Yep, you heard that right: you can now run a paid newsletter 100% inside ConvertKit without needing any other plugins or integrations.
Here’s why you’ll love it:
- Free — Start your newsletter and grow to 1,000 subscribers for free.
- 3.5% payment fees — Compared to 12.9% for Substack so more of your sales end up in your pocket.
- Customization — Landing pages, forms, and emails are all highly customizable to your brand and use case.
- Growth tools — Use our integration with SparkLoop to create a subscriber referral program to grow your newsletter faster.
- Automations — Convert more of your free subscribers to your paid newsletter with automations.
How it works
Start by creating a landing page and adding your newsletter feed. ConvertKit has 50+ landing page designs to choose from, so you can find a style that matches your brand. Here are two variations of mine.
But you could choose from any of the templates shown here: browse ConvertKit landing page templates.
Create your thank you page
The signup flow is ultimately a funnel—so the next step after they subscribe is to show the thank you page. I like to thank them for subscribing, then include a pitch for the paid newsletter.
Make sure to include testimonials and details on what they’ll get when they subscribe to the paid version.
Creating the paid newsletter
The next step is to create your paid newsletter and add it to the thank you page. You can integrate with plenty of other outside services to set up payments (Memberful, Gumroad, Stripe, and more), but the best option is to use the new ConvertKit Commerce functionality.
To do that go to Products > New product and fill out just a few fields.
From there you can customize the content and look of your checkout form. Upload your own photo or browse hundreds of thousands of royalty free photos on Unsplash.
Once your product looks good go back and add it to your landing page and thank you page. It’s also important that you link directly to it from your emails.
Speaking of emails, let’s automate those!
Everything I mentioned is on the free version of ConvertKit. You can create a landing page, start your newsletter, and collect payments all for free. Then if you want to automate welcome emails or pitches to join the paid newsletter you can do that on a paid ConvertKit plan which starts at $29/month.
Here’s what I like to include in my automations:
- A welcome email to set the tone and expectations for the newsletters, as well as share a bit of my story
- My best articles that I think are foundational to understanding the rest of my writing and how I see the world
- A dedicated pitch to join the paid newsletter
- More small upgrade pitches scattered throughout the the other emails
Once a subscriber upgrades they are pulled forward to a new sequence that thanks them for joining and shares the best subscriber only content. Here’s what my full automation looks like:
You can import this exact automation into your account—including the landing and thank you pages—with this shared automation: Install this automation.
With this you can drive a much higher free to paid conversion rate without having to manually pitch your subscribers all the time.
My email list is over 900,000 subscribers now and ConvertKit has been an important part of that growth. I like the amount of control it gives me. I can use the segmentation and advanced automations to get emails to the right readers at the right time.”— James Clear
To publish your posts you have two options:
- Publish and host the content on ConvertKit
- Publish on another platform and send the content to ConvertKit
Most creators ultimately find that running their own blog on WordPress is the right move long-term, but when you’re just getting started that may be far more than you want to set up. Now ConvertKit has publishing built in through the newsletter feeds.
Publishing a post from ConvertKit
To publish a new issue of your newsletter just kick off a new broadcast and mark it as public which will put it in your landing page feed. Once you hit send it will also be added to your public feed with the image you select. If you don’t set an image it will pull the first image in your newsletter.
Publishing from WordPress or another platform
If you prefer to publish from your site or blog you can generate a broadcast from a WordPress post or any other RSS feed. Once you set up this automation rule a new post will generate a broadcast in ConvertKit. If you publish more often you could also have it generate a weekly digest of all your posts.
That covers the overall ConvertKit setup, so now let’s talk about payments. ConvertKit Commerce is supported in 36 countries and we plan to support even more soon. Currently payments are only collected in USD, but we’ll payout in your local currency.
Pro tip: in addition to collecting recurring payments for your newsletter you can also use ConvertKit Commerce to sell coaching, calls, ebooks, presets, or anything else. So you aren’t limited to a single business model.
Free to start
ConvertKit is free for up to 1,000 subscribers. You can create your landing page, setup your paid newsletter, and start to get your first subscribers without paying a dime. Then when you’re ready to upgrade paid plans start at $29 to include automations and the ability to remove ConvertKit branding.
Credit card processing is just 3.5% + $0.30 through ConvertKit Commerce for both free and paid plans.
Once you grow beyond 1,000 subscribers or want to unlock the power of automations you can upgrade to a paid plan for $29. It’s $49 for up to 3,000 subscribers, $79 for 5,000 subscribers, and so on. You can see our paid plans (as well as the Creator Pro plan which includes advanced reporting, the ability to change links after an email has been sent, subscriber scoring, and so much more.
Comparing to Substack
Substack doesn’t charge anything for free subscribers, but they charge a 10% platform fee and 2.9% + $0.30 for each payment, for a total of 12.9% + $0.30. Since ConvertKit and Substack have two different pricing models it’s harder to compare directly, but we can model a few scenarios.
If we assume:
- A $10/month paid newsletter
- A 10% free to paid conversion rate
Then a 10,000 subscriber newsletter would have 1,000 paid subscribers and the creator would pay $1,290 per month to Substack. On ConvertKit the creator would pay $119 per month for the 10,000 subscribers and then $350 for the 3.5% processing fees, for a total of $469 per month to ConvertKit.
In that scenario Substack costs 2.75x as much as ConvertKit. If you were to grow your newsletter further or charge more than $10 per month than the savings become even more significant.
Now, it may seem like these numbers don’t matter that much. After all, I got my start with iOS apps where Apple charges 30%, so what’s the big deal with 12.9%? Well, it adds up to a lot of money!
At 10,000 subscribers the difference is $821 per month. That’s more than enough to buy a Tesla Model 3 with autopilot! Switch from Substack to ConvertKit, buy a Tesla with the savings.
Grow your list with subscriber referrals
Another huge feature in ConvertKit is that you can grow your audience faster with a subscriber referral program. Incentivizing subscribers to refer their friends is how newsletters like The Hustle and Morning Brew grew so quickly. To do this we partnered with SparkLoop (and invested in them) to include it for free in all of our Creator Pro accounts.
SparkLoop is used by Tim Ferriss, James Clear, and many other creators to grow their audiences even faster.
Does this sound like something you want to do? Great! Here are a few next steps:
Migrating from another platform
We’ve migrated thousands of accounts from other platforms to ConvertKit, so if this sounds interesting our migrations team would love to help you switch! Just fill out the form on the ConvertKit migrations page.
Create your free account
Learn more about paid newsletters
Or if you just want to learn more about paid newsletters and if they are the best fit for you check out this podcast episode that Barrett Brooks (COO at ConvertKit) and I recorded the other week.