Is Substack the New Blogging?

By Spencer Haws |

Are opportunities getting better or worse for the independent online publisher?

(That's you if you own a website!)

I think it's important every once in a while to take a step back and look at the global trends to see if building niche sites and online publishing is moving in the right direction.

I've got a few unique examples and strategies that I want to share with you…that I think you will find motivating.

Hopefully, some of these examples will get you fired up enough to start researching a few of the websites and their history that I will share with you.

Before I share all the examples and strategies with you below, I wanted to remind you that if you are looking to sell a website, this week is a great time to consider selling it on

Over at Motion Invest, we are paying YOU $100 as a listing bonus when you get your site listed for sale (rather than charging a listing fee like many other brokers do).

You can take advantage of this $100 listing bonus by submitting your site for sale right here.

Your site must be submitted by this Friday night in order to qualify.

Is Substack the New Blogging?

Substack is a platform where independent publishers can easily earn money from their writing with paying subscribers.

Substack allows publishers to collect payments from subscribers and publish their content online and in email format.

If you do some googling or twittering, you'll see that Substack is pretty hot right now. They got some $15 million-ish from Adreessen Horowitz and it feels like publishers are flocking there.

But is writing a weekly newsletter really any different than writing a weekly blog?

No, not really.

However, it DOES make it easier to launch a “Premium” newsletter. The “old” way to monetize a blog was produce content, hope it ranks in Google, then make some money on affiliate commissions or eventually create a course.

If you write well enough, perhaps you can start making money from day one by charging a monthly fee to get your newsletter.

The HustleMorning Brew, and Richard Patey are a few companies that have both free and premium newsletters. (Although, only Richard is using Substack I believe).

Bottom line – perhaps you can think about your business differently and start charging your subscribers to read your content.

However, the more interesting trend is the move for more and more independent publishers to start building their own businesses (as opposed to just writing for larger publications as a payroll employee).

It's a great trend for online business owners.

Are you “Thinking with Google”?

Did you know that Google has an entire resource for helping you grow your business and helping you recognize growth categories called

A subsection of that site is dedicated to showing what the fastest growing retail categories are:

For example, this screenshot shows that sprinkler controls, sneeze guards, household disinfectants, and neck gaiters are the top trending retail categories in the past year in the US.

However, you can also look at monthly or weekly trends of any country of your choice. For example, in the US, here's what's trending this week:

So, in the past week, smoking chips and pellets, charcoal briquettes, and landscape fabric are all topics I would consider writing about for Own The Yard (my niche site). The specific keywords I might use might be “best wood for smoking brisket” (as the top growing queries shows).

You could also take this information and use it to create shareable images on Pinterest or other social channels – as these are more likely to get shared because they are trending topics.

Overall, Thinking With Google provides a ton of great information that you should probably be considering for your own niche sites.

Too Big to Ignore

Future PLC is a massive media and publishing company that owns 177 different brands, websites, magazines, and other assets.

A publicly-traded company in the UK, they expect their annual profit to hit $110 million this year – revenue is up 33%.

Digiday recently said that they are now too big to ignore.

They own websites like,,, and many more.

Can the “little publishers” like us learn anything from Future?

You can take a look at and see how their pages are laid out, etc. They are ranking well for tons of long tail terms.

While they may have some link building advantages (they may or may not internlink their own sites from time to time), you can garner some great niche ideas by looking at their websites.

Looking for a new website idea? Consider creating a smaller version or more niche version of one of these 177 brands.

If nothing else, it's just more evidence that the online publishing world is experiencing growth (partly due to covid of course) and continues to be a great opportunity for small publishers like you and I.

Amply Media Grows 5,100%

Not to be outdone by the UK, a US based company is also proving that digital publishing has lots of fast growing opportunities.

Amply Media is a company founded in 2016 (only 4 years ago!) that was the 59th fastest growing company in US (according to the Inc. 5000 list).

Although their revenue numbers aren't shared, Amply does share that their portfolio of more than 40 websites gets 64,000,000 active users (I assume visitors), has a total of 110,000,000 subscribers, and 2,000,000 subscribers added each month. (Stats taken from their website here.)

Some of their websites are,,,, and many others.

They are producing 1,000+ articles a month (numbers shared by Amply Media). And most of their income comes from display ads (based on my view of their sites).

You can see a few of their brands right here.

The digital publishing industry is healthy and growing. That's great news for you and me as smaller online publishers!

Now you just have to get out there and work on growing your sites.

Thanks again for reading,


PS – As a reminder, if you are ready to sell one of your smaller content sites (making less than $2,000 per month) so you can focus on bigger projects, we are paying you $100 to list your site for sale this week on Motion Invest right here.


By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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