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Substack vs ConvertKit: Which Email Marketing Software Is Better?

Substack vs ConvertKit: Which Email Marketing Software Is Better?

Last Updated on August 10, 2021 by DMEditor

If you’d like to see Substack vs ConvertKit compared, you’re in the right place. These are both pieces of email marketing software, which offer you the ability to create a paid email newsletter. However, beyond that, they are very different platforms. Most likely, you’re going to love one far more than the other.  

Read on to discover which platform is best if you want to charge subscribers a monthly fee to receive your emails.

Main Differences Between Substack vs ConvertKit

The main differences between Substack vs ConvertKit are:

  • Substack lets you create a premium blog and email newsletter simultaneously, whereas ConvertKit only allows you to create a premium newsletter.
  • Substack is extremely limited when it comes to customization, whereas ConvertKit lets you customize to your heart’s content.
  • Substack has very basic analytics segmentation and automation options, whereas ConvertKit’s are extremely detailed.

Substack vs ConvertKit Video Comparison

 

How To Choose Email Newsletter Software

Substack vs ConvertKit

Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing email newsletter software.

  • Price. Most email marketing software providers offer a free edition of their product. But, this will typically limit the amount of subscribers you can send emails to, the amount of emails you can send per month and the features you can use. Most likely, the monthly cost of your email marketing software will rise as your subscribers do. So, make sure to compare how much it’ll cost to send emails to your audience.
  • Features. Most email newsletter software will offer features, such as A/B testing, analytics, audience segmentation, automated emails, email design customisation, landing pages. But, you’ll still want to double-check these are all offered by your provider (if you want to make use of them) – as well as how much detail is offered within each of these features. In some cases, these features will only be available with higher pricing plans. 
  • Ease Of Use. It’s well and good having a ton of features. But, if you can’t easily work out how to use them, your email marketing software might make you want to tear your hair out. You can read third-party reviews to discover the ease of use of a platform, but the only surefire way to know is test out the product for yourself. 
  • Is it friendly with your business model? A lot of email marketing software providers have terms and conditions discouraging affiliate marketing, so you‘ll want to check this if you’re planning to sell other people’s products. If you’re using the software to market a controversial business (porn, drugs, illegal products etc), you’ll want to check that it’s not on the software’s banned list. Search for its ‘fair use’ policy to find out. 
  • Is it compatible with your website? Most major email marketing software providers are compatible with most major website builders, but there are a few exceptions, so this is worth double-checking too. 

Substack Key Features

Substack vs ConvertKit features

Substack launched in 2017, but its popularity really began to skyrocket among content creators in 2020. Substack allows you to create a blog and an email newsletter service simultaneously. This is the main feature that differentiates it from ConvertKit, and most other email newsletter providers. 

When you create a SubStack blog post, you’ll have the option to send that out to your subscriber’s inboxes immediately. So, people have the opportunity to view your content as an email or as a blog post. As we’ve established, it also has the functionality to allow your readers to pay for premium content. 

The problem is: it’s not the best blogging platform, not the best email newsletter platform. Far from it. 

Price

Substack will remain absolutely free to use until you decide to start charging subscribers to receive your emails. At this point, Substack will take 10% of all profits.

It’s a simple pricing structure, but in most cases, it’ll prove to be far more expensive than ConvertKit. 

Customization

You’ll notice that all Substack emails, landing pages, and websites look more or less the same. That’s because the customization options on this platform are more or less non-existent. You won’t even be able to send emails from a custom email address. Instead, you’ll be forced to send them from your substack.com domain. 

Features

Substack doesn’t allow you to create automated email funnels, nor engage in A/B testing. The only segmentation you can do is between free and paid subscribers. The analytics are basic, compared to ConvertKit.

Ease of Use

SubStack is easier to use than ConvertKit, but only because there are substantially less features to understand. 

Compatibility

SubStack doesn’t want to be compatible with your existing website. It wants you to create your own Substack website from scratch, so that’s what it essentially forces its users to do. You can add a custom domain name to your Substack blog, although you’ll be charged a one-off fee of $50 for doing so.

Substack doesn’t have any special features to support affiliate marketing, but it does allow affiliate links to be added to emails and blog posts. 

Pros

  • Substack is free unless you want to charge your subscribers.
  • It’s simple to use.
  • Create a blog and email newsletter simultaneously. 

Cons

  • Substack will take 10% of all profits you make on its platform. 
  • There’s barely any customization available.
  • There’s no option to send emails from a custom domain, and you’ll pay $50 if you want a custom blog domain.

ConvertKit Key Features

ConvertKit Key Features

ConvertKit is a full-scale email marketing software founded in 2013. It markets itself primarily to content creators.

You won’t create a blog on ConvertKit, but this software does offer an impressive wealth of in-depth features to help its customers grow their business through email marketing. This includes the ability to create a premium email newsletter, which subscribers pay to access. 

Price

ConvertKit is free up to 1,000 subscribers, although the free plan excludes a lot of its advanced features. 

It has two other pricing plans – Creator and Creator Pro – which start at $29/month and $59/month respectively. The price goes up as your subscribers do. You get two months free (a 16.66% discount) if you choose to pay annually, instead of monthly. 

On top of this, ConvertKit will take a slice of your profits should you decide to create a premium email newsletter. That slice equals 3.5% plus 30c per transaction. Still, in most scenarios, your premium newsletter will be far cheaper with ConvertKit compared to Substack.     

Customization

ConvertKit

Substack has plenty of templates for you to create custom emails and landing pages. It’ll let you send emails from a custom domain also.  

Features

ConvertKit has every feature an email marketer could possibly want. You can create detailed automated email sequences. You can experiment with A/B testing. You can segment your list as deeply as you desire. You can make use of detailed analytics. 

Ease of Use

ConvertKit is highly regarded by its customers. If you do get stuck, there are plenty of useful guides and a responsive customer service team.  

Compatibility

ConvertKit is compatible with all major brands of CMS.

You’re allowed to place affiliate links in your emails, but ConvertKit doesn’t allow content that is 100% affiliate-based.

Pros

  • If you’re creating a premium email newsletter, ConvertKit will almost always work out cheaper than Substack.
  • You can customize your emails, landing pages, and domain names to your heart’s content.  
  • ConvertKit has all the features an email marketer could ever need. 

Cons

  • ConvertKit is only free up to 1,000 subscribers. Its monthly fees are higher than many competing email newsletter providers.
  • There’s no option to turn your emails into a blog.

Price Comparison: SubStack Vs ConvertKit

As you’ll see from the table below, ConvertKit will always be cheaper than SubStack unless you don’t have a premium email newsletter, or if you have a lot of subscribers paying a very low monthly fee. 

1,000 Subscribers Paying $10

 
Monthly Income
$10,000
 
 
SUBSTACK TOTAL COSTS
$1,000
 
 
ConvertKit takes 3.5%
$350
ConvertKit takes 30c per sub
$300
ConvertKit monthly fee
$59
CONVERTKIT TOTAL COSTS
$709
 
 

10,000 Subscribers Paying $10

 
Monthly Income
$100,000
 
 
SUBSTACK TOTAL COSTS 
$10,000
 
 
ConvertKit takes 3.5%
$3,500
ConvertKit takes 30c per sub
$3,000
ConvertKit monthly fee
$167
CONVERTKIT TOTAL COSTS
$6,667
 
 

10,000 Subscribers Paying $1

 
Monthly Income
$10,000
 
 
SUBSTACK TOTAL COSTS
$1,000
 
 
ConvertKit takes 3.5%
$350
ConvertKit takes 30c per sub
$3,000
ConvertKit monthly fee
$167
CONVERTKIT TOTAL COSTS
$3,517

Recommended Alternatives To Substack vs ConvertKit

Here are three suggestions for newsletter software that is also highly-rated

Revue

  • Revue. This premium email newsletter service was acquired by Twitter in 2021. Shortly afterward, it reverted its pricing structure to mirror Substack. It’s free unless you want to charge your subscribers, in which case Revue will take 5% of your profits. Yes, it’s half the price of Substack. On top of that, Revue allows you to customize your emails, your email address, and your domain name. 
  • Ghost. Another similar product to Substack, in that it offers you the opportunity to create a blog and a premium email newsletter simultaneously. Ghost charges a monthly fee, starting from $9 and rising depending on how many subscribers you have, but it doesn’t take a percentage of your profits. Unlike Substack, you’re given the opportunity to customize the appearance of your content, your email address, your domain name. There are over 1,000 add-ons you can install on your Ghost website, including the ability to create a referral scheme. 
  • Memberspace. Memberspace allows you to create a premium blog and email newsletter, plus it can integrate seamlessly onto your existing website. There is far more room for customization, compared to Substack. You can choose to charge members a monthly or a one-off fee to access your premium content. It costs $25 per month, plus 4% of all transactions. If you’re already making over $1,300 in monthly revenue, Memberspace offers a range of different plans with lower fees. So you could pay as low as 0.5% of all transactions.  

FAQs

Question: Is Substack Free?

Answer: If you keep your blog and emails free to access, Substack won’t cost you a penny. When you monetize your Substack content, the platform will take 10% of your profits.

Question: Can I Change my Substack URL?

Answer: Yes. Navigate to Dashboard > Settings > Change your subdomain. Then, enter details of your new URL.

Question: Can I Post Photos on Substack?

Answer: Yes, Substack supports the embedding of photos, videos and other types of media.

Question: Is ConvertKit Really Free?

Answer: If you choose the ‘Free’ plan and keep less than 1,000 subscribers, ConvertKit will remain free.

Question: Does ConvertKit Have a Free Trial?

Answer: Yes, new users can try the premium plans for free for 14 days.

Question: How do I Contact ConvertKit?

Answer: You can email [email protected] or use the live chat function on its website.

The Bottom Line

There’s a clear winner in this head-to-head duel between Substack vs ConvertKit. It’s quite clear that ConvertKit offers the more comprehensive premium email newsletter service, and it’s the cheaper option in most cases.

The only scenarios where you’d even consider choosing Substack over ConvertKit are: 

  • if you’re not planning on charging your email subscribers (or only charging them a tiny amount);
  • if you’re not planning on attracting a lot of subscribers; 
  • if you want a blog to accompany your email newsletters (and you don’t mind it looking the same as every other Substack blog).  

Essentially, you might prefer Substack if you’re a part-timer. If you’re serious about making money with a premium email newsletter, ConvertKit is almost always going to be the better choice for you. 

To summarise: 

  • Substack: You get a blog alongside your emails. Barely any customization. Takes 10% of your profits. 
  • ConvertKit: A plethora of useful email marketing features. Plenty of customization. Takes 3.5% + 30c per transaction, and a relatively small monthly fee. Nearly always substantially cheaper than Substack.  

If you enjoyed this review, please consider sharing it with someone who you think would find it useful.

Donald Claxton

Friday 9th of July 2021

That's cutting the hair pretty finely, sir. What do you think of the strategy of using Substack to actually build a viable list, and then switching over to convertkit as the demand grows? I've read that by publishing a newsletter on Substack, one has better chances of being found and followed at first. Still puzzled and torn. --Donny

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