Substack Alternatives For WordPress - Best Newsletter Plugins 2021

Published: 5 months ago

This article will be taking a look at the best plug-ins to create a Substack alternative for WordPress. Newsletters are on an uptrend in 2021, making a come back from the early 2000s. They are a great way to engage an audience, grow readership, and get content in front of the eyes of many.

Substack is perhaps the most popular tool around when it comes to creating and managing email newsletters.

It's had an incredible rise. Interestingly the mission of the for-profit Substack and Open Source WordPress are very similar, and both want to support independent writing. However, WordPress is more oriented towards blogs whereas Substack is a newsletter oriented service that you will need to pay for if you have a large audience.

It's a great piece of software and many of our clients use it, however it can get pretty expensive when you have a large mailing list. As an alternative, there are a couple of plug-ins that make it very easy to run this type of newsletter service directly from a WordPress installation. You can do this as a standalone set up just like Substack, or add it onto an existing blog.

Substack differs a bit in the way somebody would traditionally manage a newsletter. This is very oriented towards monetizing a newsletter, so we need a way for people to be able to 1), subscribe and 2) pay.

If we're looking to completely replace this platform on WordPress, then we will also need to be able to create the various pages and funnels that Substack has. Let's take a look at what they do so we know what we want to re-create. Then we will take a look at the best WordPress Plugins to run a newsletter.

The initial page is a very simple email collection form. There's also a link to an archive of previous newsletters. This archive is very similar to a WordPress blog.

Here's a look at that archive page. Very similar to a word press blog, except that it is a bit backwards in that newsletter is primary and the content accessible online is secondary.

This tool also comes with monetization methods as well as email templates. So, now let's take a look at the best word press plugin's to run a newsletter from. We are seeking to completely replace Substack with a plugin just like this.

Best WordPress Newsletter Plugins

Newsletter Glue

A plugin created to be a direct competitor and alternative to Substack.

Starting at: Free or $79/yr


Design

Well designed and familiar backend as it uses the Gutenberg editor for newsletter creation and management.

Ease Of Use

As easy to use as Gutenberg is. In our opinion Gutenberg is a solid tool that has great features.

Value For Money

When comparing the pro version to Substack, it's cheaper and better featured in our opinion. Value for money is definitely there.

Pros

  • no coding knowledge needed
  • new plugin but one with incredible support and features

Cons

  • none really

Features

Here's a quick video that shows how this tool works, making it easy to compare to other newsletter plugins for WordPress.

All you need to do is connect an email service like Sendinblue, and then use this tool to collect new email subscribers and send out email newsletters which you have built in Gutenberg.

The pro version brings additional Gutenberg blocks as well as other features.

Pricing

There is a free version of this plugin for under 1000 subscribers, and then you get to pay as you go pricing.

User Reviews

While this is a new plugin, there are a ton of five star reviews on the free version of it which can be viewed in the WordPress repository.

Our Thoughts

This new kid on the block is probably the best alternative to Substack for WordPress that we have seen, because that is it's a mission from the start. It makes it very easy to build out completely custom and good looking newsletters from the Gutenberg editor, and send them to a paying unhappy audience.


MailPoet

A solid plugin for creating paid/members only newsletters.

Starting at: Pay per subscribers


Design

The user interface is solid and one of the best we have used. That's because this plugin has a ton of external funding behind it.

Ease Of Use

It has a WYSIWYG editor that you can use to create a newsletter on the fly without having to write HTML code.

Value For Money

In our opinion, the purchase price of the plugin is worth it because it saves a lot of time and effort. You can create a newsletter on the fly without having to write HTML code.

Pros

  • no coding knowledge needed
  • really easy to get started and you can make custom templates for your emails.

Cons

  • Expensive; enterprise level pricing, but it comes with the territory as features are great

Features

MailPoet is a great plugin for WordPress that's used when you want to send email from your WordPress site. MailPoet is a popular service that allows you to send and receive unlimited emails, and it also has a lot of awesome features.

MailPoet was built by developers who wanted an easy way to take care of all of their emailing needs. When you use MailPoet, you'll get access to a bunch of tools, and will have easy installation. You'll be able to create email triggers when someone subscribes on your website, sends an email reply, or another event happens.

Here's a link to a helpful article discussing how to make a paid newsletter website with WooCommerce and MailPoet.

Pricing

There is a free version of this plugin for under 1000 subscribers, and then you get to pay as you go pricing.

User Reviews

People love this plugin because of the ease of use and template library. With the template library, you can change colors of links and call to actions. If your website uses a logo in the footer, you can use this plugin to include the logo in your newsletter or announcement.

Our Thoughts

The Mailpoet is a great plugin for creating newsletters and announcements in WordPress without needing any coding knowledge. It's easy to get started with it, has WYSIWYG editor which helps you create newsletter on the fly without having to write HTML code, saves time and effort when maintaining your website, provides templates that can be used by anyone just by clicking one button, allows users to change colors of links and call to actions as well as adding video into emails- all these features make this plugin worth its price tag! If you're looking for an easier way to create beautiful email marketing campaigns or announcements then definitely try it out.


The Newsletter Plugin

A timeless and immensely popular newsletter tool for WordPress.

Starting at: Free to $69/yr


Design

Very streamlined user interface due to years of being actively developed

Ease Of Use

Relatively easy to use but there are some aspects that we think could use some work

Value For Money

The free version is almost enough for virtually any scenario regarding newsletters and WordPress

Pros

  • incredibly popular plugin
  • has been around for a very long time
  • A ton of integration with third-party platforms as well as popular plugins.

Cons

  • Some aspects of this tool could be easier to use for non-technical users

Features

The tool becomes even more powerful with the premium extensions which connects it to plugins such as CF7, Facebook, WooCommerce. There are also add-ons for various mailing platforms, and features such as automated newsletters, reporting, leads, and follow up sequences.

Pricing

The free plug-in is very powerful and if you don't need automations or follow up sequences, you can probably use it. The premium version comes in at $69 per year for a single site license.

User Reviews

The reason this tool has so many five star reviews is because it is just what people are looking for. They want a way to replace the expensive subscription-based Substack with a free WordPress alternative, and that is what the newsletter plugin provides.

Our Thoughts

If you're on the search for a plugin to help with sending newsletters directly from your WordPress website, it's important to find one that is both easy-to-use and has some great features. The Newsletter Plugin ticks all of these boxes - without costing anything!

This plugin offers an unlimited number of emails as well as subscribers which makes it perfect if you have lots of different things going on or want  to share multiple news stories in each email. If those two sound like something you need for your blog, we recommend trying out this plugin because it won't disappoint!

Other considerations when using WordPress for newsletters

Think about the tool that you use to actually send the email. In most situations you will want a dedicated platform for this, such as SendGrid. Using the mailing features of your host will typically result in the email going to spam.

Another thing to think about is the inbox placement of your newsletter. You want the email to be delivered into a primary or "not junk" folder. This can typically be done by including a dedicated spam-fighting authentication header like DKIM and SPF in your emails.

Finally, consider the web host. Your server needs enough power to handle your mailing list without crashing (unfortunately we are speaking from experience here. Our recommendation is to stay away from shared hosting and use something like Cloudways).

We hope that this article was helpful when it comes to looking at the best newsletter plugins for WordPress. If you have any questions, thoughts, suggestions, or ideas feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

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