Email Marketing Tools

Beehiiv vs Substack 2024 Which One is Best for Monetizing Your Newsletter?

Lizzie DaveyPaula Medeiros

By Lizzie & Paula

beehiiv vs substack

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Do you have a newsletter (or plan to start one), but aren't sure which tool to use? I know it can be hard to decide on this. There are so many options, each of which comes with its own unique features, dashboards, and pros and cons.

At this point, I can imagine you’ve heard about Substack and Beehiiv as two good possible picks.

Substack has been enjoying a moment in the limelight, but newcomer Beehiiv is quickly gaining traction!

But what are these tools all about?

Substack is an American newsletter platform created with writers in mind, with features reminiscent of old digital journaling. Its creator-friendly features and simple interface blend blogging and newsletters to give it a community-driven edge. It’s simple and great, which is why it now boasts more than 35 million active subscriptions— three million of which are paid subscriptions.

Beehiiv is a relatively new kid on the block. Founded in 2021 by a handful of early employees at the hugely successful Morning Brew newsletter, it offers newsletter creators all the tools they need to grow and monetize their email lists in today’s competitive digital landscape.

I am pitting these two platforms head-to-head to compare their ease of use, the editor interface, pricing, and unique features to see which one comes out on top.

I will award a point to the winner of each category so, by the end of this post, you’ll know which is best suited to your specific needs.

Beehiiv vs Substack: Summary

On the surface, Beehiiv and Substack are relatively similar. Both allow you to write and send a newsletter, grow your subscriber list and manage paid subscriptions. But, look more closely, and you’ll see there are some important differences.

  • Both Beehiiv and Substack are good options if you want a simple interface with a classic, text-based email editor to regularly send out newsletters.
  • Beehiiv is great for segmenting subscribers and creating automated sequences.
  • Substack really shines with its community engagement features, like discussion threads and reader comments.
  • Both platforms have very different pricing models depending on your monetization method.

Ease of Use

Substack was, first and foremost, built for writers. You can see this in its pared-back, straightforward email editor that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of other email marketing platforms.

It feels like I’m writing in a personal journal when I write a Substack email. There are very few distractions in the periphery — no tempting buttons to click and no fancy editing features that, let’s face it, can lead to procrastination.

That being said, you can structure your emails with headers and paragraphs, but there are no custom templates to choose from. Everyone writes in the same editor and their emails tend to have the same look and feel about them.

Substack’s dashboard is equally simple.

Substack dashboard overview

Substack’s dashboard overview

As you can see, the dashboard quickly gives users an overview of subscribers, followers, views, and open rates. It’s limited, yes, but that’s what makes it so easy to use.

Beehiiv, on the other hand, was built with more complex features to monetize a list. The platform aimed to address all of the features lacking in other popular email marketing platforms (that were created over 10 years ago in a very different digital world).

But like Substack, its email editor is also easy to use. It sits alongside a post settings card that lets you choose the author, title, and subtitles.

As well as the classic editor (which doesn’t look too dissimilar to Substack), you can choose from a range of custom templates that help you brand your newsletter and give it personality.

However, these templates are only available on Beehiiv’s premium plans. If you are on the free plan, you can create your own templates and save them for future use.

Substack classic email editor

Beehiiv’s classic email editor

Long story short?

Both platforms are easy to set up and start using. Both offer a walkthrough of basic features and show you how you can start writing ASAP. That being said…

Winner: Substack wins for ease of use. Beehiiv has a lot of advanced features on how to monetize newsletters, like deep audience segmentation, granular analytics, and automation capabilities, which can be a steep learning curve if you’re just getting started.

Substack: 1

Beehiiv: 0

Subscription and Monetization Options

Both platforms not only support paid subscriptions – they're actually at the heart of their services.

For Substack users, the platform is free to use, but you’ll pay more if you decide to monetize through paid subscriptions.

And Substack takes quite a large cut from paid subscriptions — a 10% fee + transaction costs. They do make it super easy to get started, but later you pay the price for it.

substack revenue fees

Substack takes 10% of users' paid subscription revenue

If you plan to monetize your newsletter with ads, you have to do it manually. That means engaging with advertisers or sponsors yourself, agreeing on prices and terms in advance, and then inserting the ad into your newsletter. Of course, you can also go through ad platforms instead, but either way, it's more manual work for you. Substack's not really built with that kind of strategy in mind, so it can feel quite clunky and time-consuming compared to other platforms.

With Beehiiv, instead of taking a cut, users need to be on the platform’s Scale paid plan or above to qualify for paid subscriptions. So it’s definitely pricier to get started, though this should pay off quickly if you have enough paid subscribers – making it a better deal over time. While Beehiiv won’t charge any fees for your premium subscription's revenue, Beehiiv's payment partner, Stripe, does apply their regular fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.

Next to that, there is also the Beehiiv ad network, an easy way to find advertisers and sponsors for your newsletter. See how this Beehiiv user makes up to $4,000/month with his marketing newsletter.

earnings potential beehiiv

Beehiiv does not charge any fees for your premium subscriptions revenue

Besides the regular monthly/annually paid subscription – which is also what Substack offers – Beehiiv has just launched a “lifetime subscription” option, where readers can choose to pay for lifetime access just one time.

The monetization features users will enjoy are where Beehiiv really shines (because this is ultimately what it was built for).

As well as paid subscriptions, you can easily use Beehiiv to monetize your newsletter with premium sponsors through the platform’s built-in ad network, or recommend other newsletters and get paid.

Beehiiv's advertisements dashboard shows earnings, clicks, and available ad slots.

Winner: Beehiiv’s menu of monetization opportunities wins the round for us – there is a reason for it to carry a cost. You can choose a Beehiiv method that best suits your business model or experiment with all three to see what works best.

Substack: 1

Beehiiv: 1

Community Features and Audience Engagement Tools

Substack has introduced tons of engagement features in the last few years — in fact, some users think of Substack as a blogging platform with a newsletter tool.

As well as the ability to write and send newsletters, you can enable reader comments and “likes”. This influences which posts appear on your “top posts” leaderboard, but it can also inspire discussions with your subscribers.

Even if you don’t enable the community features on Substack, subscribers can still reply to your newsletters and you'll get those messages in your inbox. It also has a Notes feature, Direct Messaging capabilities, Chat, and Follow features—all of which help you nurture a community, but are also making Substack feel like a new social media channel (something a lot of old users aren’t particularly happy about).

Substack has also recently added a discussion thread feature that lets you host conversations with your community. You can open these up to anyone on your list or limit it to paid subscribers.

Substack discussion thread

Substack’s Discussion Thread feature

One of Substack’s biggest selling points is its huge, ever-growing creator network. Potential subscribers can explore different Substack newsletters and users can refer their subscribers to other, similar newsletters. Lots of Substack fans pin their growth on this feature!

Earlier this year, Beehiiv has also launched features for likes and comments (though comments are not enabled by default). It’s not a strong feature yet. Readers are more used to replying to the newsletters and sharing their thoughts privately with newsletter owners. This means Beehiiv could be more appealing to users looking for a newsletter tool more focused on emails.

Beehiiv’s platform also has 3 specific ways you can grow your list:

  • The referral program incentivizes subscribers to share your newsletter with their friends and family.
  • You can “boost” other newsletters with paid recommendations (and they can do the same for you)
  • You can cross-promote your favorite newsletters with the Recommendations feature.

Winner: Both platforms have a decent selection of audience engagement and community features. However, Beehiiv’s features are predominantly geared towards growing your list rather than engaging subscribers, so Substack wins this one thanks to all its community-focused features.

Substack: 2

Beehiiv: 1

Design and Flexibility

Substack’s loyalty to writers and its simplistic email editor means it’s not particularly flexible for newsletter owners who want to grow, expand, and experiment with different techniques.

There are very few (read: zero) email templates to work from—instead, all emails tend to look the same. Everyone has the same welcome page with a short blurb and a sign-up form, and your “unique” homepage is just a collection of past newsletters presented in a newspaper-style format. While it’s pretty basic, users can play around a little bit with the design by adding a logo and changing the background color.

substack newsletter homepage example

Users can edit their Substack homepage by adding a logo and changing the background color.

Beehiiv’s design functionality is also pretty limited compared to other email marketing platforms with libraries of pre-made templates. And while there are more options than on Substack, it still means most newsletters look the same. You can set your email designs in the Design Lab. Here, you can choose your primary fonts, header styles, and email background colors, which provides an element of customization.

Then, in the email editor, you can add blocks with your customized framework, including images, buttons, tables, and social media embeds.beehiiv email editor

Beehiiv's email editor

Beehiiv’s editor comes with a few interesting extras that can be useful, such as a table feature that lets users build and create tables within the editor with just a few clicks. But overall it’s quite simple. Neither platform lets you create fancy, elaborated designed emails.

This could either be a drawback or a blessing— but the simplicity means you can focus on writing without getting bogged down in complex code or hundreds of design widgets.

Winner: For the purpose of this battle, Beehiiv wins but only just. It has a few more customization options than Substack and you do get a free website when you create an account.

Substack: 2

Beehiiv: 2

List Management

Substack has very limited subscriber data. You can see how many emails individual subscribers have opened, but not how they found you or where they subscribed.

There are no segmentation capabilities either, which means you can’t send personalized messages to subscribers based on their interests or past interactions. Instead of focusing on complex segmentation, Substack operates on the basic principle that only part of the content will be available for free users, while full content will be exclusively available to paid subscribers.

All subscribers get all your (free) emails. It is definitely not the right place for newsletter owners who want to build out automated sequences over time or nurture relationships with different types of subscribers.

On the other hand, Beehiiv has quite powerful segmentation capabilities!

You can group subscribers based on attributes and engagement, the form they signed up with, or even whether they responded to a survey with a particular answer. Once you’ve created segments (which you can update automatically or manually at set intervals), you can send emails to specific segments.

Beehiiv segment preferences

Beehiiv lets users segment subscribers based on attributes and preferences.

Winner: There’s no doubt who the winner is here. Beehiiv wins hands down with its segmentation capabilities. It's definitely the right choice if this feature is relevant to you.

Substack: 2

Beehiiv: 3

Reporting

Substack offers a general stats tab that shows the most popular sources for subscribers (but not how each individual subscriber found you), where referral traffic comes from, and a top-level view of your previously sent emails.

On a newsletter level, Substack offers quite limited analytics compared to other tools. You can see three core stats: engagement rate, open rate, and click-through rate.

Then, you can also see a breakdown of who read your email, how they read your email (desktop vs mobile), and what links they clicked. But, for any newsletter owner who wants to grow and make data-led decisions, these are pretty rudimental.

Beehiiv on the other hand offers far deeper reporting options.

As well as the standard metrics like open rates and click-throughs, you can dig deeper into more specific information about different groups of readers.. For example, you can see how many people who originally found you on X or Instagram opened your email, or how many people opened your email in different countries.

Beehiiv's analytics dashboard shows acquisitions, email data, open rates, and click through rates.

Winner: Again, there’s a clear winner for this category. While Substack does give you all the basic analytics you need to see who’s opened and read your emails, Beehiiv’s advanced reporting feature dives much deeper into where your subscribers come from, helping you pinpoint your top performing channels.

Substack: 2

Beehiiv: 4

Pricing and Fees

Publishing on Substack is completely free—until you start offering paid subscriptions.

As mentioned before, the platform takes a 10% cut of each subscription as well as a transaction fee (usually 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction depending on the payment provider) and a billing fee for recurring subscriptions (0.5%). This is quite a hefty chunk of change but it can eventually be worth the payoff if you’ve managed to build a large audience on the platform.

Beehiiv offers tiered pricing similar to other email marketing platforms.

Beehiiv's tiered pricing increases in price depending on how many subscribers you have.

Beehiiv pricing and plans

You can get a feel for the platform with the free Launch plan that generously allows up to 2,500 subscribers. You can access the majority of features on this tier except for the monetization capabilities, which include the ad network and referral program.

For growth capabilities and automations, you need to at least be on the Scale subscription ($39 per month for 1,000 subscribers, increasing to $59 for 2,500 subscribers, $79 for 5,000 subscribers, and $99 for 10,000 subscribers).

The Max and Enterprise subscriptions are best for companies with multiple newsletters, huge audiences, and the need for a dedicated account manager.

Winner: The platforms offer two very different pricing models and your choice really depends on what your goals are. That being said, I think Beehiiv pips Substack to the post with its free Launch tier that allows 2,500 subscribers and gives access to a ton of features.

Substack: 2

Beehiiv: 5

Extras

Despite Substack’s simple interface and pared-back nod toward traditional journaling, it’s safe to say they are no longer “just” a newsletter or writing platform. The platform is becoming a complete creator ecosystem, continuously introducing new features.

You can add podcasts to your Substack account, record episodes directly in the editor and give readers the option to listen to your newsletter text instead of reading it. You can also add a discussion forum, integrate the Reader app which reads and summarizes longer articles and more.

Most features are still in their infancy and are, at the moment, still pretty basic, but they sure give us a glimpse of what Substack is aiming for in the future!

Beehiiv has also just launched a new feature for audio, so you can upload audio files to their editor. I’ve mentioned a few of other Beehiiv’s extras throughout this article, including its referral program (which is the only one that’s built into the platform and doesn’t need a third-party integration). But users also get an SEO-optimized website when they sign up, which takes seconds to set up, as well as a library of useful guides and content on Beehiiv’s very active YouTube channel.

Perhaps the most important extra for newsletter creators is the ability to automate email sequences. As we know, Substack doesn’t allow this, but Beehiiv on the other hand lets you create email flows for different situations. For example, if someone signs up for a certain form, you can send an automated welcome sequence based on that form.

In the visual editor, you can build out complex workflows based on specific triggers.

Beehiiv's visual workflow builder

Beehiiv’s workflow builder lets you create automated email sequences.

In short, the additional extras on both platforms are very different.

Substack’s add-ons revolve around the community and building a creator platform, while Beehiiv’s are focused on growing and optimizing your email list.

Winner: It’s difficult to say who wins out here, but I have to choose Beehiiv, simply because I know how valuable automated sequences can be for creators — especially if you plan to sell products or services in the future.

Substack: 2

Beehiiv: 6

Who is the winner?

As you can see, both Substack and Beehiiv are awesome platforms that share a common goal: assisting writers in monetizing their newsletters.

But Beehiiv is our clear winner, with a 6-2 score!

Beehiiv is undoubtedly more technically advanced and powerful as a newsletter tool. Its features clearly feel more advanced and in line with other email marketing platforms while still offering the simplicity of a basic email editor.

There are automation, segmentation capabilities and monetization features that Substack just doesn’t have. While Substack doesn't offer these because they don't make sense for the majority of its audience, it also makes it challenging for them to compete with Beehiiv’s features when comparing both tools directly.

> Try Beehiiv for free

> Try Substack for free

On the flipside, remember Substack is a great tool for sharing stories, and generating a discussion around your newsletter, which is awesome if you want a quick way to start sending emails and also interact with readers and fellow writers. Just keep in mind that it comes with limitations.

Ultimately, the platform you choose truly depends on your goals (and your audience!). Everyone has different needs and they’re both great tools with very different features.

But if you’re looking for an email marketing tool that offers more than just the ability to create an email newsletter, Beehiiv is the top dog and an excellent choice. 

If you are looking for a Beehiiv alternative, ConvertKit and Flodesk are two interesting options you may also want to check out.

I hope this article has helped you figure out what’s more suited for your newsletter project!

Have you used Substack or Beehiiv? Let me know in the comments about your experience – or if you have any other questions!

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Lizzie Davey

Lizzie is a freelance writer and strategist for forward-thinking SaaS brands in the ecommerce and marketing sectors. She loves creating long-form, customer-centric content that makes a difference as well as helping fellow freelancers build lasting businesses with handy courses and resources. When she's not tapping away at her keyboard, you can find her exploring new places, paddleboarding at sea, bouldering, or hanging upside down on aerial silks.

Paula Medeiros

Content Manager

Olá! I'm Paula, the person responsible for our Portuguese website. I'm passionate about books and technology, setting up my own online book club and newsletter. After tirelessly searching the web for the best tools for my own projects, I am glad I can now help other people through my work at EmailTooltester.

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This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.

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