Substack just announced that they’re doing custom domains now, and that’s great. But I think this is a bit of a trap—especially for new creators.
I’m sure they’re working on expanding.
The problem is that Substack is really, really good at newsletters—but not much else.
New creators should be thinking long-term about their platform, starting with their domain and where it’s hosted. To that end, I recommend people use something like WordPress or Ghost as their primary platform because they offer maximum future-proofing.
There’s no guarantee that hot new services like Substack will be around in 2-5 years.
These platforms are blogging platforms first, with other stuff bolted on, and they’re made to last as a permanent home for someone’s platform and brand.
Substack is brand new, and it’s focused purely on newsletters right now. And as slick as it is—and it’s very slick—there’s no guarantee that it’ll survive.
You want to keep your options open as a creator.
If you’re a new creator planning on doing writing, video, newsletters, etc, and you’re not exactly sure what your mix will be in the future—I don’t recommend you start with Substack, even though they can host your domain.
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I recommend you get some WordPress hosting from somewhere, or sign up with Ghost, and then maybe use Substack for your newsletter.
Lock-in becomes a worse problem as you grow.
Ultimately, using Substack—or any other third party—as your main domain means you’re locked into that provider’s features. And you want that feature set to be as broad as possible.
Surviving as a creator requires maximum flexibility.
So, congrats to Substack. Great stuff.
But creators should keep their main domains and platforms as agnostic and untethered as possible to avoid lock-in and migration problems in the future.
To this point, self-hosted WordPress is probably your best bet right now because another thing you want to defend against is being de-platformed for your beliefs. Today that’s largely just happening to extreme-right-types, but who knows where future winds will blow. Try to make your entire platform stack as resilient as possible to this as well.