Substack Notes: A quick take

My initial interest in Substack has grown into a craft. I spend as much time there or more than I am currently on my flagship blog on WordPress.

You might remember from yesterday in the weekly newsletter that I have been experimenting with the new feature Substack Notes. Many people have been writing about the new feature, perhaps better than I have because I have to still classify myself as a novice when it comes to a deep understanding of social media and online communities. Someone like Laura Jedeed is more of a twitter veteran than me, and the writer Michael Estrin had a nice pocket analysis on Notes that I somewhat ironically discovered on notes, then decided to subscribe to him[1].

However, whatever my lack of experience in these matters (or Substack, to be honest), I wanted to share some of my initial thoughts on Substack notes after spending a couple of days (especially today) test driving the new service, which became available to all Substack users last week[2]. To summarize my reaction, I would paraphrase Leonardo DiCaprio’s famous line from Django Unchained:

…you had my curiosity. But now you have my attention.

Is It Exactly Like Twitter?

Sort of in look and feel, but not necessarily in function and process.

You can publish a “Note” which, technically, you can make to be as long as any post or newsletter you want, from my observation. From my experience, however, you are not tempted to do so. It seems to be a fine medium for a few paragraphs at the very most, or a sentence and/or interesting link at the very least.

You have the ability to “restack” Notes from other users if you so wish, and it’s about as smooth as the retweet feature on Twitter. I have an iPhone Mini, and I do use the Substack app on that. Notes is fully functional on the app[3].

It’s not as easy to post links to Notes, such as Substack posts, Facebook items, things on Reddit, but it is possible. Once you master the copy link button, you can usually make things work.

I’ll be very curious as to whether certain people decide to rediscover their Twitter instincts on Notes. My guess is that there might be those sorts of people on here, but the payoff that you get on Twitter from retweets and engagement is not going to be there. The algorithm is not pushing anything because this site is based on subscriptions and not advertising. However, I did notice that there is already a block and report option, so that was good to see.


In short, this is a tentative thumbs up for me. I am hoping it doesn’t descend into a free-for-all, but for right now all that is happening is that I get a lot more notices since Substack informs me about new Notes as well as posts.

What Am I Going to Use it For?

It makes sense for me to use Notes for those shorter items, or general thoughts that I don’t send to Twitter anymore. However, the vast majority of those posts will be either directly or indirectly related to the craft of writing.

I’m also using it to find new writers who produce some very interesting material. I want to get to know them, and let them know I appreciate their work by more than just subscribing to their Substack. I’d also like my readers to know about those writers, just like I do in my weekly newsletter.

It might be another good way to let everyone know what I’m writing about as well. I like Substack Chat, but so far that hasn’t been too effective in letting the community know what is going on and reaching out to the wider community. Substack Chat is a great tool for live interaction with readers and others, so I am glad that is still an option.

I wonder if some of the cooler writers around here might start responding to my notes, or restacking what I post. That would be way cool.

While I do appreciate you following this blog, I really would like you to subscribe to my Substack page. By subscribing to that page, you’ll not only be receiving my Substack newsletter, The Writing Life With Jason Liegois (the companion blog to this one), but you’ll also be signing up for my email list. I will eventually be opening some special contests, offers, and first looks at original fiction, poems, and other items. Just click the button below.


  1. What follows could very well reflect some of Michael’s thoughts, so I happily acknowledge any influence they might have on what follows.
  2. I was thinking about making this a paid subscriber post only, but since so many Substack users would be trying this service out, I wanted to have as many people see it as possible. You’ll get an exclusive post next week, promise.
  3. It would be awesome if I was able to post and edit posts on the Substack app, but unfortunately that’s not a feature yet.

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