How do I set up welcome emails on Substack?

Welcome emails are a great way to engage new subscribers by thanking them for joining and providing valuable information about your publication.

Here’s how you can set them up:

1. Sign in to your Substack account and head to your publication's Settings page:

2. In the Branding section, you may see four types of welcome emails: welcome email to paid subscribers, welcome email to free subscribers, welcome email to imported subscribers, and welcome email to founding subscribers.

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3. Click "Edit" next to each type of email you'd like to customize:

  • Welcome email to free subscribers: When readers subscribe to your publication, they'll receive this email. If you enable payments and readers subscribe to your free plan, they'll receive this email.
  • Welcome email to paid subscribers: If you have payments enabled and a reader subscribes to a paid plan, they'll receive this email.
  • Welcome email to imported subscribers: If you've imported a mailing list, these new subscribers will receive this email.
  • Welcome email to founding subscribers: If you have payments enabled and a reader subscribes as a founding member, they'll receive this email.

4. Edit the email template with your own content and click "Save".

Tip: The New Reader survey will be included by default in your welcome emails to free and paid subscribers if you've never edited the default welcome email templates.

Tips on how to welcome your new readers

By the time your welcome email hits your reader’s inbox, you may think your job to sell your publication is done: they’ve subscribed and are on the list! What else is there to do?

But this overlooked space can be the difference between instant churn (unsubscribe or inactive reading) and upsell from free to paying subscribers. The welcome email can bring your reader deeper into your publication from the get-go and deliver on the promise of your welcome page and your About page—both instrumental in converting browsing readers to signups.

While the boilerplate copy created by Substack for your welcome email is a good guide for length and content, some simple and personal tweaks to your welcome email can make all the difference.

Greet your new subscribers

Imagine your welcome email is how your reader might like to be greeted on entering a party you’ve put on for subscribers only. What’s the atmosphere and feeling in your reader you want to exclusively create?

Invite free subscribers to upgrade their subscription
There is never not a good time to invite subscribers to upgrade. From day one, you can start the messages you want free subscribers to hear.

Our team advises including an upgrade button “above the fold” of the email (before the reader needs to scroll), along with details of the paid benefits laying out the differences for free and paid subscribers.

Include a call to action
The welcome email is also an opportunity to get your new reader into the swing of reading your posts every time they see an email from you.

Some writers like to include links to foundational posts, to archives, or to previous posts in a series they are currently running. Including a list of great paid posts acts as another invitation to upgrade so readers don’t miss out.

Get to know your readers
Now is a perfect chance to get to know the person behind an unknown email address.

You can ask your readers to reply to the welcome email with why they signed up, or invite them to take a survey to share more about where they are in the world and why they subscribed.

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