Substack Recommendations: A Full Guide to Cross-Promotion

All newsletter writers start with the same problem; how to find readers.

Whether you've just pressed publish on your first newsletter this week or you've been writing internet articles for years, you need to grow your newsletter subscribers list. With bigger subscriber numbers come more opportunities to monetize your email newsletter with newsletter advertising and sponsorship deals.

A larger audience can also lead to selling products or courses, increasing interest in your work. And as you gather more readers, you have time and incentive to offer more value to encourage more free subscribers to convert to paid subscriptions.

Substack writers are no different. Whether you provide free newsletters or target paid newsletter subscribers, you need to get the word out to an audience that cares about your writing and what it offers them.

Enter Substack Recommendations.

What are Substack Recommendations?

First unveiled in 2022, Substack Recommendations is a cross-promotion tool for newsletter writers who publish on Substack.

As the name suggests, it provides an easy way to highlight, subscribe, share and celebrate other publications and recommend them to new subscribers.

Personal recommendations have never been more powerful. Your subscribers already feel like they know you through your articles, stories and ideas, so they'll give weight to your recommendations.

Newsletter writer recommending another newsletter

However, reaching out to other newsletter writers can be challenging. Substack Recommendations takes the hassle out and makes collaboration a piece of cake.

Where do Substack Recommendations appear?

Newsletter recommendations appear in four different places:

  • In the reader's subscription flow
  • On your siteā€”the home page and the recommendations page
  • In digest emails.

Whenever new readers subscribe, they'll see your list of recommended newsletters. And when you make a new recommendation, Substack lets your current subscribers know via email.

Substack recommendations for Garbage Day newsletter
Recommendations from Ryan Broderick's "Garbage Day" appear in the side bar on the newsletter's Substack homepage. 

How do Substack Recommendations help creators?

They make cross-promotion easier

Cross-promotion between writers who speak to a similar audience is a tried and true way to attract subscribers to your Substack newsletter. But finding other writers in the first place (if they're not already in your network) can be tricky. And newsletter writers may often be too shy or embarrassed to reach out to people they don't know.

Substack Recommendations make cross-promoting easier because it does the reaching out for you.

Of course, you still have to find suitable newsletters in the first place, and there are several ways to do that.

Find newsletters with Reletter

You can:

  • Use the Substack Recommendations from those you already follow and read through the newsletters to find ones you'd be happy to read and subscribe to.
  • Check out the newsletters in their Recommendations. Read some articles in promising newsletters so you can be sure you like their perspective and that they'll fit your audience.
  • Use Reletter's newsletter database to discover even more newsletters in your niche with similar audiences.

They help newsletter advertisers to find your newsletter

With many readers turning away from social media platforms, more brands see newsletter sponsorship as the future of marketing. When they advertise in newsletters, they can bypass all the algorithms on Twitter, Facebook, Google etc., and speak directly to their target audience.

Marketers are using Reletter to help them find and research suitable newsletters. Reletter provides direct links to newsletters from Substack Recommendations in the Related section of each Substack newsletter in the database.

So advertisers will find you more easily if your newsletter pops up in the Related Section of the free and paid newsletters they're researching on Reletter.

Related Substack newsletters on Reletter
A few of the best Substack newsletters recommended by Genevieve Roch-Decter who writes the popular Grit Capital newsletter. 

How to cross-promote your newsletter

Find newsletters in your niche

Search on Reletter using the topic search bar.

Search newsletters by topic on Reletter
Reletter gives you four ways of searching for newsletters: Topic, Title, Author and Issues. 

Substack Recommendations are most useful for writers and readers when people highlight publications they genuinely enjoy and think their audience would find valuable. So when you select a newsletter, read some previous issues to make sure the audience aligns with yours and that it consistently publishes worthwhile content.

Latest newsletter issues on Reletter
Reletter's information page on "Letters from An American" by Heather Cox Richardson provides easy links to her latest issues. You can read them on Reletter or go to the original post on Heather's Substack site.

Check their popularity metrics

If you're a small newsletter, you won't have much luck reaching out to writers with millions of subscribers. Use Reletter to assess subscriber numbers, engagement and social media action before you decide to contact them.

Newsletter data on Reletter
Upgrade from the free Reletter version to discover subscriber numbers, monthly visitor numbers and how engaged readers are with each newsletter. 

Send an email

Some writers prefer to reach out to potential cross-promotion partners in their niche before they add them to their Substack Recommendations list. Reletter makes contacting other newsletter writers easy by providing contact info and email templates.

Mention you're interested in adding them to your recommendations and give them reasons to reciprocate.

Some writers are happy to cross-promote in this way. Others prefer to only work with people they already know or follow. So it often helps if you subscribe to the free edition of the newsletter and make yourself known to the writer by posting helpful comments in Substack and on social media before you email them directly.

Newsletter pitch templates on Reletter
Reletter currently offers two cross-promotion proposal templates. Or you can create a new template and save it to use in future pitches too

How to add partners to your Substack recommendations

  1. Go to Settings on your Substack home page and select Publication Details from the left-hand menu.
  2. Scroll down to "recommend other publications on Substack" and click the button to bring up a recommended newsletters page. If you're a seasoned Substack writer, you'll see a list of newsletters you've already endorsed. However, if you haven't pressed publish on your newsletter yet, there'll be a list of newsletters you subscribe to.
  3. Select Add Recommendation.
  4. Search for the newsletter you plan to recommend and write a blurb explaining why you consider it one of the best Substack newsletters and why your readers might enjoy it too.
  5. Click Add Recommendation to add the newsletter to your recommended newsletters list.
Manage Substack newsletter recommendations

You can recommend as many Substack newsletters as you like, but Substack will only display seven on your page. If you have more than seven recommendations, the platform will show a random selection.

How will I know if other writers recommend me?

If another writer recommends your newsletter, Substack will tell you about it. If you recommend them, Substack will let them know about that too.

If the writer already subscribes to your publication, they'll get an email that notifies them of your recommendation and encourages them to reciprocate.

However, if the writer doesn't subscribe to your work, they won't find out until your recommendation actually generates new subscribers. Then Substack will let them know you've added their weekly newsletter to your list. If you wrote a blurb, Substack will include it in the email, too.

That's one reason you might consider contacting other writers via Reletter. If they don't know you directly, emailing them through Reletter can put you on their radar. If they enjoy reading your Substack newsletter and want to reciprocate, getting an advance email can kickstart the process.

And if you are already on their list, sending personal emails may strengthen your ties in the Substack community.

Get Substack newsletter recommendations with Reletter

Finally, there's also a Recommendations tab on your Substack dashboard. Select it to see three sections:

  • Your newsletter recommendations
  • Publications that recommend you
  • How many subscribers you've gained from those recommendations.

Final thoughts

Two complementary ways exist to find the best Substack newsletters that interest you and benefit your audience.

  1. Use Substack Recommendations
  2. Search on Reletter.

You can recommend writers who've already mentioned you on their Substack newsletter page. Or, you can search through the recommendations of like-minded writers to find other publications in your niche.

Use Reletter to:

  • Find more information on newsletters you already know
  • Search for new newsletters in your niche
  • Check their stats
  • Find related newsletters
  • Get contact information
  • Make contact with a newsletter writer

Claim your free 7-day trial to find Substack newsletters on Reletter today.

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.