Want to Build an Email List? 7 Newsletter Platforms to Choose From

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Communicating with your fans used to mean waiting for letters to the editor to arrive at the newspaper where you worked. Or you would rely on the local bookstore to promote your new book, crossing your fingers that fans would learn about the event and attend.

But the Internet has changed everything. It’s easier than ever to stay in touch with your readers through social media. But one of the best ways to grow your network is with a good old-fashioned email.

If you don’t already have an email newsletter, it’s time to start thinking about it as a part of your marketing efforts — it will go a long way toward helping you land writing gigs and sell books.

Why an email newsletter? Because it’s simple and effective. As we test and adopt new social media tools, it’s easy to see why email has staying power: almost everyone uses it, regardless of age or technical savvy. And while you have to hope readers will see your message in the crowded spaces of Facebook and Twitter, an email newsletter allows you to meet them where you know they already spend the majority of their day: in their inbox.

So whether you’re just starting to build your brand as a writer or already have a loyal group of fans who keep asking what you’ve written lately, it’s time to think about growing an email list.

Here’s a peek into some of the most popular email newsletter tools, plus pros and cons for each:

1. MailChimp

For beginners? Yes
Initial cost: $0, but if you click the link above to sign up for a paid plan, you’ll get a $30 credit.

MailChimp is one of the most popular email services for new businesses, and it’s what we use here at The Write Life to send our newsletter. Some users — myself included — think MailChimp is cute, but it can be clunky during the editing process. The big perk is that it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers, which makes easy to commit.

“MailChimp is incredibly powerful while also being user friendly,” said Marian Schembari, one of our writers here at The Write Life. Even for users who are just starting an email list, a full-service program like MailChimp offers lots of options with room to grow.

If you want to send automated messages to your readers — known as autoresponders — you’ll have to pay up. Add-ons start at $10 per month, but if you suddenly get popular, you could end up paying $25 per month or more.

2. TinyLetter

For beginners? Yes
Initial cost: $0

TinyLetter is a MailChimp product, and its focus on text makes it a popular choice for writers. And unlike MailChimp, TinyLetter is completely free to use.

“TinyLetter is to MailChimp what Tumblr is to WordPress: It’s newsletters for dummies,” Rebecca Greenfield explained at Fast Company. “Unlike MailChimp, which caters to businesses and offers all sorts of testing and analytics features, TinyLetter provides just the basics. Writing a message is just like writing an email in Gmail, meaning the process takes only as long as crafting the body text.”

Noted users include freelancer Ann Friedman. Since she writes for several publications, her weekly newsletter guarantees that fans never miss an article.

3. ConvertKit

For beginners? Yes
Initial cost: $29 per month

This service specializes in email services for bloggers and authors. Key features include easy organization of sequenced courses, customizable automated messages and integration with the ecommerce platforms bloggers favor.

This tool is more expensive than some of the other options, starting at $29 for 1,000 subscribers. Be ready to pay more — perhaps much more — if your list grows beyond your expectations.

ConvertKit is still new, but has been growing steadily since its 2013 launch. It’s still got a small staff, and you’re bound to get dedicated attention if you have any issues.

4. Campaign Monitor

For beginners? Maybe
Initial cost: $9 per month

Only planning to send occasional emails to your readers? Maybe writing is your side hustle, or you only want to send emails when you have a new book coming out.

Campaign Monitor allows you to pay $5 per campaign and $0.01 per email sent in that campaign. MailChimp offers a similar feature starting at $0.03 per email, but involves a prepaid credit system that’s a bit more complex.

Pricing plans for more frequent senders start at $9 for 12,500 emails — not subscribers — per month. Campaign Monitor gets mixed reviews for usability, similar to concerns about MailChimp.

5. AWeber

For beginners? No
Initial cost: $19 per month

While this one’s more of a DIY solution, many big-name bloggers swear by it.

“Aweber does not have any step-by-step wizards for setting up email campaigns,” explained website designer and blogger Brian Gerald. If MailChimp and Campaign Monitor seem attractive for their easy-to-customize templates, then AWeber probably isn’t your best option. It’s not cheap, either: pricing starts at $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers, and increases from there.

But this tool has a major plus: Your emails won’t get kicked to spam folders. “Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Aweber’s service is their 99 percent or above deliverability rate. If your email does not get through to the recipient, nothing else matters,” Gerald wrote. “Aweber has one of the highest (if not THE highest) deliverability rate in the business. If you send an email with Aweber, you can rest assured it is getting through to your recipients.”

Copywriter Raz Wahid is also a fan. “I’ve used aWeber for almost three years now and love it,” she said. “The interface is easy to use, and their tutorials on using AWeber and email marketing are very useful.”

6. GetResponse

For beginners? Yes
Initial cost? $25 per month

GetResponse offers a free 30-day trial. After that, $25 per month will cover you for up to 2,500 subscribers. Like many of the platforms we describe here, the company offers customizable email templates and landing pages.

Business-builder and blogger Matt Wolfe blogged about his switch to GetResponse. He noted its event-based autoresponder tools, stock photos you can grab for your newsletter and solid reporting. Since Wolfe was switching from another mail service to Get Response, he was excited to see that he could import his existing list without requiring his subscribers to opt-in again.

7. Constant Contact

For beginners? Yes
Initial cost: $19 per month

Constant Contact is geared toward businesses, so if you’re growing your brand, this option might be a good fit. After a 60-day trial, your fees start at $19 per month for a list of up to 500. All plans feature unlimited emails, so go ahead — stay in touch with your fans.

And if you’re not tech-savvy — and maybe don’t have time to even want to learn — Constant Contact offers additional services ranging from account setup to designing blasts for the copy you provide.

Regardless of the tool you choose, remember that readers won’t open your emails unless you’re writing interesting content that provides value. So before you sign up for one of these services, think strategically about how you’ll communicate with your network.

Which email service do you use? Which feature is your favorite?

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Lisa Rowan joined The Write Life as a contributor in 2014 and was named editor in 2015. When she's not writing about writing, she cohosts Pop Fashion, a weekly fashion and business podcast.... .

Lisa Rowan | @lisatella

Lisa Rowan
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Comments

  1. I’ve been using TinyLetter for a while. And it made fall in love with email again.

  2. Thanks for this informative post. Here’s another awesome service: Mad Mimi. Easy to use, starts free, great customer service. D

  3. You don’t mention that the aweber cost of $19 is per month. Maybe some of the other prices are monthly, too; I don’t know them well enough to say.

  4. I’m surprised Curated.co wasn’t included in this list. I highly recommend it and proudly use it for Front-end Dev Weekly!

  5. Great post, and excellent auto responders. I’m using Getresponse, love the free 90 day course they offer…

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