Best Substack Alternatives in 2024

Analysis of Top Platforms for Newsletter

Substack is a big name in the newsletter space. As of 2023, it had over 500,000 paying subscribers and millions of readers.

However, like all tools, Substack is not without its limitations. Users have pointed out certain drawbacks, such as challenges in collaborative editing. Things can get mixed up or lost, and you might have to reload the page a lot. It's not as easy as using something like Google Docs.

So, what alternatives are there if you’re considering starting a newsletter or wish to switch from Substack?

We will delve into some of the main alternatives to Substack, examining their features, capabilities, and how they stack up against each other. We’ll also look at niche-specific platforms like beehiiv, which allow for greater customization of newsletters, giving you more control over the look and feel of your content.

Newsletter Platforms Market Overview

The newsletter platform market is diverse and competitive, with several key players making their mark. 

We've seen staggering growth. Revenue was valued at $7.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to soar to $17.9 billion by 2027. 

This market reflects the increasing importance and effectiveness of email newsletters for communication, marketing, and content distribution.

A Reuters report underscores this trend, with publishers indicating they plan to invest more in digital channels like email newsletters (70%) and podcasts (80%), which have proven successful in boosting loyalty and attracting new subscribers.

Interestingly, email remains the preferred channel for a majority of consumers. About 60% of consumers favor receiving promotional messages through email, compared to only 20% who prefer social media for such communications.

Newsletters and email marketing create a direct line to your audience, allowing for a more personal and consistent connection than social media's often unpredictable nature.

With advanced analytics, you can gain valuable insights into your audience's behavior and preferences, enabling you to tailor your content more effectively.

Also, the rise of paid newsletter platforms has opened lucrative opportunities for content creators and small publishers to monetize their audience directly.

When looking for a newsletter platform, consider the following elements:

  • Customization and Branding: Look for platforms that offer extensive customization options to align with your brand's aesthetic.

  • Collaboration Tools: If you work with a team, choose a platform that supports collaborative efforts seamlessly.

  • Integration Options: Platforms that integrate easily with other tools enhance your workflow and expand your capabilities.

  • Detailed Analytics: Robust analytics tools are key to understanding your audience and measuring engagement.

  • Monetization Features: If revenue generation is a goal, select a platform that supports various monetization strategies. Also, what are their monetization terms? Do they take a percentage of your earnings, or is it a subscription model?

  • Engagement Enhancements: Does the platform provide tools for audience interaction, such as surveys or polls?Which Is Better: Substack or Patreon?

7 Top Substack Alternatives

Substack has certainly made waves in this space, offering a straightforward and popular way for writers and publishers to connect with their audience.

However, there's a wealth of options, each with unique features and benefits. Let’s look at these alternatives.

1. beehiiv

2. Ghost

3. Moosend

4. Medium

5. WordPress

6. Patreon

7. Mirror

1. beehiiv

beehiiv is an all-in-one inbound marketing platform designed for small and midsize businesses. It provides a comprehensive solution for creators to produce, monetize, and expand their newsletters. 

Particularly suited for content-focused newsletters and publications, beehiiv offers an integrated approach, encompassing website management, email, data analytics, and growth tools.

beehiiv has a powerful, clean, and minimal editor that offers advanced formatting and design options that surpass many of the basic tools available on Substack. 

Like Substack, beehiiv provides you with a dedicated website for your newsletter. However, if you already have an established website, beehiiv offers sign-up embeds to integrate seamlessly into your existing website. 

These embeds enable you to funnel subscribers directly from your website to your beehiiv email list.

beehiiv Features

  • Custom Email Automation: The automation features in beehiiv enable you to design personalized email journeys for your subscribers. These automations are triggered by specific actions your subscribers take, such as signing up, upgrading their subscriptions, and more.

  • AI-Driven Optimization: Integrating Artificial Intelligence in beehiiv provides an edge in content optimization and audience engagement strategies. You just describe what you want to write, select the tone and length, and the AI will create content for you. You can also auto-correct existing text, auto-complete, or regenerate content until it matches what you want.

  • Comprehensive Growth Tools: beehiiv offers a suite of growth tools, including referral programs and personalized content recommendations, essential for expanding a newsletter’s reach. You also get features like email gating with pop-ups to help you get subscribers genuinely interested in your content.

  • Diverse Monetization Strategies: While Substack focuses primarily on subscription-based monetization, beehiiv offers a wider range of options, including an ad network, content boosts, and premium subscriptions. This variety provides creators with more flexibility in how they monetize their content.

beehiiv Limitations

  • Lack of a Dedicated Mobile App: Users can't create, edit, or manage their newsletters on the go as conveniently as they might with other platforms that offer mobile support. This could be a notable drawback for creators who rely heavily on mobile devices for their work or prefer the flexibility of managing their content from anywhere.

beehiiv Pricing

beehiiv's pricing structure is straightforward and caters to a wide range of needs, from beginners to those looking to scale their operations. 

We offer three main pricing tiers: Launch, Grow, and Scale, each with features and capabilities suited to different stages of newsletter growth.

  • Launch: This plan is free. It’s for beginners or small-scale creators with up to 2,500 subscribers. You get features such as unlimited sends, web hosting for your newsletter, custom newsletter design options, campaign analytics to track performance, etc.

  • Grow: $42/month (billed annually). Up to 10,000 subscribers. You get everything in the Launch plan plus custom domains for a personalized presence, premium subscriptions for monetization, API access for advanced integrations, and the ability to create subscriber segments.

  • Scale: $84/month (billed annually). This is for large publishers and businesses aiming for significant growth. You get up to 100,000 subscribers. This plan offers advanced features such as an advanced web builder for sophisticated website designs, integration with an Ad Network for enhanced monetization, and the ability to publish to specific subscriber segments.

With a 30-day free trial for each tier, you can choose a plan that best fits your current stage and scale up as your newsletter grows.

Customer Reviews

When choosing a newsletter service, firsthand customer experiences provide valuable insights. 

Here’s a compilation of reviews from users who have opted for beehiiv, highlighting its advantages and how it compares to other services.

  • Comprehensive and Scalable Pricing: One user, who carefully reviewed multiple newsletter services before choosing beehiiv, pointed out a key advantage in its pricing structure. They observed that while most platforms introduce steep price increases and set limits on the number of subscribers after reaching 10k subscribers, beehiiv offers an unrestricted approach in its final pricing tier. This lack of limitations makes it a preferable choice for users intending to expand their subscriber base significantly.

  • User-Friendly Interface and Integration: A user highlighted the ease of setting up forms with beehiiv. Compared to other platforms they had tried, they found it the simplest to use and adjust across various widgets.

  • Smooth Transition from Other Platforms: For users switching from services like MailChimp, the transition to beehiiv has been noted as smooth and not overly complicated.

Sign up for our 30-day free trial today. Our user-friendly interface, advanced customization, and comprehensive growth tools are the perfect solution to expand your reach and influence.

2. Ghost

Ghost is an open-source alternative to Substack. Its independence as an app allows creators to transform their audience into a thriving business, focusing on building a membership service for their content.

Unlike Substack's one-size-fits-all approach to email design, Ghost offers a variety of templates, allowing you more freedom and creativity in your email layouts.

Ghost combines a full website, CMS, newsletter platform, and paid subscription launch capability, all within a modern and highly efficient framework.

Ghost Features

  • Open-Source with Full Ownership: Ghost being open-source means you have complete ownership of your data and content. For those who prefer ultimate control, self-hosting your Ghost site is an option.

  • Minimal and Clean Design: Like beehiiv, Ghost boasts a minimal and clean design. Its themes come with built-in helpers, allowing easy querying of the Ghost API for almost any data. This is enhanced by a GraphQL-like syntax for filtering results.

  • Built-In SEO Tools: Ghost automatically generates and links to a comprehensive Google sitemap, ensuring that search engines index all pages effectively.

  • Superior Performance: Performance is key, and Ghost is designed with this in mind. It's noted for being significantly faster than other platforms like WordPress, which is crucial for user experience and search engine rankings.

  • Custom Integrations: With full control over the front end and access to Ghost's JSON API and webhooks, creating custom client-side integrations is straightforward.

Ghost Limitations

  • Cost: Platforms like beehiiv offer a free tier for up to 2,500 subscribers, appealing to new creators or those with a smaller audience. In contrast, Ghost's pricing structure, while offering robust features and capabilities, might be a significant investment for some users, particularly those just starting or operating on a tight budget.

  • Technical Expertise Required: Customizing and editing templates in Ghost might require some coding experience, which could be a hurdle for those not technically inclined. 

  • Ideal Use Cases: Ghost excels in blogging and publishing articles. However, if a user requires an extensive Content Management System (CMS) for a broader range of functionalities beyond blogging, Ghost might not be ideal.

Ghost Pricing

Ghost offers a range of pricing plans designed to cater to different needs and audience sizes. All plans come with a 14-day free trial, allowing you to explore the platform before committing.

  • STARTER Plan: $9 per month (billed yearly). Supports up to 500 members. It includes 1 staff user, access to free official Ghost themes, and standard built-in integrations.

  • CREATOR plan: $25 per month (billed yearly). Accommodates up to 1,000 members. It expands upon the Starter plan by offering 2 staff users, unlimited custom themes for a more personalized look, over 1,000 Zapier integrations, and the capability to build custom integrations.

  • The TEAM plan: $50 per month (billed yearly). It also caters to up to 1,000 members but is tailored for small teams. It includes everything in the Creator plan, plus allows for 5 staff users, offers priority support, and provides higher usage limits.

  • BUSINESS plan: $199 per month (billed yearly). Designed for large-scale operations with up to 10,000 members. It includes all features of the Team plan with additions like unlimited staff users, advanced domain configurations, and a 99.9% uptime SLA guarantee.

3. Moosend

Moosend boasts an award-winning, all-in-one user interface that is easy to navigate and simplifies creating and managing email campaigns.

One of the standout features of Moosend is its drag-and-drop newsletter editor. This tool allows you to easily create visually appealing and high-converting emails without extensive technical skills. 

The editor's simplicity means you can create a beautiful email newsletter in just minutes.

Moosend excels in offering advanced personalization and automation features. Unlike Substack, where personalization capabilities are relatively limited, Moosend provides smart segments and forms that enable users to tailor their content to individual subscriber preferences and behaviors. 

Moosend Features

  • Elegant and Customizable Templates: Moosend provides a range of pre-made email templates, including options like RSS feeds, that you can customize on the spot. This is useful for those who want to create professional-looking emails quickly and efficiently.

  • Advanced Personalization and Segmentation: Moosend takes personalization to the next level with smart segments and forms. These features allow for a more tailored approach to email marketing, ensuring that your messages resonate more deeply with your subscribers.

  • HyperPersonalization: Utilizing artificial intelligence, Moosend can recommend products based on your visitors’ tastes and previous purchases. This is useful for e-commerce newsletters, as it can significantly enhance the shopping experience for your customers.

  • Lead Generation Tools: The platform includes effective lead generation tools like subscription forms and countdown timers. You can use these to increase your subscriber base and drive urgency in your call-to-actions.

Moosend Limitations

  • Slightly Steeper Learning Curve: Creating newsletters in Moosend is more challenging than straightforward platforms like Substack. This is primarily due to Moosend's advanced features and customization options, which, while powerful, can introduce a steeper learning curve.

  • Lack of Intuitive Building Features: The platform offers a convenient drag-and-drop email creation functionality. However, some users have found that editing these elements is not as intuitive as they would like. An example is the difficulty locating certain options, such as deleting a custom value that might not be immediately apparent.

Moosend Pricing

Moosend offers a flexible pricing structure for various needs and a generous 30-day free trial.

  • Free Trial: Moosend offers a 30-day free trial that doesn't require a credit card. This trial includes up to 1,000 subscribers, unlimited emails, 1 automation workflow, 1 landing page, 1 form, transactional emails, and access to an SMTP server.

  • Pro Plan: $9 per month for up to 500 subscribers. This plan scales up in price based on the number of subscribers, going up to 1,000,000 subscribers. The Pro Plan includes unlimited emails, multiple automation workflows, several landing pages and forms, transactional emails, an SMTP server, and an account manager.

  • Enterprise Plan: Pricing for this plan is customized and requires a direct quote from Moosend. It includes all the Pro Plan features, an account manager, custom reporting, Single Sign-On (SSO) & SAML, a dedicated IP, and audience discovery features.

4. Medium

Medium is widely recognized as a significant competitor to Substack, primarily due to its built-in community and unique approach to content sharing and monetization.

One of Medium's most compelling features is its substantial built-in community, with over 750,000 paying members. 

This ready audience provides a quicker and often more efficient way for writers to build an online community than other platforms. For those starting from scratch or looking to expand their reach, Medium's audience base is an invaluable asset.

Medium Best Features

  • Monetization and Content Exposure: Medium offers a unique monetization model through its Partner Program. You can earn money based on the time paying members spend reading your articles. Although earnings might start as a few cents per minute of reading, this can accumulate significantly given Medium's large following.

  • User Experience and Content Focus: Medium has a clean, user-friendly interface, making it easy for writers to publish and readers to consume content. The platform emphasizes quality content across various topics, encouraging discovery and engagement.

  • Algorithm and Visibility: Medium’s social media-style algorithm recommends content to readers with similar interests, potentially increasing visibility more than Substack’s limited internal marketing features.

  • SEO Benefits: Medium has a high Domain Authority. This high domain authority can help you rank your articles for competitive keywords on search engines, enhancing online visibility.

Medium Limitations

  • Limited Free Access for Readers: One significant limitation is Medium's paywall. Free users on Medium have access to only five free articles per month. This restriction means that most of your content on Medium is likely to be seen primarily by paying subscribers. 

  • Limited Customization Options: Unlike blogging platforms like Substack or beehiiv, which offer a wide range of plugins for site customization, Medium provides limited options. The design and customization capabilities on Medium are relatively restricted, meaning you have less control over the look and feel of your page.

  • No Monetization Through Display Ads: Medium does not allow you to monetize your blogs through display ads. This contrasts with other platforms where ad revenue can be a significant source of income for creators

Medium Pricing

Unlike Substack, Medium doesn’t charge a subscription fee to publish your content. The platform is free for writers to use.

5. WordPress

WordPress is a robust alternative to Substack, particularly for its versatility, customization capabilities, and broader functionality.

One of the most significant advantages of WordPress over Substack is the level of customization and control it offers. 

WordPress allows you to fully customize the look and feel of your site, with thousands of themes and plugins available. This extensive customization is ideal for creators who want to establish a unique brand identity or require specific functionalities beyond basic newsletter publishing.

Unlike Substack, which primarily focuses on newsletter creation and distribution, WordPress is a comprehensive content management system (CMS). It can handle various content types, from blog posts and pages to media galleries and e-commerce.

However, out of the box, WordPress doesn’t include built-in membership or subscription capabilities. You'll need to integrate a membership plugin to create a subscription-based model similar to Substack, where users pay to access content.

WordPress Features

  • Responsiveness: Many WordPress themes are designed to be responsive, ensuring that your newsletter looks great regardless of whether it is viewed on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. This is crucial in today’s multi-device world.

  • Email Marketing Tools: WordPress’s plugin library includes a range of email marketing tools that allow for creating, sending, and managing email newsletters directly from your WordPress dashboard.

  • Automation and Segmentation: Plugins like MailPoet offer automation features for sending newsletters at scheduled times and segmenting your audience based on their interactions with your site, enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of your communications.

  • Subscriber Insights: With WordPress analytics plugins, you can gain in-depth insights into your subscriber base, understanding their behaviors and preferences, which can inform your content strategy.

WordPress Limitations

  • Technical Knowledge Required: Unlike Substack, which offers a straightforward, user-friendly interface for newsletter creation, WordPress can be complex. You often need a basic understanding of web development, or at least a willingness to learn, to fully exploit its capabilities.

  • Dependence on Plugins: WordPress relies heavily on plugins for many advanced features, including email marketing and newsletter functionalities. This means you must find, install, and maintain the right plugins.

  • Hosting Requirements: WordPress requires external hosting, and the performance and reliability of your site depend heavily on your choice of host. Unlike Substack, which is hosted, WordPress users have to manage their hosting, which can add extra cost and responsibility.

WordPress Pricing

WordPress is open-source software. It’s free to download, use, and modify. This open-source nature allows you much flexibility and control over your website and content.

However, we have seen that you need plugins to make readers pay to access content.

Many essential plugins are free, but more specialized features, particularly those related to newsletters and email marketing (like membership plugins), require paid versions.

Many of these will ask you for a flat fee. So, monetizing your site or newsletter means your costs don't increase with your earnings. This contrasts with Substack, which takes 10% of your subscription revenues.

6. Patreon

Unlike Substack, which primarily focuses on newsletter subscriptions, Patreon is built around members supporting creators directly. 

This model is ideal for creators who wish to offer exclusive content, services, or experiences to their audience in exchange for recurring membership fees.

Also, Patreon allows creators to host and distribute content directly to their patrons. For instance, video creators and podcasters can upload their content directly on Patreon, making it accessible exclusively to their subscribers.

Patreon operates on a recurring subscription basis, typically charging patrons monthly. This model provides creators with a steady income stream, which is crucial for long-term sustainability and financial planning.

Patreon Features

  • Diverse Content Formats: You can publish text, images, audio, and video on Patreon. This makes it suitable for artists, educators, entertainers, and content creators. By offering various content formats, creators can keep their audience engaged differently.

  • Direct Messages and Community Interaction: Patreon enhances the creator-fan relationship through direct messaging. This lets fans send private messages to creators, fostering a more personal connection. The platform also provides community areas for discussions.

  • Patreon Commerce: Creators can now sell individual digital exclusives like special videos, podcast episodes, or digital art. This feature adds an e-commerce aspect to the platform, providing another channel to monetize your content.

Patreon Limitations

  • The comment system on Patreon has been a point of concern for some users. The current system, likened to commenting on a blog post, can sometimes make it challenging for creators and patrons to keep track of conversations or updates.

  • One noted limitation of Patreon is the lack of active engagement on platforms like YouTube in creating instructional or how-to videos for their products. This can be a drawback, especially for new users or those who are not as tech-savvy, as they may prefer visual, step-by-step guides on how to effectively use the platform’s features.

Patreon Pricing

Patreon offers two main pricing tiers, Pro and Premium.

  • Pro Plan: Under this plan, Patreon charges 8% of the income you earn on the platform. This fee is in addition to payment processing, currency conversion, payout fees, and applicable taxes.

  • Premium Plan: Offers additional tools and support for creators aiming to significantly grow their creative business on Patreon. This plan takes 12% of the income you earn on Patreon.

7. Mirror

Mirror is a web3 publishing platform that significantly diverges from traditional digital publishing models.

Mirror leverages blockchain technology, specifically Ethereum, to revolutionize how content is shared, secured, and monetized online. This platform stands out for its emphasis on security and integrity using blockchain-based encryption. 

It ensures that every content is immutably and transparently recorded, offering a new level of trust in digital publishing. Mirror is an inclusive platform open to all creators with an Ethereum wallet, enabling a wide range of digital expression from traditional writing to innovative multimedia content.

One of the primary reasons Mirror is a potent alternative to Substack is its use of blockchain technology. This ensures the security of the content and gives you true ownership of your work. 

In the blockchain space, content integrity, and ownership are very important, and Mirror's decentralized approach offers a solution that traditional platforms like Substack cannot match.

Mirror Features

  • Free and Accessible Publishing: Mirror democratizes content publishing by making it free and accessible to anyone with an Ethereum wallet. This approach opens up opportunities for a wide range of creators, from traditional writers to those experimenting with new forms of digital expression.

  • Custom Domain: Mirror allows you to acquire a personalized URL within the domain. This is achieved by burning one of your tokens and gaining community approval through voting.

  • Monetization Through Content Tokens: Mirror introduces an innovative monetization model by allowing creators to issue ‘content tokens’ through Ethereum-based smart contracts. This model enables writers and creators to monetize their work directly, potentially earning a larger share of the profits than traditional content platforms. 

Mirror Limitations

  • Blockchain Knowledge Requirement: Mirror's reliance on blockchain technology, while innovative, also means that it caters to a more niche audience – primarily those familiar with or interested in the Ethereum blockchain and cryptocurrency. This can be a barrier for creators and readers not well-versed in these technologies.

  • Limited Monetization for General Audience: While the platform's monetization through content tokens is novel, it may not be as straightforward or lucrative for creators who target a general audience, as opposed to a crypto-savvy community.

  • Complexity in Usage: While powerful, the platform's advanced features might present a steeper learning curve compared to more user-friendly platforms.

Mirror Pricing

Publishing articles on Mirror is completely free. This aligns with the platform's ethos of openness and accessibility, encouraging diverse voices and content.

Writers earn money through Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). You also have the option to sell your articles as NFTs.

Mirror only takes a small fee of 2.5% for each NFT transaction.

What Substack Alternative Is Right for You?

The choice of platform depends on your specific requirements —customization, direct monetization, audience engagement, or ease of use.

Platforms like WordPress and beehiiv stand out if you seek extensive customization and collaborative capabilities, allowing for a more personalized and team-oriented approach to content creation. 

On the other hand, Patreon and Mirror present innovative monetization options, with Patreon focusing on direct audience support and Mirror leveraging blockchain technology for a unique take on content monetization.

By carefully considering what each platform offers, you can select the one that addresses your current challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Main Features to Consider When Choosing an Alternative to Substack?

When picking a Substack alternative, assess monetization avenues like subscriptions and ads, the potential for customization to reflect your brand, a user-friendly interface for easy management, and robust integration capabilities with APIs and tools like Zapier for streamlined workflows.

How Easy Is It to Transition From Substack to Another Newsletter Platform?

Transitioning from Substack to another newsletter platform like beehiiv is generally straightforward. The process mainly involves exporting your email list from Substack, cleaning it up as needed, and importing it into beehiiv. 

Additionally, beehiiv offers the functionality to automatically import your Substack posts into their platform, further simplifying the transition and ensuring your content is seamlessly carried over.

How Do Monetization Options Vary Across Different Newsletter Platforms?

Newsletter platforms cater to creators with diverse monetization options. Substack and Patreon feature subscription models, with Patreon also allowing flexible donations. Beehiiv and WordPress offer ad revenue, while Mirror sells content as NFTs. WordPress supports e-commerce for digital products and merchandise. Additionally, blog-style platforms like WordPress enable affiliate marketing, earning commissions for promoting products or services.

Can beehiiv Help as an Alternative to Substack?

Our user-friendly interface, combined with the ability to effectively segment audiences and offer trial memberships, enhances your newsletter publishing experience and supports your growth and monetization goals.

beehiiv is also free for up to 2,500 subscribers. The platform’s clean and minimal editor also simplifies the process of crafting emails, making it accessible even if you’re new to newsletter publishing.

And with tools to track the performance and growth of your subscriber base, we help you make data-driven decisions to optimize your content and marketing strategies.

It’s free to get started. We offer a 30-day free trial to try all our platform features. Get started today.

This article was originally published on March 4th, 2023, and updated on February 12th, 2024 for accuracy.

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