Substack: Is there a better alternative?
Substack has only been around for a couple of years but it’s already disrupted the email newsletter landscape. Here are the best alternatives.
You've dreamed of starting your own blog, and now you're taking the plunge to share your passion with the rest of the world! You can already see the influence your words and images will have on readers. Now comes the hard part. Which platform will best suit your needs?
A simple search on Google will bring up more results than you can shake a stick at. Substack is probably one you've heard of and may be leaning towards just because you've heard the name. However, there are Substack alternatives that can better suit your needs. Let's take a list at our list of favorites.
Ghost is an open-source platform with a single focus on professional publishing. It is specifically designed for independent writers, journalists, and content creators worldwide. With over 3 million downloads and counting, it is a popular platform with both beginning writers and veterans. There are big differences between Substack and Ghost.
- Ghost is an extremely flexible, open-source platform, giving you, the writer, an abundance of control. On the other hand, Substack is a closed platform that offers users very little independent control.
- Ghost allows you to create your own website, landing pages, and other materials you need to grow your business.
- You own your content 100% with Ghost. This means if the business were to go out, you could keep running your business since you own all of the material.
- Substack is a simplistic platform with limited features.
- Ghost plans start at $9/month, and they take 0% of your revenue. While Substack takes at least 10% of your revenue and for every $50,000, Substack takes at least $5,000 in taxes. Ghost believes the money you make should be yours.
Ghost's native members' features allow you to turn anonymous views into registered members. The bottom line is that Ghost gives you complete control over your brand and provides all of the tools you need to build a massive subscription business.
A lesser-known alternative to Substack is Buttondown. It is primarily focused on paid newsletters.
Similarities between the two platforms include:
- You don't pay until you reach your first one thousand subscribers.
- You have access to free archives.
- Enjoy drag and drop loading features, free RSS support, smart embeds, paid subscriptions, and discussion threads.
This is where the similarities end. Let's take a look at the differences between Buttondown and Substack.
Here are features Buttondown offers that Substack lacks:
- Embeddable widget
- Detailed analytics
- Markdown support
- Email scheduling
- First-party API
- Third-party integrations
- Multiple newsletters from one account
The bottom line is that Buttondown offers more features at a better price. A flat fee of $29/month is all it costs to join Buttondown, and they do not take a percentage of your earnings like Substack.
Medium is another platform you may be familiar with. You've probably even read articles posted on the platform. It is an alternative to Substack. Let's take a look at how it stacks up. Both platforms are geared towards writing, with Medium being more focused on blogging.
Medium uses a metered paywall and charges its members $5/month to access its content. Writers are paid based on many times their articles are accessed within a certain period. This is an incentive for writers to put forth their best effort and find trending topics.
There are significant differences between Medium and Substack, and they include:
- Substack allows you to reach an external audience. Whereas, Medium writers get most of their exposure internally on the platform.
- Medium offers writers a recipe for success, but they experience more control over their brand with Substack (those not as much as they have with Ghost).
- Medium does not charge members to write but rather their readers. Substack takes a generous portion of writers' hard-earned money.
Medium is a great option for those just starting out or who want to make money off of writing and not necessarily build a brand or subscription business.
WordPress is by far one of the most popular website builders out there. It is an open-source program that allows writers to make fully customizable websites. It is a self-hosted platform that is great for blogging, newsletters, memberships, podcasting, and so much more.
Let's take a look at the main differences between Substack and WordPress:
- WordPress is fully customizable, whereas Substack has limitations and forces writers to work within certain boundaries.
- Due to its simplicity, Substack is more user-friendly. WordPress can be a bit overwhelming to those without any website building experience due to its ability to customize. However, the versatility is invaluable once you get over the learning curve.
- The WordPress software is free to download and install. But, you will need to buy a domain and a hosting account.
- Pay a monthly or yearly hosting service fee and a yearly domain renewal fee, and that's it. Your fees are set. Substack takes 10% of your earnings and at least $5,000 for every $50,000 you make.
WordPress offers much more versatility than Substack and is more cost-effective to operate. It is a good option if you have experience building websites, want to learn or want a great deal of control over your brand.
Substack and ConvertKit both have a strong focus on paid email marketing. Despite their primary goals being the same, there are significant differences, including:
- ConvertKit only allows you to create newsletters, while Substack will enable writers to create blogs and newsletters.
- With ConvertKit, you can customize every aspect of your brand. Substack allows for very minimal customization.
- ConvertKit offers superior analytical tools so you can make informed decisions. Substack only has basic analytical tools.
Once again, price is also a differentiating factor between ConvertKit and Substack. As mentioned above, Substack is based on the percentage of your earnings. With ConvertKit, you can choose from three different membership plans and level up as your business grows.
The lowest-paid plan starts at $9/month for an annual subscription. For those looking to build a serious email marketing program, ConvertKit is the most cost-effective software, offering the most options compared to Substack.
Which Platform is the Best Substack Alternative?
As you can see from the list above, you have many viable Substack alternatives. However, if you are looking for a platform that supports both blogs and newsletters and allows you to customize without taking a percentage of your winnings, then Ghost is the best all-around option for those who are want to take their business to the ends of the Earth and beyond.
The world is waiting to hear or rather read what you have to say! What are you waiting for?