Why Authors Should Ditch Mailchimp and Move to Substack

From Jane Friedman:

If you’re an author who’s been using Mailchimp to grow your list and improve sales, it might be time to ditch Mailchimp and move to Substack.

This is a big decision. I understand.

After all, as a small publisher, I recently made the decision to move our Every Day Poems publication to Substack, and it took some real work to successfully do so.

Why did I risk relocating a publication that was approaching its twelfth birthday?

Two big reasons I started the ball rolling

  1. Mailchimp has seriously raised its prices since it was taken over by Intuit and since it has pivoted to be a heavier e-commerce service. Regarding pricing, I asked Mailchimp for a solution that might be appropriate for their customers who are part of the creator economy, and they said, “You could delete subscribers.” That just didn’t seem like a sustainable solution if the goal is growth.
  2. One of our T. S. Poetry Press author/illustrators started a few Substacks last fall and immediately built her lists into the thousands (from nothing!); we watched her book sales start climbing. That sales trend has continued for her and for another author of ours who also moved to Substack.

The bottom line?

We saw a chance to cut costs and increase sales. What’s not to love.

Beyond that, we want to suggest 5 more reasons you might want to ditch Mailchimp and move to Substack.

5 reasons to make the move

1. You can get paid, instead of paying. Substack is technically a subscription service, and while you can offer your newsletter for free, you can also offer it at a minimum of $5 a month or $30 a year. Some people charge more. Sure, you can charge for your Mailchimp newsletter, too, but you have to pay to play. If your lists are in the thousands at Mailchimp, this can become quite pricey.

We went for the 5 & 30 model at two of the Substacks we now run. And while we lost paying subscribers when we made our initial move, the revenue has since tripled. That’s partly because we also added a new offering: The Write to Poetry. It might also be due to Reason # 2 below.

2. You’ll be in an ecosystem instead of a silo. Substack sends your newsletter to inboxes, just like Mailchimp, but it also publishes your content to the Web. This is extremely important for creating an ecosystem instead of a silo. All your free posts are easily likeable and shareable and, if you allow comments, can provide for engagement.

On top of that, the Substack network allows publications to recommend other publications—sort of the way blogs used to have sidebars where they recommended other blogs. If you really hit it big, you might even get recommended by Substack (that happened for us with Every Day Poems, and we picked up a lot of subscribers when it did!)

3. You can have searchable archives instead of invisibility. Substack has excellent SEO, and your archives (even your paid ones, if you toggle to discoverability) are discoverable by search engines. With Mailchimp, there are no archives except in people’s inboxes. Not optimal.

Does it make a difference? Our Substack stats show that it does. We’ve gotten new free and paid subscribers via Google searches that landed people right on our regular content—content that with Mailchimp would not have been findable by search engines.

Link to the rest at Jane Friedman

PG would be interested in the thoughts of others on the Mailchimp v. Substack discussion. He does admit being a bit disappointed in Mailchimp’s performance in the last couple of Mrs. PG’s book releases.

5 thoughts on “Why Authors Should Ditch Mailchimp and Move to Substack”

  1. This shark’s thoughts were complete at this part of the OP:

    Mailchimp has seriously raised its prices since it was taken over by Intuit…

    That was enough to explain everything. Because this shark has been dealing with That Company, and its competitors in its primary business line, for… ok, ran out of fingers, ran out of toes, gotta find something else to count on… years. And they make PG’s former employer look an upstanding, ethical, committed-to-the-common-good-and-their-customers’-needs corporate citizen.

  2. While I don’t use MailChimp, I use one of its competitors. Substack isn’t the same.

    If all someone needs is a platform to write and distribute a newsletter, Substack is fine. That’s what it does. That’s all it does. It’s essentially a blogging service that people can also subscribe to—more a competitor to an RSS feed (which is how I follow TPV).

    The real power of a newsletter service like The Chimp (though one of the dozens that are far better than The Chimp) is the ability to run automated sequences, tag users based on interests, and send specific emails to segments. Substack can’t do any of that.

    That’s why you see many authors using both.

  3. No experience with Mailchimp as an author. Substack is a great tool to build relationships with readers. One powerful tool is the built-in capability to recommend other Substack authors. To date, Substack has been easy to use, and has continually added capabilities such as Chat, an optional way to let subscribers interact. Re: D.K. Wall, a Substack newsletter includes an RSS feed.

    • Sorry, didn’t mean to imply that Substack doesn’t have an RSS feed. I was trying to make the point that they are essentially a blog with an email component.

  4. I moved off MailChimp to MailerLite after the Chimp said they’ll censor newsletters they don’t like. No opinion on Substack, although I’ve heard good things about it.

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