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The blogging boom is back—and it’s happening on Substack
The blogosphere was steamrolled by ads and social media—so creators are adapting
As a publicist at a publishing house in the mid-2000s, I was at the epicenter of the blogging boom. I saw firsthand how more books would sell when sites like Cup of Jo reviewed a book than when the same book was covered in a traditional print magazine. Bloggers were so influential that publishing houses like mine started going after them for book deals. I saw how they were creating a new kind of culture online and how it was quickly influencing our daily lives.
If the early 2000s was the golden age of blogging, then the 2020s welcome its renaissance, and it’s happening on Substack.
What we’re seeing now feels a lot like that early blogging boom. There was an intimacy we felt reading our favorite blogs, a personal connection to the writers and the communities that grew around them. We stacked our Google Reader with their RSS feeds and turned to them for restaurant recommendations, recipes, home decor trends, crafting inspiration, gossip, political analysis, and life advice. Writers on Substack are providing that same intimacy and connection with the communities they create. No media conglomerates edit their words and ideas. We have access to our favorite writers, just as we did in those fast blogging days. We see ourselves in the personal stories they share; we trust them.
Welcoming Joanna Goddard to Substack
This week, the founder and editor behind the influential lifestyle website Cup of Jo, launches on Substack. She’s joining the ranks of some very familiar names from those RSS-feed days who have made Substack their home: Victoria Smith of ; Holly Becker of ; Gabrielle Blair of ; Deb Perelman of ; of Cool Mom Picks; Danielle Krysa of ; of Oh Joy; of Wit & Delight; Adam Roberts of ; of Reading my Tea Leaves, and, to name a few. I am not exaggerating when I say all of your favorite bloggers are now on Substack.
Joanna and her team will still be running Cup of Jo, but she saw an opportunity on Substack to do something she can’t do anywhere else. She’s calling it. Here she’ll share some of her most personal stories behind a paywall, where only a tight-knit group of trusted readers will be able to access them. Her community is already embracing this new project, and as a longtime fan of Joanna’s, I can’t wait to read along.
The blogosphere was steamrolled by ads and social media—and so creators are adapting. They always do. They are tired of churning out so much content for social media when only a fraction of their audience ends up seeing it. These creatives have more to say, and they don’t want to be limited by a caption to a photo they post. They want to be able to interact with their followers in a more meaningful way, in a space that they can create and own. They want to get paid for the content they have been giving away for so many years. And a lot of them are finding Substack to be the right place for their communities and to publish the quality content they work so hard to create.
Writers on Substack are providing that same intimacy and connection with the communities they create. No media conglomerates edit their words and ideas. We have access to our favorite writers, just as we did in those fast blogging days. We see ourselves in the personal stories they share; we trust them.
The culture makers are here
We’re also starting to see an important shift with other types of content creators. Just like those old-school bloggers, we’re seeing more and more influential founders and business owners come to Substack to tell their personal stories, cultivate their community, and earn money. You can now read behind-the-scenes stories from the founder of Em & Friends, artist; get personal organizing advice from ; be the first to see new cross-stitch patterns from subversive crafting queen Julie Jackson (); read musings on life, motherhood, and entrepreneurship from ; and follow along with the personal side of ’s publishing empire—all on Substack.
Brilliant culture makers and writers are bringing their massive audiences from other platforms to Substack—the number of active subscribers we’re seeing come from Instagram is up 89% year over year. On Substack these writers have the ability to go deeper on topics they know their audiences want more of: they’re examining current cultural trends through the lens of addiction and recovery, sharing the scoop on Russell Brand, asking the important questions about New York Fashion Week, and analyzing celebrity apologies. Holly Whitaker with, Evan Ross Katz with , Jessica Reed Kraus with , Hunter Harris with , and Amy Odell of are just a few of the many writers and creators covering pop culture in smart and interesting ways on Substack.
As a publicist and marketer, I’ve spent my career working with writers, artists, and independent business owners. Part of my job has always been to give the best advice I can to help creatives grow their businesses, own their audiences, and make a living doing what they love. In my time at Substack over the past two years, I’ve seen a lot of this work come full circle.
Here I am again working with my favorite old-school bloggers, women in business, and pop-culture tastemakers, who are all bringing their audiences to Substack, making it home base for some of their most important work and ideas, joining a network and community of tens of thousands of other writers, and once again helping to create the culture they want—on their own terms. How lucky we are that it’s happening here, where we not only get a front-row seat but can be a part of the conversation.
Over the next few months, we’ll be going deeper into the stories of some of the writers and creators who are bringing fresh and influential work to these spaces. We hope you learn from and get inspired by them. And if you’re an influencer or creator interested in bringing your community to Substack, I’ll be hosting a masterclass designed especially for you this fall. Sign up here and I’ll send you more information.
Who are your favorite bloggers, women in business, and pop-culture tastemakers writing on Substack? Tell us about your publication, or a writer we should know about, in the comments.
If you’re inspired by Joanna and ready to write your first Substack post, starting your own publication is just a few clicks away: