Why I’m Investing in Substack
"Own your stuff, own your business, own your way."
When a teacher asked a young Tyler Perry what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded with a one-word answer: "Billionaire."
She told him he would never make it because he was poor and Black. "Even as a child, there was something in me that said, 'That's not true, don't believe that,'" Perry says.
Fast forward to today, Perry is not only a billionaire but he has amassed one of the most valuable individually-owned libraries in Hollywood. His motto is: "Own your stuff, own your business, own your way."
Perry says he is a testament of what happens when you're in complete control of your own destiny. "Watching Oprah owning The Oprah Winfrey Show was really important for me," he says. "Ownership changes everything."
As I’ve been building my business, I’ve kept this philosophy in mind: Own everything.
Substack is opening a “community funding round” to make it possible for the writers on the platform to invest in its latest venture financing. The announcement says, “We’re doing this because the dynamics of a platform like Substack change if the people who are building their businesses on it are owners of it too.”
Writers normally don’t have the opportunity to own a piece of the company that houses their creative output. If you work at a traditional publication and receive a salary, it’s unlikely you also get to partake in the financial upside enjoyed by the parent company’s equity holders.
It’s important to remember that investing is risky. While some startups succeed and provide a healthy return for their investors, many implode in spectacular fashion. As the Substack team notes: “We want to make it clear, however, that just because you can invest in Substack, it doesn’t mean you should … There’s no guarantee you’ll make your money back, even if you’re investing in well-known companies and well-established industries.”
No, I do not expect this investment to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams. Rather, I’m investing because it’s a high-quality product that solved a problem I was facing as an independent writer. It offered tools that allowed me to leave my job, bet on myself, and focus on writing and growing The Profile full-time.
If there’s one big lesson I’ve learned from Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, it’s this: Be in control of your work, and write your own check.