Why I am still on Substack

tldr version:

I am costing Substack money rather than making it for them. Moving would cost me subscribers. I also sympathise with subscribers who do not want Substack to have their email address. For this reason, I have also opened an account at Beehiiv, and will copy-paste every newsletter I write.

If you want to move to Beehiiv, please unsubscribe from my Substack newsletter and resubscribe here.

long version:

Substack is playing silly buggers when it comes to free speech. In my opinion, they are sincere but naive, and they need to take a good hard look at the paradox of tolerance. There are voices saying newsletter writers should leave, but there are also plenty of voices, also from the left side of the spectrum, saying it is blown out of proportion and there is no reason to leave Substack.

I’ve been kind of hoping Substack would see the error of its ways and issue an apology, but so far it hasn’t. This leaves me in a tricky predicament, because if I move away from Substack, I will probably lose many subscribers, and it will be harder for me to grow.

I have worked long and hard and have by now gained more than 900 subscribers. By my guess, probably about a quarter of these read the newsletter via the Substack app. Though I have their email addresses, I have a strong suspicion these people will stop reading and probably even unsubscribe if I import them onto another platform. The same goes for other readers who just like Substack as a platform.

Substack is also really good at helping me grow my audience. I have 14 other linguistics newsletters recommending me, and people find my newsletter when they search on Substack for “linguistics”, “English” etc. If I move, I also lose this.

My newsletters are not monetised, which means I am costing Substack money rather than making it for them.

What I am doing is feeding them email addresses. For that reason, I have also opened a Beehiiv account. This is the account I am now promoting on my websites and social media. I will copy-paste every newsletter I write to both platforms. Simple as.

If you hate the idea of Substack having your email address, please unsubscribe from my Substack newsletter and resubscribe to the Beehiiv one, using the link below.

Why Beehiiv?

Beehiiv was recommended by pro-in-the-field Mignon Fogarty (grammar girl) who is really on top of these kinds of things.

(If you write a lot for your job and are wondering what generative AI like ChatGPT can do for you, I really recommend her newsletter AI sidequest. It provides advice and insights that are actually helpful rather than just a bunch of techbro jargon.)

What do you think?

What do you think? Should I leave Substack altogether? Or is this all blown out of proportion, and you think it is fine if I stay on Substack? Am I just having my cake and eating it? Let me know in the comments!

Heddwen Newton is an English teacher and translator. She is fascinated by contemporary English and the way English changes. Her newsletter is English in Progress. 1100 subscribers and growing every day!

Follow me on LinkedIn or Bluesky

Categorised as blog


  1. I definitely don’t think it’s blown out of proportion – they’re monetizing nazis and allowing hate speech to spread. And I think they’re more cynical than naive. Having said that, your approach here seems pretty sensible.

    1. Thanks Dan! Need to mark 50 “CV and cover letters”, listen to 25 presentations, think about next semester’s syllabus and after that I’ll have more brain space for this, but unless they change their stance I’ll def be moving!

    2. For the record, Dan was responding to an older version of this blog post, where I was still thinking about moving once I had the winter semester grading work behind me. The thought of how many subscribers I would lose had not yet occurred to me at that point. I am still moving, I’m just also keeping the old newsletter as a pied-à-terre, so to speak.

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