The best email newsletter tools

Running an email newsletter is cool again. Are you one of the Substack subscribers? Or do you want to launch a new email newsletter? Which one will suit your needs?

I wrote this blog post to review these best email newsletter services after having to look for one for my clients. Having enough information about the pros and cons about each newsletter tool/service can help us to slim down which features and requirements we need to implement. Let’s take look into subscription newsletter creation tools and services.

Before we get started, you should understand that bulk email deliveries are costly (not free). It’s different from sending an email message to another recipient. Instead, you send an email newsletter to some thousand recipients or more at a time. So most email newsletter providers offer a free tier to begin with. After that you’ve grown your subscriptions, there will be charged for sending your free newsletter to your subscribers (after reaching the limited quota of subscribers).


To run a paid email newsletter (your subscribers pay you for your great work through subcription), there is a payment processor cost for that.


The email newsletter service providers charge you some % based on your earning revenue. You will not to worry about how things work behind the scene (bulk email deliveries and online payment setup for your paying subscribers).

In this review, I’m going to discuss the best available options for self-managed email newsletters and managed newsletters.

The best email newsletter tools and services: reviews

Buttondown (self-managed)

is a small, elegant tool for producing newsletters.
Buttondown email newsletter takes none of your profits for running a paid newsletter. You can easily integrate Buttondown email newsletter to your website and blog. This means that if you’ve got a WordPress or Ghost website, you can quickly add Buttondown email newsletter.

Whether you want to monetize your subscriptions or not is up to you. There are several great options to monetize your newsletter.

It’s free to start your email newsletter journey. Want to have more features for your growing subscribers, you will have to pay $5 per month.

Run by a one-man team, Buttondown is an interesting approach.

Free for your first thousand subscribers
$5 per month for premium features
To run paid subscriptions: $.30 + 2.9% for Stripe, Buttondown’s only payment processor

Substack (managed)

is the home for great writing. With a Substack paid newsletter, you pay to 10% of the revenue generated from your paid subscriptions. This email newsletter service has been growing really fast. Its paid subscription model for writers and content creator is new.

Substack is after new promising writers. If you don’t go to them, they will find you.

10% of your earning revenue/month

Ghost for Newsletters (managed or self-managed)

“The independent publishing platform that makes it as easy as possible for authors like you to start a professional, premium newsletter.” Really? You can run a paid newsletter, or a free newsletter – it’s up to you. What’s Ghost actually? It’s a revention of WordPress. You have Ghost as a simple content management system with nice front-ends. One great feature is Ghost’s built-in newsletter feature.

There are two versions of Ghost.

  1. The Pro version is a paid service.
  2. The self-manage Ghost is a free software you install and run on your own virtual private servers.

With Ghost(Pro), everything is setup and ready to start with its built-in email newsletter.
With the self-managed Ghost, you’ll have to setup your bulk email service (like Mailgun). But I would recommend you take a look at the Buttondown email newslletter service instead.

But, one of the best things about Ghost is that it supports any email newsletter providers. For example, by coupling Ghost with Buttondown email, you can have the best email newsletter for your subscribers.

Ghost(Pro): start at $9/month for up to 500 members
Self-host: you can hook up with an email newsletter provider like Buttondown email newsletter (for flexibility)

Revue (managed)

makes it easy for writers and publishers to send editorial newsletters — and get paid.
Owned by Twitter, Revue has one advantage. Twitter has experimented with its new features for the Professional.

Share just 5% of paid newsletter revenues in addition to processing fees.

TinyLetter (managed/no paid service)

is another good choice for starting bloggers. It’s clean and basic. Completely free, TinyLetter caps subscribers at 5,000 per newsletter. So it’s for not prominent writers. If you want to take a step a further, MailChimp (who also owns TinyLetter) is your next choice. The difference is TinyLetter doesn’t come with any paid solution.

Free up to 5,000 subscribers per newsletter

Managed email newsletter or self-managed

The question is which one better: Substack is a managed service provider. Most of the things are great and convenient. But you’ll have to follow their rule (you may be satisfied for now, but not later). Changes will come, and that you might not like it. Its charge is based on your revenue. While Revue charges 5% of the revenue, Substack charge up to 10%.

When Twitter co-founder recently posted on Twitter that Ghost is the best platform for email newsletter, there is a hint that there is a background work behind the scene that Twitter’s own Revue may have something to do with Ghost. A future partnership should not be a surprise. It’s going to be a direct competition with fast-growing Substack service for email newsletter.

Buttondown takes a different approach. The service charges you 0% for your revenue, but you’ll have cover the online payment processor to run a paid email newsletter. What I really like about Buttondown is you can integrate the Buttondown email newsletter on your existing website and blog.

Writer’s note: I’ve tested most of these email newsletter services. TinyLetter is a good place to start, but not for everyone. Substack is easy to go ahead (you don’t need to care about the technical aspect of it). Buttondown is great to do it yourself. Ghost (self-hosted) is also a great solution for blog plus integrated email newsletter.