How I Got My First 100 Substack Subscribers

A short, step-by-step guide for new writers.

Maya Sayvanova


Image by Siggy Nowak: Pixabay

Most Substack success stories make my head spin.

Hundreds of thousands of subscribers, 6–7 figures in revenue.

It’s super inspirational but also overwhelming.

If you’re new, these stories sound lightyears ahead of you.

So, let me share my 0–100 subscribers story.

How to Start on Substack

At the beginning of this year, I finally decided to start an e-mail list (after 10 years of postponing).

I had 5K followers on Medium at the time, but few of them were “true fans”.

Other than that, I had no audience.

The first thing I did…

…Was to listen to the big guys and create a few freebies. I started writing on Medium again and ended each article with a link to a freebie leading to a Mailchimp subscription form. I did this for two months.

And I got 0 subscribers.

Not ideal.

So I stopped.

I rethought my strategy. Freebies are great, but how many times have I downloaded a freebie that sounded interesting and then instantly forgotten the name of the person who sent it?

I didn’t want that kind of audience.

I wanted the kind of people who subscribe to my newsletter because they like what I have to say. Because it makes them feel good, it helps them achieve their goals, it moves them forward.

So I changed directions and started a Substack focused on the people I wanted to serve: free-spirited solopreneurs with big dreams.

I launched One-Person Business Success and waited to see if the Substack community would jump on the opportunity to get e-mails from me.

Of course, it didn’t.

I’m in a few writers/freelancers' Facebook groups.

A few days after I started the newsletter, I saw a question I could answer. I answered it and invited the person to subscribe to my newsletter.



Maya Sayvanova

6-Figure Writer | Featured in Business Insider | Helping solopreneurs succeed | Sign up here: