what? this is how to get a live, usable feed of new subscribers (free or paid) from Substack publications. Requires Zapier.
why? I wanted to make a drip marketing funnel (a week of free newsletters with suitable sales-pitches mixed in) that auto-triggers as soon as a free signup happens, which required live access to our free-signup feed. Substack says they don't offer it, so I figured out how to hack it together. You might well have other reasons to want a live feed of free or paid members.
worth it? depends on your publication, and your personality. It's a not-small amount of work to set up, and the value depends on what you're going to do with the info, and I think many people would say it's not worth the bother. Also depends how much you want to use Zapier for other things. (You can of course manually export your subscriber list at any time, so if you just want a list of current subscribers that would be easier to download directly, you just won't get them in real-time that way).
how? Alright, so:
1) turn on email notifications (in your Substack dashboard --> Settings) for either new free subs or paid subs or both
2) unless you actually want to see/read these notifications, set up a filter in your inbox to auto-archive the messages when they arrive -- just filter by subject line "New free signup for [Your Publication]!" or "New paid subscription for [Your Publication]!"
3) Sign up with Zapier, if you haven't already -- free plan should suffice
4) copy this Zap into your account -- this is for logging free-list signups, if anyone wants one for paid subscribers just mod the "Customize Email Matching Search" line.
5) copy this googlesheet to receive your data: it automatically extracts the user's email address from the notification, and is set up to work with the Zap above
6) done. Now you have an auto-updating spreadsheet with your new subscribers updating in real time (or every 15 mins, depending on your Zapier plan). From here you could Zap these addresses into any other software, or do whatever else you want with them.
Was this worth it? Maybe. Since improving free-to-paid conversion is such a massive determinant of revenue, if this allows you to increase your free-to-paid conversion by much then it might be worth the hassle. If it doesn't it's certainly not.