Do not hesitate in setting up a website using a custom domain name (preferably .com).
Your website isn’t just your electronic press kit, live performance calendar, or blog.
Used correctly, it’s a living, breathing, online organism that grows as you grow, with an array of multimedia content designed to attract, engage, convert, and sell to your target audience 24/7/365.
Remember – it’s supposed to be everything in one place. You should not have a blog with Blogger, a website with Wix, and a landing page with Mailchimp. You should not use social media as your website, either. You end up sacrificing SEO and usability. You need everything under one roof.
You need a self-hosted WordPress installation housing all your content, and barring that, a self-hosted installation of another content management system. There are several out there. The key word is “self-hosted.” You don’t want to build on a proprietary platform that makes it impossible for you to back up your website and move to another host should that website builder ever go out of service (and the need always arises).
Treat your website with the respect it deserves. Add bios and blog posts, high-quality photos and graphics, audio and music samples, podcast episodes and videos, show dates and tour schedules, contact and email signup forms, reviews and testimonials, all the essentials. Add often, add continually, add consistently. Keep up with new media and new technologies. Your website is your online storefront. Create the impression of constant activity and busyness. Never treat your website as a static brochure.
As musicians, we sometimes get caught up in what to buy, what not to buy, whether to avoid spending completely, and similar thought processes that keep us in analysis paralysis rather than action.
Here’s a formula that works every time:
Buy tools and resources that increase your belief level.
I have never regretted purchasing tools or resources that increased my belief level in achieving my goals. These decisions have always paid off.
Want to buy that book, try that course, pay for some coaching, or join a members-only forum for musicians?
If it increases your belief level, it’s the right move every time. Whatever you see in front of you is the answer you’ve been looking for.Whatever you see in front of you is the answer you’ve been looking for. Click To Tweet
Are you looking for an alternative to Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, or GetResponse?
If you want to build a lasting career in music or art, you must face the reality that you need a way to communicate with your audience ongoingly.
Social media is useful, but given its tumultuous history, you truly never know when you might lose access to your precious audiences…
Realistically, you need your audience’s contact information, a way to store and manage this data, and a way to send updates to them ongoingly…
Which is exactly why you need email marketing software.
But the ‘Chimp might be a little too much monkey business…
The AC doesn’t really seem to care about their customers…
And Responders don’t seem to want to respond to negative reviews…
Are there any worthy alternatives to Mailchimp?
Choosing an Email Campaign Platform – Mailchimp Alternatives
So, you’ve tried out an email marketing service or two. Maybe even had a good experience for a while…
But almost every artist I know reaches the crossroads at some point.
Either the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) app doesn’t offer the functionality she needs as her career grows and scales…
Or the pricing starts to get out of hand, and it becomes harder to justify the monthly cost.
It’s not surprising, because many newsletter broadcast apps charge for every little welcome sequence or marketing feature you add (which probably wasn’t obvious from the introductory offer).
Either way, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be, and…
Don’t you think it’s time for a change?
And I know change can be painful. At one point, I was very reluctant to switch from Mailchimp to another provider…
Because I knew I would lose my precious custom email templates. I’d have to move all my lists over. And I’d have to get used to a new, “complicated” system and workflow.
But you know what?
The process was much simpler than I thought it was going to be, and I couldn’t be any happier with the service I switched over to.
So, you’re probably asking yourself…
“What is it, David? Tell me about this alternative to Mailchimp already!”
Okay then, let’s get to the goods…
Enter ConvertKit, an Alternative to Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign & GetResponse
I listen to tons of podcasts.
I’d heard about founder Nathan Barry and his work as an independent creator. I’d heard about ConvertKit (affiliate link). I knew that some of my favorite entrepreneurs used it. It wasn’t in my crosshairs, but it had been on my radar for quite a while…
Which is the short version of how I ultimately ended up switching over.
Do you know why ConvertKit was created? You’re going to love this…
ConvertKit was created because Barry experienced the power of building an email list and communicating with his contacts firsthand. But he noticed that there were no email service providers for independent artists, creatives, and creators.
And so, ConvertKit was created.
You need not look much further than their blog to know that ConvertKit caters to:
- And more
Even their Visual Automation templates are primarily based on people like us.
Of course, there have been other email broadcast tools for artists in the past…
But most if not all of them didn’t have a solid business model and ended up crumbling to the ground.
So, until recently, the best you could hope for as an artist was a website builder that had some built-in email marketing features…
Not a dedicated email marketing app for creators.
ConvertKit, though, got its start in January 2013, and has now been around for over 10 years… I don’t think it’s going anywhere, not in the immediate future, anyway (it remains to be seen how A.I. will change the world…).
And it’s a worthy alternative to Mailchimp.
So, What’s the Big Deal? Why is ConvertKit Better?
Of course, I asked myself the same thing…
The bottom line is I would not have made the leap if I didn’t think it was worth it…
But if you have nothing to compare it to, there’s no way you would know the difference.
I just want you to know that, as someone who’s been around the block, I can tell you I’ve messed around with a couple of list management tools in my time.
And while there’s no way to compare what I was using in the mid-2000s to what’s available today…
It’s fair to say I know the difference between services that have “got the goods” and those that don’t.
So, here are some of the differences I’ve noticed between what I used to use and what I now use:
Straightforward Contact/List Management
When I finally decided that I wanted to stop monkeying around with my email list…
I was glad to find that ConvertKit didn’t confine my contacts to a restrictive list-based system that was hard to manage or segment.
Once my contacts were imported into ConvertKit, they were assigned tags (based on the names of the lists I’d previously created).
If found this off-putting at first, but I learned to love it fast.
Because whenever I want to send an email broadcast, I can select the audience I want to send my campaigns to, based on how they’d been tagged…
This has meant I’ve never had to duplicate and send the same campaign to multiple lists. I can add multiple audiences at once.
ConvertKit also comes with easy-to-understand (and easy-to-find automation tools) for assigning tags to specific contacts based on their behavior…
This was either a pain in the butt or impossible to do with Monkey Mail.
Which is a good reason to be looking for an alternative to Mailchimp.
But I’ll be talking more about automation a little later. Next up is….
Plain Text Email Campaigns (That Work)
Sure, there are companies out there that send beautiful email newsletters to their audiences and even do well at it…
But the top marketers know that if your emails don’t have a singular focus, you can’t expect a high response or conversion rate.
This is probably why, to this day, many marketers still use plain text emails for their weekly broadcasts.
Wouldn’t you know it – this function never worked all that well with the email sender services I’d tried.
I mean, I just wanted to do what I saw the other gurus and giants doing… was that too much to ask?!
Time to toss the banana broadcasts aside, because ConvertKit makes it easy for me to send plain text emails that WORK, without all the fuss.
Now, I still use a highly stylized email footer because I can see the benefit in that…
But I don’t want a bunch of links and flashy graphics crowding out the message I’m trying to get across to my audience.
And now I don’t need to worry about whether that’s something I’m going to have to use custom coding to achieve.
Easy-to-Use Automation Features
I’ve made a lot of products over the years… Probably TOO many.
But I like to interact with new customers. It’s just good customer service.
If I had to send emails to my buyers manually, I’d NEVER leave my computer (and I already have that problem, if I’m being honest…).
I want to be able to set up email sequences, so my audience feels cared for. And I don’t want to have to make a template, copy, and paste the same messages into Gmail, and schedule them to go out at the right times to the right people.
Nope. What’s the point of investing in an email marketing service if you can’t automate these processes?
It’s an innocuous question, but you’d be surprised at how some email software handles this (or doesn’t handle it at all).
Some essential email sequences to set up as a creative might include:
- Welcome sequence (for anyone who joins your email list)
- Onboarding sequence (for customers who’ve bought your product – you can ask them for reviews down the line)
- Abandoned cart sequence (for those who add products to their shopping cart but don’t check out – following up can help you convert way more customers)
- And much more
Wouldn’t you love to use an email marketing service that makes setting up sequences effortless? ConvertKit does.
Of course, there are many other automation tasks you may require your email promotion platform to handle, and ConvertKit has other useful features.
Built-in Monetization Features
We all know how this works…
Even “free” email services start charging at some point.
It could be because of an increase in subscriber numbers, it could be add-ons, or it could be after the free trial, but ultimately, nothing comes for free. At some point, you will start paying for your email marketing habit.
And if you’re building an email list, it means you take your career seriously. Money isn’t everything, no, but you’d love for your career to be sustainable, and if possible, profitable even…
The sad thing about most electronic mail promotion tools is they don’t set you up for success in this regard.
Sure, they might talk a big game, maybe they even have a few blog articles on how to monetize your list…
But at the end of the day, they aren’t there to help you reach your career goals let alone your revenue goals.
I know because I’ve been there.
(ChatGPT is probably a better friend in this regard…)
While ConvertKit doesn’t make any HUGE promises or guarantees on how much money you can make using their platform, they do have built-in monetization tools to help you boost your chances of earning an income.
You can sell digital products and subscriptions and even set up tip jars, right from inside the ConvertKit dashboard.
The bottom line is that ConvertKit is an advocate of you earning an income from your creativity. And it’s obvious from the way they’ve set up their navigation bar.
Pricing That Makes Sense
I’ve hammered on this point throughout this guide…
But don’t you find it upsetting when what initially appears to be a GREAT deal…
Turns out to be a money-sucking vacuum?
Yeah, it happens A LOT, whether it’s web hosting, email marketing, team chat, or other tools.
It’s almost as if most services have NO IDEA what it’s like to be an artist…
And don’t cater to their needs at all.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather pay one flat monthly fee and not have the billing be a guessing game at the end of the month.
If you’re charged for every autoresponder, sequence, or add-on with your email service provider, it’s inevitable that your costs will increase, sometimes without you even noticing.
And I get it. Email marketing services need to make money too. They do need to tack on some costs for bigger email lists, for example.
Well, so far, I have found ConvertKit to be very fair in what they charge. I am on their Creator plan with over 1,000 subscribers paying month to month, so my costs are quite predictable.
I’m not charged for the features I want to use unless those features happen to fall outside my plan (and so far, I haven’t had the hankering for advanced reporting features and the like).
I know that if my list size doubles or triples, I will pay more. But I’m very comfortable with that, and it’s very fair.
You can investigate other services if you want. But I think you will find the same thing I did, that at some point, with most apps, you end up paying more for stuff that seems like it should be included.
So far, I have not had that problem with ConvertKit (affiliate link).
Alternative to Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign & GetResponse, Final Thoughts
There are many Mailchimp alternatives out there.
But when it comes to alternatives to Mailchimp that are tailored to artists, creatives, and creators… Well, your options are going to be limited.
Ultimately, you need a solution that’s got the flexibility, features, and tools you need to be able to grow and scale with you as your career grows and scales.
Down the line, when you’ve got thousands of fans and a team of 10, you might need to find a more comprehensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or marketing automation solution.
But until then, ConvertKit should more than meet your needs.
So, give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Sign up for a 14-day free trial (affiliate link) with ConvertKit now.
How do you ensure that your message gets in front of your audience online?
Artists often rely very heavily on social media. And while sharing your latest painting or musical release on TikTok might get you hundreds or even thousands of views…
Your posts aren’t guaranteed to reach all your followers. With Instagram’s latest algorithm update, for example, only 10% of your followers will see your post. The social media landscape, in fact, is constantly changing, and from an artist’s perspective, it’s rarely changing for the better.
What if there was a way to ensure that you get 20, 30, or even 40% of your followers to see your time-sensitive messages? And what if they were predisposed toward buying your offers? The answer is ConvertKit (affiliate link), and we’ll talk about why in just a moment…
But one of the most important things you can do as an artist is to build a list you own. There are no shortcuts or tricks to winning the digital marketing game as an artist, but all things being equal, you will squeeze more juicy goodness out of your email list than your social media following.
ConvertKit – Email List Builder for Artists
There are many email marketing services out there. And there’s only one that was created specifically for independent creators – it’s called ConvertKit.
ConvertKit was founded by Nathan Barry, an independent creator. He wrote three books, created two courses, and built an email list of 37,000. For all intents and purposes, he probably could have kept going down that path.
He obviously recognized the power of communicating with his email subscribers or his impressive list of 37,000 subscribers would mean nothing. But he also noticed there was a gap to be filled. He saw that there were no email marketing services specifically for creators.
Setting aside his independent pursuits, he set up ConvertKit, an email marketing service tailored to indie artists, creatives, creators, entrepreneurs, and more.
What can ConvertKit do for you? Read on to find out…
It’s crazy to think, but I can name more than a couple of email marketing services that haven’t figured out their navigation bar, let alone their labeling – at least not in a way that makes it easy for any user to understand.
ConvertKit has somehow managed to boil everything down to four categories – Grow, Send, Automate, and Earn. I don’t know about you, but I think this is brilliant.
So, let’s look at what ConvertKit has to offer in each of these four areas.
Grow – Tools for Building Your Email List
You could have amazing content, but if you have no one to send it to, you’re like every other creator struggling in obscurity.
ConvertKit comes with the key tools you need to grow your list – forms and landing pages.
Creating a new form or landing page is easy. Navigate to the Landing Pages & Forms page and click on the “Create new” button.
Click on “Form” if you want to install a form for collecting email addresses on your website. Click on “Landing Page” if you want to set up a landing page you can send traffic to (from your website, social media, etc.).
If you choose the “Form” option, you’ll be presented with four options – Inline, Modal, Slide in, and Sticky Bar. I could go on about how amazing this is, and how it’s like having three apps in one, but we’ll get to that.
For this tutorial, I selected “Sticky Bar,” because I’d like all the visitors coming to Music Entrepreneur HQ to know about my new book.
Either way, at this point, you’ll be asked to choose a template. Depending on the form or landing page you’re creating, there may only be one template to choose from (don’t worry – it’s still customizable).
From here, you can customize labels, colors, border radius, font-weight, and more. You can even add custom CSS code.
Now it’s time to check out the landing page feature. As you’ll see, there are many templates to choose from.
As with forms, you can customize the look and feel of landing pages to your taste.
ConvertKit is frequently adding new features to help you grow your audience. As of this writing, the Creator Network is still in Beta.
Send – Email Broadcasts Made Simple
The main idea behind email marketing services is the ability to send email broadcasts to your subscribers. Naturally, most creators want to be able to jump right in and send broadcasts to their audience. It’s funny how many services can’t seem to get this direct A-to-B pathway right.
But ConvertKit doesn’t have that problem. Let me show you.
Navigate to the Broadcasts page and click on “New broadcasts.”
From here, you can type up a brand-new plain text campaign / broadcast to send to your subscribers. But if you want to choose a template first, click on the “Browse templates” button in the sidebar on the right.
While there isn’t a huge library of templates to choose from, you can further customize the template to suit your needs using ConvertKit’s built-in editor.
You can add content to the template and change the fonts, colors, etc. if you wish. Click on “Continue” when the email is ready to send.
From here, you can choose who you want to send the email to. ConvertKit’s tag-based system makes it easy to manage and segment your audiences as needed.
Of course, you can set up email sequences using ConvertKit too. This is a very useful feature as you can create welcome sequences for new subscribers, visitors who’ve downloaded a lead magnet, people who’ve bought a specific product of yours, and so on.
Automate – Straightforward Autoresponder/Automation Workflow
If your email marketing service can’t automatically send email campaigns on your behalf (such as when a customer purchases a specific product), you would have to do it all manually. Imagine having to sit by your computer, waiting for when a customer buys something from you, typing up an email, and sending it to them individually. Now imagine having to do that 100 times per day.
That’s what autoresponders and automation features are for. You can type up the message once and let automation handle the rest.
So, let’s look at what ConvertKit has to offer in this regard.
A few years ago, everyone made a big stink about visual automations (and understandably so). Well, guess what? ConvertKit has this feature built-in.
Navigate to the Visual Automations page and click on the “New automation” button.
You can either create from scratch or choose a template. ConvertKit has handy templates like:
- Release a new album
- Welcome subscribers to a podcast
- Share your social media content
- Release a new book
- Pitch your album with a free song
- Raise money to record an album
- Promote a digital product
And many other templates artists are likely to find useful.
Once you’ve chosen a template, you can customize it to suit your needs.
Next, let’s navigate to the Rules page and click on the “New rule” button.
With this feature, you can create all types of automation rules. For example, you could add a tag to anyone who subscribes using a specific form.
You will probably end up using this easy-to-understand tool often.
Now let’s look at one of my favorites – RSS.
With this tool, you can connect your blog feed and have emails automatically sent out to your subscribers whenever you’ve added new content to your site.
You can customize the look and feel of emails that go out, and if you prefer to send a digest of new content rather than sending emails every time you’ve published something new, you can choose the Digest option instead of the Single option.
ConvertKit can also integrate with other apps you might already be using, like Gumroad, Leadpages, Patreon, Shopify, Stripe, WordPress, and others.
Earn – ConvertKit Monetization Tools
Everything we’ve looked at so far has been plenty juicy already… and I think you’ll agree – easy to understand, too!
But who doesn’t like earning money from their creativity? I know I do.
And I get it, that’s not why you do what you do, but trust me when I say it’s easy to get addicted to that feeling you get when that sales notification hits your inbox…
Anyway, ConvertKit has two key features to help you earn your keep.
The first is Products (for selling digital products and paid subscriptions). From the Products page, you can click on the “New product” button to set up your paid offer.
Creating a product with ConvertKit is easy. Simply enter product details, set the price, choose product type, and if you like, set up a custom domain where you’ll be selling the product.
ConvertKit also makes it possible for you to set up Tip Jars.
Simply give the tip jar a name, choose the currency, and if desired, set up a custom domain for your tip jar.
What I Like Most About ConvertKit
- It’s easy to use. As with anything, learning the interface can take some time, but it didn’t take me anywhere near as long as I thought it would after I switched over from Mailchimp.
- The automation features are easy to set up and they make sense. That’s more than I can say for some email marketing services…
- In the grand scheme of things, ConvertKit is a more cost-effective solution than other providers that charge for every add-on…
- The tag-based contact management system is intuitive and convenient.
- Since switching to ConvertKit, I’ve noticed that my emails get opened by a larger segment of my list.
- While I have yet to take advantage of all the automation or monetization features, I love to know that they are there and that I can take advantage of them at any time.
- ConvertKit has a friendly, human brand. That’s more than I can say for some services.
What I Like Least About ConvertKit
- I’m not a fan of ConvertKit’s color scheme. I know it’s a nitpick, and honestly, I don’t have anything other than nitpicks to offer for this stellar service. While I feel like I know what they were probably going for design wise, the salmon on navy scheme just isn’t doing it for me.
- I feel like the Visual Automations section is the most creative part of ConvertKit, and I would love to see more of that design style across the platform. Especially given that it’s an email marketing service for creators, and sometimes it feels like anything but.
What Others Are Saying About ConvertKit
I’ve compiled several videos for your perusal. If you’d like to learn more about ConvertKit, these should prove an excellent resource.
Who is ConvertKit for?
ConvertKit is for musicians, podcasters, writers, and more – creatives and creators of any persuasion.
Does that mean it’s for every creator? Not necessarily.
Creators with a growing team might find ActiveCampaign and its many powerful automation features a more suitable option for managing their many email tasks.
Creators with eCommerce stores might want to look at tailored solutions like Klaviyo.
Additionally, creators with a huge pipeline of contacts and contracts might want to investigate more advanced solutions like Ontraport to stay on top of opportunities.
But from entry-level creators to professionals alike, ConvertKit is powerful enough to scale with independents and smaller businesses.
It should also be said that ConvertKit’s automation features aren’t anything to sneeze at, and it is a viable solution for eCommerce too (with abandoned cart sequences and the like). The only thing it can’t do is act as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform like Ontraport.
If you don’t want to get caught up in the “monkey business” of other services, then you may as well skip right over to one of the best (if not the best) solutions for creators.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it true that email marketing is better than social media marketing?
On a good day, you might reach 10% of your social media audience. But the average open rate of email campaigns, across any niche or industry, is 20%. Email is a better way to get your message seen than social media. But the two can play very complimentary roles in your digital marketing efforts. Plus, your email list is for yours to keep, but you’re not guaranteed to be able to hold onto your social media following.
Why should I build an email list?
There are many ways to communicate with your audience. But there is no way to guarantee you’ll be able to continue to communicate with them unless you have their contact details – at the very least, their email address. Building your email list ensures you can keep in touch with your fans, send them updates, and let them know when there’s something they can buy to support you.
Why do I need an email marketing service to manage my lists and send campaigns?
Sending emails to large lists manually, in some cases, can be a breach of privacy or even applicable laws. With email marketing services, you can customize the look and feel of your campaigns to reflect your brand. Plus, you can automate many functions. Using an email marketing service is far more practical and efficient overall.
Final Thoughts, ConvertKit Review
In my humble opinion, ConvertKit strikes the perfect balance between functionality, ease of use, and price. It comes with just enough of the goods to be incredibly powerful, but it’s not overwhelming. It’s also simple enough for artists to use.
Sign up for a 14-day free trial (affiliate link) with ConvertKit now.
What are the best email marketing services for artists in 2023?
As we look to the future of marketing, email marketing will likely remain a staple in an artist’s marketing mix. If used correctly, it can prove one of the most effective digital marketing tools there is.
If you’re trying to figure out which email marketing service to use as an artist, here is a look at the best tools available and how they compare to each other.
The Best Email Marketing Services for Artists of 2023
- ConvertKit: Best overall selection for artists.
- Mailchimp: A good beginner tool, dubious for artists who’ve been at it for a while.
- ActiveCampaign: An excellent solution for artists with established teams and business models.
- GetResponse: Enduring email marketing service – quite possibly the best among old-guard tools.
- Constant Contact: Classic email marketing still packs a punch and is forward-looking too.
- AWeber: Old guard mail marketing service and a good all-rounder.
ConvertKit, Best of the Best Email Marketing Services for Artists
ConvertKit (affiliate link) was founded by Nathan Barry, an independent creator who wrote three books and two courses. Barry is well-acquainted with the ebbs and flows of being a creator and saw a gap to fill in the email marketing software for creators realm. Thus, ConvertKit.
- Free: $0 USD
- Creator: Starting from $15 USD per month
- Creator Pro: Starting from $25 USD per month
Easy to understand. Effective list growing, email campaign templates, automation, and monetization tools.
Pros & Cons
|+ All the features you need to grow and manage your email list and send campaigns out of the box
+ Flexible tag-based system for segmenting and managing your audiences
+ Useful, easy-to-understand analytics
+ Excellent automation functionality
+ Features to monetize your list
+ Solid deliverability
+ Free migration
|– ConvertKit targets creatives and creators as customers, but the interface does not feel artistic or creative|
I make no bones about it. ConvertKit (affiliate link) is our top recommended email marketing software for artists.
And this is not one of those generic recommendations (“Yeah, it’s pretty good, you should check it out”) you can find anywhere on the web. No, I’m speaking from personal experience.
I signed up for ConvertKit a couple of years ago and had every intention of moving my lists over from Mailchimp. I delayed and delayed until I couldn’t justify the cost of Mailchimp anymore.
Mailchimp doesn’t just charge based on the plan you’ve selected. Every little add-on (like automation), costs you extra. But I will get to that a little later.
And just so there’s no confusion – I am on a paid plan with ConvertKit right now.
Either way, I also thought it would take me a long time to figure out ConvertKit’s workflow. Initially, that was a point of hesitation.
And, sure, it took me some time to find my way around. But overall, ConvertKit could not have proven much easier to acclimate to. So, if you’re worried about moving yourself over from another email marketing service, you’ll be glad to know the process is straightforward (and that includes importing your existing lists).
I like ConvertKit’s email campaign templates. There are great-looking templates out of the box, and you can customize them to suit your needs. Additionally, sending plain text emails (the kind you see most marketers sending) with Mailchimp was impossible (I tried, and eventually gave up) – basically, it always formatted incorrectly. With ConvertKit? No problem!
I love ConvertKit’s automation tools. They make it easy for me to create custom sequences for my customers. I have many products, and the ability to tailor my communication to different customer segments is very important to me.
ConvertKit also has better landing pages and form tools for building your audience compared to some of the alternatives mentioned in this guide. Dare I say it – ConvertKit’s arsenal of tools almost makes list growth apps like Leadpages irrelevant.
Finally, ConvertKit knows its audience as well as the fact that monetizing their work is a priority. Although I don’t sell digital newsletter subscriptions or ask for donations via email myself, it’s nice to know it’s something you can do with ConvertKit.
For the price, ConvertKit is very competitive, and their email delivery rate is 99.73%. I find my campaigns get opened more since moving to ConvertKit.
Sign up for ConvertKit (affiliate link) now.
Mailchimp initially built its reputation on being a free-to-use (up to a point), full-featured email marketing service. The company was founded in 2001, and upon its launch, it was revolutionary. Since then, Mailchimp has added an array of new features to enhance its marketing capabilities.
- Free: $0 USD
- Essentials: Starting at $13 USD per month
- Standard: Starting at $20 USD per month
- Premium: Starting at $350 USD per month
Mailchimp has grown from a simple email marketing service into a more comprehensive offline and online marketing tool.
Pros & Cons
|+ Free to use up to 1,000 subscribers
+ Basic tools for growing and managing your email list, as well as sending email campaigns
|– Difficult-to-use interface, poor navigation, bad menu labeling
– Not cost-effective long-term unless your email list is especially profitable
– List-based system makes segmentation, tagging, and managing your subscribers harder than it should be
Mailchimp is a reasonably good starting point for beginners, given that its off-the-shelf functionality will get you familiar with email marketing. Getting subscribers, managing them, and sending campaigns can all be done with relative ease using Mailchimp’s built-in tools.
But. Mailchimp seems to get worse with age. I don’t know why no one seems to want to broach this subject – maybe because they’re shilling Mailchimp – but I will.
First, its user interface has never been that great, and it only gets more complicated as they add more features. Monkeys evoke a sense of mischief and fun. Mailchimp evokes a sense of overwhelm, industrial complex capitalism, and frustration, especially with the puzzling navigation bar (arguably, that’s where the mischief is at work, right?).
With all the changes they’ve made through the years, I thought they might be able to nail the email equivalent of eating bananas and swinging from trees, but I haven’t seen it yet.
Mailchimp primarily uses a list-based system to manage contacts, and ironically, it’s much less flexible than email software utilizing a tag-based system. This makes segmenting your audience and sending different messages to different people at different times impossible without annoying, complex workarounds.
Delivering the right message to the right people at the right time is the essence of effective marketing! You don’t want this to be any more complicated than it already is, and Mailchimp doesn’t make it easy on you. So, by default, you lose out on opportunities to engage and monetize your audience.
The cost of Mailchimp can also add up much faster than their pricing scheme would seem to indicate, especially once you’ve exceeded over 1,000 subscribers. They charge for every add-on, and that includes automation – a basic feature every artist, creative, and independent entrepreneur will require (especially if you’ve got more than a few products), as their business grows!
You might think that if you’ve got 1,000 subscribers and you’re sending them weekly messages, you’d be making bank, but that’s not always the case. So, you end up dolling out $30+ USD per month for the privilege of sending messages to a subscriber base you worked your ass off to build. Yeah.
Mailchimp could still be a worthwhile solution during the early years of your development. Long-term, you will want to be able to do more sophisticated things with your email list, and when you get to that point, you will need an easier-to-use, more flexible tool to get the job done.
ActiveCampaign was founded in 2003 in Chicago. They have over 180,000 customers, and they are well-known for their automated workflows, advanced features, integrations, and great customer support.
- Plus: $49 USD per month
- Professional: $149 USD per month
- Enterprise: Depends on the organization
Automation is ActiveCampaign’s greatest strength.
Pros & Cons
|+ Powerful automation, advanced features, and integration
+ In-depth reporting
+ Exceptional deliverability
+ Speedy and friendly customer support
+ Free migration
|– Steeper entry-level price
– Horrible customer service
ActiveCampaign is generally considered a step up from free to low-cost email service software solutions and is the preferred choice for many independent entrepreneurs. That has a lot to do with its flexible and powerful feature set that extends well beyond conventional email marketing.
It is a very popular solution for independent entrepreneurs like me who use KLEQ to build their memberships, courses, forums, or online coaching platforms. I still settled on ConvertKit, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like ActiveCampaign.
We all have a specific tool stack, and if you’re looking for an email marketing service that integrates well with apps, eCommerce platforms, and other services, then it’s well worth considering integration as a key factor during the buying process. That’s a blanket statement that applies to all Software-as-as-a-Service (SaaS) purchases.
Either way, as you may have guessed already, ActiveCampaign’s greatest strength is marketing automation. In addition to autoresponders, list, and contact management can be automated too. If you choose to take advantage of their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) features, you can also use their “Deals” system to manage your contacts, appointments, direct messages, and more.
ActiveCampaign’s interface is also one of the easiest to understand. Most email marketing services could learn a thing or two from the way ActiveCampaign has set up their navigation.
That is perhaps too much power for the independent creative, especially if she doesn’t have a marketing and sales team, but it’s nice to know ActiveCampaign can scale with her.
ActiveCampaign is a great email marketing service overall, but it’s not recommended for those just getting started. Its cost is steeper than alternatives already covered, and that cost will only increase as your subscriber base grows.
GetResponse was founded in 1997 in Poland. Besides email marketing, the company has expanded into website builders, marketing automation, and even eCommerce marketing. A forward-thinking company, GetResponse has recently added a ChatGPT-powered email and subject line generators into their feature set.
- Free: $0 USD
- Email Marketing: starting at $13.30 USD per month
- Marketing Automation: starting at $41.30 USD per month
- eCommerce Marketing: Starting at $83.30 USD per month
GetResponse comes with a built-in webinar feature, which, so far as I know, is unique to GetResponse.
Pros & Cons
|+ Free-to-use plan available
+ Its Email Marketing plan is more affordable than many of its competitors
+ Comes with sophisticated marketing automation tools
+ Built-in webinar feature
+ Built-in “Chat” feature for your website
+ Comes with a landing page builder with A/B testing functionality
+ Customer supported in an array of languages
|– The drag-and-drop landing page builder is clunky
– Split testing is only available for subject lines and content
– The website builder is a little lackluster compared to competitor alternatives
– Paid-for webinars are only available on the priciest GetResponse plans
GetResponse has exceptional and in-depth autoresponder functionality assuming you are on one of its paid plans. They are probably the best in the business, at least in this regard. You can create time- or action-based messages based on opens, clicks, subscriptions, birthdays, changes to user data, and more.
Naturally, GetResponse also comes with sophisticated automation tools. For better or worse, though, you can only access its full range of capabilities if you’ve purchased the Marketing Automation plan. The marketing automation tool features a drag-and-drop editor to create sophisticated and customized user journeys – it’s probably the best of its kind.
GetResponse comes with nearly 200 responsive templates, most of which are modern, varied, and easy to edit. GetResponse lets you choose from several categories based on the intended goal of the campaign – celebrate, educate, promote, sell, etc. – which is a handy feature.
If anything is lacking here, it would be that you can’t set global styles for headings and text. That means if you want to change the style of a single paragraph, you end up having to change all paragraphs. On the upside, you can take advantage of a bevy of Google Fonts.
For those who were drawn in by the buzzword A.I., yes, you’ll be happy to know GetResponse comes with a few handy Artificial Intelligence features. And even though they are new, they are remarkably effective.
The A.I. subject line generator will provide you with five suggestions for your campaigns, and the email generator can create a campaign – text, layout, and design – based on the prompts you give it. You can also choose from six “voice tone” settings.
GetResponse also comes with competent analytics/reporting, split testing, landing page builder, webinar, conversion funnels, website builder, Chats, push notification tools, and more, depending on the plan you purchase. We’d be hard-pressed to cover them all here, but you can refer to the pros and cons section above for an overview.
GetResponse may well be the best among the old-school tools like AWeber and Constant Contact, also seen below.
Founded in 1995, Constant Contact is an “old guard” email marketing service. That means they’ve had plenty of time to earn the public’s trust. But that doesn’t mean they’ve fallen behind the times. They continue to evolve, and they’ve recently added A.I. tools to their repertoire too.
- Lite: Starting at $12 USD per month
- Standard: Starting at $35 USD per month
- Premium: Starting at $80 USD per month
Constant Contact empowers you to stay in touch with your contacts using email, texting, and social media.
Pros & Cons
|+ Good entry-level pricing
+ Easy to use
+ Brainless audience segmentation features
+ Stats displayed in the dashboard; more detailed stats available in the Reporting section
+ An array of attractive templates
+ Great automation features
|– The best automation features are reserved for higher-priced plans
– Prices increase rapidly as your list size grows
– The user interface is a little buggy
– While there are plenty of templates, many are a little dated at this point
Constant Contact has managed to keep up with the times. Since they’ve been in existence for nearly three decades, their efforts to remain relevant are commendable.
One of the things users love most about Constant Contact is its easy-to-use interface. Setting up your first campaign is a breeze, and that goes for just about anything else you might set up using the service – newsletters, landing pages, social media posts, and more.
The interface is sort of a double-edged sword, though, in that it can be unresponsive at times, especially in embedding video content. While Constant Contact does have mobile apps, they are lacking the functionality users expect from them.
As I mentioned earlier, all growing creators and businesses need automation, and I’m happy to report this is one of Constant Contact’s strong suits. You can create audience segments yourself and organize your lists by location, tags, email activity, and more. If you don’t mind paying for the additional functionality, you can get Constant Contact to organize your audience into four categories – most engaged, somewhat engaged, least engaged, and everyone else.
Being around for longer has certain advantages, and Constant Contact has had time to add a ton of mobile-friendly email templates to its platform over the years. The placeholders offer some ideas on what to include in your campaigns. You can also have Constant Contact automatically create a custom template based on your website’s design.
Again, its strengths are sometimes its weaknesses too, and Constant Contact’s templates aren’t exactly fresh off the press. While you can customize the templates to an extent, the options are kind of limited.
Overall, though, Constant Contact is a solution that can scale with use, and it has the right goods to be worthwhile for those just getting started and more advanced marketers alike.
AWeber is another old-guard email marketing service. Founded in 1998, over a million entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations have used AWeber to communicate with their audiences and grow their ventures.
- Free: $0 USD
- Lite: starting at $12.50 USD per month
- Plus: starting at $20.00 USD per month
- Unlimited: starting at $899 USD per month
AWeber is a good all-rounder and doesn’t necessarily have any standout features. It comes with autoresponder functionality, reporting, list segmentation, a landing page builder, integration, basic eCommerce features, and more.
Pros & Cons
|+ Free plan to get started
+ Reasonably priced plans
+ Easy to use
+ Solid selection of templates, newsletters, and landing pages
+ Build-in landing page builder
+ Excellent customer support
+ Basic eCommerce features
+ Decent integration features
|– You pay for unsubscribed contacts sitting in your account
– You can’t use multiple segments when sending campaigns
– More affordable options exist
– No A/B testing functionality for landing pages
Not surprisingly, AWeber has a huge library of mobile-ready newsletter templates, with over 600 available (although some are merely variants on established themes). With the Free and Lite plans, however, you can only access a limited number of templates, so users beware. You need at least the Plus plan to be able to access all.
As with Constant Contact, some of AWeber’s templates look a little dated. In this case, quantity mostly makes up for quality. Plus, you can still create customized templates if you prefer, and there is a “Smart Designer” option, which will analyze your site’s formatting and attempt to duplicate it (with mixed results).
AWeber makes a rather bold claim, that they invented autoresponders in 1998. That may be true, but AWeber’s autoresponder feature set is about average. AWeber has multiple templates for autoresponder campaigns, though (like welcome sequences, lead magnet series, YouTube newsletter, and more), and these do come in very handy.
AWeber’s autoresponder functionality probably isn’t good enough for growing creators and businesses, however, as there’s no way to complete more advanced autoresponder tasks.
AWeber does come with “AWeber Campaigns,” the closest thing they have to marketing automation. But it can’t keep up with Mailchimp or GetResponse’s automation features.
AWeber’s strong suits also include split testing as it lets you create and send up to three variants of your campaign. It offers very competitive functionality when it comes to A/B testing too, with subject lines, different content, etc.
Additionally, AWeber has good reporting out of the box, though you cannot access some of the more advanced features unless you’ve purchased the Plus or Unlimited plan.
Constant Contact and AWeber share much in common in terms of features, which makes AWeber another capable all-rounder.
Best Email Marketing Services Honorable Mentions
- Bandzoogle: Bandzoogle isn’t strictly an email marketing service and rather a website-building and hosting platform for musicians. That said, they do give you the ability to grow your list and send campaigns or newsletters from inside your account. If you ever need to export your list and take it elsewhere, Bandzoogle lets you do that too.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best email marketing service for artists?
We assess that the best overall email marketing service for artists is ConvertKit. That said, the best service will still depend on the exact nature of your activity and business, as well as your needs and goals. Most platforms offer the features and functionality you need to get up and running, but it makes sense to home in on the right solution for you as your audience starts to grow and you’re paying for your contacts.
Why do I need email marketing software?
First, sending mass broadcasts to your list manually (e.g., using Gmail) is thoroughly impractical or in some cases, a violation of privacy and laws. Second, email marketing software makes the management of your contacts, growth of your list, and sending of campaigns and newsletters a much more manageable task, with reporting on every campaign sent (open rates, click-through rates, etc.).
What types of email marketing are there?
All email marketing is effectively the same, in that all types involve sending campaigns to your audience, or an audience segment. But some marketers do like to think of updates and sales messages as separate from newsletters. Automated “Thank you for your purchase” type messages may also be considered separate, and not “marketing” in the strictest sense.
Which email marketing service is the most affordable?
Mailchimp has long been touted to be the most affordable email marketing service, but ConvertKit is close on its heels, and can even prove more cost-effective over the long haul. Other services offering free plans are also worth checking out, like GetResponse or AWeber.
How can I make money with email marketing?
As with any type of marketing, making money is not a guarantee. But any time you’ve got a new musical release, book, wearable, piece of art, or otherwise, you can send your audience a campaign and include a link where they can go to purchase your offer.
Is it possible to market via email for free?
Yes. Most services offer a free plan or a free trial you can use to send email campaigns for free. Free plans are generally better than free trials, though, as you won’t have a time limit on managing or exporting your email list should you choose not to go with a specific service.
Is email marketing better than social media marketing?
As expert marketer Dan Kennedy says, the best thing you can do as a marketer is execute multiple strategies simultaneously with great urgency. We feel the same way. So, while email marketing is more personal and has better visibility, you can benefit from incorporating social media into your marketing mix, especially if you can use it to grow your email list.
Final Thoughts, Best Email Marketing Services
And that’s everything you need to know about email marketing services for artists. If you’re just getting started, your best bet is to take advantage of a provider like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, GetResponse, or AWeber, which have free plans. On the other hand, if you’re on a massive growth trajectory, you might want to look at ActiveCampaign or more comprehensive digital marketing solutions like Ontraport and HubSpot.
Good luck with your email marketing efforts, and let us know if we can help!
Over the course of the last three years (almost), I’ve enjoyed the exercise of publishing daily.
I took a bit of a break between May and August 2022, but aside from that, I have been writing and posting fresh, daily content since July 2020.
I’ve learned a great deal in that time, such as the fact that:
- Publishing daily will land you some opportunities. But as with anything else, there are no guarantees.
- Once it becomes a habit, it’s much easier to maintain.
- It’s a great way to write a book.
- Documenting life events makes it easy for you to go into your archives and find those times you burned out, created a new homepage layout, went on a getaway with friends, and much more. Any time you need to recall specific events, dates, and times, you can refer to your archives.
I have not lost interest in publishing daily. But I’ve recognized the importance of producing and publishing strategic content, more than ever. And I admit it is much harder to be strategic about content creation when you’re under the gun to produce daily, even though you squeeze out the occasional search-optimized post.
Ranking in search only becomes harder by the day, though, and while the impact of A.I.-generated content remains to be seen, it does make mediocre writers redundant, and soon, it may make most podcasters redundant as well.
I am busier than ever as a writer, and that’s the opposite of what I thought would happen with the emergence of tools like ChatGPT, but I’m mindful that there are no guarantees that demand will continue to maintain or increase.
To be more strategic, I have:
- Done my keyword research.
- Created a content calendar with at least a month planned.
- Made notes of content opportunities I’ve come across.
- Decided to make video content my priority above all else. This is my primary YouTube channel.
- Decided to dedicate more energy to finishing the seven or eight some-odd books that are nearing completion.
When all is said and done, you may not notice a huge difference in output on my part. I may still post the occasional life update or spontaneous news. But I have decided to put an end to the insanity cycle I have been in. When something doesn’t work for a long enough period, you’ve got to adapt and try something else. And, I have been pivoting faster than ever.
I can’t imagine too many people will be disappointed by this change. But you’re always welcome to let me know.
Well, it was new to me anyway. Someone else has probably thought of this before.
Either way, it was Sunday. And I wanted a pizza.
So, I looked up my favorite local pizza place and placed my order. The confirmation message said I’d placed the order for May 30 at 12:30 PM, but I didn’t think anything of it. I honestly thought it was a bug in the system.
So, I drove over to the pizza place for my takeout order at 12:30, only to notice the shop was closed. I realized right away what had happened.
The pizza place was closed on Sunday and Monday. It sounds a little crazy, but where I’m living right now, the city is very quiet on Sunday and Monday, so it kind of makes sense.
Should I cancel the order? No, I decided to let it stand. Count on the fact that the pizza place would have my pie ready for me when I got there on Tuesday (today). And sure enough, they did.
Not all ordering systems have a calendar that allows you to pick the specific date and time you would like your order, but some clearly do.
If you know in advance that you can’t cook on a certain day, or if you know you’re going to be busy, you could place your order well in advance of that date and have a meal that’s ready to be consumed waiting for you. Score.
Consider for a moment that this is true.
Is it crazy to think that everything you’ve experienced, everything you’re experiencing, and everything you’re going to experience is a result of what you’ve been thinking and feeling?
The thought gives me pause.
It would mean that everything I like reflects some part of me.
Likewise, it would mean everything I don’t like reflects some part of me also.
Everything I experience is a feedback mechanism, reflecting to me what I’ve been thinking and feeling.
And that reminds me to look closely at what I’ve been thinking and feeling. Because my view of the outer world is often limited. It often doesn’t look how I want it to look either.
Change is possible. But I can’t force change on the outer world. It doesn’t work that way.
What I can do is engage in inner work. Be in the discovery of what is having me see the world as I see it now. Declare completion over past events. Seek out opportunities to heal.
Trying to change others is a waste of time – they are reflecting you. You are meant to observe and be in the discovery of what part of you they are reflecting.
Forcing a change in yourself is also a waste of time. There is always an impact, and you end up adding to the baggage you’re already carrying. The question is what you’re going to do with that baggage.
You can lovingly and gently engage in inner work. This will change the outer world. But not by force. It will change because you’ve changed.
In a video published yesterday, I shared that I’d spent over $100,000 on personal development:
Those numbers are quite conservative. As I thought about it, I realized I must be well beyond that figure at this point.
But I’ve noticed people like to call B.S. on this, so let me break it down for you. And I can’t emphasize this enough – all figures that follow are conservative!
Books & Kindles
I own roughly 300 personal development, leadership, marketing, entrepreneurship, and spiritual books, mostly paperbacks or hardcovers, some Kindles. Some books cost more, some cost less, and some were even gotten for free, but if I were to average it out, each book cost roughly $20.
300 titles x $20 = $6,000
Audiobooks & Audio Programs
I have not invested huge sums of money in audiobooks and audio programs, but I have spent some.
20 audiobooks x $20 = $400
4 audio programs x $40 = $160
Courses & Memberships
Courses and memberships (some of which came with personalized coaching) is one of the greatest costs I’ve incurred in growing myself. I don’t think of it as an expense so much as a necessity, mind you.
Fizzle (now ZenBusiness) – $720 (for a combined two years of membership)
James Schramko – $2,400 (for a combined two years of membership)
Landmark Worldwide – $5,450 (for seven courses or programs and three seminars)
No B.S. Letter – $1,200
I have also invested in some one-offs at Udemy and elsewhere, so the above should not be considered comprehensive.
Everything in life can teach you something, and I learned a great deal about business in network marketing, where I ended up spending a good chunk of money. I can’t say I lost my shirt, but I also didn’t earn a lot of money in the business. Thus, a business education.
Products – $28,800
Training organization membership – $720
Training resources – $720
Communication tool – $720
Business investments also ended up teaching me a great deal about life and entrepreneurship and I would count them towards my personal growth.
Academe Design/Red Flame – $3,000
Music Entrepreneur HQ – $9,600
Undisclosed music industry tech startup – $60,000
Total Estimated Spend on Personal Development
Books & Kindles + Audiobooks & Audio Programs + Courses & Memberships + Network Marketing + Business Investments = $119,890
Let’s remember – the above figures are conservative. I have not covered everything I’ve ever invested in to grow myself, and since I’ve been investing heavily into my growth since 2009, some of the above figures would look very different (much higher) in today’s money.
Now you know.
In creating content, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds without ever finding your path.
Here’s the surprising truth no one tells you about content…
It’s Not About the Type of Content
We are often led to believe that content is, first and foremost, about the type of content you produce.
Blog posts, infographics, podcasts, videos. Pick one.
Picking one and sticking to it is good advice. Choosing one that’s matched to your preferences is even better. Even with a team, it can be very difficult to publish blog posts and make videos, as an example.
But you will not automatically be more successful because you publish a certain type of content…
It’s Not About the Platform
Secondly, we are told, publishing is about finding the right platform to publish to.
Facebook. Instagram. YouTube.
All things being equal, it’s a good idea to go where your audience is. And there is no mistaking that you’ve got to tailor the right kind of content to the platform you’re publishing to.
But publishing in the right place will not guarantee success. If you’re delivering the right kind of content, people will come to you.
It’s Not About When You Publish
Having figured out what type of content we want to publish and where to publish it, we start looking at when to publish it.
It’s funny because it’s mostly replacing one obsession with another.
Emails should go out between 9 AM and 12 PM EST on a Thursday. Facebook posts should be published between 8 AM and 12 PM EST on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or whatever it is.
Look, you can find this information anywhere, and nowadays Facebook will even help you schedule your posts at a time they are more likely to be seen.
It doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as you think it does, though, because people will still tune into their favorite show at 1:00 AM on Monday if it’s the only opportunity to catch it.
The Surprising Truth – It’s About the Personality
Personality, or what marketer Russell Brunson calls a certain “attractive character” in his book, DotCom Secrets, is what creating content is all about. This is a foundation on which you can build.
People will still occasionally stumble across your content if it’s valuable and optimized, but if there’s no personality in it, it’s unlikely you will be remembered and be able to get people on your list and create long-term engagement with them.
Think about it. Oprah can draw an audience and sell to them any time she wants. You can probably think of plenty of others – Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, or otherwise.
If you were to pay attention to your own consumption habits, you’d notice that large chunks of it are based on people you know, like, and trust too.
So, what personality will you establish?