July 27, 2023

Substack vs Beehiiv vs ConvertKit vs Flodesk vs Kajabi…Which One’s the Cheapest?


If you’re a creator with an audience, there is a long list of places you can post content to.

I’m not talking about Twitter or TikTok, but about online publishing platforms. The ones combining a personal website, a blog, a podcast, videos and email newsletters.

In this article, we’re looking at platforms in which you can post content and send emails to your subscribers.

The popular ones include Substack, Beehiiv, ConvertKit, Flodesk and Kajabi.

But have you ever wondered which ones gives you the most bang for your buck?

We have.

The platforms that give you the most $

By that we mean: which platforms take the smallest cut, leaving you with the most $ in your pocket.

First, a few things we noticed:

  • The cost of all 5 platforms rise as the number of subscribers increases (free and/or paid).

  • All 5 platforms use Stripe for payment processing (justifying the previous point).

  • Stripe charges 3.4% + 30 cents per payment (2.9% per card charge + 0.5% billing fee).

  • Only Substack has a commission-only business model.

  • Beyond a certain size, some platforms direct you to the ‘enterprise’ plan.

If you’re a starting creator or have no paid subscriptions yet, here’s how much each platform costs you, per month:

Substack is the clear winner here: it’s always free, as long as you have no paid subscriptions (according to their pricing article).

Keep in mind Substack is mainly for online publications and emails. The other platforms like ConvertKit or Kajabi offer many more features (landing pages, forms, marketing automation, products, etc.) justifying a higher price.

If you’re a creator with paid subscribers (recurring subscriptions paid to you), everything changes:

To calculate the above, we picked

  • a monthly subscription of $10 for your paid subscribers

  • a ratio of 1:10 between your paid vs free subscribers

  • a monthly billing vs annual billing for all platforms

Stripe costs are included in this table.

Once you cross ∼200 paid subscribers, Substack is now the most expensive platform as soon, and quickly becomes 2-3x more expensive that the others.

Across Beehiiv, ConvertKit, Flodesk and Kajabi, the cost is roughly the same. We can’t say for sure once you have >100k free subscribers or >10k paid subscribers as it becomes ‘enterprise’ territory and we don't have visibility in that.

Flodesk is the winner here, with a flat monthly fee of $64 regardless of your paid subscriber count + the Stripe fees (3.4% + 30 cents per payment).

Finally, let’s look at what you would actually earn, monthly, after those fees:

Margins fluctuate between 79 to 94%.

Morale of the story: Substack is the go-to-platform if you have simple needs and no paid subscriptions.

But if you have paid subscriptions, I would stay away from Substack, especially over 1,000 paid subscriptions.

You’ll get much more from the other platforms, all at a better price, especially Flodesk.

Tella — Screen recording for entrepreneurs

Tella — Screen recording for entrepreneurs