How to Publish your Paid Newsletter on Multiple Platforms

Write once, publish four times. Three important steps to go platform-independent.

Matthias Bohlen
4 minutes reading time

Writing on Substack is great.

It is easy to use, has great visibility and a team who is friendly and helpful – all good! However, I felt it would be good not to rely on them too heavily (call me paranoid, if you want):

  • What if the crowd moves on to another platform? Will my writing still be read?
  • What if a new platform comes around next year, like Revue did recently? Do I have to write there, too, in order to be seen?
  • What if Medium succeeds with their recent changes to make it more personal for the authors?

With my writing, I decided to go platform independent.

Want to join me?

Set up a digital content library

This is something I learnt from Nicolas Cole in Ship30for30.

Have a digital “place” where you write your stuff. Know exactly where it is. Make it searchable and somewhat organized (but don’t overthink it, otherwise it will slow you down).

This place is called your “library”. It’s where you can find what you have written since the beginning of time. You can combine and re-combine the existing artifacts into new Twitter threads, articles, white papers, books, etc., to your heart’s desire.

My libray is simple: It is a flat folder on my hard disk, full of Markdown files. It has no subfolders. I keep it in git, a version control system that runs on my server, so that nothing gets lost, even when I make a mistake and accidentally delete something.

To edit the Markdown files, I use Zettlr, a very minimalistic but powerful Markdown editor, search engine and link engine. It is similar to Obsidian (you may have heard about that one already).

Searching the library is easy: I just press Cmd-Shift-F, enter a search term, and BOOM, Zettlr displays the documents that contain that search term.

Linking is also easy: I simply enter two left brackets [[, and Zettlr shows me a searchable list of other documents that I want to link to. I select one and click Enter, and the link is made!

Hashtags work, too: When I add a #hashtag to multiple documents, Zettlr can find them and associate them with each other. This works well for multipart articles that I write sometimes when it would be too long for a single piece.

Publish from your library to multiple platforms

From my digital library, I currently publish to 3 different platforms:

You might say, I obsess too much about technology when I tell you that my blog is based on a home-grown solution with React/NextJS. I would say: No problem, use Hugo! It turns Markdown into a website, too, just like my solution does it. And it’s easier to use.

To publish to Substack, I use Substack’s ability to import an RSS feed. My blog has an rss.xml file that Substack can easily read. Whenever I publish a new piece, I put it online on my blog, and it becomes a new entry in the RSS file as well. In Substack, I click on Dashboard > Settings > Import, enter my blog’s URL, and Substack does the rest. Finally, I click “Publish” to send the new piece as an email newsletter to my list.

To publish to Medium, I use a 75-line JavaScript that calls the Medium API and tells it to create a new post in draft status. Medium is fast: It takes only a second to create that post! Then I can add a nice image to it and hit “Publish”, too.

My script automatically sets the correct canonical URL, it also adds a paragraph automatically that says “Originally published on News Bundler”, with a backlink to my blog so Google will know where everything came from.

A little SEO can’t hurt, right?

Results and what to do next

My blog is starting to get some traffic from Substack and Medium – nice! The numbers are totally small but growing steadily. The newsletter has a 50% open rate on Substack. Given that I started writing only 6 weeks ago, both of this is a good sign.

I now plan to connect my blog to the Revue newsletter platform as well. I still need to figure out whether they have an API for that, or if they can read RSS – but I’m pretty sure this will not be a big deal. The advantage of this: It would make it totally easy to sign up for my list, directly from my Twitter profile.

You can do all that, too: Write once, publish 4 times!

And: Don’t forget to get free visibility by adding your paid newsletter to the newsletter directory on News Bundler. Happy to welcome you there!

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Set this up once, then forget about it and get back to writing.

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