I’m diving into the evolving world of social media with three incredible guests who are making waves on Substack. Kathleen Oh, Becky Mollenkamp, and Tara McMullin share their unique journeys and insights into why they left traditional social media platforms behind and found success on Substack.

In this episode, Kathleen discusses her journey from being banned on Instagram to thriving on Substack by discussing safe psychedelic use. Becky shares how she transitioned from traditional email marketing to Substack, finding a sense of relief and community. Tara talks about her experience in leaving ConvertKit and focusing on Substack to explore the future of work and online business.

This episode is packed with valuable insights for anyone looking to redefine their online presence and build authentic connections.

In this episode of the podcast, we talk about:

  • Using Substack to foster a genuine community
  • Ways to monetize content on Substack
  • How to leverage Substack’s features for better engagement
  • Key tips for maintaining authenticity in your online presence
  • Rebuilding your audience after being banned
  • The collaborative writing community that lives on Substack
  • Concerns about the future of Substack

This Episode Was Made Possible By:

Riverside All-in-One Podcast & Video Platform
Visit Riverside and use the code DREA to get 15% off any Riverside individual plan. We use it to record all our podcast interviews!

Social Media Day Summit
Social media is not dead. It is simply evolving. And that's what we're exploring at the Social Media Day Summit.

Join me and my fellow experts on June 30th as we dive into innovative strategies and timeless tactics designed to empower social media marketers, freelancers, agency owners, and anyone else ready to take their social media strategy to the next level. Grab your ticket today for $10!

About the Guests:

Becky Mollenkamp is a business accountability coach who guides entrepreneurs through the transition from small business owner to agency CEO (without selling their soul).

Feminist Founders Podcast

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and critic. She's the creator of What Works, a podcast and newsletter that rethinks work, business, and leadership for the 21st-century economy. Tara uses critical theory, philosophy, and economics to make sense of both systemic challenges and everyday practice. She's also the co-founder of YellowHouse.Media, a boutique audio and video production agency that helps changemakers create remarkable media. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, Quartz, and The Muse.

What Works Podcast

Kathleen Oh (she/her) is an Integration Coach, writer, and advocate for safe drug use, specializing in psychedelics. With over 25 years of experience in mental health, she's been in private practice since 2007. Kathleen's coaching services are tailored to support individuals navigating high-stress, high-performance careers, prioritizing their personal growth and well-being.


Watch the Episode Below:


Andréa Jones (00:00):
Today I am excited to dive into the world of Substack marketing, which is a platform that's not just about newsletters. There's a lot of community building elements with a comment section, with resharing, with posting notes. And I have amazing guests today that I read their substack, I follow their substack, I love them, and I want to learn more about how they're using them to market their business. We're going to dive into that after our commercial break. You are listening to the Mindful Marketing Podcast. I'm Andréa Jones.

I've recorded over 300 podcast episodes. Yeah, it's a lot of podcast episodes and I've tried a lot of different virtual recording studios, but my favorite has been Riverside. Riverside makes their virtual recording studio look so profess. My guests love it. Plus I also low key love recording YouTube videos in here as well because it's so easy to use. My team also loves Riverside because it spits out separate audio video tracks making editing easy, breezy, lemon squeezy. And if you want a little magic, they've got this tool called Magic Clips, which uses AI to take your video and turn it into perfect social media sized videos. I'm talking vertical videos for TikTok and Instagram, Facebook reels, all the places you can post these videos with the captions included, and you don't have to hunt and search for that perfect clip. So if you want to try this out for yourself, click the link that goes with this video. Or if you're listening to the audio on the podcast, it's in the show notes. Okay, click that link. Use the 15% off coupon code. It's Drea, DREA and try Riverside for yourself. Thank you, Riverside.

Alright, welcome to the show. I'm excited to kick things off. So I'm going to start with Kathleen, Kathleen Oh, who I've known for years and years and years. Tell us a little bit about you and your Substack.

Kathleen Oh (02:03):
Yes, thank you. And Andrea, it's so lovely to see you, and it has been years and years. I'm an integration coach. My coaching has evolved through the years. Mostly what I do now is work with entrepreneurs or business owners in their a desire to be more authentic in their life and in their business. And those two parts of themselves line up. I'm a social media outcast because of the nature of my work with psychedelics. I've wrestled with social media over the last four to five years. I was kind of a latecomer for social media because my business was brick and mortar since 2007. But in 2019 when I really embodied this psychedelic work, I brought myself back onto social media, but the fight was long and hard and eventually they won. And I have been banned off Instagram multiple times because of the talking about drug use. So I migrated over to Substack and the purpose of that was to be able to have open and honest conversations about safe drug use and the use of psychedelics for healing and growth.

Andréa Jones (03:32):
Yes, awesome. And I'm going to dive into that too because I kind of was creeping on your whole journey with social media and then also the banning from social media. So we'll talk about that as well. But next up on the show today we have Becky Mollenkamp who is an accountability coach. Becky, tell us a little bit about how you started founded Feminist Founders. I feel like I was at the beginning of that journey as well, and then how you developed your substack.

Becky Mollenkamp (04:01):
Yeah, I started my email marketing on one of the, I think rarer few folks out there who have abandoned traditional email marketing for Substack entirely. I don't use another email marketing platform anymore. And for me it was because I had gotten to a place of feeling this negative energy as I was typing emails to my email list of why am I giving you all of this stuff and I'm paying to email you and you're not buying anything anyway, because my clients come through referral and I was like, this isn't how you should feel when you're marketing your business. You shouldn't feel resentment towards the people you're trying to sell things to. And so when I learned about Substack, I was like, wait a minute. I could get paid to send emails instead of paying to send emails. I like this idea and I don't want to send marketing emails.

I don't want to send salesy emails. It wasn't what I was doing. Anyway. So with feminist founders, it started as a podcast. The substack came along for the ride as a way to support hopefully for the two to support each other. And eventually I was enjoying substack so much that I was like, I'm just ditching email marketing and going all in on Substack. And I'm getting to a place like Kathleen, not because of being banned from social media, but also feeling a similar level of frustration with social media that I was with email marketing and enjoying notes so much on substack, which I'm sure we can talk about that I'm getting, I'm edging ever so much closer to saying I'm going to just leave social media too and just really be all in there. And feminist founders is for business owners who are wanting to do business in a more equity centered way.

Andréa Jones (05:38):
Awesome. Yes, thank you, Becky. Love that. I've been seeing your Threads, so I understand your feelings on social media. A lot of people feel this way as well. Tara, I'd love to go to you. I think you were the very first stack that I followed and then also upgraded. And so it was like for me, the learning of like, oh, this is what this platform's about, but tell us about the transition to taking what works over to Substack and what it looks like today.

Tara McMullin (06:10):
Yeah, so I switched about a year ago also from ConvertKit and canceled my ConvertKit account, not because they're not a wonderful company with a great product, but because I wanted to do something different, which was just focus on my writing and podcasting as I'd been doing for the last couple of years. So I switched all of my folks over to Substack when notes rolled out, and it's been great to just focus on writing and think about writing and think about the podcast through a writer's eyes. And it's been really great. So I have some qualms, I have some questions still when I think about how I use the platform and what the platform's about and who's there and all of those things. But by and large, it's been a really good change. And I think probably unlike a lot of people, or at least a lot of people who are going to be listening to this, my Substack is not about marketing a business. I don't think about it as marketing. Very similar to what Becky said. It is a newsletter that I write and that people support, and that's what it is. And I know a lot about marketing, but at the same time, I write about all sorts of different things and don't use it as marketing. So that's my deal.

Andréa Jones (07:41):
Yeah, I find it fascinating that that theme seems to echo and everyone's answer, which is this Substack marketing channel is really a communication tool with your community members. It's a way to share with them and maybe open conversations with them in a different way. One of the things that I love about substack is the comment section. I find that it's different than ConvertKit where someone can reply to an email, but that feels different somehow than the public comment of acknowledging something. And also, I love that I can highlight something and then also just share it really quickly with the people at my network say, here's what I'm reading. I loved this piece of it. Go read the whole thing. So it definitely has that community vibe as well. I'll open this question up to the floor. Was there a key moment where you knew that Substack was working for you?

Kathleen Oh (08:43):
For me, the deliverability of Substack is pretty substantial over anything that I've used before. So the readership really increased and I would say the engagement increased with the platform. And so I think that that was definitely a turning point, and that has remained consistent for me throughout the entire time that I've been with,

Andréa Jones (09:08):
Yeah. Okay. So building the community through readership, Becky or Tara, any moments where you were like, ah, it's working?

Tara McMullin (09:18):
I would say for me, I was very lucky when I switched over, actually, let me back up. I did a substack experiment at the end of 2022 where I hosted a that I sold is pay what you want actually through. This was before I'd ditched all of that, and I liked the community aspects. I liked how it made me want to write, and just the experience of the platform was conducive to how I like to operate online. So that was nice. And so from there, I kept thinking and kept thinking about making the switch. And then when they rolled out notes and I was like, well, this seems great because now I will have a social media place that I can hang out that also just completely ties in to my goals and what I actually want to be doing. And so that was when I decided to make the move.

And in that process of getting what works set up on Substack, one of the partner success team, I think this is what they call them, folks reached out to me who happened to have been an old contact of mine from Creative Live, and she was like, Hey, I don't know if you remember me. Of course I remembered her, but do you want to hop on Zoom and talk about Substack? I'm happy to answer any questions you have. And so from there, I was lucky enough from that connection to get featured to have an article in Substack reads over a weekend. And so I can't say that it was any one moment, but it was sort of everything that I had hoped would happen as part of moving to Substack, the deliverability, the list growth, the back and forth, the quality of people and discourse that I now had access to. All of that just fell into place in a few weeks, and then people started paying for it and it was wonderful.

Andréa Jones (11:35):
I love that. And I have a follow-up question, Tara, because in the midst of all of that, I believe you also did your book launch. Was that at the same time as the Substack or where did the book launch fall into play with launching Substack and how did that help or hurt?

Tara McMullin (11:51):
Yeah, so the book launched in November, 2022. I moved to Substack in April, 2023. So there was actually a pretty, what felt like a long period of time. I suppose it really isn't, but there was a pretty big gap between those two things. What I'll say about that though is that I had good momentum coming off of the book launch. Plenty of people who had interviewed me on podcasts, the book was being featured, I was being featured, and it got renewed attention in January of 2023. It's a book about goal setting and that's what you do. And so I was in a good position where I didn't feel like I had to be promoting the book hardcore in this new place, but at the same time, I had momentum from that launch.

Andréa Jones (12:44):
Okay, interesting. Yeah, interesting how everything plays together too. I'd be curious to see how as your subset grows other areas of the work that you do grow. Becky, I'd love to hear from you as well. Was there a key moment where you were like, ah, Substack is working for me?

Becky Mollenkamp (13:03):
Yeah, I was going to point out a couple and first just say that I hope to be Tara someday when I grow up. I've seen what she's doing. And she's one of those folks that you look at and say like, oh, that's the kind of success I hope to get to on Substack, which I know for Tara, she's probably like, no, I want to get to another place, but I would love to get just to that place. But for me, the first place of success felt like when I started it and the immediate relief I felt, so the internal success was right away of feeling like, this just feels better, it feels easier, the lift feels lower, the reward feels greater. I'm getting feedback from people, and I just could feel such a difference from when I was in. And again, nothing bad about ConvertKit.

I loved it. I used it for a really long time, but it was a different mindset when I was inside of that tool, that tool felt like I was there to sell things, what it was designed for, just something about being in the Substack platform felt different. I didn't feel that like, oh my gosh, if they don't buy anything, then I failed. It just felt more like if I'm putting this out and people are receptive to it than I've done what I wanted to do, and I could feel that relief immediately. And then about six months later, about halfway to where I'm at in the journey coming up on a year, I joined, I think, well, I had some success on Threads, and as much as I said I can't stand social media, there was another sort of turning point there where I was getting a real influx of new subscribers from my efforts through Threads only because it was the only link I have in my bio on Threads, and people were finding their way, and it started to become this first real influx of new subscribers that were new to me, new to my world, and finding me.

And that felt like, okay, I can get new traffic to this thing and have it work. And then I would say most recently has been using notes. It's been around, I just haven't used it until recently, and I've started to discover like, oh, this actually feels a whole lot better than or X because I can show up. And so far the community inside of Threads, I've not had a single rude or hateful comment or anything inside of notes, and I cannot say the same for Threads, which is daily. I'm getting negative stuff now. It's a smaller audience. That's part of it, but I also just think it's a better audience. So I've had multiple checkpoints where I've been internally, it's feeling better externally, it's feeling better, and now I'm actually starting to see like, oh, the platform itself is going to help me with my business.
Andréa Jones (15:22):
Yeah, that's beautiful. I love to see it, and I love being the fly on the wall to all of you and going, oh, look what they're doing. I love it. So thank you for allowing me to pick your brain. We're going to take a quick break, and when we come back, I have specific questions for each of you about your substack success when we get back.

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All right, and we're back. So Kathleen, I want to start with you because I find your approach to Substack interesting out of our panelists here. You're the only one who doesn't have a subscription model on your substack. However, it is very closely tied to the work that you do. It's so deeply personal, the work that you do, and also it's in reading your newsletters, it feels like a nod to what you do without going too deep into the weeds of like, here's specifically what you do with psychedelics, which is different from your approach to social media. So that very long question is all about, I want to just dig deeper into how you approach Substack and how it ties into your business model. Give us all the details.

Kathleen Oh (17:11):
That's a good question. So I think Substack is just a place for me to be myself, and that what I know about working with clients in this realm, often people, it's a really big trust building experience because I think that there's a lot of stuff that goes on that is quite shady, and people are, there's a tendency to, I would say, be disingenuine about processes and people's healing, and that I think I can display my work as part of who I am, and that really what Substack has done for me is allow me to speak openly about that. And it's not a great marketing model. I have to be honest. It's not sexy. I get a vulnerability hangover often with some of the things that I share. But what I do know is that the work that people are looking for is at that depth, what they want for themselves, I feel I have to offer within myself for them to see as a model of growth and opportunity.

And I think with what I learned in all of the years with Instagram, and it was that people just didn't, they had a lot of opinions about it and weren't kind. When people are being honest, what I've done with Substack is just shown parts of myself that I feel people can relate to. It feels like a safe place for that. I don't have a paid tier, but people can voluntarily pay and they do. I get pledges and it feels like I wish I could have a conversation with the people that pay me. I don't. There's nothing other than just their kindness and their generosity that shows up in my Stripe account. So it is there, and I do know people see the value in it, even though I don't promote it in that way. And I am grateful. I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be heard and that people do value it.

Andréa Jones (19:37):
Yes. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Kathleen. Do you find that there's a different energetic experience with Substack versus, I saw your work on TikTok, for instance. There was moments where you had really viral videos and then also the vitriol in the comments that comes with that. How does that experience compare to what your experience has been like on Substack so far?

Kathleen Oh (20:10):
Oh, they are not comparable. Honestly, TikTok, I felt like I was slaying dragons every day, and in some ways I enjoyed it. Other days, I was completely burnt out, and I had several viral videos on TikTok. The one that went most viral had 9 million views, and I don't even know how many comments, but it wasn't so much about the comments, it was about the other TikTok producers that were coming after me. And so it was a friendly place until there was these divisive opinions, which is fine. I can handle those conversations, but it's all free labor, and it's a place where my energetically and emotionally and intellectually can be challenged, but only to a certain point. And that does not happen on Substack, that there are people that challenge me and I am fine with it. I actually welcome it and want it. I don't want to be speaking into an echo chamber.

But with TikTok, it was a lot of keyboard warriors. It was a lot of people that just actually wanted to be divisive and opinionated and unclear on what they were talking about. And to be honest, it made me much more clear on what I was talking about because there were things that I was questioning because I was being questioned. And I thankfully learned that there's more than one way to read science, and I'm not a scientist. So the things that I shared sometimes were with a very skewed lens, and I had my hand slapped a couple times, and I was able to be a better practitioner and a better person on social media, and I was able to take responsibility. And so I don't think that that would've happened had I not had those opportunities, those growth opportunities with the viral experience. And it is kind of fun to say it went viral, and I also got burnt out and laid down and lick my wounds for a few years while I recovered.

Andréa Jones (22:42):
Awesome. Thank you. It froze a little bit, but I feel like I got most of what you said. The interesting thing about your reflections is that they're not new, not even to this podcast. About five episodes before this one, I interviewed Meg Griffith who had a very similar experience on TikTok where it was good until it wasn't. There is this culture on some of the social platforms, many of them where conversation becomes very divisive very quickly, and people frankly argue for the sake of arguing instead of having conversations for the sake of clarity. And I do think that Substack offers something different there. Maybe that's just my bubble and the substack that I subscribe to, but I do see a very marked difference in how the community on Substack wants to have conversation and wants to have conversation for clarity and not conversation just to argue with people. So thank you for sharing that. I love the work that you're doing there. I want to go over to Becky next. Becky, one of the interesting things that I find about feminist founders is that, yes, you have the podcast on there, but you also have other people contributing work to the feminist founders. It's a collective experience. So talk to me about that decision and how that has added how the various voices has added to the work that you're doing.

Becky Mollenkamp (24:16):
Yeah, it's twofold. One in that trying to keep up with the cadence while also being a mom and a business owner, I still have to coach to make income, have to want to get to, but coaching is still a part of the main bread and butter for my business, making money on Substack, but not a lot of money on Substack right now. I hope that will change. So one, it was just I can't carry the weight of it and deliver the amount of content I want to be putting out. I know I could put out a small post a month or something, but that's just not how I wanted it to show up. That wasn't the cadence I wanted, and so I couldn't do it alone. And it's also really reflective of my values around community. And so I like that, that I'm getting to introduce people to other voices.

I'm getting to be in collaboration with other people who share values. So it felt really good, and it also selfishly lifts a weight for me, and it's also in service of a bigger vision I'm holding for feminist founders. That's a long way out, I'm sure. But I tell people I want to make the Forbes meets Bell hooks. I want to create a media space for people who care about doing business differently. That is that place that you go to where you care about equity and social justice as a business owner. And the first step towards that to me felt like how do I decenter myself from this because I don't want it to be Huffington Post and it's Ariana Huffington. I wanted to be a space that is feminist founders, and I happen to be the editor of the space, but it's not just my voice.

And so the first step towards the baby step that I could do now felt like how can I bring other voices into this experience? And so I have a lot guest writers, and they're all doing it because they want to amplify their own voices because they care about me, they care about the mission, and so they're doing it for free because I'm not making a lot of money. And I guess the side benefit of it ends up becoming, some of these folks also have Substack. So there's that cross-promotion piece. A good friend of mine, Daisy Gillespie, I'll call her out since we're talking about Substack, and she has a really nice size substack called Unflattering, and we happen to be very old friends. We live in the same city, and we were mastermind partners, so she did a substack for me, and she carries weight in the same way, Tara, you have weight in that space that many of us don't have and that we're trying to build.

And being able to collaborate with other folks on the space who have a bigger following is a huge opportunity that inside of substack that you don't get when you're using this. Although I know that they're now trying to compete in the same way, but you get this opportunity to say, look, look, there's this other audience and I want you to learn about this person. I mean, Daisy just recently commented on a post that someone shared on my Substack two months ago, and her comment has brought in a giant influx of new subscribers. And I think it's really interesting for the people who have that kind of weight to think about how to use that weight. And it's really a wonderful opportunity for some of us who don't yet have that weight to begin to maximize our reach. So there's a lot of reasons that I use guest writers. Some of them are, well, I think ultimately they're all kind of selfish, but other than I do really want to amplify the voices of other folks and be in community with people, and this allows me to do that. Yeah.

Andréa Jones (27:27):
So how do you decide what's going behind the paywall when you have guest writers? Are all of their submissions kind of like the public facing ones, or how do you make that decision?

Becky Mollenkamp (27:40):
Yeah, this is still ever, it's always a work in progress trying to figure this piece out because I don't have a lot of paid subscribers yet, so that audience is so much smaller. And the last thing I would want to do is say, Hey, come give me your free labor, and then I'm going to show it to the tiniest fraction of people that I have in this audience. So everything I do that other people write absolutely goes to the entire subscriber base because it just feels fair. I'm not paying you. So the least I can do is allow you to have maximum reach. And what goes behind the paywall right now is primarily community stuff, anything that's happening outside of Substack. So I host a monthly forum where I have panelists come in. It was actually right before this call, and it was beautiful. It's like the space where we get together and have really intimate, wonderful conversations about things that are at that intersection of business and social justice.

Today we were talking about what does collaboration look like when you are looking at it through this more equitable lens, which felt really wonderful as I was going into this collaborative experience. So anything like that that I'm doing off of Substack is for paid subscribers. I also host coworking sessions, and I'm always thinking about how else do I add to that, the writing piece. So far anyway, I just feel like I want everyone to see these amazing things that if I'm writing it, I want everyone to see it. I feel proud of it. If I am sharing other people's voice, I want everyone to see it because they did this labor and people should get to see it. So yeah, paywall is always, it's an interesting thing, trying to navigate that.

Andréa Jones (29:11):
Yeah, I think it's always an interesting choice too, the ones that I subscribe to, because I do feel like a kid who's gotten to go into the candy jar, I can see, oh, if you're a free subscriber, your content's here, but the paid people, here's all the rest of stuff. And I'm like, Ooh, I get more stuff. So as a community member, it does feel good as well to see that. So I'm always curious how that works behind the scenes. So thank you for sharing that, Tara. I'd like to go to you next. You also have a paid tier. You also host workshops and things, I believe for the paid tier. What else is, and we have special articles for us too. Am I missing anything in the paid tier?

Tara McMullin (29:58):
So I have free workshops that happen every quarter, and I have premium articles slash podcast episodes, and then folks also get a discount on any premium workshops I offer. So last week I did a big workshop on world building for business owners, and my premium subscribers got 25% off the registration for that. So that's another perk. Oh, and comments. So the other perk for paying subscribers is that they're the only ones who can leave comments, because while I do value dialogue on my work, I'm also very rejection sensitive. And I think that for me and my emotional, psychological, neurological makeup, it makes the most sense to have that space open for people who are invested at some level in that work. And so I figure free subscribers can always find me on notes. It's not like I'm unreachable, but I only have my comments open for paid subscribers and only have my email replies open for paid subscribers. And I know there are varying opinions on both of those things, but I think that it's a safety feature, it's a psychological safety feature. And I think for those who need it or want it, it's a really powerful move to say, this is my boundary.

Andréa Jones (31:38):
Yeah. Oh, I think it would be interesting for social platforms to adopt that as well, because platforms like Instagram for instance, also have a paid section and there is a separate comment section, but everyone can still comment on your own, your public posts and in your direct messages. And so I do find that interesting, especially as social media and community online shifts, the smaller pockets of people, I think we're all going to find a lot more nourishment from those conversations versus the randoms, which I know randoms can come into the community, but sometimes being open to everyone just feels, I feel so exposed personally all the

Tara McMullin (32:19):
Time when I do that.

Andréa Jones (32:20):
So I feel you there. Yeah. One of the questions I have for you is how you approach your work. And this is a larger question because it goes beyond just substack, but a lot of the work that you do analyzes the norms of being in the online business space while also being a person in the online business space. As a thought leader, I'm always curious when I read your work, because you so beautifully balance the two calling out and also saying, well, here's what I'm observing and exposing this, and here's how we can make this better. Or here's my thought process on how I'm making this better. What is your process to your work and how you balance the push and pull of not skewing too negative and complaining about the online space, but also being helpful and adding rich insight to the conversation?

Tara McMullin (33:16):
Yeah, I think that the last few years for me have been a real existential search for who I am in this space in general. And where I've kind of ended up, and certainly where my substack, the premise of my substack is sort of the future of work, because I think the future of work looks a lot more like what we think of as online business than what we think of as the traditional nine to five. I mean, with all of the layoffs that we've seen in media and tech over the last few years, a lot of those people have just been scooped right back up into contractor jobs. And even if they're just working from home now and don't think of themselves as business owners or entrepreneurs, they're very much working in the same containers that we all are. And so that's one way that I make that balance is it's not online business, this or online business that, but instead, how are we moving forward into this strange new world of work and what are the systems and structures that we can question as we make that journey together?

So that's one piece. Another piece is that I really don't think of myself as being in the online business world anymore. It is something that I'm very familiar with after 15 plus years. It's something that all of our podcasting clients in my other company are involved with in one way or another. But I don't think of myself as a thought leader in the online business space. I'm way more interested in being an analyst, being a critic, and I kind of think about my mode of critique and analysis as sense-making. And so one of the things that I'm always trying to do, especially when I am in a critique mode, is to think where are the confusing bits here? And what do I know that can help people make sense of this? What's my framework for thinking about this? What's a philosophical or sociological or political or economic idea that I can bring in to help people feel like you're not crazy, you're not imagining things, this is hard, or this shouldn't be like this, or this should be like this.

And really put that all out on paper as coherently as possible, or not paper, digital paper, I guess, and use that as my sort of north star toward navigating that space where, no, I don't want to be insulting people's businesses. I don't want to be calling people out for whatever practices they have. And I also always want to be acknowledging that doing business work in general in this economy is always a compromise. If you have values for social justice, if you are a radical feminist, if you are a leftist like me, you're making a compromise just by living have to, there is no perfect way to do anything. And so that's also something that I really hold in terms of navigating the space is everyone's going to make a slightly different decision. And that's great. We don't all need to be doing the same thing. I don't need to tell you what I think is stupid or dumb or wrong. What I need to do is make sense of it for you.

Andréa Jones (37:05):
Yeah, it's always a beautiful thing too. When I read your work, my little mastermind group, we share your articles and have conversations in our boxer channel about them because we're always like, oh, here's an interesting thought. We were all thinking this. But the way that Tara said, it made it clearer to why we feel the way that we feel about certain things about the work that we do, especially since my mastermind group, we've also, I'm still in the online space, but they kind of spun out into doing work that could be defined as online business, but it's not in the online business space. And so it's so interesting that you call that out as well. And I love that you said you consider yourself a critic. I definitely see that as well. In the work that you do with the two kind of businesses that you have with what work site of things and the work that you're doing in Substack and the workshops, where do you see the future of Substack looking like for you as you grow the platform?

Tara McMullin (38:12):
Yeah, I mean, this is literally a daily question of mine. I am super duper grateful for the way substack is built for My list has doubled in the last year, which is pretty incredible. I'm really grateful for that. And there's also some problems with the platform, not just the justice and political problems with the platform, but also some things I would like to be able to do that I can't currently do. I'd love to be able to have a pay what you want, premium subscription tier. I can't have that. I'd like to be able to offer completely integrated, send me a tip or a monetary tip, not a journalistic tip, although I always take those as well. And so those are the kinds of things that make me question what the future is for me. With Substack, they're also clearly moving much more in the direction of creating more social media features, direct messages, I mean obviously notes, which ironically is what got me on the platform.

And now it's like, wait a second, is this really working for me? I'm not sure. So those kinds of things make me wonder, wait a second, are you going to build the features that would actually want to make me stay? Or are you building the features that you think will help you compete with other platforms? Because as we've all said, I'm not there because it's like other platforms. I'm there because it's not other platforms and every feature that they build that makes them more like a Facebook or an Instagram or a TikTok means that the culture may shift a little bit further in that direction as well. And I am not interested in that. I'm just not interested in that at all. So for me, I think on a higher level, what I do in terms of how I spend my 35 hours a week that are devoted to what works, the newsletter, the podcast, it's more than that.

It's more than 35 and Yellow House is just sort of off to the side. But I am doing the kind of work today that I have wanted to do my whole life. I'm doing the kind of work that I know my college advisor was jealous that he thought I was doing 12 years ago, and now I want to be like Jeff, Jeff, look at what I'm doing now. Anyhow. So in that way, all I want is more of this. Please, I want to make a reasonable living writing on the internet, talking about the things that I find right and wrong and in between with the way we work and the way the world is functions, and spend a lot of time reading so that I can write those things and I would be a very, very happy person. Yeah, I

Andréa Jones (41:32):
Agree. I love that. Beautifully, beautifully said. And if Substack has a TikTok vertical video moment, I don't know if I would stay there anymore. Please. No more vertical videos that can stay on the other platforms. That's what they're for. Thank you, Tara. I want to put the same question over to you, Becky. What does the future of Substack look like for you?

Becky Mollenkamp (41:58):
I mean, I could just say ditto because I feel the same way. I mean, as much as I'm enjoying notes as it exists now, one of the things I like about it is that people aren't posting every two seconds like they do on Threads or X. And I love that I can integrate video and audio into my substack and all of that. I think that's wonderful. But do I want it to become yet another video forward platform where I have YouTube, I don't want it to be YouTube. I would be on, I would just do YouTube. I absolutely agree. I don't want it to be all of those things. I want them to continue to think about ways that maybe I could customize my little piece of Substack and make it feel more me. That would be nice. More ways for people to support me.

That would sure be nice. I think that the tiers are great, but they're not enough. So I agree, as long as it continues to be what it is now an amplified great. The more that it becomes yet another social media platform that I have to deal with. And as soon as I start getting all the same level of vitriol and that nonsense there, I mean the less likely I'm going to be interested in sticking around. And I've had people, when I made that leap from ConvertKit to Substack, the marketing folks were very much like, oh, that's a bad idea. It's one more platform that could evolve, and then it's not what you want it to be anymore. And I see that that can happen. I would just say that what makes it different to me than TikTok or any of the other places is I still have an email list there. I can download my CSB file today, and I do frequently download my Cs b file just to be safe of my subscribers, and I can take them and I can move. And so I may move. I'm not as much as I'm going all in, that's all now. And I reserve the right to move if it doesn't feel right. And I like that I can, unlike all the other social media platforms, but let me tell you, if Substack decides that, Hey, you no longer own your list, I'm out the door.

Andréa Jones (43:58):
Yeah, that's a big one. I've heard a lot of people say that about substack is the reason that they initially made the transition over there is because they still felt ownership over the folks that are on their list, and they feel like they don't feel like they're locked in. Whereas traditional social platforms, you can't decide to go from Instagram to Facebook and just pull those people from that platform over to this one. It's a very, very tough transition to make. So I like that. Do you have in the future for feminist founders, any fun future projects?

Becky Mollenkamp (44:36):
Well, I am currently right here, but soon to go from my head actually out into some planning mode, my one year anniversary on Substack Well of the launch. I sat on Substack for a year waiting to actually take action, but a year from the launch and the launch of the podcast, I'm going to be doing a celebration. This will be something that'll be only for paid subscribers, and I'm planning a little sort of mini summit sort of thing that will exist inside of Substack. So video interviews, but it will be only for paid subscribers. So that'll be coming up towards the fall depending on when this airs that maybe sooner or late. Yeah,

Andréa Jones (45:13):
Love it. I can't wait to see it. Thank you, Becky. Kathleen, same question. What does the future of Substack look like for you?

Kathleen Oh (45:22):
Yeah, so I feel like I'm at a different place in my work and things are winding down, to be honest, with the one-to-one coaching as well as sort of finding my way, I'm in a bit of flux with transitioning. I think I'll probably move towards consent education in the ways that I have learned it and learned for my work and for my life. What I've also learned with social, it happened with Instagram that I found myself as a writer in a way that I never knew. And kind of the heartbreak of parts of my story with Instagram is when I got really honest about what addiction recovery and drug use and all of those really, really intimate parts of me that I was sharing on social media is ultimately what got me shut down. I unfortunately lost all that content. And so the future of Substack looks like for me, it's a bit of, I think a coffee table book, a memoir.

I have beautiful graphics. I feel like it's a place where there's a soft landing. I love and appreciate words so deeply, and the art of that feels like home to me. And so the Substack, I think will become much more personal and less about my work and less about the journey and more just kind of the expression of who I am and who I became through this work. And like I said, I think I'm getting to the point where in 19 years of coaching has gotten me to the place where I can put it down and pick up some other passions.

Andréa Jones (47:24):
Yes. Beautifully said. I love that. And thank you all for hanging out with me today and letting me dig into the behind the scenes of your Substacks. I'll continue to be a fan, and I hope all of you listening and watching this episode will be a fan. So head on over to the show notes onlinedrea.com/three one one for episode three 11. And check out, please, please go and look at these Substack, get inspiration if you're thinking about starting a Substack, if you're on Substack, if you're a marketer and you're looking for ways how you can bring Substack to your clients, I think these are all really great examples of what's possible on the platform. So thank you all for joining me today. Also, make sure you head on over to Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Leave us a five star rating. Helps keep us in the top 100 marketing podcast, all for your support for listening to the show. I'll see you next week with another beautiful episode. Thanks so much. Bye for now.