The rise of Substack is one of the few positive recent developments in media. Substack’s independent platform allows journalists to bypass out-of-touch, far-Left decision-makers and write freely. What’s more, top writers are making money doing it. A lot of money.
According to an estimate from the Financial Times on Wednesday, Glenn Greenwald, Substack’s most notable writer, makes between $80,000 and $160,000 in subscriptions every month and is set to make up to $2 million a year.
“Greenwald has between 20,000 and 40,000 paid subscribers to his newsletter, each contributing at least $5 a month,” Jemima Kelly reports. “Once Substack has taken its standard 10 percent cut, and after payment processing fees, I calculate that Greenwald is left with between $80,000 and $160,000 a month.”
Whether it’s closer to $80,000 a month or $160,000 — a large range — Greenwald didn’t deny the Financial Times’ estimate. In fact, he confirmed that “it’s a lot.”
“It’s obviously way more money than I’ve ever made in journalism before or than I ever thought I would make,” Greenwald says.
Greenwald claims that his subscribers are not necessarily paying for the content, but to support him. Greenwald puts just 10% of his writing behind a paywall and even opens that work up to everyone within 24 hours.
“They’re not paying because they’re getting something in return,” Greenwald said. “They’re paying because they want to support journalism that they think … needs to be heard.”
I found this stunning, assuming that his paywall content drives subscribers to pay.
Greenwald is making TV-like money on Substack. He deserves it, by the way. Since leaving The Intercept in October 2020, accusing the publication of “repression, censorship, and ideological homogeneity,” Greenwald’s Substack content has been some of the best stuff anywhere online.
Matt Yglesias is performing well on the platform too, with around 9,800 paying subscribers. Yglesias, however, took up-front money, which turned out to be a costly mistake:
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) March 19, 2021
Writers can make accounts on Substack and charge subscribers between $5 and $75 a month (don’t do $75). Not all content, as Greenwald shows, has to go behind the paywall either.
For smart, independent, fearless writers — this is a route worth exploring.