The 6 Best Substack Alternatives To Help Monetize Your Newsletter
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Substack is a popular email marketing platform allowing writers to create authentic content and directly connect with their audience without editor interference. But if Substack isn't working for you, we're here to help you find a Substack alternative for monetizing your newsletter subscribers. Please continue reading to discover our list of Substack alternatives for helping you effectively run your paid newsletter.
The 6 Best Substack Alternatives
Here's our list of the best Substack alternatives:
HubSpot is a notable figure in the marketing community, and the name is probably already familiar to you. If you're already using HubSpot's marketing and sales tools, starting a newsletter through their platform will be an easy addition for you.
The benefit to this alternative is that you can access HubSpot's insights on your audience, and all of your marketing tools will be housed under one provider.
However, starting a newsletter through their platform might be more difficult and time-consuming for you if you're not already familiar with their technology.
Pros of HubSpot
- Offers a variety of helpful, high-quality marketing tools
- Provides additional resources for improving your overall email marketing strategy
- Free to start
Cons of HubSpot
- Limited opportunities for engaging with your community
- Monetizing your content is more difficult when compared to other platforms
- Less user-friendly option depending on your skill level
Patreon is a widely popular platform among content creators, influencers, and writers alike. It's used by a variety of people looking for a subscription model that can earn them extra money outside of their existing revenue streams like YouTube or TikTok.
One of the main draws to Patreon as a Substack alternative is that it allows you to get creative with the incentives you provide your audience. Instead of allowing different subscription tiers and newsletter access, Patreon lets you provide a variety of incentives.
These incentives on Patreon can include:
- A personal message
- An exclusive video chat
- Contributing to the creation of future content
- Behind-the-scenes content that non-subscribers or followers can't view on other platforms
Pros of Patreon as a Substack Alternative
- Easy-to-use platform
- A variety of subscription options based on how your audience would like to contribute and what they would like to receive from it
- Your audience is most likely already familiar with the platform
- The platform is free to use
Cons of Patreon
- There are a variety of hidden fees
- You need to bring your own audience to the platform
- There are limited options for engaging with your audience through Patreon itself
Run by a non-profit, Ghost is another great Substack alternative. Above all, Ghost is comparable to Substack because they act primarily as a publishing avenue. Whereas Patreon offers alternative monetization options, this platform's primary focus is creating and sending newsletters.
This email marketing software focuses on creating a smooth experience for both the writer and reader, offering a simple and clean design. This effort toward a smooth process starts before you even publish your first newsletter. Ghost offers free migration services to move your newsletter from an existing competitor.
However, this platform only offers a very straightforward subscription policy of a monthly fee. Depending on your content schedule, this may or may not work well with your digital marketing strategy.
Furthermore, Ghost's pricing structure is based on the number of subscribers you have whether they're paying to view your content or not. This means that you could have a large list of free subscribers, but you would still be paying Ghost based on your total number of subscribers.
Pros of Ghost
- Operated by a non-profit company
- Open-source platform, meaning you can customize it
- Straightforward subscription policy, if that's what you're looking for
- Clean, aesthetically-pleasing design
- Offers a free service for migrating your existing newsletter for you
Cons of Ghost
- Oversimplified and somewhat restrictive subscription model
- Engaging with your subscribers is difficult
- Might not be the best option for writers with an enormous subscriber list
Medium is a recognizable and popular blogging platform used by a long list of writers and content creators. Whether you're a novice writer or an established media company, there's a place for your content on Medium.
While this platform is more widely popular for publishing blog posts, it has newly introduced a newsletter feature. Through this feature, creators can send out newsletters to their subscriber list. You can learn more in our Substack vs Medium comparison.
And to help you decide if this is the Substack alternative for you, let's review a list of pros and cons to Medium.
Pros of Medium as a Substack Alternative
- Easy-to-use platform
- It's free to use
- Large user-base
- Readers are probably already familiar with the brand
Cons of Medium
- This platform is more geared toward creating blog posts, and its newsletter feature is fairly new
- Monetization options are limited
- Creators can't monetize their content until they reach their first 100 followers
- Building an audience of loyal readers on Medium is very difficult
Buttondown makes our list as one of the most user-friendly Substack alternatives. The platform's minimalist design is easy to navigate and helps writers create beautiful emails for their audiences.
One of the features of Buttondown that makes them especially unique is that they are a company run by one person. They're a bootstrapped organization focused on creating the best newsletter software instead of pleasing demanding investors.
However, one of the greatest features of Buttondown is all the helpful tools. Their editorial tools help catch typos, missing links, low-resolution images, spelling errors, and more. If you need extra help in the editing department, Buttondown is a great option for you.
Pros of Buttondown as a Substack Alternative
- A variety of useful tools for editing your content, helping you appear more professional
- It's a free platform
- Run by a person with an audience-focused mission
Cons of Buttondown
- After you have 1,000 subscribers, you have to pay to use the platform
- Limited options for engaging with your community
MailerLite makes our list of Substack alternatives as a close competitor to HubSpot. These two platforms are similar because they're primarily sales and marketing tools with a secondary newsletter offering. So, if you already use MailerLite for their marketing and sales tools, you can easily integrate your email marketing efforts into the platform.
MailerLite is also a great choice because they offer beautiful templates and helpful audience insights to help drive your newsletter's success.
The biggest drawback to using MailerLite as a Substack alternative is that they do not have a free version of the platform. You still have to pay to use their service even if you have zero subscribers. Your initial investment into this newsletter endeavor will cost you money if you use MailerLite. Depending on your budget for the project long-term, this is an important factor to consider when choosing the best platform to use.
Pros of MailerLite
- A variety of eye-catching newsletter templates to choose from
- Offers useful tools to help boost your sales and marketing efforts
Cons of MailerLite
- Limited options for engaging with your community
- You have to pay for the service, no matter how many subscribers you have
- Monetizing your content is more difficult compared to other platforms
Why Do People Use Substack in the First Place?
Substack is an attractive platform for writers, journalists, and marketers because it allows users to freely create and talk directly to your audience without editor interference.
Substack is becoming increasingly popular because it allows creatives to speak openly on a topic they're highly experienced in and send this information directly to people's inboxes. On the other hand, readers who want to stay informed about a particular topic can subscribe to their favorite writers. It's a symbiotic relationship of creating, sharing, and learning information. The list of the best Substack newsletters covers various topics, including marketing, photography, skincare, and more.
If you're looking for a platform that allows you to write directly to your audience, monetize your content, and build up your email list, Substack could be the platform for you.
After reviewing a list of several Substack alternatives, you've probably better understood why people use Substack over the other available options. On the other hand, there is a reason Substack has achieved impressive growth with a wide user base despite their growing pains.
What are the Pros and Cons of Substack?
When weighing your options for a Substack alternative, it's important to understand the pros and cons of the email marketing platform before you make the switch.
From its minimal design to its high fee structure, this email newsletter platform has various positives and negatives. Let's review both the pros and cons of this paid newsletter subscription platform.
As a Substack writer, you want to provide your readers with the best experience possible. Whether they're subscribing to your free plan or paying your monthly fee, your readers are looking for an engaging, valuable, and memorable experience. Let's review the features that make this platform so popular.
There are many benefits to using Substack as your newsletter platform, including:
- It's an easy-to-use email marketing platform
- Access to audience insights, analysis, and data
- Easy to export email lists
- The design is aesthetically pleasing, simple, and minimalistic
- A variety of options for your newsletter subscribers
- Opportunity to make additional income as a content creator
- The ability to use it for almost any topic or niche
One of the benefits to using Substack is that it's a highly user-friendly newsletter platform. Whether you're using it as a blogging platform or an avenue for bringing in paid subscriptions, Substack is easy to use no matter your end goal. This means that even if you're a beginner or technology novice, you should easily be able to create your first newsletter on Substack.
Substack provides its writers with various insights about their audiences and how their newsletter is performing.
These insights from Substack include:
- Views, open rate, and click rate
- Which website your traffic came from
- The number of unique visitors who are on your Substack page
- Insights on your podcasts like what country listeners are tuning in from and what podcasting platform they're listening through
- Graph showing the growth of your paid subscriber list
Easily Export Email Lists
Another benefit to using Substack to bring in paid subscriptions is that you can easily export your data from the platform. This includes email lists, previous copies of each newsletter, and other email marketing data. This is particularly helpful if you are looking to switch to another Substack alternative. You can even send your data directly from Substack to WordPress if needed.
Substack also has a minimal and simple design that's appealing to readers. Having a minimalistic interface is a big pro to using Substack for writers and readers.
Several Subscription Options
As an independent writer, you need a flexible platform to create the best content for you and your audience.
Whether you're looking to send unlimited emails to your audience for free or to charge them a predetermined monthly fee, Substack gives newsletter creators a variety of options. This is a great benefit to using Substack because newsletters are not one-size-fits-all.
Subscription options include:
- Free or unpaid content for your readers
- Exclusive and monetized content that requires a subscription in order to view
- Any frequency of your choice: daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
Opportunity for Additional Income
As a paid subscriber, your audience wants to receive high-quality content. One of the benefits of having a Substack newsletter side hustle is that it allows you to provide this engaging and valuable content while earning money from your readers.
A few of the newsletters that do the best on Substack are categories like technology, news, and history.
Works for Almost Any Topic
Another benefit to using Substack is that it works for almost any niche. Whether you're writing about politics or pop culture, video games or marketing, there's a place for your niche on Substack.
Here are a few topic ideas to help spark inspiration for you and show you what's possible:
- Weekly summary of the biggest pop culture stories
- Marketing insights to educate and inspire other industry professionals
- Breakdown of what's currently happening in politics
- Daily blog post on a topic you're highly interested or experienced in
- Product reviews in almost any category
- Your success story of how you just bought a Mom blog
- Update your audience with exclusive content on your frequent travels, including pictures and hotel reviews
- Gardening tips, pictures, and testimonials
- Explanation of your favorite recipes or meal plans
As you can see, the content opportunities are endless!
While there is a long list of benefits to using Substack to distribute your newsletter, it also comes with a few drawbacks.
The negatives to using Substack as a content creator include:
- The high fee structure
- Limited options for integration
- The minimum subscription fee for your readers is preset
- You have to bring your audience to your Substack
High Fee Structure
The biggest downside to using Substack is its fee structure. It's known among writers in the community as having one of the highest fee structures.
The list of Substack fees includes:
- A 10% fee that Substack takes as a cut from your paid subscriptions
- $0.30 transaction cost
- 2.9% charge from Stripe that gets deducted directly from your profits each month
The 10% cut that Substack takes is one of the largest in the industry. So while there is major opportunity to earn money on the platform, Substack does take a significant cut of it. These fees alone might be the reason you're searching for a Substack alternative.
Limited Integration Options
While Substack does offer a short list of integration options, it might not offer it for the service you're looking for.
Substack integration options include:
- Google Analytics
- Various social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more
If your favorite software is on this list, this con might not be enough to make you start searching for a Substack alternative.
Preset Minimum Subscription Fee
Another potential con to using Substack as your newsletter provider is that the minimum subscription fee they allow for the lowest tier is $5.
Depending on how you would like to charge your audience for subscribing to your newsletter, you might need a $5 minimum.
You Have to Bring Your Own Audience
Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are primarily set up for users to organically find their new favorite account through search or organically showing them relevant content.
On the other hand, Substack is not set up to be an easily browsable platform for Substack readers to find their next favorite newsletter. Already having a following on other platforms and being able to bring them over to Substack is the more effective way of establishing your initial audience. If you already have an established audience from another platform, this con probably will encourage you to use Substack.
For a more in-depth discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of Substack, check out our full Substack review.
Choosing the Best Substack Alternative
Now that you better understand the pros and cons of using Substack, along with a list of potential alternatives, you can decide which Substack alternative is right for you.
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