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Substack Will Not Make You a Living

January 20, 20234 min read

"This is some of the worst advice I've ever heard."

This is what I thought to myself as I listened to a presentation on Tuesday morning.

It was the first lecture of a cohort course I recently signed up for.

The course is about making a living from your intellectual work, and it introduced one of the worst knowledge distribution models out there.

This is problematic because of three reasons:

  1. Intellectuals and creatives who follow such advice will end up disenchanted and broke.

  2. Their valuable knowledge work will go unnoticed and underappreciated.

  3. They'll come away thinking their intellectual work isn't valuable when, in reality, it's their knowledge distribution model that is the problem.

I signed up for the cohort course because I find the instructor to be a clever character.

However, I believe the strategy he laid out is some of the worst advice intellectuals and online creators can follow.

How do I know this?

Because I used to give the very same advice, and it turned out to be wrong!

I won't be a dick and leave it a mystery, so here it is: The instructor's advice was to set up a Substack and publish like crazy.

If your goal is to make an impact on your 1,000 true fans, and also make money from your creative and intellectual work, then my advice is this:


Look, I get the rationale behind advice such as, "Write about your topic and then tweet about it."

You would think it would "magically" attract people interested in what you have to say.

Yet, in reality, it doesn't attract the volume of people necessary to warrant the effort.

Look, writing is hard. It takes a lot of life energy to do on a regular basis.

If your goal is to make a living with your intellectual work, you shouldn't give it away for free.

If you're married to blogging, then do it for the sake finding your voice. I don't say this derisively. Finding your writing voice is important.

However, if your goal is to make a living off Substack (in the form of paid subscribers), then think again. The economics of such are piss poor.[1]

"So what's the alternative, Scott? (You snarky, negative asshole)."

I'm glad you asked.

The alternative is a knowledge distribution model that requires one-tenth the life energy of Substack.

The alternative model frees your mind to focus on your actual output (books, physical periodicals, courses, software, consulting, etc.).

Moreover, this alternate model results in people knowing you, liking you and trusting you much faster than writing on Substack.

Most importantly (at least for me), this knowledge distribution model is simple.

I'd rather do the most important 20% and get 80% of the results, and spend the other 80% of my time for activities like reading, thinking, and writing.

If you're interested in learning this model, then get ready for Issue No. 2 of The Scott Scheper Letter.

I lay out the model in explicit detail, and provide a fantastic diagram illustrating how it all works.

The diagram even shows how the Antinet (aka, knowledge development) fits into the model.

As a knowledge worker, your life revolves around two activities: knowledge development and knowledge distribution.

The upcoming issue is something you're going to reference for a long time.

Now, before I close out, I need to confess something about the upcoming issue… Here is my confession:


Yes, I did, and I'm a very naughty boy!

You see, I told you that future issues of The Scott Scheper Letter wouldn't be 24 pages.

I told you I'd try and get each issue down to 16 to 20 pages, so that they wouldn't feel like homework.

Well, I lied. I couldn't help myself. The upcoming issue is going to be 24 pages.

I tried to cut it down, but every single word is too important to leave out.

I trust you'll be OK with this. Here's a reason why:

Not only will the upcoming issue contain the best knowledge distribution model out there, it also contains:


Get ready. The upcoming issue of The Scott Scheper Letter might be the best thing I've ever written.

If you are not yet a subscriber, you have until Thursday, January 26 at 11:59 p.m. PT to subscribe in time to receive Issue No. 2.

Here's a link to get a free 1-month trial (as well as five free Antinet Zettelkasten gifts) for only the cost of shipping ($7.60):

Warm regards,

And stay crispy, my friend.

Scott P. Scheper

"A Man Who Is Waging War on Substack"

Scott P. Scheper

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