Want to Build an Email List? 8 Newsletter Platforms to Choose From

Want to Build an Email List? 8 Newsletter Platforms to Choose From

How many times each day do you check your email? Five? 10? More than that?

If you’re tuned in to your inbox all the time, you know how powerful email is — even after all these years — for connecting people around the globe. And if you’re not reaching out to your readers via email, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to connect with and build your audience.

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

Which newsletter platform is right for you?

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 consider growing an email list.

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

1. ConvertKit

For beginners? Yes

Initial cost: Free

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. Most users say it’s easier to use than the other platforms on this list, so it’s a good starting place for beginners.

ConvertKit recently rolled out a free plan, though free accounts don’t have access to all features. If you want to send emails to your list, you’ll either have to invite other new users to sign up or pay their starting rate of $29/month.

One other cool feature of this platform is you can easily create landing pages. That means you don’t even need to have a website to get people to sign up for your list.

ConvertKit has been growing steadily since its 2013 launch. We moved to this platform in late 2019 and have since enjoyed an increase in subscribers to our email list. 

2. MailChimp

For beginners? Yes

Initial cost: Free

MailChimp is one of the most popular email services for new businesses. Some users 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 and 10,000 sends per month, which makes easy to commit.

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, with the “recommended” package priced at $14.99 per month.

3. TinyLetter

For beginners? Yes

Initial cost: Free

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. The only catch: You’re capped at 5,000 subscribers.

“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 early adopters of TinyLetter include freelancer Ann Friedman. Since she writes for several publications, her weekly newsletter guarantees that fans never miss an article. (Ed. note: Friedman has moved up to TinyLetter parent MailChimp. You can read more about her experience here.)

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.

Pricing plans for more frequent senders start at $9 for 2,500 emails — not subscribers — per month. If you want to send unlimited emails or automated messages to your list, pricing starts at $29 per month. Campaign Monitor gets mixed reviews for usability, similar to concerns about MailChimp.

5. AWeber

For beginners? Maybe

Initial cost: $19 per month

Many big-name bloggers swear by AWeber. It was once the DIY choice, as it didn’t have pre-designed templates like many of the other platforms. But AWeber has gotten more user friendly since we first shared this list. In fall 2019, the company launched Smart Designer, which analyzes your website to quickly create an email template that matches your brand. 

Pricing starts at $19 per month for unlimited emails to up to 500 subscribers. From there, you’ll pay $29 per month for up to 2,500 subscribers.

6. Constant Contact

For beginners? Yes

Initial cost: $20 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 $20 per month for a list of up to 500. All plans feature unlimited emails. 

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.

7. GetResponse

For beginners? Yes

Initial cost: $25 per month

GetResponse offers a free 30-day trial. After that, $15 per month will cover you for up to 1,000 subscribers. Like many of the platforms we describe here, the company offers customizable email templates and landing pages.

If you just want to send emails to your community, GetResponse may not be  your first place to start. But if you want to build a marketing funnel and sell products, this is a an all-in-one option for you. 

8. Substack

For beginners? Yes

Initial cost: Free

This one’s a little different from the rest. Instead of paying a fee to send emails through Substack, your readers pay to receive your messages. Every time you publish, you decide if it’s for all subscribers or just for those who pay a subscription fee you set. If you have paying subscribers, Substack keeps 10% plus about 3% for payment processing fees.

If you want to share primarily promotional updates, Substack’s probably not right for you. But if you want to monetize your writing beyond traditional or self-publishing and you already have a solid following, it may be worth considering. 

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?

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

Photo via Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock 

Filed Under: Marketing


  • Wendy says:

    I thought this would give me info on how to build the list. But all it tells is how to choose a platform WHEN I HAVE a list! I’ve always wondered where the heck we’re supposed to find potential clients—especially since we haven’t been out networking. You can’t just pull someone off LI or wherever; emailing them w/o their permission is illegal. So are we supposed to pay for lists?

  • WonderPush says:

    Great points you have discussed with us. Thanks Newsletters can be an excellent way to achieve this, but it’s important to optimize them to drive conversions.

  • Chris Syme says:

    Thanks for this Lisa–loved it. One more thing Aweber does that makes it worth the dough–it will not send out duplicate emails in the same broadcast if you’re sending to multiple lists and have duplicates. Mail Chimp doesn’t offer that perk. Here’s their explanation: “If you send the same campaign to List A and List B, a subscriber who’s on both lists will get the campaign twice. We recommend managing one list of subscribers to reduce the chances of this happening.” That alone is worth the price of AWeber or another service that won’t send duplicates. I have too many segmented lists (teach online classes) and I cannot weed them all out by hand.

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

  • Galen says:

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

  • Philip Mayes says:

    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.

  • Dena says:

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

  • Pimion says:

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

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