Substack allows writers to create a sense of community with their readers and monetize their work.
However, it has some issues. In this post, we’ll be talking about Substack, its benefits and problems, and its best alternatives.
Although publishing is free, if you have paid subscriptions to Substack, you are charged 10% and a credit card fee charged by their payment processor.
What’s special about Substack is you can directly charge readers to access your work.
Moreover, you can create a space that reflects your own personal aesthetic while building an audience.
However, users find it’s hard to keep their public interest and create a sense of community.
And Substack doesn’t offer analytics or third-party integration tools, but at the same time remains expensive.
So today we’re going to take a look at some Substack alternatives for all my fellow writers out there that need to make a living.
Why Choose a Substack Alternative
I’m going to say something obvious here: being a writer and making money can be a difficult combination.
People turn to clickbait to hit pageview targets and become dependent on advertisers and brands. But Substack and its alternatives give you the freedom to focus your time and energy on quality instead of quantity.
These platforms help you build a community outside of social media. That’s awesome news, since social media has plenty of problems:
- People are easily distracted and unfocused.
- There are lots of ads.
- They’re starting to have fewer users since people are looking for alternative spaces where they can safely be vulnerable.
Best Substack Alternatives
The options on this list aren’t necessarily focused on newsletters, but rather offer different approaches to helping you build a community and monetize as a writer. So let’s dive right in.
Patreon is one of the most popular ways creators of all kinds earn money.
Patreon has notable journalists and award-winning writers using its platform. I’m talking about sci-fi authors, bloggers, and independent journalists using its tools to make a living.
- Native iOS and Android apps.
- Patrons can pledge to you via credit card or Paypal. And as a creator, you can receive the payouts via a direct deposit, PayPal or Payoneer.
- Gate keeps your content private and gives private community access.
- Create a private email list for paying tiers.
Patreon charges you an industry-standard rate for processing payments plus a percentage that varies according to plan:
- Lite: 5% of the monthly income you earn on Patreon. Includes a hosted creator page and Patreon workshops.
- Pro: 8% of your monthly income. It comes with unlimited app integrations, analytics and insights, and membership tiers.
- Premium: 12% of your monthly income. Access to dedicated coaching and support, team accounts, and more.
Medium is a platform especially aimed at writers and readers.
Although it doesn’t center on monetization, it does have some features for those who want to earn some money while sharing their ideas.
The problem with Medium, though, is, unlike other options, free members have very limited access to content. Readers can only see three stories per month.
- Medium’s paywall lets you receive revenue based on your stories’ performance among Medium members.
- Medium Enhanced Stats Chrome extension.
- Publish your Medium articles with audio so users can consume your articles like a podcast or audiobook.
- Partner Program available for certain countries. Earn money based on member engagement and conversions.
Medium is free. However, to participate in the Medium Partner Program, you need to meet the eligibility criteria. This includes being over 18, living in an eligible location and having at least 100 followers on Medium.
Vocal is an interesting Substack alternative because it gives you two options to earn money: get paid based on the number of reads your story receives, or get tips from your fans.
Like other options in this list. Vocal works with Stripe, so you need to have a Stripe account to receive the money.
- Storytelling tools: embed photos, videos, music and more.
- Receive pledges from your readers and payment according to engagement.
- Customize your creator page (available in upcoming updates).
- Moderated community: stories are published within 24 hours after the moderation team approves them.
- Free Vocal: earn $3.80 per 1,000 reads. You’ll need to earn $35 before being able to withdraw and you’ll be charged a 7% fee on tips.
- Vocal+: earn $6 per 1,000 reads. You’ll need to earn $20 before being able to withdraw and you’ll be charged a 2.9% fee on tips.
If you’re a Twitter user, Revue is for you. Created by the social media platform, Revue lets your fans subscribe to your newsletter directly from Twitter, either from one of your Tweets or your profile.
Moreover, Revue has a browser extension that allows you to save articles from anywhere on the Internet to add later to your newsletter.
- Cross-publishing: post your issues to Medium, WordPress and other platforms.
- WordPress plugin and content integrations like Pocket, Instagram or Facebook.
- Schedule newsletters to send later.
- Engagement analytics.
Revue lets you send newsletters for free. However, they will take a 5% cut of your revenue in addition to processing fees if you set up a paid membership option for your subscribers.
Mighty Networks was launched back in 2017 and are different from the options we’ve been talking about.
Apart from building a community, you can create courses, make live streams and hold group chat events.
Their website is full of amazing success stories like LO Sister, a project that sold 1,100 tickets for a conference using Mighty’s powerful features.
- Build courses and host virtual events.
- Unlimited members and direct messaging.
- SEO features.
- Detailed member and marketing analytics.
- Web, iOS and Android apps.
- The community plan: $33 per month if paid annually. Includes paid memberships, chat and messaging, and native Livestream.
- The business plan: $99 per month. Access to analytics, Zapier API and Live Cohort Course Creation.
- Mighty Pro: customized. Get branded app integrations alongside Account Management and Strategy Support.
Buttondown is a one-person show run by Justin Duke.
Yes, you read that right. It’s such a human platform that you’ll receive a personalized answer from him each time you need help.
It’s also a simple tool that lets you spend your time writing instead of figuring out how to use its interface. For anyone who wants a straightforward and affordable Substack alternative, Buttondown is perfect.
- Squarespace, IFTTT, Ghost and other third-party integrations.
- Write in Markdown and easily embed Tweets, avoiding complex builder.
- Track subscriber retention, open rates, and more with flexible, powerful analytics.
Buttondown has a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can choose between two tiers depending on whether you want API and Zapier support, among other premium features:
- Buttondown for professionals: $29 per month.
You also have to pay as you grow, so you’ll be charged $5 per month for every thousand subscribers.
But the nice news is that part of Buttondown’s profits are destined to fundsoftware!
The last on our list is Memberful. We have to include it because recently, Memberful added a new feature to create paid newsletters.
You can use their in-house delivery tool or integrate it with your email marketing service. In that case, you can calculate your revenue on this page and see for yourself how Memberful is a better option than Substack.
- Integrate with your favorite email marketing services: MailChimp, Mailerlite, and more.
- Custom WordPress plugin.
- Offer coupons and free trials to increase engagement and conversions.
- Memberful uses 256-bit SSL security and keeps backups of all your important data.
You can try Memberful for free. No credit card is required. After that, all plans include a transaction fee alongside their price. Prices vary according to features since all include unlimited members.
- Starter: free. Sell private podcasts and collect taxes.
- Pro: $25 per month. Deliver member-only newsletters and offer coupon codes.
- Premium: $100 per month. Offer group subscriptions and remove the Memberful badge.
As the Internet keeps evolving and looking for healthier ways for people to gather and interact, you need a place to grow as well.
Substack is a very cool option for that, but it’s not perfect. In this post, we give you the best Substack alternatives to find your way. Patreon and Medium are the two most popular and they certainly offer great ways to monetize your content.
However, if you are looking for a minimal option, you should definitely check out the indie project Buttondown or Memberful.
For those looking to tell stories, Vocal is an excellent choice. And if you still want to share your content on social media, consider Revue.
Lastly, remember, Mighty Network is a super complete option with courses and live streams if that’s your jam.
So which one would you choose? Let us know in the comments!