Last year, the famous newsletter The Hustle sold to HubSpot for about $27 million. Even before The Hustle was sold, its founder, Sam Parr, claimed that it generated 7-8 figures a year in revenue — mostly from ad sponsorships.
It goes to show that starting an email newsletter can be a great business for creators to get into.
However, knowing what newsletter platform to use can be tricky. Most newsletters with millions of subscribers use a custom tech stack that they create in-house.
These custom solutions allow them to scale and track all of their newsletter metrics.
But you don’t need a fancy tech stack to get started. In fact, some of the best newsletter platforms we listed below are used by newsletters with hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
In this article, I plan on giving you a list of the best email newsletter servicess currently on the market. I'm writing this article from the perspective of how I would give a recommendation to my best friend.
If you want to see my top three (totally unbiased) picks for the best newsletter platforms, you can jump to the conclusion section by clicking here.
What is a newsletter service?
A newsletter service is a SaaS (software as a service) solution that allows you to start and grow an email newsletter.
They say the best way to make yourself algorithm proof is to start a newsletter. It’s important to own your own list that you can tap into at any moment.
For example, it’s much more valuable to have an email list of 10,000 subscribers than it is to have 10,000 Twitter followers or YouTube subscribers.
The goal of a newsletter service is to allow creators to capture emails, whether it’s from social media or from their website, and let them communicate directly with their audience through the medium of email.
However, not every newsletter service is created equal.
How to choose the best newsletter platform
Finding the right email newsletter platform is important. And I wrote this article in a way that will truly help you discover the platform that is right for you.
Most blog posts on this topic are either created by the company that created the newsletter platform, or by media websites trying to maximize their affiliate revenue.
At the time of writing this, there are no affiliate links anywhere in this article.
It’s a pure and honest overview of what I believe to be the best platforms for launching a newsletter.
Here’s are some questions you should ask when looking for in a newsletter platform:
- How many subscribers can you have on a free plan?
- How easy is it to write and design a newsletter?
- How much room is there for growth?
- How much does it cost as your newsletter grows?
- Does it have all the features you want for your newsletter experience?
- Is there an intuitive dashboard for tracking your analytics?
- How hard or easy is it to migrate off of?
- Are there proper spam filters in place to make sure there is successful email deliverability?
It’s a lot of questions to ask. But I tried to make sure that the platforms chosen in this list (in order) serve the right responses to these questions.
Okay, enough of me rambling, let’s get into the list.
10 best newsletter platforms that are free to use in 2023
Here are our top picks for the best newsletter platforms:
Let’s see which one is right for you.
beehiiv is an all-in-one newsletter platform designed for creators who are serious about growth. The cool thing about beehiiv is that the founders of the tool were on the growth team at the Morning Brew — a popular business newsletter with millions of subscribers.
beehiiv is free (up to 2,500 subscribers) and makes it easy to design, send, and scale your newsletter. They have a clean and minimal editor that makes it easy to craft emails, along with tools to help you track performance and subscriber growth.
On their higher tier plans, you can get access to a referral program (that allows you to incentivize your readers to invite their friends) and paid subscriptions. These are great features that you don’t really see in a lot of other newsletter platforms.
In fact, we love beehiiv so much that we use it for our own newsletter!
They also have a beautiful SaaS website unlike most software companies out there.
Let’s talk about price.
beehiiv has a generous free plan that gives you up to 2,500 subscribers and unlimited email sends. They also have three premium plans. Here is what beehiiv’s pricing looks like:
- Launch: $0/month, up to 2,500 subscribers, and includes most features
- Grow: $49/month, up to 10,000 subscribers, includes polls, custom domain, and premium subscriptions
- Scale: $99/month, up to 100,000 subscribers, includes all Grow plan features, and a referral program
- Enterprise: $?/month, unlimited subscribers, and dedicated support
beehiiv’s pricing is quite generous for what it is. You won’t find a lot of newsletter platforms that give you 2,500 subscribers for free and 100,000 subscribers for just $99/month!
If you want to learn more about what beehiiv has to offer, check out my in-depth beehiiv review.
MailerLite is an email marketing software and newsletter platform with over 1.4M users. At its core, MailerLite is a digital marketing and email tool. However, it does have a dedicated newsletter builder.
There’s a beautiful drag-and-drop editor, along with a wide variety of newsletter templates to help you craft a clean and original newsletter design.
MailerLite is a great tool to start your newsletter because it offers a generous free plan and gives you more than just newsletter functionality. You can also create a website, add sign up forms to existing websites, create a blog, and set up automations to new and existing email subscribers.
If you’re a bit more technical savvy, you can even use MailerLite’s custom HTML email editor to build a completely custom newsletter design.
MailerLite also has great analytics capabilities. You can view everything from the number of subscribers you have, open rates, CTR (click through rates), who unsubscribed, and who marked your emails as spam.
“The pre-built email blocks are great and very easy to use so I can create beautiful visuals for newsletters to current and future parents of students of our school.” — Myriam Pagé
MailerLite also boasts a 24/7 support service, making sure that any and all of your questions can be answered at any time of the day.
MailerLite’s pricing varies on the number of email subscribers you have. Here is what it looks like for 1,000 subscribers:
You’ll have to adjust the slider on the subscriber count to get more accurate results. But here is what the pricing would come out to if we modeled the same number of subscribers listed in beehiiv’s pricing:
- Free: $0/month, up to 1,000 subscribers, and includes drag-and-drop editor
- Growing Business: $54/month, up to 10,000 subscribers, and sell digital products
- Advance: $289/month, up to 50,000 subscribers, HTML editor, and automation features
As you can see, the price is slightly higher than beehiiv. However, based on the features and the support that comes with MailerLite, it’s listed as the second best newsletter platform on our list. It’s still a lot cheaper than some of the other newsletter software out there.
If you know anything about journalism and paid newsletters, you’ve probably heard of Substack. Substack has grown in popularity in the past few years. It’s a platform that makes it super easy to start a newsletter and start getting paid (if you decide to offer a premium subscription).
Both beehiiv and MailerLite also offer paid subscription options, however what makes Substack different is that it’s completely free to use.
The only catch is that if you do have a paid subscription option, Substack will take a 10% revenue cut from what you make. If you have a lot of subscribers, this may actually end up costing you more compared to some other Substack alternatives like beehiiv.
Regardless, Substack is a great newsletter platform if you just want to get started and get in the habit of writing to an audience. It’s really easy to search for other Substack publications, so there’s a chance that people may be able to discover your newsletter straight through Substack’s platform.
However, if you want to have your own dedicated website with a subscribe form, and want to leverage features like a referral program, you should probably look into other newsletter platforms.
There’s a trend in successful Substack newsletters migrating off the platform to tools like beehiiv and MailerLite to avoid revenue fees and more control over their subscriber list.
Revue is another newsletter platform similar to Substack. Owned by Twitter, Revue makes it easy to start a newsletter and get subscribers directly from Twitter.
If you have a large Twitter following, this is probably a platform you want to start on. Revue is great for independent writers who want to start a free or paid newsletter. The main difference between Revue and Substack is that Revue takes half of the revenue cut that Substack takes.
Revue charges 5% of all revenue from paid newsletter subscriptions — making it a popular choice among those who have a large following.
Revue also has a lot of integration with other tools like Zapier. So you can easily set up a workflow that sends subscribers from your website to your Revue list. They also have a plugin with beehiiv, so you can send Twitter subscribers directly to your beehiiv list if you want to use a different newsletter platform.
Revue is free to use, so it’s a valuable choice if you just want to dabble in the newsletter world and create an MVP for your subscribers.
Originally created as a WordPress CMS (content management system) alternative for blogs, Ghost has evolved into a complete content and newsletter platform for creators.
With the release of Ghost 5.0, Ghost is now a platform for independent content creators. Besides beehiiv, this is probably one of the most promising newsletter platforms on my list.
Ghost is a powerful app for media creators, allowing them to publish, share, and grow their content business. The platform is extremely modern, gives you a full website, CMS, newsletter platform, and the ability to launch paid subscriptions.
Ghost has been around since 2013, but their new refresh that’s dedicated to newsletter growth is quite intriguing (in a good way).
If you don’t already have a website, and you plan on creating a blog, Ghost is a platform you seriously want to look into. Their CMS is extremely lightweight and fast, and their newsletter platform looks promising.
They also have a minimal and clean design like beehiiv and make it easy to track all of your content metrics and analytics. You can also leverage paid subscriptions as an option to monetize your newsletter content.
Ghost has a free trial, but you’re going to have to pay to use it for the long-term. Their pricing is based on two variables: number of subscribers and desired feature set.
Here is what their general pricing looks like:
Pricing for Ghost is slightly more expensive than beehiiv or MailerLite, but it’s because you’re also getting a full CMS that can be used to publish blog posts on your website.
If you have over 1,000 subscribers you’ll have to use either the Creator, Team, or Business plan — the Starter plan is limited to just 1,000 subscribers.
For most creator’s creating a newsletter, you’ll probably want to use the “Creator” plan. Here’s what the Creator plan will look like for different subscriber counts:
- Creator: $31/month for up to 1,000 subscribers
- Creator: $124/month for up to 10,000 subscribers
- Creator: $394/month for up to 55,000 subscribers
For what you get, this pricing is very reasonable. However, if you just need newsletter functionality, you’ll probably want to go with one of the newsletter platforms mentioned earlier.
ConverKit is a popular email and newsletter platform for creators. ConvertKit is used by a wide range of people, including independent writers, musicians, podcasters, online artists, coaches, and bloggers.
They, like Substack, provide a paid newsletter function that allows you to charge users for a premium newsletter. ConvertKit also offers a variety of email designs and business solutions, including automation tools, sales funnels, pop-ups, and landing pages to mention a few.
Just like beehiiv, ConvertKit also has a referral program — making it easy to incentivize your subscribers to help you grow.
Compared to the other newsletter platforms on our list, ConvertKit is a bit on the pricier side. Here are their pricing plans:
Similar to MailerLite, ConvertKit pricing varies on the number of subscribers you want on each plan. They have a slider you can use to compare plans for individual subscriber counts. Comparing pricing to beehiiv (first on our list), this is what it would look like:
- Free: $0/month, up to 300 subscribers, unlimited newsletter sending and forms
- Creator: $119/month, up to 10,000 subscribers, sell digital products and subscriptions
- Creator Pro: $879/month, up to 100,000 subscribers, includes referral program
If you have under 100,000 subscribers, ConvertKit recommends that you use their Creator plan. If you like what ConvertKit has to offer, but you're not completely sold yet, you can check out some other ConvertKit alternatives.
Mailmodo is a fairly new email marketing platform that allows you to create interactive emails that can make you seriously stand out from other newsletters.
This tool is a bit more technical than the ones we’ve previously mentioned, however it is a great tool if you want to create totally custom email experiences for your subscribers.
Backed by Y Combinator, the prestigious Silicon Valley venture firm, Mailmodo gives you a full WYSIWYG style editor that lets you build AMP and HTML email templates.
There are also tons of other email marketing campaign features like automations, conversion tracking, surveys and quizzes you can use your emails, and other features that help gamify your newsletter.
This truly is a great tool if you're familiar with no-code platforms and want to create a totally custom user experience for your newsletter.
Just note that there may be a slight learning curve because it is a fairly powerful tool. Setting up your newsletter may not be as intuitive as the other email newsletter tools mentioned on this list. But, Mailmodo is extremely feature-rich and there is no other newsletter platform like it on this list.
Mailmodo’s pricing is quite generous for all the features it includes. Here are their pricing plans:
Mailmodo has the best free plan out of any newsletter platform on this list. Their pricing is straightforward, with just four different plans.
- Free: $0/month, up to 10,000 subscribers, one custom domain, and unlimited templates
- Silver: $99/month, up to 40,000 subscribers, and up to three sender emails
- Gold: $249/month, up to 100,000 subscribers, and up to three team members
- Platinum: $599/month, up to 300,000 subscribers, and up to five team members
They also have an enterprise option if you need a custom plan.
AWeber is an email marketing tool that has been around for some time now. It has established itself as a reliable platform to create and send emails.
AWeber gives you the functionality of a newsletter platform, along with features like a landing page builder and email automation.
You can create workflows for new subscribers and send them different types of newsletters to get them familiar with some of your best work. AWeber also has subscriber forms. So if you already have a website, you can easily send subscribers from your website straight to your AWeber list.
There’s also an ecommerce functionality, so you can sell digital products and services through transactional emails. AWeber also has a great email marketing blog if you're interested in learning more about email marketing.
AWeber’s pricing structure is simple. They only have two plans — a free and a pro. You can get started with AWeber for free, and only pay when you exceed 500 subscribers on your list.
Here is how AWeber’s pricing works:
Similar to MailerLite and ConvertKit, AWeber’s pricing increases as you add on more subscribers to your email list.
Here is what the pricing looks like for different subscriber tiers:
- Free: $0/month, up to 500 subscribers, and includes most features
- Pro: $19.99/month, up to 500 subscribers, removes AWeber branding, and includes automations
- Pro: $69.99/month, up to 10,000 subscribers
- Pro: $149.99/month, up to 25,000 subscribers
As you can see, a Pro plan can range from $20-$150 a month depending on how many subscribers you have.
Similar to AWeber, Campaign Monitor is an email marketing service that allows you to collect email addresses and send newsletters.
This tool is great for small businesses that already sell products and services, but are looking to create content via a newsletter.
Campaign Monitor has an easy to use drag-and-drop email builder, along with different email templates to customize your newsletter. You can also use automation workflows to send different newsletters to different sets of subscribers.
Campaign Monitor also has tools like SMS marketing and ecommerce, which is why it’s probably best to use this tool as your newsletter platform only if you already have an existing business.
If you just plan on creating a newsletter business, you’re better off using beehiiv, MailerLite, Substack, or Revue.
Campaign Monitor pricing
Similar to most of the email marketing-first platforms we’ve gone over, Campaign Monitor’s pricing varies based on the number of email subscribers you have.
There is a free trial, but you’re going to have to pay regardless of what plan you choose. Here are Campaign Monitor’s pricing tiers:
Each plan shown only gives you up to 500 subscribers. The plan tiers are based on the types of features you want. To be honest, their Basic plan will give you everything you need to start a newsletter.
If you decide to just use the Basic plan, here is what the pricing would look like for different subscriber tiers:
- Basic: $9/month at 500 subscribers
- Basic: $89/month at 10,000 subscribers
- Basic: $299/month at 50,000 subscribers
As you can see, pricing can get hefty. But this is because there are a lot of features included in the platform. If you have a growing small business, this feature set will make sense. However, if you’re a beginner just starting a newsletter from zero subscribers, you may want to consider some of the other newsletter platforms mentioned earlier.
Mailchimp is arguably the most popular email marketing and newsletter platform. At its core, Mailchimp is a marketing CRM that is focused on email. It can be used for all types of email campaigns, newsletter’s included.
Mailchimp is quite overkill if you just want to launch a newsletter. But, because of its popularity, there are lots of resources and integrations available to make it an easy platform to use if you already have a website.
Similar to Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp is a good newsletter platform if your business is more than just a newsletter. If you already sell different products or services, Mailchimp can be a good option to use as your email marketing platform.
This is because you’ll be able to automate different parts of your email marketing strategy outside of just a newsletter. But you’ll also be able to create a newsletter on top of all the other email marketing automation stuff — hope that makes sense.
It kills two birds with one stone if you plan on utilizing email marketing for more than just a content-driven newsletter.
Mailchimp is free for up to 1,500 subscribers. However, you’ll have to pay for a paid subscription if you want to unlock some advanced features and grow your email list past 1,500 subscribers.
Here is what Mailchimp’s pricing looks like for each plan, at 1,500 subscribers:
For some reason, Mailchimp’s pricing page reads from right to left — not common in other newsletter platform pricing models.
Regardless, their free plan gives you most of the features you need to launch a newsletter. Paying extra will help you remove Mailchimp branding and get access to other features like A/B testing subject lines, behavioral targeting, custom templates, and advanced list segmentation.
Assuming you go with their most popular “Standard” plan, here is what the pricing would look like for different subscriber counts:
- Standard: $17/month for up to 1,500 subscribers
- Standard: $225/month for up to 10,000 subscribers
- Standard: $605/month for up to 100,000 subscribers
Mailchimp’s pricing is a standard amongst most email marketing platforms. Similar to some of the other platforms on this list, I only recommend Mailchimp if you are either just starting a newsletter as a test or if you want to leverage email marketing for other parts of your business.
For example, our main product offering is our newsletter. We originally started our newsletter with Mailchimp to validate it. Once our newsletter started growing, we decided to switch to a more newsletter-first platform like beehiiv.
Don’t get me wrong, Mailchimp is an amazing platform for email marketing (one of the best). But it does include a lot of features that you may not need if you just want to launch a newsletter.
What is the best email newsletter platform right now?
Out of all the platforms on the market today, the best email newsletter platforms right now (in my opinion) would have to be beehiiv, Ghost, or MailerLite.
beehiiv is the platform I use for my newsletter and I absolutely love it. And no, they did not pay me to say that. I actually discovered them earlier this year when I learned that my favorite finance newsletter was using them.
beehiiv is such a user-friendly and intuitive platform — it blew me away when I started using it. But the main thing that sold me was its attention to growth. The founders literally grew one of the largest business newsletters in the world, and saw how difficult and expensive it was to operate a newsletter that was built via custom solutions.
Most large newsletters cost thousands of dollars a month just to keep up and running. And the fact that beehiiv lets you have 100,000 subscribers for just $100 a month is unheard of amongst any other newsletter platform.
A very close second to beehiiv would have to be Ghost. This platform has evolved so well over the years, and to now see the team building it with a focus on newsletters is quite refreshing.
Ghost is an amazing platform for newsletters and for websites that have a blog. To be honest, I probably would use Ghost if I did not build my website with Webflow. Webflow already has an incredible CMS and it’s what I use for my blog posts (including this one). But if I had to start all over, and build a media website from scratch, there’s a good chance I would pick Ghost to handle all of my content.
Lastly, I would recommend MailerLite. If you don’t need the CMS and blog functionality that Ghost has, MailerLite is probably the best alternative to beehiiv at the moment. Their free plan is generous and they offer a lot of features that beehiiv currently doesn’t have. MailerLite is also a viable alternative to Ghost because it actually has a free plan.
I actually discovered MailerLite after I already started growing on beehiiv, but there could have been a chance that I would have gone with MailerLite if I had discover it first.
I actually use MailerLite for a different website that I run and I love it. It’s very hard to pick between beehiiv and MailerLite as a newsletter-only platform. But because of my experience with beehiiv, and the direction it’s headed, I can’t recommend it enough as the main newsletter platform of choice.
I hope this article helped you figure out which newsletter platform to go with.
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