Substack launched in 2017 with the mission to help independent writers create a subscription based newsletter. Being one of the dominate players in the creator economy, Substack’s success has shown us how much more possible it is for content creators to make a full-time living online today.
It’s an amazing platform for independent writers. However, its hefty 10% transaction fee may make some large publishers look for alternatives.
There are a handful of great newsletter platforms that have learned from Substack’s success and launched their own features to help independent writers and bloggers maximize profits from their newsletters — without the large fees.
In addition, many other newsletter platforms offer more customization and growth options that Substack doesn’t have. So, for larger newsletter publications, it might be a viable option to look for a newsletter platform that allows you to create a media company that scales.
The best alternatives to Substack
Here are the best Substack alternatives available today:
Okay, let's dive a deeper into each one.
First on our list is beehiiv. Created by the team that helped the Morning Brew newsletter grow to millions of subscribers, beehiiv is a newsletter platform created for writers who are serious about making a living from their writing.
beehiiv has many of the same features that Substack has — paid subscriptions, web hosting on your own website, and a minimalist interface for writing.
Where beehiiv shines is its dedication to growth. beehiiv allows you to either use a beehiiv style website, similar to Substack, or integrate with your own existing website — giving you lots of options for capturing email subscribers.
They also have a referral program feature that allows you to incentivize existing newsletter subscribers to share your newsletter with their friends — something you don’t see with many other newsletter platforms.
beehiiv also has great email customization options, allowing you to customize newsletter formatting and design. They also let you integrate with different apps and website builders. For example, you can integrate with Revue and allow people to subscribe to your newsletter directly from Twitter.
beehiiv’s pricing is quite generous for what it is. Check it out:
You can start using beehiiv for free (up to 2,500 subscribers). You only have to pay for a paid plan when you surpass 2,500 subscribers, or if you want access to more features like a referral program.
We personally love beehiiv so much that we use it for our own newsletter and as a publishing platform. We even wrote a full review of beehiiv if you want to check out.
MailerLite is an email marketing platform with paid newsletter functionality. They offer a suite of tools for writers and creators looking to monetize their newsletter.
MailerLite can handle anything from capturing newsletter leads on your website, to payments. You can even create automated workflows that allow you to upsell your existing paying subscribers if you have more products and services to sell — making it a great option for media companies or creators looking to expand into digital products or other services.
The awesome thing about MailerLite is that there are lots of customization options for your newsletter. You can embed surveys, quizzes, carousel galleries, paywalls, and more — allowing your newsletter to stand out from others that just have simple text and images.
You can also A/B test messaging, track newsletter ROI, and analyze newsletter reports to get valuable feedback on how to improve your newsletter for your subscribers.
MailterLite has a generous free plan that allows you to have up to 1,000 subscribers on your email list. The free plan includes email automation, sign up forms, a website, A/B testing, and options for landing pages.
You have to upgrade to a paid plan if you have over 1,000 subscribers, and if you want to gain access to some other features like paid newsletter subscriptions.
Nevertheless, it’s a great platform to start writing and growing your audience for free before you have a more premium reading option for subscribers.
Webflow is a popular no-code website and landing page builder that has risen to fame in the past few years. While it’s not considered a newsletter platform, we’ve included it on the list because we believe it’s important for creators to own their own digital real estate and custom domain. Creating your own website, where all of your posts live, is a great way to ensure that you own all rights to your content.
Then, you can integrate your Webflow website with a tool like Memberstack to create paid subscriptions and only give access to certain posts to paying subscribers.
Webflow has lots of newsletter templates you can use to create your website.
This route is a bit technical and requires the most upfront setup over the other platforms on this list. However, it is a powerful alternative if you plan on creating a media company from your newsletter, writing for SEO purposes, and expanding into different content areas.
If you want to go this route, Makerpad has a great guide on how to create a Substack clone using Webflow and Memberstack.
We also wrote a review of Webflow if you want to learn more about what this alternative has to offer.
Webflow + Memberstack pricing
For a CMS plan from Webflow, it’s going to run you about $20/month:
For Memberstack, to have 1,000 paying subscribers, it will run you about $29/month:
As you can see, together, this combo will run you about $50/month. However, you are getting more than just a newsletter platform. You’re getting a full website builder and membership platform that will allow you to create user accounts on your website and expand your monetization strategy outside of just a premium newsletter offering.
Revue is an editorial newsletter platform designed for writers and publishers. This Substack alternative is great for anyone who’s active on Twitter. This is because Twitter has a direct integration plugin with Revue, allowing you to place a subscribe button directly on your Twitter profile.
Given that Twitter is a popular place for independent writers, using Revue will allow you to turn your followers into newsletter subscribers.
beehiiv, the first alternative on our list, also has an integration with Revue. So you could also create a flow that sends subscribers from your Twitter profile to beehiiv.
What sets Revue apart from Substack is that it charges half the transaction fees. Revue only charges 5% of newsletter revenue compared to the 10% Substack charges.
Revue also has a great API that lets you integrate with other tools using Zapier. So if you already have your own website with a subscribe form, you can send emails from your website directly to Revue.
Just like Substack, Revue is free. The main difference is that the cut Revue takes from your newsletter revenue is half of what Substack takes — making it a desirable choice for many online creators.
If you want to start your newsletter on Revue you can check it out here.
Memberful is a membership platform that allows you to create paid subscriptions on your website. It’s very similar to Memberstack.
However, Memberful has a native feature that allows you to create a paid newsletter — making it a viable alternative to Substack. They’ve recently launched an email feature that allows creators to automatically send newsletters to their subscribers.
Memberful also has integrations with other email marketing services if you don’t want to use their own email tool. However, it’s probably best to just stick to the paid newsletter feature that Memberful offers.
Memberful also advertises itself as a better alternative to Substack because creators are left with more revenue. On their website, they show how creators on Memberful can earn $1,250 more per month than creators on Substack.
Memberful has a free plan that’s similar to Substack — free to use with a 10% revenue cut. However, this free plan does not include the paid newsletter feature.
If you want to use Memberful for your paid newsletter, you’ll have to upgrade to a pro or premium plan. Both paid plans only take a 4.9% revenue cut, so if you do have a handful of paying subscribers, it can be a cheaper option compared to Substack.
ConverKit is a popular creator-friendly email and newsletter platform. Outside of just independent writers, musicians, podcasters, online creators, coaches, and bloggers use ConvertKit to power all of their email operations.
They have a paid newsletter feature, just like Substack, that allows you to charge members for a premium newsletter offering. ConvertKit also has tons of newsletter templates and business tools — automation features, sales funnels, and landing pages just to name a few.
Similar to beehiiv, Convertkit also has a referral/partner program feature that allows you to gain more subscribers by incentivizing your existing email newsletter subscribers to help you go viral.
Convertkit is a bit on the pricer side, because they do offer a lot of other business tools to help operate your entire email operation. Their free plan, however, does let you start a paid newsletter with up to 300 subscribers.
If you like ConvertKit's features, but the pricing may be a bit high, you can check out some of our top picks for ConvertKit alternatives.
Ghost is a popular CMS and blogging platform. Many websites use Ghost as a CMS alternative to platforms like Webflow or WordPress’ open-source CMS.
The great thing about Ghost is that it helps you own your own digital real estate. They have a lot of great website templates and clean newsletter designs that will make your newsletter aesthetically pleasing to your subscribers.
Ghost also takes 0% revenue cut, so all profits from your paid newsletter go straight to you. You can also integrate Ghost with many other social media and business tools like Twitter, Stripe, Zapier, Slack, Shopify, and more.
Ghost offers 0% subscription fees, making it a desirable option for those who have a lot of paid subscribers. Here is their pricing tier, based on your first 500 subscribers:
Your first 500 subscribers will run you about $9/month, and about $15/month for up to 1,000 subscribers. There is a 14-day free trial, so it’s worth checking out.
Our topic pick for the best Substack alternative
There are many great options out there for independent writers and creators. Medium, Patreon, Mailchimp, Stripe, HubSpot, Tinyletter, and many more tools not mentioned on our list help you create a writing business.
However, the top seven options we mentioned were based on ease of use, value provided to the creator, and email experience for subscribers. Out of all the options, our favorite is beehiiv. It’s the only platform on our list that starts out free, like Substack, and has all the tools you need to create a successful newsletter business.
The other reason why we like beehiiv is because one of the fastest growing newsletters, Morning Brew, has grown with the help of the employees that now started beehiiv. beehiiv’s team is well versed in newsletters and the creator economy, and they’re constantly adding new features to make the platform better for creators.
A close runner up to beehiiv would probably be Revue, followed by MailerLite.
We hope this article helped you find a viable Substack alternative. If you have any questions, concerns, or think we left an option out, feel free to contact us.
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