Substack’s not scaming, but for sure it’s being dishonest  

After Annalee Newitz original post, many are writing a lot about how Substack has been scamming writers who are spending time on their platform. The complaint is that the team behind Substack has promised the writers that their platform will make newsletter writing lucrative for all the writers. The scam, according to many writers, is Substack is not treating all writers equals. Here’s Annalee.

But, you might be saying, Substack mostly publishes tons of people who are not staff writers. Look at the thousands of newsletters on the site that are clearly not written by staff! No, it does not matter that technically anyone can jump on Substack and get paid by subscribers. Technically anyone can sing on the street corner and get paid by passerby, but that doesn’t mean they are on a level playing field with Megan Thee Stallion.

I agree, Substack is being dishonest, but not by giving special treatment to a select few writers. They are doing so by promising what’s hard to achieve - making writing online, irrespective of the form, lucrative. And the easier you make publishing posts online, the goal becomes a tad more unattainable.

We often hear that the app store story is sad, that the race to the bottom has ruined the chances for genuinely quality apps. However, the state of online writers is even dire. The readers hate the ads on the websites. They hate the paywalls. They hate paying for anything for which the supply is almost limitless.

I know this is a defeatist view. I know many folks are working full-time writing online. Many are indeed earning. However, I’ve long stopped carrying any hopes of gaining anything from the stuff I do online. I don’t put ads on my website. I don’t have any analytics.

Possibly, I’m being insensitive to the folks for whom this is the only way to earn a living. Don’t get me wrong. I do empathize with them. But I myself have no expectations from the investment I make towards my projects online – writing, coding etc. I spend what my earnings from my full-time job allows.

There has recently been a surge of platforms claiming to be a messiah for the people struggling to earn from any form of content, be it music or writing or podcast. They make the assurances they know they can’t realistically keep eventually. They give false hope to the majority and definitely ruining the life of a few. I have a problem with such dishonesty.


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