If you subscribe to any email newsletters, you've probably heard of Substack. But did you know that WordPress (WP) has many similar features, making it an excellent option for WP users? Comparing Substack vs WordPress will help you understand which is right for your business.
In this post, we'll share the differences and similarities between Substack vs WordPress. You'll also learn more about the pros and cons of each and which might be better for your purposes.
How do you use Substack?
Substack is a platform that allows you to send email newsletters to subscribers efficiently. It gained momentum thanks to its easy-to-use interface and how users can publish their posts on the internet. Substack users also like how you can monetize posts if you so desire. Because of this, it's a popular choice for freelance writers, journalists, and creators doing independent work and looking to publish their content digitally. Substack allows users to own their intellectual property while providing a place where it can live online.
Substack email newsletters are delivered directly to your subscriber list. Still, if you allow readers to peruse your content for free, they can also check out your past work by visiting your Substack link, which you could include in your link in bio, for instance. Visitors then click the link and can subscribe or read the content before doing so. If they choose to read the content before doing so, they'll have access to all the newsletters you've posted in one centralized, accessible location.
What We Like: Substack isn't only for written content — you can also create a subscription podcast, upload videos, and build community, as the platform allows for comments.
How do you use WordPress?
WordPress, on the contrary, is a content management system. It's popular because it's open source, offers a plethora of plugins that add functionality to your site, and features templates that make it easy to get started — whether you have coding experience or not. Because of this, WordPress is one of the best CMS options for creating and publishing content. If you need proof, consider how 43% of the internet is built with it.
If you already have a WordPress site, you may consider sending your email newsletters via the platform. However, the process will look different than Substack, as the former is more email newsletter centric.
What We Like: WordPress is open-source software, so getting started is accessible.
Substack vs WordPress: Similarities
WordPress and Substack don't have as many similarities as they do differences since one is a CMS, and the other was explicitly created to disperse email newsletters. However, both can help your business achieve similar goals, so let's dive into the similarities.
Both digital publishing platforms allow you to quickly and efficiently share content with your readership. They also provide a place for the content to live online, though what that looks like varies per platform.
Additionally, Substack and WordPress allow you to decide if you'd like to sell paid membership subscriptions.
Substack vs WordPress: Differences
Despite some similarities, WordPress and Substack are overwhelmingly different platforms that overlap in their ability to send email newsletters. WordPress is a CMS and website builder, so you have far more control over what your content looks like than you would with Substack.
Because it's not a CMS, Substack doesn't have many features which make WordPress shine. It doesn't feature all the functionality you'll typically get with a site builder; however, if your primary goal is to send email newsletters, that might not matter.
Think of it this way: WordPress can do everything — from offering your business a digital landing page to providing routes to boost your search engine optimization through plugins to allow you to send email newsletters. Substack, while excellent at what it does, is far more siloed. Its primary purpose is to send newsletters. If you choose to work with Substack, you'll have a URL where your content lives online that you can share — but you'll probably still need to make a business website.
Substack vs WordPress: How do they compare?
Let's evaluate Substack and WordPress based on price, integrations, functionality, and ease of use.
It is free to publish content on Substack, which is great if you're looking to build a platform. However, if you want to add a paywall and offer paid membership subscriptions, be prepared to swipe your credit card.
When you add paid subscriptions to your Substack, the platform charges you 10%. Because Substack uses Stripe, a popular payment processor, you'll also have to pay a credit card fee. Prepare for Stripe to take 2.9% in fees – and to pay an additional transaction fee of 30 cents for each subscriber. While that might not sound like a lot initially, it adds up. For example, if you charge $20 per month for a subscription, you'll pay $2 to Substack and $.88 to Stripe. Say you have 100 subscribers. You'll be paying $288 per month — or $3,456 per year.
On the contrary, WordPress offers more flexibility. To send email newsletters via WordPress, you'll use a plugin. There are plenty of free plugin options, such as this one, with over 300,000 active installations. However, you could choose to upgrade to professional for more power.
If you want to make your email membership only, you can do so with the help of Memberpress, which allows you to sell subscriptions. Pricing varies but starts at $359 per year for basic. You can choose which payment gateway you'd like to use. Stripe and PayPal are two popular options. Remember that they'll have fees, too.
Best for Price: WordPress allows you more control over how much you spend on your email newsletter, making it more appealing.
Why are integrations so important? Because they help you grow your business, of course. These tools will help your newsletter gain momentum and boost your readership, which means more money in your pocket. Let's dive into how these two platforms stack up.
WordPress boasts thousands of free integrations (plugins), allowing you to grow your following and disseminate your content seamlessly. With various plugins, you could increase your newsletter readership (and boost traffic to your site). Here are some of our favorites.
On the contrary, Substack doesn't have so many options. It includes a limited number of SEO features but not much else. You can add your social media profiles, Google Analytics tracking, and select a customized domain name. Aside from that, the functionality is limited.
Best for Integrations: WordPress has many free and premium plugins to choose from that can help your email newsletter gain momentum, so it's the better option in this category.
When choosing between WordPress and Substack, consider what you're looking for. Are you looking to build a complete, customized site where your business information can live online — not just email newsletters? Or are you simply looking to send email communications and aren't interested in having a website specifically designed for your business?
WordPress is the right choice if you want a platform that does more than send emails. But if you are exclusively using it for email newsletter communication, Substack does excel in that category.
Best For Functionality: It depends on why you're using the platform. Overall, WordPress offers more functionality than Substack, but what Substack offers, it does well.
Ease of Use
Neither WordPress nor Substack is challenging to use. Some WordPress newsletter plugins even offer drag-and-drop functionality, so there's no coding or previous experience necessary to put it together. However, to use these plugins, you'll have to install them, which is an extra step. On the contrary, Substack allows you to type your content and start posting with no additional installations needed.
Best for Ease of Use: Substack has WordPress beat in this category, as there's no need to install a plugin.
Create Your First Email Newsletter Today
Now that you have a robust understanding of Substack vs WordPress similarities and differences, it's time to start creating your first email newsletter today. We're sure you'll make your newsletter a success on whichever platform you choose.