Yes, you read that right. Just in time for our 7th birthday ConvertKit is making the switch from a premium price to being able to get started completely for free.
Right now so many creators start on MailChimp for free and then switch to ConvertKit once they get meaningful traction. That switch can be time consuming and they would be so much better off to just start on ConvertKit, which is tailor-made for creators to grow their audiences.
Our mission is to help creators earn a living and we believe that by adding a free entry-point we are removing a large roadblock for beginner creators towards earning a living online.
Here’s how it works:
1. Build your free landing page
In order to start growing your audience you need a place for people to subscribe—preferably on a platform you own. Normally that means buying hosting and designing a site. But we’ve found that you really just need a great single page site to start growing your audience.
With a free ConvertKit account you can build unlimited landing pages or opt-in forms to start growing your audience. Choose from 30 different templates, add your content, personalize the design, and hit publish!
Once your page is up you can get your first subscribers by:
- Sharing your page on social media. We often see that even creators with a small group of friends on social platforms are able to get to 10-15 subscribers to their email list with just a few shares. Your friends are eager to support you in a new venture!
- Reach out directly. In addition to asking your friends in general to sign up, you’ll get great results by emailing and texting specific people who may be interested.
- Ask friends for referrals. Do you have friends who are better connected than you are? If so ask them to share your landing page on social or reach out to their friends who may be interested.
Ready to take the first step to building your audience?
2. Invite a friend to unlock subscribers and broadcast sending
Once you have your first subscribers you’ll want to send them emails. You can either upgrade to a paid account for $29/month or if you invite a friend you’ll unlock subscriber management (tags, segments, and more!) and the ability to send broadcast emails for up to 100 subscribers.
The friend you invite will also automatically unlock the same functionality! Remember Dropbox’s referral program? It works just like that.
You can keep sending invites to unlock more 100 subscribers for free with each accepted invite.
The journey to build an audience can be a long road and we’ve found that creators who join a mastermind or have the encouragement of a friend are far more likely to be successful. By structuring our free plan like this we encourage every creator to find a buddy to reassure them on this journey.
3. Upgrade to paid to unlock automations for your business
Once your new site and audience has traction, you can upgrade to a paid account for $29/month to unlock an additional 1,000 subscribers (on top of however many you have from invites) and the powerful automations functionality in ConvertKit.
The same tool serves your entire creative journey from getting started gathering your first subscriber up to powering massive audiences for creators like Tim Ferriss, Gretchen Rubin, and Tim McGraw.
Why add a free plan now?
ConvertKit is growing well and has been bootstrapped and profitable since the beginning, so I’m sure founders will ask, “why add a free plan now?”
- It’s the logical next step to execute on our mission. If you’ve been around ConvertKit for a while or attended Craft + Commerce you know that our mission to help creators earn a living is not just a nice saying, but something we align our decisions around. With a free product we can help so many more creators get their start!
- Creators don’t have to pay us until they are ready. Our base plan at $29/month has very high churn (12% per month). The most common reasons for canceling are “not ready” and “too expensive.” The creator journey is hard and so many people burn out after their first attempt. Now it’s not a decision to cancel and try again later, but instead to work on it more slowly over time.
- We want to power the entire creator ecosystem. Creators are building followings on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram because those are free to start, but they don’t actually own the relationship with their subscribers. Now they can build their own site with ConvertKit (on a domain they own) to form relationships with email subscribers. No longer at the mercy of algorithm changes or massive corporations.
- We now have the infrastructure to support it. Launching a free plan in the early days would have been difficult for support, spam, fraud/compliance, deliverability, and infrastructure. Now we have dedicated teams on each of those areas, send nearly a billion emails each month, and have built a platform that scales really well. A couple years ago it would have been a risky move. Now we have the scale to deliberately execute on this aspect of our mission.
- Affiliates have been begging us for a free plan. So many of our affiliates have been requesting a free plan to promote so that they can help their community get started on the right platform from the beginning. Now affiliates can make a single recommendation to their readers and help coach them to success. Just like before, affiliates will get paid once the account starts paying.
- We think we’ll grow faster. The final answer is that we believe a free plan will lead to faster growth. Initially we expect MRR growth to slow down as those who would have started a trial are now happy on a free plan. But over time we expect to reach far more of the market as ConvertKit—which has always been seen as the premium tool for creators—is accessible for free. As those creators build successful audiences they will eventually convert to paid accounts.
This is just one of many steps we’re going to take in 2020 to remove roadblocks to help creators grow their audience. If you have any questions about our strategy or implementation of a free plan I’d love to answer them in the comments!
We’re on a mission. Want to join us?
If our mission to help creators earn a living resonates with you, here are a few ways you can help:
- Promote ConvertKit to your audience. If you have a large community of creators we’d love to partner with you to get ConvertKit in their hands for free. Either through podcast interviews, webinars, or guest posts!
- Create an account, invite a friend, and give us detailed feedback. We know that our first version is just the start and we’ll need to keep iterating in order to get a great experience for hundreds of thousands of creators. If you’d be up for walking through the experience, making notes, then sending them to me I’d appreciate it! Create your free account.
- Join the landing page challenge. We’re hosting a contest giving away $10,000 and a lot of other great prizes to those who take the leap and start building an audience in 2020. Join the challenge.
- Join the team. We’re hiring a designer, several engineers, a director of product, and a few more roles. If any of those match your skillset and you believe in our mission, apply on our careers page.
Thanks for joining me on this journey to make ConvertKit the easiest way to start your next creative project!
32 Responses to “ConvertKit goes freemium”
This is fantastic! I was just not ready to pay for a plan after trying things out with the Creator Pass I got via Amy Porterfield’s Entrepreneur Experience. I love that I can start a list here without spending money on features I’m not using, while building a community large enough to then begin automating and scaling content! I didn’t want to switch to a free service knowing I would eventually move back to Convertkit. Thanks!
Thanks Trish! You’re exactly who we designed it for. Grow your audience for free, then switch to a paid plan when you’re ready for automation. :)
Hi. Interesting move and i like your reasoning. How will long time users like me who have a small subscribers base (500) benefit? It’s too late to invite friends and it means I am below the 1000 limit that you pay for yet I am still charged $29 per month?
Hey Stephanie, as you approach the next tier (1,000 subscribers) you can invite friends to increase that. So if you invited one friend you would have 1,100 subscribers managed for free. :)
Thanks for answering Nathan but I’m not sure it’s the point I was making. I was saying that those of us who have not many subscribers and yet pay $29 a month may feel like we are getting a bit “used” with this new deal. It’s the classic “you get more if you just join than if you’ve been loyal for years” story . I was hoping that you would have something in store for us to reward us for our long term support to your business…
I’m with you Stephanie. I think their move to a freemium is a great idea, but for me it is $300 too late. But it appears that the free plans don’t give as much as the $29 monthly plan, so that is good.
I love this. However, what happens when you have a convertkit account but it is still really small. Does the free account still work?
You can email support and downgrade to the free account. You’ll lose the live chat and automations, but retain everything else!
Awesome! Thanks. 2020 here I come!
I love this move. I can attest to the difficulty of getting 1,000 subscribers. I think I was on Convertkit’s $29/month plan for two years before I broke through. So I can see why churn is high for that tier.
Really cool to see this offering Nathan! I think it will both help a ton of creators and be a big win for CK. Win-win all around.
Super interested to watch how the sharing model does for y’all!
Thanks Nick! We all appreciate your support.
Having already once switched from my Convertkit free trial to Mailchimp, I’m skeptical that I could gather enough “friends” to keep my free status until I have cash flow to pay the monthly fee. Mailchimp lets you have 2,000 subscribers free and you’re suggesting 100? That’s a huge difference. While I agree your platform is better, I’m just not making enough money to pay the fee. I’m glad you’re beginning this approach but the thresholds could use some tweaking IMHO.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts! As we learn and scale our free plan we expect to add more functionality to it. As you know there are many differences between MailChimp and ConvertKit, so subscriber count is far from the biggest factor.
We also have a robust landing page builder and far more templates than MailChimp, so many creators are able to use the free plan as their whole website!
Hi, a lot of people will really appreciate this. I have a small mailing list with ConvertKit, do I get to swap over to the free account until I reach 1000 subscribers?
Very excited to see this upgrade to ConvertKit. 🎉
Feels like you’re throwing open the doors and inviting EVERYONE in so they can experience the benefits of your service.
I love that you’ve finally gone to a free model (I’m one who churned between 1-2years)… but had it been free I would have still chosen to grow with you.
However, I think you’re making a huge mistake by only allowing users to send emails for free using the method stated by recruiting users…. so you’re saying that to send free emails I have to first recruit new users:
1) My industry (landscaping, arboriculture, greenhouse/nursery) is extremely hands on and one of the least likely demographics to start an email list (very hard to recruit new users)
2) Not allowing a new user to send (let’s say) up to 250 subscribers/month with no recruitment requirements will also restrict you initial recruitment efforts as it will be extremely difficult to recruit new users if you cannot first at least email a few of them…. (maybe I missed what you said, but you either have to recruit or pay to send even one email??!!)
3)It’s has very MLM style marketing roots that is going to ultimately frustrate the hell out of ‘Bottom Tier’ new users as the recruitment pool is diminished (not to mention people who don’t like the stigma around MLM style recruitment efforts)..
I was very excited to read that you finally have a free plan, but honestly; that one detail really put cold water on my personal enthusiasm.
You need to fix that detail if you actually want this recruitment incentive to work.
Personally; I still view this as a paid plan…
FREE literally means – no obligation emails to a subscribers inbox for up to ‘X’ number of subscribers.
Tack your recruitment incentives on top of this actually free model and then try again…
I know you did it with your business name change; and that was a very brave decision – you may have to change this as well, or people will still go all Mail Chimp on you;)
All the best,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jared. As I mentioned in the article we believe creators will be more successful if they recruit a friend. You’re right that MailChimp still offers more subscribers for free, but we are competing on the rest of the product, not just subscriber count (that’s a losing battle).
We’ve built a product so good that people are starting to cancel their paid landing page accounts and use ConvertKit for free—that’s already saving them ~$30 per month!
As we learn and scale we plan to keep increasing the limits on our free offering.
Thanks for your reply; personally I’d rather just pay a sliding scale on my way to 1,000 subscribers.
$29/month is too much money to pay to send less that 100 emails/month. Also this currently translates into $40/month Canadian.
How about a sliding scale?
1000/10=100 sub increments.
$29/10= $2.99/month per 100 subscribers.
100-200=start paying on a sliding scale…. I’d even pay more per month for every 100 subs as momentum builds.
But 0-100 is like cold starting an engine, and that to me is time when the most help is required.
I love the direction this is going, but do wish the free plan included just broadcasting for the first 100 subscribers.
Reason being: it is important to start emailing your subscribers when they first sign up, even if it is just your Mom and 5 other people.
Which means you need to upgrade right away to get any value out of using Convertkit.
I think the free plan for collecting subscribers is great for bloggers who haven’t launched their blog. Though, I don’t see people staying on it for longer than the regular 14 day trial.
The referral method is an interesting idea, but beginning bloggers rarely know other bloggers to refer yet.
Will be interesting to see how that pans out.
This is probably the worst free plan ever. You can’t send emails at all in the free plan? That means just keeping the list part is free, and using it will cost the same. I really don’t see the point then. And don’t tell me that the referral program is the answer. We have enough to do as small business owners and entrepreneurs as it is.
This is not even close to comparison to Mailchimp’s free plan.
I really hope you reconsider the free plan.
Did you read the post? Get an invite or invite someone and you can send emails.
If you’re a busy business owner we recommend using one of our paid plans!
I know that’s right! I see the value in ConvertKit but am not ready to manage the recurring fee. I READ THE POST and was quick to send out referrals to others, I got 100 subscribers in less than 10 minutes and texted/called a few people who I knew were in a similar place in their business and would be equally excited about a free ConvertKit plan. I’m expecting to have another 300 subscribers added to my account before the end of the day. Happy New Year to us! Thanks Nathan!!!
I signed up with a deferment a while back, as I cannot get this started until I have a new email address connected to the website I haven’t gotten set up yet! Both of which are at the top of my to-do list for January! Can I still get in on the free account?
This is awesome! I’m launching a brand new 90-day Email Marketing Challenge for educators and this news of a free version of CK is exactly I was looking for!
How can we connect to discuss working together to promote CK to the EDU crowd?
Great move Nathan! Did the same in 2006 with our store builder software for Latin American small businesses and that was one of the best things we ever did. Good luck in 2020 and beyond!!
Here’s a question: I manage the affairs of a few clubs locally, do we want them on ConvertKit even though they are unlikely to ever grow to the point of a paid plan?
The examples are a local book club, bowling league etc.
Good luck, but I hope offering a free plan won’t hurt delivery. Is this something you’ve considered?
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love Convertkit but was not able to maintain an account during the initial growth of my business. This gives me an opportunity to get my business growing and off the ground before having to invest a lot of capital. Convertkit has awesome customer service and knows how to create loyal customers.
I’d like to know more about what you have to offer.
It’s a great thing Nathan.
I started using it. But it forced me to use the landing page as the home page.
I don’t want that. The customer support said it wasn’t possible.
Else, it seems good.