Founded in 2017, Substack is based in San Francisco and believes that journalists should now have the opportunity to be paid through readers. Audiences will be able to focus on their interests and find the writers whose content they enjoy.

Substack’s ultimate goal is to make publication simple and profit from subscriptions. Their accessible editing software encourages stories and news to be published. Their payment system is manageable for all parties, and a sharing feature allows writers to discover more possible readers. Substack’s design templates create wonderfully unique formats that are aesthetically pleasing and easy to follow.

So why is this important? Substack has competitors like any company, and these companies may offer different features that better fit your needs.

No-bloat Email Marketing Software

Upscribe offers all that you need to successfully sign up, segment and market to your audience via email, from pop ups to paid newsletters.

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1. Upscribe

Upscribe provides all you need to sign up successfully, segment, and market to your audience online, hassle-free. You’re able to send personalized emails to your audience, and you can customize your sending domain, so emails go to you without other senders attached.

This platform focuses on privacy, stating that they will not track your contact’s personal information. Easy to use, Upscribe has builder tools that allow you to craft eye-catching, interactive newsletters, multi-email sequences, and embeddable signup forms that can go anywhere on an assigned schedule.

Simple and versatile, Upscribe is the top choice because of its 14-day free trial, so users can fully experience what they offer before paying.


Upscribe’s pricing is based on the number of contacts you have. The plans include Newsletter, Growth, and Business with respective costs of $5/month, $19/month, and $39/month.

2. Patreon

With a familiar, free platform and an easy launch, Patreon is another option for independent writers looking for a way to get their work out there. Despite the negatives, such as hidden fees and a limited ability to engage with the online community, Patreon runs a subscription service in exchange for content. They provide users with more business tools to experiment and create.

Additionally, the creator can offer incentives outside of their content. Because of the different subscription tiers, Patreon can give additional bonuses to dedicated subscribers. For example, weekly Zoom meetings or a handwritten letter.

There is a sense of autonomy working with Patreon, and the creator can determine their own experience. The “Patrons” (subscribers) can engage with the publisher in a variety of ways.


Patreon offers three different plans: Lite, Pro, and Premium. Across these offers, they will collect 5-9% of your subscription venue.

3. Medium

Medium is easy to start your account and is free to join. However, there are limited monetization options, and you must have at least 100 followers before you can start profiting. Therefore, building a community is difficult.

Despite that, Medium is ideal for writers just starting in their blogging venture, and you’re able to gain a following through media publications. There is no requirement that you have web design experience, and you’re paid through a partner program that determines the price based on reading time.

Medium includes creator feedback and a newsletter feature that is mailed to your growing subscriber count and is free of charge as well. Unfortunately, another downside is the lack of distinction between liking and sharing content. It won’t benefit you as the creator but helps Medium instead, based on an SEO perspective.


Medium, as mentioned previously, is free to use, meaning that there are no fees or monthly subscriptions; you can upgrade to membership with access to unlimited stories ($5/month or $50/year).

4. Ghost

This platform makes charging a subscription fee easy and has a clean and simple design. Because of this, there aren’t a lot of monetization options, apart from choosing monthly plans. Also, there is no mobile app, and connecting with subscribers is challenging when engagement is limited.

Nevertheless, Ghost provides resources for creators to build membership services for their content. Their layout shows their philosophy, allowing creators to access features that give audiences a great user experience.

Then, you can publish and focus on your publications while building a solid relationship with the audience. Ghost’s recurring monthly fee is consistent, and you can customize your experience due to the platform being open-source.


Ghost has three plans, similar to Patreon, including Basic, Standard, and Business, with varying prices from $29, to $79, to $199 per month.

5. Buttondown

Buttondown has good editing tools and features, such as proofreading your content before publishing. These editorial components help with spelling, typos, missing links, and so on. It’s free to start your newsletter yet only remains without charge if you have less than 1,000 subscribers.

The community building features are minimal, and its simplistic design makes it hard to expand your business in years to come. Since this minimalistic interface specializes in creating emails for your subscribers, subscribing to your content is straightforward.

Buttondown gives the incentive to use the platform and gain knowledge before purchasing one of their premium subscriptions. The only aspect that would need work is their software because creating a space for your followers is essential.


Their pricing is broken into two categories: Simple vs. Professional, or, comparably, $0 per month vs. $29 per month. The free option transitions up to $5 per month for every thousand subscribers per month.

Some Other Considerations

Hubspot has excellent tools and many helpful resources for learning about marketing and sales. If you’re already a user, their software is approachable and convenient to start a newsletter since all your content is contained within a single company.

Revue is great for complex newsletters and is relatively easy to monetize your work, with an array of plans that best suits you. MailerLite is another website where you can create, market, and track your emails with various templates and detailed analytics. Mailchimp is the most used email marketing system that allows up to 2,000 contacts free of charge.

Regardless of what you choose, all these companies will help reduce the time you would otherwise have needed to write newsletters. On top of that, you get insight and access to tools and features that grab attention.

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