10 Top Email Newsletter Services and Software to Know

Want to launch your own newsletter? These services have you covered.

Written by Hal Koss
10 Top Email Newsletter Services and Software to Know
Image: Shutterstock
UPDATED BY
Brennan Whitfield | Feb 03, 2023

Thanks to the recent and rapid advancement of email newsletter services and software, just about anyone can create, distribute and monetize professional-looking newsletters — even with zero coding skills or email marketing experience.

The capabilities of many newsletter services offered today go beyond those of traditional email service providers, allowing for things like newsletter curation to formatting and sending all on one platform. They’re especially helpful for making the newsletter process intuitive, affordable and not too technical for beginners and independent writers.

We rounded up the best email newsletter services to know, covering their advantages, disadvantages and the use cases they suit best.

 

10 Top Email Newsletter Services and Platforms

Best Newsletter Services to Know

  • AWeber
  • Beehiiv
  • Buttondown
  • ConvertKit
  • EmailOctopus
  • Ghost
  • Mailchimp
  • MailerLite
  • Substack
  • TinyLetter

 

1. Aweber

AWeber aims to make email marketing accessible and scalable to all, even for users with no prior newsletter experience. The platform boasts a number of email design and customization options, where users can create templates from their own pre-made website or Facebook page, or even get creative with thousands of free stock images, drag-and-drop and built-in Canva features. For technical needs, A/B testing, message automation and open-rate tracking are also readily available. To get started, AWeber offers a free version of their basic tools for up to 500 subscribers.

Best for: individuals or small businesses.

AWeber Advantages

- Free access to email templates, builder tools and account migration.
- Less than $20 per month for full-access AWeber Pro plan.
- Able to connect over 750 apps within the platform (like Facebook, PayPal, WordPress).

AWeber Disadvantages

- Must purchase AWeber Pro upon reaching 500 subscribers.
- Continuous email automation and split testing only available with AWeber Pro.
- Charges 0.6 to 1 percent transaction fee for all e-commerce products/services.

 

2. Beehiiv

Beehiiv, used by names like Morning Brew and The Boston Globe, offers a suite of newsletter tools that help creators publish, customize and grow their written content and readerbase. With its launch version, which is available for free up to 2,500 subscribers, the platform offers its own CMS, templates, analytics, audience segmentation and ad network options to curate email and website-optimized content. The company also provides creator and community resources, such as a best practices blog, API documentation and a designated partner program.

Best for: any business size.

Beehiiv Advantages

- Takes 0 percent from subscription revenue.
- No pricing plan contracts required.

Beehiiv Disadvantages

- Tools not sold separately, must be purchased in bundled plan.
- Publications with more than 100,000 subscribers must purchase an Enterprise plan.

 

3. Buttondown

This email newsletter service was started and is still run by one person, Justin Duke. He differentiates Buttondown from other other services by calling it a “tool, rather than an ecosystem,” built for people who, like him, want a newsletter editor that’s easy to use and that prioritizes reader and data privacy.

Buttondown says it won’t collect unnecessary data, and it gives users the ability to opt out of tracking. Plus, Duke makes Buttondown’s running costs publicly available each month, so you know exactly how he’s spending the business’ money.

The tool itself allows for third-party integrations and lets writers use a markdown editor. And, if you want to launch multiple newsletters from one account, Buttondown lets you do just that.

Buttondown is free to use — up to a point. After your first 1,000 subscribers, the service begins charging $9 per month for a Basic pricing plan.

Best for: individuals or small businesses.

Buttondown Advantages

- Free to get started.
- Offers basic analytics.
- Allows for third-party integrations.
- Lets users to run multiple newsletters from one account.

Buttondown Disadvantages 

- Must buy a paid plan upon reaching 1,000 subscribers.
- Costs $79 per month to unlock full-access Professional features.

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4. ConvertKit

ConvertKit is mainly for individual creators who want to take their newsletter game beyond simple newsletter writing and delivery and build targeted email campaigns.

The service offers the ability to set up automated email funnels, create customizable segments and even perform A/B tests with different subject lines.

Its editor prioritizes basic, clean formatting for simple text emails, which you can format into templates and save for later use. You can also create a customizable landing page for email capture.

Anyone can get started with ConvertKit for free, but access to additional features kicks in a sliding pay scale upon reaching 1,000 subscribers.

Best for: any business size.

ConvertKit Advantages

- Free to get started.
- Offers basic analytics.
- Can integrate with Stripe to allow monetization.
- Lets you segment subscribers, automate emails, perform A/B tests.

ConvertKit Disadvantages

- Sliding price scale kicks in after 1,000 subscribers or right away to unlock additional features (starts at $9 per month).

 

5. EmailOctopus

EmailOctopus is a quick, simple solution for anyone looking to start a newsletter, either for personal use or to engage customers for their small business. It allows for a streamlined way to design and send basic emails, as well as create automated email sequences that can onboard new subscribers.

The email newsletter service has a reputation for being an easy to use, affordable and GDPR-compliant email marketing solution, and offers its services to over 65,000 companies.

Unlike a few other services on this list however, EmailOctopus does not offer direct payment processing integration. Writers will have to find a workaround if they want to monetize their EmailOctopus newsletters through subscriptions. 

Best for: any business size.

EmailOctopus Advantages

- Free to get started.
- Offers basic analytics.
- Can use a custom domain.
- Integrates with third-party apps.

EmailOctopus Disadvantages

- Lacks ability to let you monetize directly through subscriptions.
- Sliding price scale kicks in after 2,500 subscribers and 10,000 emails per month (starts at $8 per month).

 

6. Ghost

Ghost’s all-in-one platform allows solo operators to create customizable publications and set up free or paid newsletters for their subscribers.

This email newsletter service also lets you gate specific members-only content and send newsletters to different segments of your audience, based on whether or not they are paying. It also allows you to control your pricing model, determining how much and how often subscribers pay for your content.

Ghost uses a markdown text editor and offers the ability to integrate with third-party apps like Zapier. It also makes it possible to import an existing subscriber list from anywhere. And it’s open source, allowing writers to own their audiences and content and easily switch to other platforms if they wish.

For many writers, the biggest hurdle for launching a newsletter with Ghost is that it isn’t free to use. Pricing starts at $9 a month, but gets higher if you want to access additional features, such as custom integrations and themes, or if your publication grows to a certain size.

However, Ghost doesn’t take a cut of transactions, as some other services do, so the math works in the favor of writers who already have — or plan to have — many paid subscribers.

Best for: any business size.

Ghost Advantages

- Takes 0 percent transaction fees.
- Integrates directly with Stripe for payment processing.
- Offers advanced member management and content-gating.
- Open source makes it easy to switch services.

Ghost Disadvantages

- Pricing starts at $9 per month for Starter version.
- Does not accept PayPal for pricing payment.

 

7. Mailchimp

Debuting in 2001, monkey-themed email service provider Mailchimp is the longest-tenured member on this list. It’s mostly used by businesses both big and small, and works for a broad array of use cases.

With Mailchimp, you can build and send email newsletters using its pre-made and customizable templates. And, depending on how much you pay, you can access sophisticated marketing CRM tools and set up pre-built automations.

Writers looking to make money through selling newsletter subscriptions will have to create accounts on a third-party app (like Campaignzee or MemberSpace) and Stripe and sync them together with Mailchimp.

Best for: any business size.

Mailchimp Advantages

- Free to get started.
- Offers advanced analytics.
- Has marketing automation tools and subscriber segmentation.
- Allows third-party integrations.

Mailchimp Disadvantages

- Costs money to use after 2,500 subscribers and to access additional features (starts at $13 per month).
- Lots of tools might not be necessary for independent writers.
- Lacks a directly integrated payment processing system.

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8. MailerLite

MailerLite is an email marketing service that can be used to create and publish newsletters for which you can charge a subscription fee.

Since it’s designed first and foremost for email marketers, MailerLite comes with automation capabilities. You can tag subscribers, assigning them to segments based on their interests or behaviors, as well as set up email sequences and conduct A/B tests for newsletters.

As for the email compose interface, it offers a rich-text editor with drag and drop capabilities.

With MailerLite’s premium plan (starts at $9 per month and goes up based on email list size), you can use a custom domain, HTML editor, remove the MailerLite logo and access advanced analytics.

Best for: any business size.

MailerLite Advantages

- Free to get started.
- Offers advanced analytics.
- Allows for custom domain.
- Can integrate with Stripe to allow monetization.

MailerLite Disadvantages

- Sliding price scale kicks in after 1,000 subscribers and/or 12,000 monthly emails.
- Various tools and features may feel extra if all you want to do is publish a first newsletter.

 

9. Substack

Substack was founded in 2017, but it made waves starting in 2020, when several successful journalists and writers defected from traditional media publications in order to launch independent newsletters on its platform.

The appeal of Substack has long been that it is free to use, simply and intuitively designed, and integrated with the payment processing service Stripe, so that newcomers can publish and monetize their newsletters quickly and with little friction.

While the service is free (no matter how big the email list grows), Substack takes 10 percent off the top from every paid subscriber. So if a writer has 10,000 subscribers each paying $5 a month (totaling $50,000), Substack keeps $5,000 and the writer takes home $45,000 before processing fees. 

The company regularly adds new product features, such as private Substacks, post and template duplication, inline footnotes and VAT tax compliance as of 2023.

It also allows comments on posts for the web version of each newsletter, offers podcast support and the ability to add a custom domain for a one-time $50 fee.

Best for: individuals or small businesses.

Substack Advantages

- Free to use.
- Integrates directly with Stripe for payment processing.
- Offers basic analytics, segmenting, sorting abilities and post comments.
- Can use custom domain ($50 one-time fee).
- Has RSS reader for organization and discovery.

Substack Disadvantages

- Substack takes a 10 percent cut of every paid subscription.
- Limited design customization.

 

10. TinyLetter

TinyLetter arrived on the scene in 2010, and was perhaps the first service that made it easy for independent writers to launch their own newsletters without much effort.

The service is still around today (though it has since been acquired by Mailchimp) and continues to offer a clean, non-fussy editor and, of course, the ability to send emails to subscribers for free.

TinyLetter lacks an in-depth analytics dashboard — you can still see how many subscribers you have, as well as how many subscribers are opening and clicking on each email — which positions it as more of a tool for writing and sending emails than a service for developing an audience.

If you want to grow your email list to more than 5,000 subscribers or charge for subscriptions, TinyLetter will prompt you to switch over to its parent company, Mailchimp, which allows you to do those things.

Best for: individuals or small businesses.

TinyLetter Advantages

- Free to use with no paid plans.
- Offers simplicity.
- Tracks subscriber opens and clicks.

TinyLetter Disadvantages

- Lacks advanced features and frequent product updates.
- Doesn’t let users charge for subscriptions.
- Tops out at 5,000 subscribers.

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