In recent years, Substack’s newsletter platform has become a lodestar for creators and entrepreneurs looking to keep their audience updated on their content. But many are finding it a struggle to actually grow their audience on the platform.
The good news is that there are many options on the market for creators to consider transitioning their audience over to. The biggest problem with Substack is that it’s hard to create a sense of community and constantly churning out content won’t solve that problem.
But we’ve got some ideas for other platforms you can consider over Substack that will actually help you build community between the people who follow your work. But before we do that, let’s talk briefly about why creators flocked to Substack in the first place.
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In this article…
What’s the deal with Substack?
Substack burst onto the scene in 2018 as an alternative to the traditional social media platforms that many writers used to share their work. The platform itself offers a streamlined experience for anyone wanting to create a newsletter for their content and build an audience.
What sets Substack apart from many other platforms was its emphasis on allowing creators to brand their newsletters and, more importantly, charge people to access their work. Substack made it much easier for creators to keep their audiences up to date on their content while also creating a space that had glimmers of their own personal aesthetics.
But what many creators have realized is that while they can build an audience of people interested in their work, it’s challenging to keep the energy levels high. What does that mean for these creators? That they are stuck creating an endless amount of new content to keep their brand in the mindshare of their audience.
A master of one
Substack’s platform is quite literally a ‘master of one.’ What we mean is that while they have created a service with simple tools to get creators up and running, their actual feature set is pretty spartan.
While Substack is a great way to build up an email list, gain followers, and share work, you aren’t given many tools to build a community with your newsletter. It might not be apparent to you yet, but the lack of true community support on the platform is a critical oversight with implications for your growth.
Creating a true community around your brand is important because when you connect people together that are interested in your work, they’ll keep the conversation going. When you aren’t left having to constantly stoke the fire, you can focus on continuing to build your brand and releasing quality content.
This is where the alternatives to Substack we alluded to early come into play. We’ve compiled a few different options that all tackle the problem in different ways, but we do think there is a clear winner. Why spoil the fun though? Let’s dive into some of our favorite Substack alternatives.
Eight alternatives to Substack
We believe that the best alternatives to Substack will allow you to continue the great things you started on their platform while also providing you more options to grow.
1. Mighty Networks
The best alternative to Substack
While all of the options listed above are doing interesting things, and certainly more than what you get on Substack, they aren’t the best option. In fact, our first point of advice is to think bigger than newsletters, and content creation in general.
Creating a community around your brand is the key to unlocking new growth for your business. And that means the best choice is an online community platform. What we’ve created at Mighty Networks is what you need to bring your business to new heights.
We launched back in 2017 and our platform has quickly come to define how a creator or entrepreneur can build a community and a thriving digital business.
Our platform offers you a beautiful design that is all under your own brand. Additionally, we offer a native mobile app experience on both iOS and Android, full access to member data, and the opportunity to message all members at any time. When you create a Mighty Network you’re bringing together your audience into a private network where they can truly form deep connections with one another.
The best alternative to Substack will also give you more than you expect. In addition to world-class community features, with a Mighty Network, you can expand your business into the world of online courses, and even hold virtual events. Even if these things aren’t something on your radar right now, why bar yourself from them in the future? Just in case you’re curious about what else you can do on our platform, here are a few more features:
- Your community on Web, iOS, and Android apps.
- Discussion board posts, polls, and Q&As.
- Live and pre-recorded videos.
- Direct messaging and member profiles.
Our platform is all about providing creators, entrepreneurs, and their members an ever-expanding experience, so when you’re ready to try something new, it’s all there waiting for you.
One of the main reasons creators and entrepreneurs were drawn to Substack was the ability to charge a subscription for their work.
Patreon is a membership platform that allows creators of all sorts to run a subscription service for their content. Unlike Substack where you simply charge people for access, Patreon provides creators more business tools to experiment with offering content in the first place.
A big draw of the platform is the ability for Patreon creators to provide incentives outside of their content. A creator can make different subscription tiers on their Patreon page that will provide subscribers different bonuses. And those bonuses could be something like a weekly Zoom hangout, a personal handwritten letter, input on a future piece of content, behind-the-scenes access, and more.
Patreon is a great platform for creators trying to keep a sense of autonomy with their work and who want to experiment with different tiers of subscriptions. When you transition to this platform your audience becomes “patrons” and can engage with you in a variety of different ways. It’s not a true community, but it gives you some more options.
Medium is a well-known free blogging platform that many creators use to post their work and gain a following.
The platform has garnered a lot of attention for bringing in amateur writers who are just starting out, as well as known media publications. Medium is another simple and easy place to post your work with beautiful formatting and no requirement for web design experience. And on top of that, creators who post on Medium can also get paid through a partner program that pays based on total article read time.
The platform has listened to creator feedback too. Recently, they incorporated a newsletter feature, so not only can you host your work on their platform, but you can also create a curated newsletter to send out to your growing subscriber list. Best of all, Medium’s newsletter (and publishing features) are free for creators to use.
Some things to consider, however, are that Medium isn’t that great of a platform for engagement. There aren’t great distinctions between “liking” and sharing content, and ultimately if you’re newsletter is successful, it doesn’t benefit you from an SEO perspective. It actually benefits Medium.
Another alternative to Substack is a platform called Ghost. Outside of having a cool name they are serious about providing creators with the tools to build a membership service for their content.
Ghost’s platform has a simple and clean aesthetic and that philosophy extends into providing creators with features to give their audience a great user experience. But similar to Substack, they really are a master of one thing and that’s publishing. Creators who use Ghost can focus on creating awesome content and building real connections with their audience while also charging a recurring subscription fee.
Unlike Patreon, Ghost keeps it simple by only allowing for the option of a monthly recurring fee. Its platform is also open-source, so you can customize it (if you have the technical know-how).
Buttondown is an alternative to Substack that describes itself as the easiest option for building a newsletter.
On Buttondown’s platform, creators and entrepreneurs can utilize a wonderful minimalist interface to create robust emails for your subscribers. Additionally, they have great editorial tools that will help you out with spelling, typos, missing links, poor-quality images, and more. Basically, it’s the digital assistant you always wished you had.
Another interesting feature that set up Buttondown as a good Substack alternative is the subscription widget that makes it easy for people to subscribe to your content.
When you use Buttondown to create your newsletter you’ll also be able to start off free for your first thousand subscribers. This is a great incentive for using the platform and learning what your newsletter is all about before investing in a premium subscription.
Buttondown has a lot of great features packaged in lightweight software, but one aspect that needs work is its community building support. It’s great you can deliver solid newsletters to your audience, but creating a space for them around your newsletter is important. Buttondown still has room to improve there.
You’ve probably heard of HubSpot before if you’re familiar with marketing, sales, and CMS software. HubSpot is an interesting Substack alternative if you’re already utilizing HubSpot’s full-stack software for other avenues of your business.
The HubSpot interface is beautifully designed and easy to use. Additionally, if you’re utilizing HubSpot already for marketing and sales, it is incredibly convenient then to start your newsletter with their CMS. Not only will it keep your content all under one roof, but you’ll be able to make informed decisions based on the data from HubSpot itself.
HubSpot won’t be as approachable of an alternative to SubStack as some of the other options we’ve mentioned, but their software is incredibly powerful if you can harness its benefits.
MailerLite is another Substack alternative similar to HubSpot in that it is an incredibly powerful software platform that allows you to create, market and track conversion from your emails.
With MailerLite’s platform, you’re getting a no-code software framework that can take your emailing strategy to the next level thanks to automation, analytics, pop-ups, and much more.
Many writers have found success with MailerLite thanks to their awesome templates, stylish landing page editor, and detailed analytics that will help you make the best moves for your business.
One downside to MailerLite as an alternative to Substack is that it’s not free, so you’ll need to invest some time and money into the platform in order to get the most bang for your buck.
If you’re a writer who is interested in offering standalone newsletter subscriptions or a newsletter as a bonus to a digital membership, then Revue might be a great alternative to Substack for you.
On Revue you’ll have access to a world-class newsletter editor that many writers, journalists, and content marketing teams have found success on. It’s the little things that Revue’s software does that make it stand out from the pack. One feature that we appreciate is the browser extension you can download which allows you to save articles you find around the web to add to your newsletter later on.
It’s fairly easy to start monetizing your newsletter on Revue as well. When you subscribe to one of their premium plans you can begin monetizing your newsletters and Revue will take a 5% cut of your revenue.
Revue has gained a lot of notoriety, especially with being associated with Twitter. Their platform is sleek, easy to use, and has some great features. But similar to Buttondown, the lack of solid community building features will mean that you can easily get stuck churning out content to keep your audiences’ attention.
Conclusion - Ready to start?
At the end of the day, Substack is a good place to start building an audience around your brand, but the platform won’t grow with you.
We believe that building a community is not only the key to growing a business, but also to making the world a better place. Why settle for a platform that fragments your audience, and has no plans of developing the tools for you to make the best decisions possible for your business?
When you build a community on a Mighty Network, your content is accessible to your members anywhere, and your members have the tools to continue the conversation after you’ve left. Don’t settle for a newsletter when the better options are clearly in view.
Let’s start creating the next chapter for your brand together!