A graphic of speech bubbles.

Substack has been consistently building on its chat function, a way for newsletter creators to chat directly with their subscribers. Now the feature is expanding with a slate of new updates.

The main updates include the possibility of a paywall for the chat feature. Newsletter publishers can now put in a paywall so that chat features are exclusive to paid subscribers only, or to founding members of said newsletter. Free subscribers or non-subscribers will be asked to upgrade if they want to access a newsletter’s chat.

A screenshot of Substack settings.

Credit: Substack

Substack is also introducing improved navigation and usability, including a chat search on the web and iOS versions of the platform, easier access to notifications, and an upgrade to real-time messaging so people can participate in chats about live events in real-time. The search feature will also be coming to Android soon.

The point of chat is to engage directly with newsletter writers, allowing writers and their followers to converse about a range of subjects. It’s one of the features that is allowing Substack to expand, like its Notes feature that mimics the functions of X (formally Twitter), and the addition of DMs.