Creator tools

5 Substack Alternatives To Try In 2023

Victoria Kurichenko

written by

Victoria Kurichenko

posted on

May 18th, 2023

I started blogging actively in 2020. Every established writer and blogger used Substack to grow their email list and communicate with their audience back then. 

As a Medium top writer and an SEO expert, I’ve also registered on Substack, hoping to build my email list. Unfortunately, it did not take root. 

I’ve tried various Substack alternatives to find the one that would work for me. 

This article features 5 tried-and-true alternatives to Substack based on my experience. Unlike many online bloggers, I used every platform for a while before recommending them to you. 

So, if you are looking for the best alternatives to switch, you are in the right place.

5 tried-and-true alternatives to Substack

Before sharing my list of the best Substack alternatives, I’d like to mention a few things about the platform and share my opinion on why people started looking for other options. 

As of March 2023, Substack had over 20 million active subscribers and 2 million paid subscribers, according to the Substack blog

This number has grown significantly in recent years, as Substack has become a popular platform for writers and creators to share their work. 

Here is a breakdown of Substack’s paid subscriber growth over time:

  • 2018: 25,000
  • 2019: 100,000
  • 2020: 500,000
  • 2021: 1,000,000
  • 2022: 2,000,000

Hamish McKenzie, the Substack co-founder, also shared with Forbes that the platform’s top 10 publications collectively generate $20 million a year, which is roughly $2 million profit for the platform, considering that Substack takes a 10% commission fee. 

It seems like a solid growth. Nevertheless, some content creators, including myself, slowly shift away from Substack in search of new opportunities. 

I’ve also discovered an exciting pattern related to the Substack traffic. 

According to the Similarweb web analytics tool, Substack’s top traffic acquisition channel is Direct! The graph below shows that over 52% of Substack’s traffic is direct, meaning users navigate to Substack via links shared by content creators. 

What will happen if some users will switch from Substack to other platforms? The number of shared links will drop, and the direct traffic will decrease.

substack traffic generation channels
Substack’s traffic generation channels.

If you are looking for Substack alternatives or new opportunities for content creators, here is the table with brief information about every platform I describe later in detail. 

I hope this article will help you find a new online platform to embrace your creativity.

Beehiiv Convertkit Gumroad Medium Mailchimp
Free/free plan It’s a paid tool with a 14-day free trial It is a paid tool with a free trial Free to use Free to use It’s a paid tool with a 30-day free trial
Pricing and transaction fees Starts from $49/m Does not charge any fees Starts from $15/m Transaction fees 3.5%+30c 10% fee from every sale you make on Gumroad $5/m if you want to get access to all Medium stories Starts from $13/mTransaction fees 1.5% and Stripe processing fee
Custom domain Yes Yes No No Yes
Custom design Limited customization Yes No Limited customization Yes
Referral program Yes Available for Pro users only Yes Yes Yes
Custom email from address No Yes No No Yes
Website creation and publication Yes Landing pages creation only No No Yes
Embeddable subscribe forms Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Audience segmentation Yes Yes No No Yes
Analytics Yes Yes Yes No Yes

1. Beehiiv

Pricing: From $49 per month 

Features: Paid subscriptions, referral program, boosts, audience polls, custom domains, boosts, multiple tool integrations, auto subscribe quick links 

Best for: Startups, content creators of various sizes


Beehiiv is a relatively new newsletter growth platform founded in 2021 and one of the best Substack alternatives to try! 

I remember trying Beehiiv after it was launched. However, it lacked many essential features back then.

Nevertheless, the platform has improved a lot since then and gained many fans, including myself. 

With Beehiiv, you can quickly grow your email list using boosts, segment your audience, measure and improve your newsletter performance, create paid subscriptions, and more!

I was particularly impressed by the boost feature, which lets content creators pay to acquire new email subscribers. Besides, a boosts feature can be an additional income source for those eager to promote other newsletters. 

According to Beehiiv, $2.25 is the average CPA (cost per acquisition) you can expect if you help others grow their email lists.

Here is my in-depth Beehiiv review if you want to learn more about the platform.

2. Convertkit

Pricing: From $15 per month for up to 300 subscribers 

Features: Audience tagging and segmentation, landing pages creation, multiple tool integrations, visual automation, ecommerce solution for content creators 

Best for: Content writers, podcast makers, book authors, artists


I switched to Convertkit from Mailchimp several years ago and never regretted it. The interface and functionality are intuitive, which saves time for doing things instead of learning how the platform works. 

As an SEO specialist, I keep, grow, and monetize my email list using Convertkit. I pay roughly $30 monthly to benefit from paid features like visual automation. It’s one of my favorite features, which helps me nurture my audience and sell my products and services on autopilot. 

Using Convertkit, you can create email campaigns, decide who will get them and when, and automate email campaigns so that they will work entirely on autopilot. 

Here is how some of my campaign automation work in Convertkit.

Convertkit visual automation
Some of my visual automations in Convertkit.

Unlike many popular platforms, Convertkit has reasonable fees for content creators selling their products through Convertkit Ecommerce — 3.5%+30c transaction fee. Based on my experience, it’s cheaper than Gumroad (10%) and PayPal (4.75%+).

If you want to try Convertkit, here is a registration link for you.

3. Gumroad

Pricing: Free to use, but charges a fee for every sale you make

Features: Memberships, paid subscriptions, a marketplace to sell your products and services, easy-to-create landing pages, newsletter functionality, discovery

Best for: Content creators who want to quickly and easily set up a sales page without coding


Gumroad is technically not an email software but a powerful Substack alternative considering its features. 

I’ve used Gumroad since April 2021 to sell my SEO ebook and other services. The platform is easy to use and combines everything a content creator needs to nurture the audience and sell their products. 

Here is how the sales page looks on Gumroad. The customization opportunities are somewhat limited.

Most sales pages look this way, but it’s an advantage to some extent. Your sales pages are neat and clean, showing the most crucial information to help a user make a purchase decision without distractions.

My SEO writing ebook sales page on Gumroad
My SEO writing ebook sales page on Gumroad.

Besides selling your products and services on Gumroad, you can also offer freebies (free lead magnets) to grow your email list.

Despite offering one of my short ebooks for free, I’ve still earned roughly $140 since users tipped me before downloading the ebook.

That’s the power of Gumroad as one of the best alternatives to Substack. 

Here is my in-depth Gumroad review if you want to learn more about the platform.

Gumroad anaytics
My free ebook earned me over $139 on Gumroad.

4. Medium

Pricing: Free to use, you can get access to all Medium stories for $5/m

Features: A free blogging platform with excellent readability, an ability to create your own themed publication, a tipping system, an ability to grow an email list

Best for: content writers who want to grow their personal brand and earn money writing


Medium can be an excellent Substack alternative if you know how to utilize the power of this platform. 

I’ve been writing on Medium for the past three years, publishing over 250 articles and growing my account to 8,000 followers. 

Medium’s business model is pretty straightforward: readers pay a $5 monthly membership to get access to all stories, while content creators get a portion of that money depending on the total time users spend reading your stories.

Unlike Substack, you don’t have to rely on your own promotion to reach the target audience. Medium has an internal content distribution system that will showcase your content to users interested in your topics if your content is in line with Medium standards.

The platform evolved a lot in the past three years. New features were introduced for content creators, like a tipping system, referred membership, and an email list growth feature.

These new features will help you earn more money on the platform and grow your email list. 

You can see the screenshot from my Medium account below. My email subscribers’ report shows how many people subscribed to get my stories on Medium. Besides, I can also export this subscriber list to use elsewhere or import contact information to reach more people with my stories.

Whenever someone decides to subscribe to your updates, they’ll get emails when you publish new articles on Medium. It’s super convenient since you don’t have to do it on your own.

Here is my in-depth Medium review if you want to learn more about my Medium experience and how much I earn on Medium monthly.

Email subscribers report on Medium
Email subscribers report on Medium.

5. Mailchimp

Pricing: From $13 per month for up to 500 subscribers 

Features: An ecommerce marketplace, customer journey builder automation, 300+ tool integrations, website builder, built-in forms, behavioral targeting, reports, and analytics

Best for: Startups, businesses, and established content creators who need powerful email software


Mailchimp is an established all-in-one marketing automation and email platform founded in 2001. Mailchimp has offered solutions for complex email marketing challenges for over 20 years!

Mailchimp was the first email marketing platform I used when I started writing on Medium in 2020. I’ve joined Mailchimp because the platform offered a 30-day free trial and free account usage for up to 500 subscribers, which was way more than any other email platform provided for free.

The functionality was and remains limited in the case of a free version. However, if you are just starting and unwilling to spend money on email marketing, Mailchimp is a great Substack alternative and an opportunity to test your ideas before upgrading to a paid version. 

Unlike Substack, Mailchimp is a powerful marketplace and email software that you can use to build your own website, collect email subscribers through embed forms, and sell your products and services. 

Here is an excerpt from my Mailchimp campaigns report, including my website link and its performance statistics, welcome email performance metrics, and broadcasts. 

In general, I liked Mailchimp, even though some features are quite challenging to understand without prior experience.

All campaigns dashboard in my Mailchimp account.


What are free Substack alternatives?

Some of the free Substack alternatives you can try are the following:

  • Gumroad (forever free, only a 10% transaction fee for every sale)
  • Medium (free to use)
  • MailerLite (free for up to 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 monthly emails)
  • Beehiiv (free for up to 2,500 subscribers with limited functionality)
  • Buttondown (free for up to 100 subscribers)

I’d like to encourage you to select email software carefully because you’ll have to use it consistently. Furthermore, most essential features, like automation, are only available for paid users. Therefore, I recommend picking software based on convenience and easiness of work.

What is better Beehiiv or Substack?

Substack was launched in 2017, compared to Beehiiv, which entered the market in 2021. Beehiiv is a relatively new platform with more powerful features for content creators. Here is what Beehiiv offers that Substack does not have:

  1. Boosts: allows creators to promote their newsletters to other Beehiiv users and earn money promoting someone’s newsletters
  2. One-click subscription
  3. Advances audience segmentation
  4. A/B testing functionality
  5. Fully customizable emails
  6. Referral programs

If you believe the features mentioned above can be beneficial to your business, then it’s worth trying Beehiiv and deciding whether it’s a suitable Substack alternative.

Is Substack similar to Mailchimp?

There are similarities and differences between these platforms. 

Substack and Mailchimp can be used to grow an email list and communicate with your target audience with the help of newsletters. 

Substack is easy to use and customizable but short on features. Mailchimp, on the other hand, is a more affordable platform with a wide range of functionality, including solutions for ecommerce, website builders, and advanced segmentation. 

Ultimately, the best newsletter platform for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

Victoria Kurichenko

Hello there! 

My name is Victoria.
I am an SEO expert, Medium top writer, solopreneur, and the founder of Self Made Millennials. I help companies create optimized content and attract potential customers through organic search results. In addition, I share how content creators can monetize their writing skills.

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