When we started our newsletter we had to connect Wordpress to Mailchimp to Stripe all by ourselves; when we moved to Substack we were responsible for half of the paid newsletter subscribers on their platform; and are now one of many publishers who are in it for the long term at Ghost, the fiercly independent publishing platform.
Here are the SaaS products we rely on for our newsletters, and recommend heartily to you.
*some links may include affiliate commissions
Churnbuster: free money by recovering failed credit cards
This is one of the easiest decisions in the newsletter, essentially free money for any paid newsletter making above a certain threshold each year.
Churnbuster bsaically chases subscribers whose payment cards have lapsed, re-trying cards and then sending a series of emails asking users to update their cards. To my surprise, something like half of users whose cards expire and who would not have updated their card-info on their own do decide to do so after a few reminder emails.
Churnbuster costs $79 per month and earns us at least $1000 per in recovered revenue (which is even more valuable because, as a subscription, a lot of those customers will now stay on for years to come!)
Plausible Analytics: Simple, Privacy-respecting, Good-looking analytics
Just really good, privacy-respecting analytics.
No cookies so you don't need a GDPR banner – I don't think American publishers always realise how much of a difference that makes for your European readers.
The value of having really simple, easily-accessible, truly reliable metrics for your site is incredible. In our time at Substack we were deeply constrained by their bad internal metrics and refusal to "allow" publishers to use whatever analytics they wanted. We're now able to make better business decisions by easily seeing how our site is doing each day / week / month, which of our pieces are resonating, and dig down on where traffic is coming from.
Ghost: The independent publishing platform for serious creators
At twelve years old, The Browser is ancient in newsletter-years. We saw the potential of independent membership publishing before it became a fad, and can say with some confidence that Ghost is the platform for anyone truly serious about newsletter publishing.
What can we say? Ghost has the best and most reliable tech in the membership publication space. It's been around for longest and is built for the long term. For many publishers it is 80%+ cheaper than Substack. If you're serious about your newsletter, there's really no reason to use anything else.
-- Specialist Tools For Specific Uses --
The following tools are also extraordinary, but might not be relevant for every newsletter
Listen Notes: Just The Best Podcast Curation Tool
Mainly relevant if you're looking to make a curated podcast feed. You can select episodes from other people's podcasts and add them to your own custom RSS feed. Just a beautiful product, expertly made.
Five Filters: RSS and Reading Tools
Five Filters is a great company offering a series of services around RSS, Kindle and more. Highly recommended for those who need it.