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What It Feels like to Quit Social Media and Go All-In on Substack

by | Mar 27, 2023 | Writing

Our relationship with social media should be a use and abuse one.

After all, social media apps have been using us for years. Only now are things going in the other direction.

If you’ve ever published any content online you’re going to want to read this. It’ll probably change how you think about it forever.

The famous writer who disappeared into the shadows

Jeff Goins is an OG writer.

He was writing viral bombs when most of you were probably still in diapers. I loved everything he wrote. He made a tonne of money doing so and wrote several books. The guy achieved what many of us have always wanted.

And he made it looks easy.

One day Jeff disappeared from the one social app where I could read his work. So I hunted him down on Twitter and found him.

I instantly followed him and read all his tweets. It became obvious he didn’t tweet that much, which as a diehard fan disappointed me. I still felt like I had a loose connection to him in some weird way though.

Then one Monday morning I noticed Jeff followed me back on Twitter. It was glorious. That brings us to now…

Quitting social media as if it were a cigarette

At the end of last year Jeff quit social media.

He didn’t delete his profiles but he deleted all the apps from all of his devices, the same way doctors kill cancer with chemotherapy.

Right before the big event Jeff made a small announcement. It seemed many of his connections were thinking about doing the same thing.

The reason he quit social media is he didn’t like it. He found it took a lot of his time and made him a worse version of himself. This isn’t the case for me and I think it works well for a lot of people.

But it’s what Jeff said next that blew my mind.

Deprioritizing social media helps you focus on this instead

Jeff hadn’t blogged in years.

Thanks to his quitting social media experiment, he began to write a Substack newsletter.

It felt like newfound freedom. No more begging for attention. No more following anybody else’s rules. No more diminishing returns.

Social media is kind of like the new Hollywood. Everyone is acting and yet nobody seems to notice it.

But with a newsletter it didn’t feel like that for Jeff. He says it felt fresh and new. He joined Substack for the community of people who are building things, not just talking about things.

Another friend of mine opened my eyes to this new style of community.

He creates free and paid “Substack threads” to start conversations around topics. The super fans become paying members and get access to all of the Substack threads, the free subscribers get access to some of the conversations.

The transition from free to paid is natural selection at play.

So he doesn’t just have an audience. He has different layers of audience for different purposes. Those segments allow him to get creative and selective around how he writes.

It’s less about attention and more about free-flowing creativity aimed at the ones that want it.

What it’s bizarrely felt like for me writing a Substack newsletter

I pay attention to how I feel.

Whenever it’s Thursday and it’s time to write my Substack, I’m as high as a kite with what’s about to happen.

There’s this feeling of limitless creativity that I can’t quite describe.

Nobody selects my work or edits out all the uniqueness from it to meet some random publication’s guidelines. No. The work is mine. I own it 100% and I do what I want.

Writers and creators have been muzzled for so long that many of us have forgotten what it feels like to have that level of freedom.

We’re so used to our masters saying “jump” and replying “how high, sir?” I’m not all in on my Substack newsletter like Jeff Goins is.

But I’m slowly warming to the idea.

It’s not that I don’t believe in social media anymore or will never use it again. It’s just that I want to prioritize differently. I want to spend my writing time in a place where my energy is going to be the highest.

Right now that feels like Substack.

In the future it might be some other format or decentralized platform. Who knows. That’s the fun thing about creating. The platform doesn’t matter so much. It’s more about the level of freedom you have.

Because with too many constraints you can’t say what you think and there’s a limiting valve put on your creativity.

Without creativity, eventually, everything dies.

What this all means for you

I’m not here to advocate for one platform or tell you to quit social media.

You do you. My suggestion is to try different things and see what works for you. I will say, though, that writing a newsletter is one of the most freeing things you can do.

But don’t forget you’ll likely need a traffic generator in the early days to attract readers and build an audience.

Once you have a small audience all you need is a kickass newsletter referral program and a few CTAs encouraging people to click the share button.

Change your relationship with social media. Use and abuse it.

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