You can even recommend other publications to them or other assets that you own (Facebook page, website, etc.).
There’s a lot of other things in here that you can customize, such as double opt in adding other people to your publications. So you can have a team of writers if you wanted to. There’s a lot of things you can customize, but the things we’ve talked about so far are really the main things that you need to do to get started. So now what we can do is we can come over to our dashboard and you will see our logo is up there and we are ready to go.