Newsletters are powerful communication tools for brands, businesses, and creatives. They make it easier to manage and share customer content, or blog-type information, as the case may be.


MailChimp and Substack are two of the most popular newsletter tools, each with distinct features and capabilities. For the purpose of comparing them, we’ll have a detailed look at both in this article, so you have a cursory look at what they each bring to the table.

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Key Features of Substack

The Substack Publishing Platform

Substack is a newsletter management platform that helps creators publish and monetize newsletters through a revenue sharing model. It provides users with tools to manage and build their audiences, across various subjects and fields.

Here are some of its key features:

1. Free to Use

If you are just starting out with newsletter publishing, paying for a platform—especially when you do not have an established audience—might not be the best option. As such, one hallmark of Substack is that it does not require you to pay to publish on its platform.

Essentially, you only start to pay when you decide to, which is when you begin to earn from newsletters published on the platform. Substack will earn a 10% cut from your earnings. This means you can take as much time as you need to grow your newsletter audience without incurring costs on publishing.

Also, you can build reader confidence in your newsletters, as it is not uncommon for people to hold off subscribing until they are sure of the value it holds for them.

2. Easy Navigation

Another great thing about Substack is that it is simple to use, and you don’t require special skills to operate the platform. The interface is intuitive and user-friendly.

To get started, head to Substack’s website, create an account, set up your profile, and pick a publication URL. The editing interface is simple and has the basic tools to help you create and edit newsletters.

Substack Editing Features

The layout is concise, and you can easily insert links, images, audio clips, and customizable buttons for your readers. It also offers you a dashboard view of your activities, and you can view your subscriber statistics under that menu, all with ease.

Subscriber Statistics on Substack

3. Monetize Newsletters

When you switch to paid publications, the platform helps you monetize your writing by providing a platform to connect with your audience. Your readers will have to pay for your service on a recurring subscription basis.

This is a convenient way to earn while you write, and helps you gain the most from the value you offer your readers.

4. Publishing Tools

Substack provides tools to make publishing your newsletters seamless. You can see your post through to publication until it lands in your target subscriber mailbox.

You can also tweak your email publication to your taste. This can include allowing your publication to be cross-posted on other platforms, listed on Substack’s website, and a host of other publishing settings available.

 Publishing Settings on Substack

Furthermore, Substack allows collaboration for publishing, through group publishing tools. You can request other writers to co-publish with you as Admins or Contributors, and you can manage their access and choose privacy settings for your team publications.

Screenshot Showing Team Publishing Settings on Substack

5. Visibility and Discovery Features

Visibility is important to the growth of any newsletter space or community. To this end, Substack’s platform greatly aids your publication’s reach, making it easier to find your target audience.

Through the Recommendations feature, Substack enables writers to include a list of their recommended newsletters in their publications. Thus, opening that platform to a larger pool of audiences.

 The Recommendations Tab on Substack

Also, through mentions and cross-posts, Substack makes it possible to promote and support other writers. This allows budding writers to grow a network across various audiences.

What’s more, additional features, such as Substack Notes and comments, make engaging with your audience incredibly easy.

Key Features of MailChimp

MailChimp Home Page

When it comes to email marketing, MailChimp is a powerful tool. It is mainly designed to help users create newsletters targeted toward promoting brands, products, and businesses. As a result, they can build customer relationships that will enhance sales and returns.

Here are some standout features that make MailChimp a powerhouse:

1. Marketing Tools

One thing MailChimp does best is providing users with the tools they need to manage their contacts and increase brand awareness effectively. It takes a different approach from Substack, which focuses more on helping creatives and content writers develop their audience.

MailChimp does this through various features, ranging from audience segmentation tools to meaningful insights and analytics. These, in turn, make it possible to provide targeted campaigns and content to contacts.

Email Analytics on MailChimp

MailChimp also integrates with numerous platforms like Shopify, Drupal, and QuickBooks. This way, you can sync customer data across various sources to your MailChimp account.

MailChimp Integrations Tab

2. Customization Options

MailChimp’s framework makes it possible to send multiple customized emails to audiences. This means you can sort subscribers into different categories and give them information best suited to them.

For example, through Merge tags on MailChimp, you can personalize emails by curating unique content for subscribers, such as including their names or contacts. This makes it easier to connect to customers and thus foster engagements.

Merge Tags on MailChimp

3. Pricing

Unlike Substack, MailChimp requires a monthly subscription, and although there is a free plan, it is pretty limited in its features. With the free plan, you can send 1,000 emails every month to only as many as 500 contacts.

Mailchimp Pricing Page

Also, the plan does not include email scheduling, automation, or segmentation tools, to mention a few. The Premium, Standard, and Essential tools are priced between $13 and $350 a month per 500 contacts.

4. Templates

Appearance plays a big role in engagements, and MailChimp also offers a number of customizable templates to help users build newsletters easily and more efficiently.

Templates on Mailchimp

Also, these templates make it possible to create beautiful email designs that can boost engagements. This can include eye-catching brand colors, fonts, and shapes.

5. Email Automation

Automating emails can save a great deal of time by making it possible to schedule emails for delivery at dedicated periods. For example, when a customer signs up for a newsletter or has just purchased their first product. Automations can help subscribers stay informed at every point of interaction.

MailChimp offers an automation feature, and it’s one feature that gives the tool a solid edge. This grants you the flexibility to create email experiences for each subscriber. However, you can create only a limited number of automations on the free plan, so you’d need to upgrade to one of the paid plans to access all the automation features.

Should You Use Substack or MailChimp?

Substack and MailChimp are great tools, and boast features relevant to the content you intend to create on their platform. However, both cater to different kinds of users.

Substack’s features are more useful for creatives interested in building a community online. On the other hand, MailChimp will benefit a business or brand more. This is because it offers a number of enriching tools that are tailored toward maintaining customer relationships and gaining insights from consumer data.

With pricing, Substack is the cheaper option. You only have to pay a commission on your paid publications, and you can choose to remain on the free plan if you prefer. However, considering MailChimp’s advanced features, a subscription may seem justified.

Also, Substack is easy to operate for the most part, and an average user of the internet will find it pretty easy to use. Meanwhile, MailChimp might be more complex because of the wider scope of its features.

Overall, what passes as the better option of the two will largely depend on what kind of newsletters you seek to publish through them, coupled with your budget.

Powering the Future of Newsletters

We consume content daily, and newsletters are another way to convey information. In doing this, managing audiences or customers is necessary, whether it be to drive sales or manage an online community.

In any case, choosing the right newsletter tool is important to every user. And there are plenty of other tools to help grow your audience.

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