One of the co-founders of Substack, Hamish McKenzie, wishes people would stop referring to the “newsletter economy.” He insists that the successful company is not selling a newsletter product and that, “Substack was more like a blog where you could email the posts to your readers.”
The trend that Substack is part of is not a newsletter trend, or even the much-hyped creator economy. We are part of a seismic shift in the media economy that is all about writer and creator ownership and independence. When writers are in charge, they can do the work they believe is most important, have a direct relationship with their readers, and have the potential to make far more money than they could get from being an employee who produces content for others to own and disseminate. Our fellow travelers in this trend are not email service providers or legacy news organizations, but the likes of Shopify, Twitch, Patreon, OnlyFans, and Discord. This subset of the media economy is thriving. It is entirely different to what some people think of when they talk about a “newsletter economy.”
I’m not really sure how McKenzie makes the distinction between what many call “the creator economy,” and what Substack is involved in. He doesn’t really explore that in-depth. He seems to be more interested in comparing Substack to other platforms that have gotten big, without really identifying a common thread that made them popular.
→ Please Stop Calling It the ‘Newsletter Economy’ | Substack