Skip to content

A New Brand of Unsubscribe

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

A few weeks ago, I downloaded the Substack app. I didn’t like what I saw, so I deleted it.

That action unsubscribed me from every email newsletter on Substack.

Fast-forward a few weeks. This is what I just received.


  1. Substack newsletters are now just email “notifications.”
  2. I could be unsubscribed and resubscribed. I assume that’s legal somehow, but this would be a new form of subscribing, unsubscribing, and re-subscribing for email newsletters.
  3. What kind of chaos must this cause in their analytics? Do any of the newsletter writers know I wasn’t reading or even seeing their newsletters?
  4. If you subscribe to a newsletter through this app/ecosystem, is the creator ever getting a real email address?
  5. If I “pause” emails from the preferences, that would unsubscribe me from a lot of email newsletters at once. That would represent a huge risk. One bad apple out of thousands could get me unsubscribed by association.

This is the other shoe dropping, and it’s way too soon. It seems desperate.

I get why they’re doing this. They need to own the experience, not Gmail. But owning the audience? That’s not part of the deal for newsletters. Social, sure. But not email.

Now, the rewards only outweigh the risks for a small number of creators.

As always, beware of “free” services.