Why I have 4 different Substack Publications
And still manage to stay organized...
Happy International Women’s Day to all who may celebrate the occasion. And if there are any women in your life, be sure to say thank you. I’m sure they do so much without expectation of appreciation and would be overjoyed to receive some today.
tl;dr My three additional Substack Publications:
When I first discovered Substack over a year ago, I just set out to have a Substack using my name as the URL. My intention was to transfer the subscribers I had over on Mailchimp over to Substack because there were a lot of changes Mailchimp was making (and still are to this day) that I disagreed with. Just my luck at the time I happened to see an interview someone was having withof and she mentioned Substack. That was all I needed to know to do my own investigating. It had, and constantly upgrades to have, everything I could need and use, with plenty of things I didn’t even know I needed.
At the time I was only getting one email out on the 1st of every month to my subscribers which only numbered just over 300. But Substack offered me an opportunity to combine my love of blog posts with my subscribers in a way I hadn’t considered. So I quickly decided I would write one email a week with my thoughts on writing (and my own personal writing journey) and keep the 1st of the month update email as well. This lasted for quite some time before I lost steam when the possibility of growing our family came true and my attention had to be put elsewhere.
However, in the early days of Substack, if you were around when I first started, I was a mess with using Sections. I didn’t realize I could create multiple publications under one account. So if I wanted to write something that I felt didn’t fit under my short story or writing thoughts umbrella I created a Section and shoved it there. I soon realized I had too many Sections and not enough content coming to fill them all. Then I got back into gaming in a big way. I am a huge Pokemon and Zelda fan, if you didn’t know. And so, because I was unaware of the ability to have more than one publication under one email I set out to create a brand new email and separate account because I wanted to share my thoughts on gaming but wanted it to be separate from my main account.
I don’t have to tell you how confusing it is for me to constantly sign in and out of accounts to access publications. Then there was the fact that my main account was growing while my new gaming account wasn’t. So I decided to move my gaming account over to my main account, give it its own Section and add my other gaming account as a contributing writer. This way I could write all my gaming posts but tie them to my gaming handle. Are you still with me?
This change didn’t make things any neater because I quickly became terrified to send my gaming posts as emails to my list as they likely have NO idea about it. My email list came to subscribe because of my fiction writing not my gaming. What to do?! This got me started with the idea of posting things on my Substack but not sending as e-mails. I would then include links to what I’d written in my monthly update post and see how well it did.
Fast forward to mid-2022 and my main Substack ground to a halt. I was busy dealing with lawyers (the good ones are amazing but the bad ones are really bad), and all of that legal stuff. However, in the haze of it all I found the short story I had written back in 2016-ish that was a twist on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and for reasons I still don’t recall I immediately decided I wanted to read all of the Oz books in the public domain and see if others wanted to join me.
It was at this time that I came across the ability to have multiple “publications” under one email. EUREKA! This was exactly what I wanted because I groaned at the idea of creating a whole new account and again, and I didn’t want to create another Section in my main account. I realized my main account needed some serious fixes. Too many sections. No symmetry or organization whatsoever. I couldn't decide what went out as an email and what was just going to be straight up posted in the hopes that it would be seen and read somehow. This is no way to handle a Substack even if it does give you the ability to post without emailing.
So first, I set out creating this new publication under my main account. Easy-peazy lemon squeeze. Then the lightbulb went off in my head and I realized I could do the same for my gaming account. So again I removed the Section from my main account and created a new publication. But then another realization came to me; the idea of “pen names.” Or in the case of Substack, different identities to go with each publication. Because, regardless of which publications I write in, if they are tied to my name then you can see them under my profile on the Substack website or app. Not that I mind if you go to my profile and see Wizard of Oz chapters or posts on video games. But I like when things look clean and organized.
This required me to create these two publications under my name and then invite my other accounts under their own email addresses to their respective publication and give them “admin” access. This allows me to write posts under all of my publications and change the name of who the writer is to whichever account I want.
If someone at Substack is reading this, something that would be most helpful would be if I can swap to different users when I’m in my main account when I’m commenting because one sticky issue I’m coming across is when I want to comment, for example, under my gaming publication I want my comment to appear from my gaming handle and not my actual name. But in order for me to do this I have to sign out of my main account, sign into my gaming account, and then comment. It’s annoying to have to sign in and out like that. If it was possible for me to switch the profile that would be ideal. I’m sure the reason I can’t is because the intention of inviting other people is that those people are not all the same person. Hence why I like the idea of having pen names a thing? Just a thought…
DIFFERENTIATION IS KEY
Now that I have three Substacks separate from the one I consider my personal one, I knew I needed to make sure the separation wasn’t in vain. There needed to be clear and obvious reasons that I decided to do it this way. The last thing I want is to over complicate what I’m trying to do. This required fixing my main account. I won’t go into detail on what I had to do and how long it took to fix, but with regards to my main Substack there are just 3 Sections and no matter which one I write a post for they all are emailed. Writing is so much better this way!
BEYOND THE WIZARD
My massive read-along of all the public domain Oz books was fairly simple to set-up as it requires as little bells and whistles as you can do. There are just two Sections: the main book where all chapters are put as they release and The Oz Gazette. The latter is a way for me to have an update post (I seem to like writing update posts on the 1st of every month) to help new readers catch-up with short synopsis of the previous weeks chapters. It also includes links to what I’ve uncovered as I do research on my short story that I intend on expanding into a novel and ultimately a trilogy.
BRAVEBIRD, THE GAMER
Currently it has zero subscribers but I like that no one is seeing it as of yet. It’s where I can experiment with things that Substack has introduced but I’m nervous to do it on my main publication. The one I’m looking at is the Video option. But I realize blogging about being a gamer is less common than having a YouTube channel and being a vlogger or a streamer on Twitch. It might not catch on but it’s more for me to look back on than for others to read and agree with my random gaming thoughts and accomplishments.
ENSIGN’S LOG, STARDATE…
The newest addition to my list of publications. Unlike the others this is a daily endeavor. Watching and analyzing every single episode from every single series in the Star Trek canon won’t be easy. I’ll take it one day at a time. Doubling-up on certain days when I know I’ll be busy with other things. The end goal? To have a newfound level of appreciation for what this franchise brought to television and what I hope it will bring to my own storytelling abilities. I hope that by the end I will wear the badge of Admiral in starfleet proudly.
So, why the heck did I just go over all of this and push it out as an email? Because maybe you are juggling multiple Substack accounts and didn’t realize there was a way to have them all under one account to make things easier for yourself? Or maybe you have an idea/project you really want to work on but you don’t want to put it on your main account? Whatever the reason, multiple publications is the best solution.
I also want to give a shoutout to Substack’s algorithm. I’m still not sure what they are doing or how, but I don’t really care. All I know is, without any input of promotion from me my main account still manages to get 3 - 5 new subscribers daily or several days a week. And my read-along publication has grown to 400+ in under 8 months all from the aid of Substack alone. This is why I’m not worried about getting subscribers soon to my gaming publication. I have no doubt that as I keep writing posts on it they will find a way to put it in front of the right people who will actually want to read what I’m writing.
That’s the part that is most difficult when trying to find readers for whatever you write: Trusting that they will continue to read your content. It’s one thing to put together a reader magnet and lure subscribers with it using tools like BookFunnel (a tactic I still stand by to this day) but it’s another to expect that subscriber to then continue to open and read your e-mails after they get that freebie. I suspect that 9 times out of 10 they don’t. But I am equally sure the subscribers I get from Substack will definitely open my emails and read my content every time. And that’s a nice and reassuring feeling to have. It means I can just focus on creating content for my publications that fit my creative needs on a regular basis and things like self-promotions won’t even cross my mind in 2023 or hopefully ever again.
Do you have multiple publications or sections? How do you keep them organized?
Interesting to hear about someone else's struggles--successful ones, it sounds like--to juggle several different hats at once.