How do I enable Chat on my Substack?

Substack Chat is available on the web and the Substack app.

Chat is a subscriber-only community space for Substack publications. Writers can host conversations with their subscribers or allow readers to talk in an open forum.

There are three easy steps for writers to set up a publication chat:

  1. Start your first thread
  2. Set up your subscriber permissions
  3. Invite your readers to join

Start your first thread

On the web, go to your publication’s Settings page. Click on Chat in the left navigation bar and slide the toggle next to "Enable Chat.”

Screenshot 2024-05-01 at 5.12.24 PM.png

Scroll to the checklist and get started by clicking “New thread”. Write a message kicking off your chat, e.g., asking readers to introduce themselves and why they subscribe.

On the Substack app, tap the Chat icon on the right side of the bottom bar. Then look for an empty row for your publication (it may be at the bottom of the list if you have other active chats).


Tap in and write your first chat thread in the message box labeled “Start a new thread.” Each chat thread you start can include text, links, video, or up to six images. Tap the blue arrow to send it; the first chat thread will notify all your subscribers.


Learn more on how to start a chat thread on Substack.

Set up your subscriber permissions
Publication admins can choose who can access and participate in their chat via their Settings.

Screenshot 2024-05-01 at 5.08.15 PM.png

You have a few options to manage your Chat:

  • Who can start new top-level chat threads: Contributors (default), everyone, paid subscribers, or founding members. You can also toggle whether subscriber-initiated threads send push notifications. Like the image above, only paid subscribers or founding members can access the chat and start a thread if your entire chat is paywalled.
  • Enable chat paywall: Paid publications can paywall access to the entire chat space rather than on a thread-by-thread basis. Free subscribers and non-subscribers will be prompted to upgrade to view or send replies in the chat.

Screenshot 2024-04-30 at 5.54.57 PM.png

  • Allow photo sharing: This lets subscribers upload images in your publication's Chat. 

Tip: You can also paywall individual chat threads rather than paywalling the entire space.

Invite your readers to join

The most important step in launching your Chat is personally inviting subscribers to join the community.

Go to your chat settings, then open the “Getting started” section. Next to “Tell your subscribers,” we’ve included an editable post template that makes it easy to instruct subscribers how to join your Chat.

In addition to the template, we recommend adding a personal note about how you hope to use the chat. For example, you can specify if the chat is restricted to paid subscribers, if you plan to host AMAs, or if readers can start their chat threads to discuss shared interests.

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