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11 Newsletter Platforms & How They Work

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11 Newsletter Platforms & How They Work

Traditional media companies have struggled in the digital age.

As more people opt out of physical formats like newspapers and magazines, some employment numbers in the industry have steadily declined.

But out of this, new opportunities have arisen, including the birth of email newsletter subscriptions.

Substack, a foremost name in this field, was founded in 2017 and quickly became a game changer for online content creators.

With a user-friendly interface and robust functionality, it allows writers and creators to publish and monetize branded web content via monthly subscriptions.

A minimal amount of moderation and publishing guidelines provide creators with a somewhat unprecedented level of freedom, while also giving them total ownership over content, mailing lists, and intellectual properties.

An all-in-one publishing platform, it offers everything from community-building advice to legal support.

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As for its pricing structure, Substack charges publishers 10% of gross revenue, plus a processing fee.

While it’s easy to start, some creators have found Substack’s features limiting.

With that in mind, we’ve created a list of Substack alternatives to consider if that platform isn’t serving your needs how you had hoped.

1. Write.as

With a clean design and interface, Write.as offers content creators and publishers a custom domain, a wide range of support, and built-in RSS in an ad-free platform that focuses heavily on privacy and security.

Pricing:

  • Pro – $72/year or $9/month.
  • Small publisher support – $400/year or $45/month.
  • Submission management – $144/year + base subscription.

Small publisher support provides priority support, live chat, and consulting services.

Users can also add submission management to either plan to simplify submission gathering and publishing.

If you want to be extremely creative, this may not be your best platform, as features are limited.

For one thing, it only offers three different fonts: Serif, sans-serif, and monospace.

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However, because it is an open-source platform, tech-savvy users can customize it to suit their own needs.

2. Ghost

Ghost is another open-source platform from which you can run your media business, send newsletters, manage subscribers, and publish gated content.

Cleanly designed, it has built-in SEO tools and plugins that simplify content optimization and integrate with numerous apps.

Pricing:

  • Basic – $348/year or $36/month.
  • Standard – $948/year or $99/month.
  • Business – $2,388/year or $249/month.

As for Ghost’s drawbacks: It offers limited opportunities for monetization outside of monthly subscription plans.

3. Patreon

Providing a variety of ways for you to provide exclusive content to paid subscribers, Patreon allows you to build direct connections with your audience.

Used by musicians, podcasters, video creators, and writers, it provides more options for revenue.

Creators can make their own subscription tiers with different content available at each level.

For Patreon’s pricing, it’s free to use, but charges creators 5%–12% of gross revenue, plus a payment processing fee.

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4. Letterdrop

Newsletter and blog publishing platform Letterdrop integrates into your marketing CMS and was designed to help grow traffic.

Newsletter creators can earn money through subscriptions, sponsorships, or paid content for other publications.

Letterdrop stands out from other platforms due to its content workflow, content calendar, and approval process.

It allows you to rank content ideas based on your objectives and their SEO potential, making it easiest to decide what to write about.

Content can be published via blog or SEO-optimized newsletters. Creators are provided with analytics to help track performance.

Pricing:

  • Small business – $1,188/year or $119/month.
  • Growth – $3,588/year or $349/month.

5. Steemit

Steemit combines blogging with social media and cryptocurrency.

A voting system similar to Reddit’s allows users to earn a share of revenues from its own cryptocurrency.

The first social media and blogging site built on blockchain, content earns money by increasing engagement.

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Content creators, curators, and commenters can all get paid.

It currently has over 1.2 million users and is part of the Tron network.

Steemit is not the easiest platform to get started on.

Building a reputation and increasing engagement can be a slow process if your content does not go viral.

Also, it pays out in STEEM cryptocurrency, which is $.25 to the dollar at the time of writing.

6. Medium

Medium is a popular blogging and digital publishing platform.

It has nearly 100 million monthly readers and is free to use.

Used by both fledging writers with no experience and media publications, its Partner Program pays writers with more than 100 followers based on article read time.

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It has a curated newsletter feature that allows creators to content to subscribers. And both the publishing and newsletter features are free to use.

7. Revue

Part of the Twitter network, Revue makes it easy for newsletter creators to distribute content and get paid.

With a business model built on curation, it includes a high-quality newsletter editor with useful features like a browser extension that makes it easy to add articles from the web to your newsletter.

You stay in control of your audience and can grow your following using Twitter.

Analytics give you insights into engagement, click rates, and opens.

A free option is available, but you must have a premium plan for monetization. Revue charges 5% of revenue, plus a processing fee.

8. HubPages

Using a revenue-sharing model, HubPages monetizes user-generated content.

While it’s not as popular as Medium, it has built-in monetization, in which creators earn money based on article views.

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These are then factored into a formula to determine a piece’s contribution to paid advertisement success.

HubPages is very intuitive and free to use.

It also includes options for free or premium professional editing services.

9. Buttondown

Billing itself as the easiest way to build, launch and grow a newsletter, Buttondown has a clean design and interface.

It includes built-in tools for editing and proofreading content to prevent embarrassing typos.

It has ample third-party integrations and makes setting up paid newsletter subscriptions easy, even for the technologically challenged.

You can set tags on emails and subscribers to segment and specialize your audience as needed.

Pricing is dependent on subscribers:

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  • Free (0-100 subscribers) – $0/month.
  • Basic (101-1000 subscribers) – $9/month.
  • Standard (1001-5000 subscribers) – $29/month.
  • Professional (5001-10,000 subscribers) – $79/month.

Newsletters with more than 10,000 subscribers or those run by non-profits are eligible for discounts.

10. TinyLetter

TinyLetter lets creators quickly make and share newsletters.

With a generated URL, they can be shared across social networks to help expand subscriber lists.

Part of the MailChimp network, it was designed to help individuals send personalized newsletters.

A throwback to the earliest days of blogging, it doesn’t have the flashiest functionality.

That said, if you’re just looking for a simple way to send out simple email newsletters, it’s a good choice.

A free version is available for creators, but with a limit, as users can only add “up to 5,000 subscribers into [their] TinyLetter account.

11. MailerLite

MailerLite gives creators a software framework that allows you to add automation, analytics, and pop-ups with drag-and-drop functionality.

You can also edit or add your own HTML and rich text.

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It has good template selection, a landing page editor, detailed analytics, and marketing tools like A/B testing, surveys, and segmentation.

MailerLite allows you to earn income via newsletter subscriptions or direct digital product sales in your emails and landing pages.

Pricing:

  • Free (12,000 monthly emails, 1 user) – $0/month.
  • Growing business (unlimited monthly emails, 3 users) – $120/year or $9/month.
  • Advanced (unlimited monthly emails, unlimited users) – $252/year or $19/month.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

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SEO

Link relevancy trumps volume for SEO

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Data speaks Link relevancy trumps volume for SEO

30-second summary:

  • Earned media coverage is more valuable than ever for your website
  • Digital PR is just as important as technical SEO
  • A large volume of links is the goal, what’s stopping someone from picking the most newsworthy idea, even if it has nothing to do with your client?

In 2022, it’s impossible to deny the benefit that digital PR as a tactic has on an organic growth strategy. Earned media coverage is more valuable than ever for your website. You could be doing everything right for SEO, but if you’re not building links, you’re still missing out on the increased search visibility, organic traffic, and brand awareness that backlinks bring to your business.

Last year, Google’s John Mueller finally weighed in on digital PR as a tactic and confirmed what we’ve all known for a while now: that it’s just as important — if not more — as technical SEO.

As digital PR is still a relatively “young industry” that’s only just sprouted up in the past 10 years, many PR pros have relied on “viral” campaigns to boost the backlink portfolio of their clients. These viral campaigns are often celebrated but are often created with little regard to how relevant, or “on-brand” those ideas really are.

After all, if a large volume of links is the goal, what’s stopping someone from picking the most newsworthy idea, even if it has nothing to do with your client?

In 2022, link volume is no longer the goal (or shouldn’t be)

While many PR pros’ were evaluating their success around this one key metric (link volume) others in the industry have suspected for a while now that the relevance of linking coverage is a key factor Google looks at when assigning “value” to links.

Once again, John Mueller has settled the debate about link volume vs link relevance,  coming out in 2021 and saying that ‘the total number of links’ doesn’t matter at all.

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This clarity has helped refocus the digital PR industry and forced PR pros to re-evaluate what metrics and KPIs we need to be focusing on to drive true organic growth.

It’s no longer enough to be ‘popular’ you also need to be relevant. Not just in terms of the publications you are targeting, but the keywords you want to rank for,  audience interest, and most importantly, brand alignment to the story you are pitching in.

Google is continuously looking to become more intelligent through its use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. It wants to understand web content as a human, and therefore through its use of natural language understanding, it is likely to not just be looking at the anchor text of links in third-party articles, but it is also wanting to understand the wider context of the article that a brand is placed in.

How to ensure your link-building activity is relevant to your brand

The first steps to coming up with relevant content ideas for your digital PR campaign are to:

  1.  understand your client, and
  2.  understand your client’s audience and their needs.

Every good idea will flow from these two pillars.

If Google’s main objective is to show the best content to users through search, then your job is to create content that either supports your client’s product or service or supports their customers.

It is more important than ever to not only create relevant and on-brand content in the written form but also ensure that any supporting assets created (video, images, audio) are also relevant to the target keywords and services or products that the brand sells.

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In addition, it’s important to create content that engages people, to drive further buzz and positive sentiment around the brand, all of which contribute to greater brand awareness and affinity among your potential customers.

How to measure the relevancy of your backlink profile

We now have the technology available to us to be able to understand and assign quantifiable metrics to the relevance of linking coverage (or indeed the relevance of any text-based content) – which allows us to be much more data-driven and targeted when developing digital PR, link creation activity and competitor and marketplace analysis.

For example, natural language understanding tools like Salient, measure the relevancy of both off-page and on-page content. Tools like this help to understand how a search engine is viewing a brand’s content, it not only enables us to identify the gaps in our client’s backlink profile.

At Journey Further, we use this proprietary tool to measure the relevancy of both off-page and on-page content for our clients.

Measuring the relevancy of your backlink profile

We can use this tool to understand how a search engine is viewing a brand’s content, it not only enables us to identify the gaps in our client’s backlink profile but also aids us in optimizing its content on-site. The outcome of which – is a much more focused, effective, and measurable digital PR activity that is better aligned to SEO objectives and that delivers better ROI for clients.

Looking ahead to 2023

Looking ahead to 2023 and beyond, it’s likely that Google will only continue to develop better technology to understand web content.

All digital PR campaigns should reflect this, and where possible, be multi-faceted, not just relying on a single press release to get cut through. We need to be thinking as marketers, not just SEO practitioners, and ensure we are driving as much ROI as possible. Taking a brand plus performance approach to SEO and digital PR will therefore be key.


Beth Nunnington is the VP of Digital PR and Content Marketing at Journey Further, leading Digital PR strategy for the world’s leading brands. Her work has been featured in The Drum, PR Moment, and Prolific North. Find Beth on Twitter @BethNunnington.

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