When starting out with a newsletter today, I would first choose between two general directions:
newsletter publishing vs. email marketing.
While email marketing is a well-known term I struggled to choose a term for newsletter publishing, as tools from this category are often just called newsletter tools. The trend towards publishing newsletters—instead of just sending them—was popularized by the platform Substack. There it was easily possible to access the archive of past newsletter issues, which seems to evolve into a standard feature by now.
Tools from both of these categories give you access to the core functionalities, of growing an email list, managing subscribers, and sending out messages to your list.
But the two categories have very different audiences in mind, so they typically come with a noticeable difference in user interface and feature sets.
From a Knowledge Entrepreneur perspective, I would recommend going with an email marketing platform right from the start. Your email list is just too important to make any compromises on the feature set. But there could be good reasons to choose the other category.
Newsletter Publishing (e.g. Substack, Tiny Letter, Revue, etc.)
A newsletter publishing platform focuses typically on creators that want to write and grow a personal newsletter. I would recommend this option in the following scenarios:
- If you want to avoid as many technical details as possible. Editor and interfaces are typically much more reduced and user friendly.
- If you just want to experiment with the newsletter medium. Similar to Anchor for podcasts, or Shopify for online-shops, setting up your first newsletter with Substack is very easy.
- If you want to focus on a single newsletter as your primary medium, for example as journalists, without the need for email sequences or segmentation of your audience.
Here a few examples:
- Substack - achieved the breakthrough for monetizing newsletters
- TinyLetter (by Mailchimp) - a friendly and simple option
- Revue (by Twitter) - recently bought by Twitter to enter the newsletter business
- Ghost - in an interesting step Ghost combines a blog, with membership area and newsletter functionality
Email Marketing (e.g. ConvertKit, Mailchimp, MailerLite, etc.)
An email marketing platform that puts a focus on the newsletter engine, segmentation, and automation of newsletter sequences. These tools aim more on entrepreneurs and typically offer a lot more features. On the other hand, their user interface can be a little complicated.
Still, I typically recommend going with this solution, because it will allow you to treat your newsletter list much more seriously. For Knowledge Entrepreneurs an email marketing tool can be compared to a community directory or customer database. You will have more options to add people from different mediums to your database and message them either with your newsletter or other broadcasts that are particularly relevant in context.
- ConvertKit - the current star for many creators because of its segmentation and automation features. Recently introduced a monetization model.
- Mailchimp - was the standard for many years. Very charming, bootstrapped company that grew over the years into a huge player.
- MailerLite - used to be the sleek and competitively priced alternative to Mailchimp. By now they are also well-established.
- AWeber - an email marketing software specifically for small businesses and entrepreneurs
ConvertKit is currently the darling among many entrepreneurs in my circle and I see many people moving from Substack or Mailchimp to ConvertKit.