While an excellent platform for beginners, Substack leaves a lot to be desired for growing publishers who are no longer content with just being able to send a newsletter to all their subscribers when they publish a blog post.
Digital marketing has transformed over the past few years, but unfortunately, Substack hasn’t.
This post will deep-dive into Substack’s features and advantages, then get into the reasons you may want to leave the platform for WordPress, and finally explain how MailOptin (a WordPress lead generation and email automation plugin) manages to be a much more effective, functional and even cost-effective way of growing your publishing business than Substack.
Why do People Use Substack in the First Place?
You might want to ask that if there are better alternatives available, why do people stick to Substack? First, Substack isn’t all bad, and it serves a particular group of content creators well.
Let us walk you through some of the major highlighting features that attract a lot of publishers to it.
Ease of Setting Up
You see, writers, especially the ones new to publishing in the digital world, are reluctant to put in the effort to educate themselves on how to use sophisticated publishing platforms or the different ways of publishing their work online. For such writers, Substack fits the bill nicely.
It’s straightforward to set up and allows you to get writing in less than an hour of signing up. You also don’t have to build your website or anything and can publish your writing and build a subscriber base without getting your hands dirty with any technical stuff.
New writers also get discouraged if they are told they would have to buy a domain name and hosting service, even if it doesn’t cost much. They have doubts about whether it would work, which leads to reluctance to pay anything out of the pocket to get more eyeballs to their writing.
Substack makes itself a pretty appealing option here, as it allows new writers to start for free.
It’s not that Substack is entirely free, though. It charges 10% of the subscription fees you get from your subscribers, but to new writers, that’s like they only have to pay money if they make money, not otherwise.
Collect Payments for Free
Another aspect of being a digital publisher that new writers see as a hassle is collecting payments. They probably don’t know much about payment gateways or setting them up.
Again, Substack is a hassle-free way of publishing here by collecting payments on the writer’s behalf through Stripe. It covers the processing fees in the flat 10% fees it charges on every payment you receive.
Why Look for an Alternative?
If Substack offers writers or digital publishers so much, why are many moving out of the platform? Well, if you have carefully gone through everything we discussed above, you would have realized by now that Substack is a pretty good option for new writers.
However, things get tricky when you transition from a new writer or beginner to digital publishing into a professional content creator looking to take your business to the next level.
Let’s find out some of the significant issues growing publishers face with Substack, forcing them to switch to another platform like WordPress.
No Control Over Your Subscriber List
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Substack doesn’t let you access your subscriber list or even export it. But while you’re with Substack, there’s not much you can do with your subscriber list other than sending all your subscribers an email when you publish a post or want to notify them of some other development on your end.
However, email marketing has grown into a much more effective and advanced form of marketing. Email marketing tools like MailOptin offer a variety of features and functionalities to help you market to your subscribers much more effectively.
You see, you’re likely to hit many roadblocks with Substack when you start growing as a publisher. For example, you won’t want to send an email to all of your subscribers for every post you publish.
You may have subscribers with different interests who have subscribed to your blog for a particular group of topics you post about while not being much interested in anything else you write about. With complete email marketing tools that you can use when running your blog on WordPress, you can easily create different segments from your subscriber list.
This means you won’t be forced to send an email about every post to all your subscribers. Instead, you will be able to send emails to only those subscribers who would find your post relevant to their interests.
Segmentation of your subscriber list is just one of your features when you move away from Substack to an effective email marketing tool with WordPress. There’s a lot more, including much more advanced statistics than what you get with Substack, setting up an automated email series for new subscribers, automation, customizations, etc.
Neglect Towards the Search Engines
It’s surprising that in this age, when everyone and their dog performs a Google search for pretty much all of their needs or when they are seeking some advice or information, Substack completely neglects search engine traffic and has no functionality to optimize your content for the search engines.
Writing evergreen content around essential topics in your niche could drive a massive amount of targeted traffic from the search engines to your blog, which you can then convert into subscribers. So it may be a steady source of targeted readers who then convert into your subscribers and then some of them into your paid subscribers.
But Substack doesn’t let you optimize your content for the search engines. So every piece of content there ends up being a blog post, with little room for optimization, customization, etc.
On the other hand, a CMS like WordPress already comes optimized for basic SEO performance while allowing all the room in the world for performing all types of SEO optimization.
Setting up your blog on WordPress and integrating MailOptin into it can help you get all the functionalities and features of Substack and more like the things we discussed above.
Limited Monetization Options
In the constantly evolving digital environment where diversification of income sources and monetization for successful blogs has become more critical than ever before, relying only on paid subscribers as your monetization is both risky and a roadblock for your business.
While many successful blogs set up on WordPress are making a lot more money with display advertising (displaying ads on their blogs), Substack is wholly opposed to displaying ads. Many free subscribers or readers may not pay for a subscription plan but would click on ads that are relevant and interesting to them.
Let’s not even get started on other monetization options like affiliate marketing, selling your products or courses, etc. Substack offers no support or functionality for using multiple monetization methods that could help you generate a lot more revenue from your blog. It doesn’t even let you create a contact us page or another custom page on your blog.
With WordPress, you will be able to use a variety of plugins to quickly take care of all your technical needs and focus on growing as a publisher. You can employ as many monetization methods as you like, and there will be no restrictions.
WordPress has many plugins that help you set up different monetization methods like display ads, affiliate links, etc.
Using MailOptin with WordPress
There are a lot more reasons for switching to WordPress with MailOptin. However, Substack also makes it hard for you to build a brand due to the limited control and confusion with the branding of Substack.
However, with a WordPress blog, you will be fully in control of your content, subscriber list, the type of pages you want to have on your website, your ability to optimize your blog for the search engines, and more.
Let’s find out how MailOptin would be a complete tool for you here and an excellent alternative to Substack.
Sending Newsletters with the Same Ease
Substack publishers stay with Substack not because they love the platform but because they love Substack’s ease of sending newsletters every time they publish a post. In addition, they are not tech-savvy enough and don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up complicated functions with other platforms to send newsletters to their subscribers.
But with WordPress and MailOptin, you can do the same thing. WordPress makes it incredibly easy for publishers to create blog posts, and MailOptin makes it even easier to send a newsletter to your subscribers when you publish a blog post.
You get a one-click option to send the blog post as a newsletter within WordPress while creating the blog post. You will be able to send your post as a newsletter as soon as you publish it live.
Do So Much More with Your Subscriber List
We discussed how Substack is limited when controlling and managing your subscriber list. However, with MailOptin, you can do everything with your subscriber list you ever wanted to do, including segmentation of your list, restricting emails to certain users based on custom conditions, setting up email campaigns without leaving WordPress, and more.
MailOptin works with all the popular email marketing software, including Mailchimp, so you can use MailOptin to send your emails no matter the email marketing software you use.
Attract More Subscribers
MailOptin has been specifically designed to help you get the most subscribers you can out of your website visitors. Unlike Substack, you can set up beautiful customized forms for your readers to opt in as a subscriber.
You can customize them the way you like. This will help you convert more visitors into subscribers than you could with Substack.
Further, you can also set up an automated email series that will be sent to all your new subscribers without you having to do anything. It also comes with many useful features, such as an exit-intent functionality, which helps convert visitors that are leaving into subscribers by displaying a custom-made opt-in form designed explicitly for leaving visitors.
Then there are a lot of other features, too, like A/B testing to find out what’s working best for you to improve your conversion rate further, advanced analytics and statistics, catchy lead form designs, page-level targeting, and a lot more.
Lower Costs, Better Revenues
While Substack’s ‘pay only if you earn’ pricing model might seem appealing initially, you would be surprised at how much you’re overpaying them in fees when you grow as a publisher and start getting a lot of paid sign-ups.
Ten percent of the entire subscriber fee is more than most payment processors charge. However, with the WordPress and MailOptin setup we have discussed here, you won’t have to pay anything other than what the payment processor you choose charges you for receiving the payments on your behalf.
Integrating a payment processor with your WordPress blog is easy, and you can even hire an expert to do it. If you get a good number of paid sign-ups regularly, it will be worth it as you will be saving a lot of money that you would otherwise pay to Substack over the long term.
Collect Payment Easily with a Higher Conversion Rate
Moving to WordPress and creating a good setup using plugins like MailOptin would help save a lot of money in fees. Still, it would also allow you to increase the conversion rate and get more paid subscribers to collect payments with great ease.
There are many different subscription plugins like MemberPress and ProfilePress that let you easily create a setup for collecting payments (including recurring payments) automatically, much faster, and more conveniently than Substack. It would be a great relief to use these plugins for collecting subscription payments for group memberships, which can be a nightmare to complete with Substack.
These plugins allow managing your members, restricting the pro content to encourage the free ones to purchase a subscription and create multiple subscription plans. Most of the popular ones also integrate well with WooCommerceSupposeIf you will be using the WooCommerce platform as the main component of your publishing system. In that case, you can even use a WooCommerce subscription, which is a WordPress plugin specifically designed for WooCommerce.
Long List of Benefits
There are a lot of other benefits of using WordPress, MailOptin, and any email marketing software of your choice over Substack. We can’t get into all of them in this post, but we are sure you get the idea already.
Ranging from managing and marketing to your subscribers a lot more effectively to getting targeted traffic from search engines with SEO to using multiple monetization options, including display ads and a lot of other things, there are just way too many reasons to make the switch.
Rishi specializes in writing on SEO, WordPress, and digital marketing in general. He’s obsessed with the digital, online marketing world, and has years of practical, hands-on experience with these topics. Check out Rishi’s portfolio.