Great writeup, Simon! Recommendations has been a game changer both for Substack, and many newsletters on Substack. Mine is in this group: Recommendations increased growth several times.

Since recommendations launched, I'm observing publications which moved off of Substack - finding the 10% fee too high - now moving back, because of the added growth potential via recommendations that doesn't exist if you use a tool like Ghost, ConvertKit, Mailchimp or most newsletter tools.

As far as I know, beehiiv launched something similar the past few days: but that platform is much newer than Substack - aka more risky - and their network will be smaller.

It's impressive how Substack is able to pull off building a platform that has no lock-in, and making the growth tools the moat and lock-in.

Also worth noting how the company is experimenting with several other things of which any could turn into another unfair advantage. Substack acquiring Yem - and integrating messaging to reduce churn - could, for example, turn into an advantage which other platforms also don't have (reduced churn by X%).

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I just took out a paid subscription.

My conscience wouldn’t allow me to continue reading your SS without compensation.

Your informative round-ups, easygoing writing style, and overall good vibes are a winning combination.

(Now let’s talk about changing your SS profile avatar 😉 )

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I think that Beehiiv has just announced its own recommendations function, so maybe this will be less of an advantage going forward.

I have to think at some point, once a publisher hits a certain level of subscriptions, they'd be willing to weather the fuss and temporary hits to move to a different platform if it made sense for them to do so. But they'd need some significant name recognition to be able to do that. Still, the ability to pack up the mailing list and go will always be there.

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I, I had no idea! Excellent commentary from which I have actually learned something. As a writer who is new to Substack, this article has helped me by opening my eyes to the possibilities I have available to me on my Substack.

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Ironic... or should I say "synchronistic" that I wrote an article on "Unfair Advantages" and that's the tile of this post. Substack is definitely using their unfair advantages and I'm glad to be along for the ride!

Post on Unfair Advantage: https://unorthodoxy.substack.com/p/how-to-develop-your-unfair-advantage

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Simon, I looked at those other platforms you mentioned, and they all look awful--hard to use and clunky looking.

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This is my first “issue” with you, and I subscribed via a recommendation. It’s a powerful first impression: high quality content.

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