How to Advertise on Substack (Step-by-Step Guide)

Do you want to get your business and brand in front of a committed audience? One that resonates with the ideas you stand for and with problems your products can solve?

I'm sure you've considered reaching out to newsletters, but where do you start? Why not check in with a platform where advertising is new and different? An interesting area where sponsorship messages are quiet, tasteful and won't disappear in a plethora of banner ads and gifs?

Of course, I'm talking about Substack.

What is Substack?

Substack is best known for newsletters, but really, it's far more than that.

Since launching in 2017, Substack has gradually included audio voiceovers, videos and podcasts into their email newsletter platform.  

Some writers publish entire books by serializing them as posts on their Substacks. And now, there's even a Substack App to give readers the best-possible experience on the platform.

Then there are Substack 'Notes,' where writers can share short-form content, links, images and comments and 'Recommendations', where newsletter owners tell their followers about other interesting Substacks.

The Substack business model encourages direct relationships between writers and readers on the platform and works on the premise that people are prepared to pay for great writing. Writers can provide a free newsletter or make money by charging subscription fees.

CEO Chris Best says the reason Substack exists is to build a new economic engine for culture, and it seems the platform is well on the way to succeeding in that.

Can you advertise on Substack?

The platform doesn't have built-in advertising revenue models because Substack encourages creators to make money through paid subscriptions.

However, the website guidelines clarify that some tasteful advertising or sponsorship is acceptable on individual Substacks.

At Substack, we believe that direct relationships between readers and writers make for a healthier information ecosystem... That said, you're welcome to host sponsored content and we don't have any policies in place that prohibit publishers from doing so.

Substack FAQ advertising guidelines

Substack advertising examples

Many creators are happy to diversify their revenue streams by accepting sponsorship packages from brands that resonate with their readers. And because there are so many niches on Substack, your business could well find creators interested in partnering with you.

Here are some examples.

Virtual Author & Writer Events

Virtual Author & Writer Events newsletter sponsorship

Each week Sarah Nicolas lists sets of virtual events for writers and readers. In keeping with her no-frills format, her sponsorships are mentioned in a single sentence with links to their websites.

Yet Another Value Blog

Yet Another Value Blog newsletter sponsorship

Andrew has been experimenting with sponsored deep dives on the Yet Another Value Blog. He describes this form of sponsorship as a win for him, the sponsoring business and his readers.

For me, it lets me ramp up on an industry or company while highlighting a product I use extensively. For Tegus, it’ll let users and potential users see exactly how powerful a few expert calls can be. And, for you, the reader, it’ll mean free industry or company deep dives backed by expert calls.

Lenny's Newsletter

Lenny's Podcast newsletter sponsorship

Podcasters often accept sponsorships and Substack podcasts are no exception. Lenny Rachitsky includes his sponsor's message in his newsletter post and on the audio and video versions of the podcast.

Why Is This Interesting?

Classified ads in WITI newsletter

Classified ads aren't new to newsletters, but you don't see them all that often on Substack. However Why Is This Interesting? is experimenting with the advertising format. The cost of a couple of lines + link starts at $200 and each ad runs for a week.

'Today in Books' and 'In Reading Color'

Today in Books newsletter sponsorship

Some Substack creators use images to enhance their ads. It works well when the ad is relevant to the audience. For example each issue of Today in Books and In Reading Color has an image and link to a featured book.

How to advertise on Substack

Because most Substack writers don't have sponsors, it can be tricky to find publishers who do.

You could try searching on Google (or another search engine). For example, entering a search term like 'sponsored by' or 'brought to you by' will undoubtedly bring up some Substack publications.

However, using these search terms is a bit hit-and-miss when finding newsletters in your niche. And you'll still have to research their subscriber numbers and other data to see if reaching out to them makes sound business sense.

So we recommend you save yourself time and effort by heading straight to Reletter.

1. Find newsletters with Reletter

Reletter is a newsletter database listing valuable information on over one million Substack newsletters.

Start by entering your niche or topic into the search bar. Then, use filters to show newsletters that already do Substack advertising.

Reletter search shows the search bar, filter buttons and a list of newsletter icons and names

Whilst you might have more luck pitching newsletters that already accept sponsors, it's definitely worth considering those in your niche that have never worked with a brand before.

2. Check their subscriber numbers

Select a newsletter to bring up all the data, including subscriber numbers and our unique engagement score (calculated from the growth in readers' comments and likes over the past 180 days.)

Audience data on Reletter. Shows Subscriber numbers (14k), monthly visits to website (2.4k) and engagement score.

3. Compare other data

Reletter also includes links to the newsletter website, the latest issues and associated social media accounts, making it easy to research the topics it covers. Reading a few issues can show you the newsletter's overall tone so you can determine if that would gel with your brand.

You can read their content on Reletter or view the original post on Substack.

Reletter search results: A layered example of (l to r) search results, data page and latest issue text
Search (Sports)+ newsletter information (The Lap Count) + links to several recent issues. 

4. Get their contact info

Choose the blue contact button on the top of a Reletter information page to see the writer's website and email information.

When you find newsletters that fit, make a list so you can contact them later. You can add to an existing list or create a new one by selecting the "Add to List" button (top left.)

The Lap Count Substack on Reletter: shows 4 blue contact buttons: Add to list, Send a pitch, Add a note, Contacts.

Send a pitch

Once you've decided to focus on a particular newsletter, select it from your list and use our handy pitch templates to take away the hassle of deciding what to write.

Choose from our two sponsorship templates or create a new private template if you want to pitch a different idea.

Example of pitch templates on Reletter: Two choices: Alleviate a pain point & Our audience have a lot in common.

Final thoughts

Reletter was designed specifically to help brands and businesses like yours advertise in Substack newsletters. And if you want to branch out into another up-and-coming newsletter platform, we also have 70,000+ LinkedIn newsletters on our database.

What are you waiting for?

Start finding newsletters on Reletter today.

Get started with a 7-day free trial.

Lyn McNamee

Lyn McNamee

Writer at Reletter

Find, contact and get featured in email newsletters

Reletter gives you subscriber numbers, contacts, chart rankings and more across 1.2m+ newsletters.

Lyn McNamee

Lyn McNamee

Writer at Reletter

Find, contact and get
featured in email newsletters

Reletter gives you subscriber numbers, contacts, chart rankings and more across 1.2m+ newsletters.