How to start your own email newsletter
The email newsletter scene is booming as many people seem to love the idea of getting curated messages straight to their inbox.
Some of the best examples are Heated (on the climate crisis), NextDraft (the “most fascinating news” of the day), TLDR (bite-sized tech news), and Morning Brew (an insightful rundown of what’s newsworthy right now). We also strongly encourage you to subscribe to the Popular Science newsletter so that you will receive our best stories direct.
Not only can you read newsletters, but you can also start your own. Many platforms can help you get started for free, whether you want to do it just for fun or as a serious source of income.
Should you start your own newsletter?
Getting started with your own email newsletter is so easy and quick that it can be tempting to just dive in and get started.
We definitely recommend that you think carefully about what you want to write about and how you want to present it so that your newsletter has a better chance of success.
Other newsletters are a good place to start. They can give you inspiration for your own emails and give you an idea of what your competition is. Read them carefully and ask yourself how you can make your project stand out from the ever-growing crowd
Take some time to think about what topics you want to cover. You may have some great ideas, but consider whether the same approach is sustainable in the long run. Remember, the more regular and frequent your newsletters are, the more likely it is that they will attract a following and make people come back.
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If you want to make money from your newsletter, it is important to meet your expectations as subscribers are not easy to find. There is no shortcut to building an audience, so be ready to invest your time and effort before you see results.
What you don’t need is any technical or financial know-how – the platforms we’ve highlighted below do all of the engineering behind the scenes on your behalf. All you have to do is write.
Choose a platform
Substack has attracted some well-known journalists and writers, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a sophisticated, professional platform to help you break into the email newsletter market. They can be up and running in minutes, and you’ll be provided with instructions every step of the way.
The actual newsletter processing takes place in a clear, intuitive web app. They provide the text and the pictures and substack make it look aesthetically pleasing. You don’t get a lot of layout or formatting options, but that’s not really the point of this tool.
What really sets the platform apart is the help and support it offers. You can access detailed analysis tools and even a linked app to create and publish your own podcast. If you want to fully pursue the idea of the email newsletter, Substack may be the best place to do it.
If your newsletter is free, Substack is free. However, once you start loading, Substack takes 10 percent of every subscription payment for hosting your newsletter and providing the tools to create the newsletter.
Revue is operated by Twitter and is perhaps Substack’s most direct competitor. As with the previous platform on this list, getting started couldn’t be much easier, and it only takes a few minutes to write your first newsletter.
All editing is done in the browser, with little control over layout – it includes basic text formatting and image import tools, but that’s about it. We like the way you can quickly load links from other services including Instagram, Pocket, and (of course) Twitter.
Substack has a clear advantage in terms of the ecosystem you can build around your newsletter (like podcasting) and the depth of its analysis. However, Revue lets you use a custom domain and email address for free that Substack charges for.
You can start Revue for free and only have to pay (the 5 percent rate) when you start making money with subscribers. At the time of writing, this is half the price that Substack charges.
As the name suggests, TinyLetter sticks to the basics when creating an email newsletter. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how much time you want to invest in putting your emails together.
The composition screen for TinyLetter looks just like a compose window in an email client like Gmail. (If that’s your thing, you should know that you can also run your TinyLetter project from your email client if you need to.) You have a few more choices than Substack or Revue in terms of appearance and formatting – like more Fonts and alignment options – and it’s all very easy to use.
[Related: This wacky-looking font can help you remember what you read]
What you don’t get with TinyLetter are many extras such as analysis or podcasting tools. It also only applies to free newsletters, so you won’t be able to make any money on this platform. This poses a problem as it forces you to start over somewhere else if you want to harness the traction of your newsletter in the future.
One reason TinyLetter is so limited is because it’s powered by email marketing giant MailChimp. If you want further functions, e.g. For example, the ability to bill subscribers can go straight to this platform, even though it has a number of business-oriented extras that many people don’t need. MailChimp is free for newsletters with fewer than 2,000 subscribers.
Like MailChimp, EmailOctopus is more of a business email marketing platform than an email newsletter service, so it has a lot of features that are likely only business-friendly. However, since these larger platforms are also one of the more accessible to individuals.
It’s free to get started for free, and while the web interface isn’t quite as easy to use as other services on this list, it gives you more options for customizing the look of your newsletter, including a variety of templates that you can customize to suit your audience.
As an email marketing platform, EmailOctopus gives you plenty of additional tools to play around with. This includes the ability to manage contacts in groups and the ability to receive detailed analyzes of your newsletters, e.g.
EmailOctopus can use up to 2,500 email subscribers for free, although you will get the branding of the service on the newsletters you send out. To remove these limitations, you’ll need a Pro plan starting at $ 24 per month