Why I broke up with Substack — and moved my newsletter to ConvertKit.
We were once lovers. But we're still friends.
I’ve been writing a lot about newsletter platforms lately.
Particularly Substack & ConvertKit — the two I happen to have the most experience with. Substack was where I launched my newsletter in January 2021.
And then switched to ConvertKit 9 months later.
I broke up with Substack one year ago.
But the cheating started far earlier.
I was having an affair with another email platform — ConvertKit — but I wasn’t even using it to publish my newsletter. I just needed a landing page for a lead magnet. ConvertKit fit the bill with their free landing page builder.
Substack didn’t have a suitable option…
So I launched my lead magnet & landing page with ConvertKit. And over the course of a month, I got ~150 new subscribers.
I exported that list of new subscribers and moved them over to Substack and continued publishing there for a few more months.
All the while I couldn’t forget about the experience I had building and launching the ConvertKit landing page. I couldn’t get it out of my head. And turns out there were even more options for newsletter publishing with ConvertKit:
more styling options
more tags & segmentation options
more automation options
I knew my time with Substack was coming to an end.
And it was bittersweet.
Without Substack, I may have never started a newsletter. It was simple, free, and painless to start.
Whenever I mention that my newsletter started on Substack but switched to ConvertKit, someone always asks, “Why?”
So without further adieu…
The 3 Main Reasons I dumped Substack for ConvertKit
Reason #1 — I’m not a professional writer
Substack’s focus is professional writers creating paid content — and taking 10% of the cut.
It’s their business model. But I’m not a professional writer. Putting my newsletter behind a paywall doesn’t vibe with me, either. And that’s the real advantage to Substack.
Reason #2 — I’m a marketer (needing more marketing features)
I wanted (and needed) more options with features, reporting, and segmentation.
Substack’s reporting & analytics have improved since I left, but still lacking. They give you an open rate and click rate — but not much else.
When I left a year ago, you had to break out the calculator to determine how many actual clicks a certain link received. It was tedious and annoying.
I also want to create landing pages, add automation, and integrate other systems as I grow and create more products. This leads me to my next point.
Reason #3 — Substack lacks integration & automation
Substack’s API is inaccessible. You can’t automate anything or integrate with other platforms (that I know of).
For example, when I set up a ConvertKit landing page for my lead magnet, I wanted the subscribers automatically imported into Substack from the landing page. Could I do it?
Want to create a drip or nurture email sequence? Can’t do that either. There’s no email automation, aside from an auto-Welcome email.
More Huge Benefits of Using ConvertKit
I’ve been with ConvertKit for a year now. Here are some other features worth making the switch for.
You can set link tags in your newsletter. So if a subscriber clicks on a link for one of your courses or products, you can tag that subscriber for future course-specific campaigns. You can also tag them as they go through automations or email sequences.
Personalization with snippets.
I’m not a pro when it comes to snippets and personalization, but you can do *a lot* with this stuff. Follow Jason Resnick and Brennan Dunn for genius tips when it comes to using snippets & liquid code to better personalize your newsletter and/or email marketing. Here’s a great example.
Resend to unopens.
This is a very simple — but highly effective feature. Consider a portion of your list opens your initial email send. Now consider you could politely “nudge” those who didn’t open your initial send with just a few clicks. That’s ‘resend to unopens’. A welcomed consequence of doing this is nudging cold subscribers to do you a favor and unsubscribe. Nobody needs cold subscribers.
All this, and I haven’t even mentioned the ConvertKit Sponsor Network.
How I unintentionally improved my open rate with ConvertKit
One last important note on all of this.
I suspect Substack’s sender reputation is (was) weak. I had several subscribers who either never once received my Substack newsletter or stopped receiving it altogether. Weird.
I was worried about sender reputation and deliverability with ConvertKit. I hesitated to make the switch.
But little did I know, I was already making improving my sender reputation and deliverability with my ConvertKit landing page.
How? The double opt-in.
The double opt-in forced those 150 new subscribers to confirm their subscription in their inboxes. That was a positive engagement action that pleased the email gods. It pleased them so much that my first email with ConvertKit improved my open rate from 44% with Substack to 58% on ConvertKit.
As soon as I stopped kicking myself from not switching sooner, I vowed to forever share the gospel of ConvertKit — hence this article. And Tania’s prompt.
And don’t get me wrong.
Substack is a great platform to start a newsletter at no cost to you. It’s all you need at the start. And it might be all you ever need, period.
I just simply grew out of it. It’s not you, Substack — it’s me.
More Stuff from Me.
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