6 Reasons You Should NOT Use Substack to Launch Your Brand

6 Reasons You Should NOT Use Substack to Launch Your Brand

I see many people use Substack because it is easy and free to set up. There are no themes or plugins. It has a powerful membership and email system built in. Writing is simple in the Substack editor. For many people the platform is ideal.

But if you are trying to create a brand, or launch yourself as a creator Substack is probably not the best. I recommend Ghost instead. It's like WordPress, Medium, and Substack had a baby. In Ghost, there are no plugins or complex themes. But the writing editor is powerful and there are themes to customize your look and feel. Ghost is SO easy and fast to use. It feels like floating on a cloud.

The Ghost editor backend

Ghost replaces WordPress or Squarespace, and provides simple monthly paid memberships and email like Substack. The backend editor is simple with posts, pages, tags, members, and staff. No complex menus or plugins! And there are major newspapers that use Ghost.

Your brand is what you do and how you look. It is everything. Don't sacrifice what makes you unique merely to use Substack.

1. Substack Costs Thousands a Month!

Substack takes 10% plus processing fees for a total of around 13%. If you have 1,000 paid subscribers at $7 each the monthly fee would be $900. Nearly one thousand dollars just to host a blog. Ghost is $20 a month forever through a host like Midnight. If you grow to 5,000 paid subscribers it will cost you $4,500 a month on Substack. You shouldn't spend 5K a month to host a blog. You'll still have to pay the 3% Stripe credit card processing fees on Ghost, but you'll save thousands per month!

2. Your Substack Site Will Look Boring!

You will not be able to create a unique brand or look for your new Substack site. Everyone who uses the platform has nearly the same design. You can change the background color and logo but not much else. Your unique offering will get lost in the sea of bland and boring Substack blogs. And they do not allow customization through HTML or CSS code like Ghost and WordPress do.

Ghost has many fabulous themes that will make you look unique and different from the start. Each theme offers basic control over design but you can always hire a Ghost developer from Upwork. I've customized several Ghost sites and it's only cost me $100-$200. If you need a reliable and low-cost developer let me know!

There are dozens of beautiful Ghost themes

NOTE: If you choose to use Ghost.org for hosting instead of Midnight then it will cost more. They only charge $11 a month but you can only use FREE Ghost themes, not one that you purchased. You can't customize your theme either. If you want to use a theme you purchased the price jumps to $31 in Ghost.org.

3. You Can't Add Menu Items!

Do you want to add a "Services" or "Workshops" page on your site? You can't have them in Substack. It's a minimal blog, not a website. You get one menu item for the About page and that's it. In Ghost, WordPress, or any other web design platform you can easily create your menu but not in Substack. You can only create new blogs or podcasts in Substack and add those to your menu.

Even the few menu items you have will not show up in Substack anytime a follower is reading your posts. Only on the home page of your blog can you see the About or Archive pages.

You don't need separate Squarespace or WordPress sites in addition to your newsletter. Ditch those and move everything to Ghost. It can be your website, newsletter, and blog.

4. You Can't Change Font Size

Many times I read a Substack blog and struggle because the font is too small. Readability is key when launching a website or blog. The user experience is everything. If your followers don't have an enjoyable experience they won't stick around to read your next posts. And you only have a few font choices to pick from. In Ghost, you can use many fonts, including Google fonts.

5. No Pop-Ups or Marketing

You can't add pop-ups or other lead magnets to Substack. In Ghost, you can easily integrate Popupsmart or use Zapier to connect something like Optinmonster. It's not just capturing emails either. There are a ton of ways to use Popupsmart like announcements, banners, and bars.

Ghost also has many built-in integrations with things like Google Analytics or Snipcart which allows full e-commerce capability. Ghost allows merge tags with the email card which allows you to personalize emails with subscriber's names. Substack does not allow merge tags.

WordPress offers the ultimate customization but it's clunky and complex. It's major overkill for most people. Substack's lack of options means little room to expand your business. Ghost is the perfect in-between.

6. Customer Support is Lacking

I recently emailed Substack's customer support with a question. I never heard back. Ever since the company laid off 15% of its staff in 2022 their support has lagged. Years ago they were much quicker to respond. In comparison, I routinely email the Ghost hosting company Midnight and they respond quickly.

↪ Are you launching a Substack or paid newsletter? I can help! Text Angel at 415-483-4408 for a free consultation.

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