SubStack makes it simple for a writer to start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions. They provide a platform to publish, distribute and monetize independent writing by paid subscriptions from readers. This is different from most media businesses which make more money from advertisers than subscriptions.
If you look at the competitive landscape for SubStack, there are over 24 companies you could potentially see as options, SubStack alternatives or SubStack competitors.
In fact, if you look at the SubStack pitch deck, you will find them talk about subscription-based competitors such as Medium, Button Down, Revue and Pateron, vs Head content (Social Networks).
However, the competitive landscape is a lot more fluid and complex.
Depending on the creator’s goal – making money from their writing using newsletters, or “building a brand”, or “positioning themselves as a thought leader”, or “getting an audience for their content” – the competitive landscape narrows dramatically.
For the purposes of our discussion I am going segment creators into 3 types:
1. “I dabble in content” users – who are social seeking, want to build their brand and don’t have a large following or traffic. These users are looking for an audience for their content. They will start with Medium, WordPress, or any other free platform to being their journey.
2. “Content is my side gig” users – who want to showcase their talent, and make money from their content, but dont have a large audience yet, but are making progress towards building a fan base of subscribers who might pay for their content. A subset of these users are technically inclined and tend to invest in a blog platform such as Ghost, setup payment options with Pateron and send emails via Sendy.
3. “Content is my business” users – deep experts, reporters, journalists, authors, and writers, who have a brand affiliation (former reporters, journalists, etc.) or have a strong social media presence and want to monetize their content with a steady income stream using subscribers instead of advertising.
These users want a single platform for publishing, payments, email newsletters, and community.
They are writers first and content is their domain. They are less interested in integrating multiple platforms together. A subset of these users are technically savvy as well and will end up with a “best of breed” solution with different products for each use case and integrate them together.
In the competitive landscape graphic above, as the creator gets more serious, they go up the scale from publishing on content aggregation platforms, to managing their own paid newsletters.
If you need a platform as a “Content is my business” user, which does the following:
- Help you create and distribute content while you get paid for it,
- Have an audience that you can start with and grow,
- Help you engage with your community of readers and subscribers directly instead of going through a platform,
- Help you monetize your content with simple payment options, and
- Help you build your individual brand as a content creator
If you are looking for all those things, then the options for you are limited to: SubStack, Revue, Button Down, Convert Kit, Tiny Letter and Qazy.
Since the acquisition of Tiny Letter by MailChimp, the platform as languished.
Revue has mentioned that they focus more on media companies than individuals.
Qazy is a blogging first platform with email distribution, suitable for those who want to have users to come to their site.
That leaves Button Down and Convert Kit, which really are the two other companies closer to SubStack than any of the others.
Over the next few weeks, we will dig deeper to compare each of the top competitors of SubStack, but this post was to set the competitive landscape.
If you want a personalized assessment of your potential audience, feel free to reach out to us via email at admin @ yirla.com and we will respond to create a market assessment plan – absolutely free with no further commitments!