Exclusive: Substack’s writer fellowship gets you $3K, a support team, and a fun SF meetup if yer a lucky one, Harry

Remember how yesterday we were talking about how the Substackification of writers as very monetizable personal brands should have every editor sweating? Well, we at Deez Links actually just got the ***exclusive*** on the news that Substack* themselves is actively leaning into this newsletter medici fam energy by launching their very own fellowship for independent writers

The inaugural class consists of five established writers you’ve definitely seen online:

  • Emily Atkin, who writes Heated, a climate change newsletter

  • Saeed Jones, who writes The Intelligence of Honey, a newsletter about happiness, which sounds nice

  • Sarah Bessey, who writes faith-related essays & recs via Field Notes

  • Amee Vanderpool, who writes Shero, a newsletter about the intersection of women’s issues and politics/the legal world.

  • Lindsay Gibbs, who writes Power Plays, a newsletter on sexism & sports

The perks? “Dedicated support over a three-month period from the Substack team and a group of invited experts,” plus a trip to SF in December — oh, and yes, there’s some money: we’ve been told per our Substack source, is a one-time stipend of $3,000.

The full announcement on Substack’s site also details three big hires that make up the ~support team~ for fellows (tl;dr, a former New York mag digital editor to provide “coaching,” an Instagram OG to teach you community management chops, and a lawyer!). Anyone who’s been struggling to get 10 minutes in with their manager will recognize that this is a pretty great ratio of writers: support……..…………but the real question will be whether the “turn your newsletter into a real ass publication” model will end up working for more than just v. online writers who already have sizeable followings. 

Case in point —> We talked to one writer who has a very successful free newsletter on Substack and who was actively courted for the fellowship: Apparently, they turned it down because they A) would’ve had to leave their current full-time reporting job, and B) didn’t feel Substack had “the apparatus to write or publish features.”

We also chatted with some of the inaugural fellows: Shero author Amee Vanderpool noted that partnering with Substack was “one of the first professional experiences I have had where I felt like I was working with people who were actively looking to ensure that I was treated equally as a woman in terms of opportunity and pay,” so that’s tight. Meanwhile, Lindsay Gibbs (formerly the sports writer at ThinkProgress before it got shut down in September) mentioned that the fellowship is letting her focus on the specific type of reporting she’s been doing while providing a workplace-esque support system. Also tight.

So, the takeaways: If you’ve got a paid newsletter or are thinking of starting one, keep an eye on that three-month fellowship period — maybe there’ll be an application process for the next round that you can get in on soon? (looking @ you especially, women of color!! let’s get y’all in on this!)

Everyone else: let’s all collectively enjoy this refreshing sensation of a tech platform actually paying/investing in content creators and just…see where this goes! 

*Disclaimer: Substack is our platform papi and probably yours too i mean obviously


Deez Links is a dailyish media newsletter from Delia Cai. Catch more links at deezlinks.substack.com and in real time @delia_cai!