I was reading one of my favorite email newsletters when I scrolled to the bottom of the email and saw the beehiiv logo for the first time. I clicked on it and instantly started tearing up.
I wasn’t sure why I felt so emotional.
Being a full-time creator is tough. I’m often getting pitched different tools and services that don’t seem to be worth my time.
I guess I was emotional because I spent the last six months trying out different email and newsletter platforms to help build my newsletter. And to be fair, there are some great options for writing newsletters. But I couldn’t find one that made me give a definite “yes.”
The issue with many existing newsletter platforms is that they don’t feel creator-centered. I want a newsletter platform that lets me fully customize my newsletter designs, makes it super easy to write and send emails, and gives me tools that help me analyze metrics and get more subscribers.
I think I’ve finally found the right tool.
But, I know beehiiv may not be for everyone. So let’s dive deep and see if it’s actually right for you.
What is beehiiv?
beehiiv is an all-in-one platform for newsletters. It’s a creator-friendly newsletter platform that makes it easy to design, write, send, promote, monetize, and track the ROI of your newsletter.
Created by former employees at the famous newsletter company Morning Brew, beehiiv aims to help creators launch and monetize their own newsletter — taking lots of growth principles from taking Morning Brew to over 4M subscribers.
In this article, I’m going to explain my personal experience with beehiiv, the things I love (and hate) about it, all of it’s features, and why I decided to finally go with it as my newsletter platform of choice.
My personal experience with beehiiv
A few months ago, I accidentally stumbled across beehiiv. The funny story is that I’ve been on the lookout for a modern newsletter platform for quite some time now. I’ve procrastinated hard when it came to finally launching my newsletter.
First, I tried Mailchimp. Then, a few other indie platforms. Then, Substack. And finally, I ended up using beehiiv.
I’m sure many newsletter creators look up to popular newsletters with millions of subscribers — I know I do. The Morning Brew newsletter is one I looked up to a lot. They have great content, tons of subscribers, and a clever referral program that allows them to get even more subscribers.
So, I went on a hunt to figure out how these big newsletters set up their logistics. What platform do they use? How do they track the ROI of their newsletters? How do they get more subscribers? How do they create a newsletter design that stays on-brand?
When I discovered beehiiv for the first time, it seemed to answer all of my questions. I thought to myself, “damn the people that built this tool really understand newsletter creation and growth.” I questioned who these creators of beehiiv were.
So I went to LinkedIn, and saw that the co-founders were some of the first marketing and growth employees at Morning Brew — my brain exploded.
I knew this was going to be a different newsletter platform. One that’s focused on creator growth.
Because, any creator knows, you need growth to be able to make a living off of a newsletter. And finding the right newsletter stack (that scales) often means using multiple different tools to help achieve one goal — one platform for your newsletter, one platform to monetize, and one platform to set up referrals. It can get expensive.
So when I found out beehiiv did all of these things in one platform, and it was free to start using, it was a no-brainer to give it a try.
Who is beehiiv for?
beehiiv is for the lean content creator that wants a platform that allows them to send custom newsletters with or without needing to have a website.
The most successful newsletters have the right tools to build and scale their newsletters. beehiiv aims at giving you those tools.
If you’re an independent writer, media company, startup, or content creator, you should seriously considering trying out beehiiv. It’s totally free to get started and you only pay when you reach over 2,500 subscribers on your list.
If you actually end up having to pay for beehiiv it’s probably a good sign that people love reading your stuff.
beehiiv vs Substack
You might be asking, “isn’t there already a platform for writers called Substack?”
Yes, yes there is. Substack is a great platform used by thousands of independent writers. With Substack you get your own website and use the platform as your all-in-one solution for sending emails (while creating an archive of previous issues).
What sets beehiiv apart is it’s dedication to growth. beehiiv allows you do to all the things Substack can do, with the benefit of better analytics, more design flexibilty, and a referral program to encourage your existing subscribers to get the word out.
beehiiv also gives you a website similar to Substack. But, if you have your own website already, you can also use beehiiv’s sign-up embeds (that’s what I use) to send your website subscribers straight to your beehiiv email list. On the same token, you can integrate beehiiv with a tool like Revue to allow people to subscribe to your newsletter directly from Twitter.
This gives you the flexibility to leverage different marketing channels to get your newsletter out into the world, making beehiiv a great Substack alternative.
How to start using beehiiv
Here’s how to get started with beehiiv:
Sign up for a free plan
The first step is to sign up for a free plan. You can do this by clicking on the “Join for free” button on beehiiv’s website.
The free plan will allow you to have up to 2,500 subscribers, give you access to website hosting, a newsletter CMS, advance customization, analytics, external embed forms, and more. It’s a very generous offering for those just starting out (or for those looking for a new platform to migrate to).
After creating an account, you’ll go through an onboarding process that will ask things like, “is this your first newsletter?”, “what other platforms have you used?”, “do you have any paying subscribers?”, and more.
You’ll then create a name and URL for your newsletter’s website. On the free plan, your newsletter will live on a beehiiv subdomain. So if your newsletter is called “Baking Cakes,” your website URL might be something like “baking-cakes.beehiiv.com”
During the onboarding process, you’ll also pick your brand colors and design to make sure your newsletter template looks right.
Navigating your dashboard
Once you reach your main dashboard, you’ll see all of your analytics and settings.
You will have detailed information on how many sign-ups you’re getting and from where.
In the navbar, you’ll see options for “Dashboard,” “Write,” “Audience,” and “Settings.”
Dashboard is your main control center, Write is where you create and publish newsletters, Grow is where you have access to a referral program (and growth tutorials), Audience is where you can view who your subscribers are (and break them down into segments), and Settings is where you can manage all of your admin and email design stuff.
Writing your newsletter
beehiiv makes it easy to start writing, with little to no friction. If you’re just starting out, and have an idea you want to write about, I recommend just going to the “Write” section in the navbar and clicking on “Start writing.”
You can tweak your template and styling later — focus on the content first.
As you can see, beehiiv’s editor offers a clean and user-friendly interface for writing.
Once you begin writing, you can optimize headings, add links, and style your content how you like.
beehiiv gives you tons of options for different types of content like videos, links, images, and more.
The team at beehiiv is also constantly releasing product feature and updates so I’m sure there will be a lot more content features depending on when you’re reading this.
Optimizing your settings and templates
Once you have a newsletter that’s ready to send, it’s time to design your email template and adjust some settings.
Here, you can update the name of your newsletter, give it a description, add your logo, turn on or off a welcome email to first time subscribers, and more.
Next, you can head over to the “Email Template” tab to make your design.
You can edit background colors, borders, spacing, fonts, image formats, and more. I’m not going to go through ever single thing you can optimize with your email template because it’s a lot. Just try out the platform for free and see it for yourself!
Essential beehiiv features
beehiiv has tons of amazing features that make it a great publishing platform for any newsletter creator.
Here are some of the essential features you can find with beehiiv:
At its core, beehiiv is a newsletter publishing platform. It makes it super easy to write and send emails. I mentioned above some of the things you can do with your settings and email design so I’ll spare you some extra reading.
The thing to note with beehiiv’s newsletter builder is that it has a really modern and minimalistic feel. It’s definitely one of the better email editors I’ve ever written in.
When you create a beehiiv newsletter, all of your newsletters (if you want) live on a website. Think about it as a website for your newsletter that’s a home to all of your previous issues of your newsletter, and a place where people can subscribe to your newsletter.
If you’re familiar with Substack, it’s pretty much similar to that.
All plans, including the free one, give you a website. However, the free plan places your website on a beehiiv subdomain so if you want to add a custom domain to remove all the beehiiv branding you’ll need to upgrade to a free plan.
Getting subscribers is important. After all, that’s why you have a newsletter right?
With beehiiv, people can subscribe to your newsletter straight from your beehiiv website or through embed forms.
If you already have a website, and want people to subscribe to your newsletter from your existing site, you’ll have to use an embed form. This is what I use on this website (you can see the sign-up embed on the right hand column of this blog post if you scroll up).
With embed forms, you have three different options — a full width, a fixed width, and a slim embed. I personally use the slim embed.
You can find the code snippet for these embeds in the “Subscribe Forms” tab in your settings.
There’s also an option for attribution tracking if you want to forward UTM parameters for tracking purposes — pretty neat.
However, there are a few features I wish beehiiv had when it came to subscribe features. I’m sure the team is working on updates for these, but I mentioned a few concerns I had in the pros and cons section below.
One of the amazing things about beehiiv, that I have yet to see in any other newsletter platform, is a solution for creating a referral program.
You can encourage existing subscribers on your list to forward your emails to friends and colleagues and if they get other people to subscribe to your list, you can reward them. These rewards can be in whatever form you want. I’ve seem many newsletter companies give rewards in the form of merch and stickers.
This can seriously turn your subscribers into a word of mouth growth engine for your newsletter — giving you another avenue for growing your email list.
However, to get access to the referral program feature, you’ll have to upgrade to a more premium plan. I’ll go over all the plans later in this article.
They say all you need to make a living online is 1,000 true fans. Subscription revenue is definitely a beast of its own. If you’re looking for a platform to monetize your newsletter, this is it.
With beehiiv, you can create “premium” issues of your newsletter that are only sent to paying subscribers. This can be very lucrative depending on what your newsletter has to offer. For example, Trends.co is a popular premium newsletter that generates millions in revenue a year simply by having pay-only newsletter content.
One of the things I love about beehiiv is how clean and simple the analytics are. You get real-time date on how your newsletter is doing, with open/click rates and subscriber count.
You get access to all the metrics you need to get a bird-eye view on how your newsletter is actually doing. Logging into your dashboard and seeing that subscriber count go up is definitely a dopamine booster.
beehiiv pricing plans
beehiiv offers four different pricing plans. You can check them out below.
The (free) Launch plan gives you everything you need to get started and grow your newsletter (up to 2,500 subscribers).
The Grow plan gives you everything in the Launch plan with the addition of up to 10,000 subscribers, custom domain, polls, and access to premium subscriptions.
The Scale plan gives you everything in the Grow plan with addition of up to 100,000 subscribers, priority support, and the referral program feature.
All of these plans are quite generous in my opinion. For example, another creator email platform called ConvertKit only gives you 300 subscribers on their free plan (as opposed to 2,500 with beehiiv).
And even with 100,000 subscribers on the Scale plan you’re only paying $100/month, as opposed to well over $600/month with ConvertKit — making beehiiv a great ConvertKit alternative for many users.
I’m not sure how the unit economics work on this, but beehiiv is definitely cheaper (at the moment) than what it can be.
beehiiv pros and cons
Of course, with every platform, it has its pros and cons. Here are some of the pros and cons I’ve personally experienced while using beehiiv:
Pros of using beehiiv
Here are some of the pros of using beehiiv as your newsletter platform of choice:
- Easy to set up and start sending newsletters for free
- Clean and modern subscriber analytics
- Lots of flexibility with email designs
- Referral program feature
- Website hosting
- Create premium options to monetize
To be honest, I haven’t seen another newsletter platform that has been able to package all of these features together so well.
But of course, I don’t want to be biased so I’m going to mention some cons.
Cons of using beehiiv
Here are some of the cons I’ve found while using beehiiv:
- Limitations around integrating Webflow and beehiiv
- Limitations around adding custom fonts
I use Webflow as my website building platform of choice (I graduated from WordPress and Squarespace a long time ago). I’m not going to go in too much detail why I love Webflow so much but you can read my Webflow review if you’d like to learn more.
Right now, there really is no other way I can integrate beehiiv with my Webflow website other than using an iframe embed. I personally don’t like using iframe’s because they tend to slow down my website a bit. Every time a page on my site (with a beehiiv embed) loads, the sign-up embed is the last thing to load on the page. It’s very noticeable when you’re on a slow internet connection. But I can get around that.
The main gripe I have is that I can’t use a regular Webflow form (which I love using). There are ways around this by using a tool like Zapier but that would just add additional costs that I don’t need. To be honest, this is more of a Webflow con over a beehiiv con but I thought I would mention it.
Besides that, I still believe the pros far outweigh the cons here. I’m also hopeful that Webflow will eventually create a better way to integrate with beehiiv.
[UPDATE]: beehiiv just released a feature to upload custom fonts!
Overall, beehiiv is a great solution for anyone looking to dive into the world of email marketing and newsletters.
The functionality of this newsletter platform far outweighs many that are currently on the market. And with a generous free plan, you really have nothing to lose for trying it.
The paid plans are also fairly cheap for what they are. Paying only $100/month to have 100,000 subscribers on your list is unheard of. If you were to have a newsletter with 100k subscribers, and all of these features beehiiv has, it could cost you well into the thousands per month.
Anyways, I don’t write review posts often. I only do when I actually use the tool myself and would recommend it to a friend.
I hope you found some clarity on whether or not beehiiv is a good platform for you.
If you’re looking for ways to market your newsletter, or just want to get better at marketing, consider checking out the homepage of this website and consider subscribing to Marketer Milk if you dare!
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