Growing an email list is vital if you’re starting a blog. It’s where trust builds and engagement happens. Between your time spent writing your blog and building your social media following, nurturing your list might not be top priority for you. But even if you’re not actively nurturing your list in the beginning, you still might be torn between the choice of Mailchimp vs. Mailerlite. After all, you need a place to store these contacts you capture.
For the first few months, you might just neglect your newsletter altogether because there are a million things on your plate. I’d be honest, in my first few months, I only sent a handful of newsletters. Maybe once a month and then once every few months. In fact, I think I sent more newsletters last month than I did in my first six months combined.
And unless you’re selling something right off the bat, you don’t need to incur the expense of an email service provider. That is, unless you want to and can afford it.
Now does that mean you shouldn’t start optimizing your website and building your list from day one?
Nope. In fact, you definitely should.
Your email list growth will be slower when you’re starting fresh. Remember, this isn’t to discourage you but when you have only a few pieces of content, that’s just the way it goes. Also, your focus will be on writing articles and rallying people from social media, paying for an email provider seems like another thing to add to your list of expenses.
Does this mean you shouldn’t eventually pay for a more robust email service provider?
There is certainly a time when you might want to consider upgrading, but when you’re picking an email service provider, you want to know how you’re going to use it.
What are email service providers (and options)
You probably have heard of “growing your email list” somewhere online. I can bet you have.
But the term “email service provider” can sound so technical. It sounds too much like AT&T and paying my phone bill — something I really don’t look forward to every month. I mean, isn’t there a more human way of calling this?
Ha, I’m kidding.
Anyway, an email service provider is simply a piece of software that stores all your subscribers contacts, organizes your list, allows you to send email newsletters, and set up automation sequences. And once you set it up, it can automatically add new subscribers to the appropriate list.
It’s a little fancier than your Gmail account, let’s say.
But when you’re starting your email list, all you need to know is that your ESP will store your contacts, organize your lists, and help you send newsletters.
Any of other robust features is just a nice-to-have. And this is why I don’t recommend starting off with something expensive like ConvertKit if you’re just building your list and sending that weekly newsletter to engage.
*Now if you’re selling a product from the start (that’s great!), then this article is not written for you in mind.
My Experiences with ESP’s
A little backstory so you know. I started off with Mailchimp only because most people recommended it. At the time, I wasn’t too familiar with ESP’s until I got a little obsessed with them. (Dunno why.)
But I hit a wall really quickly. The interface was just not intuitive. Features were hard to understand and I didn’t know how one thing connected to the other. I barely hit double digits in my list building game and I was already looking for alternatives.
And that’s when I heard of Mailerlite through Facebook groups. Prior to this, I thought Mailchimp was the only free option for bloggers.
It didn’t take me long to convert to Mailerlite because they had everything I was looking for… on ONE platform. Even though it’s opt-in forms weren’t as pretty and robust as Popup Ally (my current opt-in forms software), it was hassle-free.
Only when my list started to grow by hundreds did I switch to Active Campaign.
Active Campaign isn’t free (but they have a 14-day free trial) but it has everything I want it to do and is probably even more robust than ConvertKit. It’s also a lot cheaper to begin with!
Differences you need to know (Mailchimp vs. Mailerlite)
By now, you’re probably wondering the differences between Mailchimp and Mailerlite. Which one should you pick? Is one really necessarily BETTER than the other?
Here’s the breakdown:
- Mailchimp allows up to 2000 free subscribers; Mailerlite only allows up to 1000
- Mailchimp is list-based, meaning if a subscriber is on two of your lists, they count as two different people; Mailerlite is subscriber-based and counts the same person on two different lists as one subscriber
- You have to pay additional for Mailchimp automation sequences; all Mailerlite automations are completely free!
- Mailchimp comes with the most basic (and not very “pretty”) landing pages; Mailerlite comes with the whole shebang! (I mean suite of opt-in forms including landing pages, embedded forms, and fun popups.)
- Mailchimp had a learning curve for me; Mailerlite was easy to pick up.
And what’s my pick?
The only advantage Mailchimp has is its number of subscribers. But if you plan on having multiple lists and the same blog reader subscribes to two different lists, then you don’t necessarily get “2000 subscribers.” After all, the same subscriber will get counted twice!
So does that mean you shouldn’t EVER pick Mailchimp?
There are some people who swear by Mailchimp, especially bloggers and entrepreneurs who have been around the block for decades.
Mailerlite, on the other hand, is relatively new to the email marketing game but have been gaining lots of attention from bloggers, especially those who are on a budget.
Just in early 2017, Mailerlite pushed out their new features like “automation workflows.” This might sound intimidating to you, but it’s really fun. I promise. It’s perfect for when you’re creating email courses and sequences.
But I digress a little.
If you’re only building one list and your niche is hyper-focused, you might get away with finding that Mailchimp can help you cut costs. After all, you get double the number of subscribers to fool around with before you start paying for an ESP.
But if you plan on creating email sequences or email courses before you hit 2000 subscribers, then Mailerlite is clearly the smarter choice. You really don’t want to pay-as-you-go for automation sequences on Mailchimp. That’s silly.
Your Final Decision
Since both Mailchimp and Mailerlite are free options, it doesn’t hurt to sign up for an account and try out both. Then see which one you like the “feel” of more. Knowing the logistics and weighing the pros and cons are great, but you really want to play around with it.
If you don’t “feel good” about the platform, then all the great features doesn’t matter.
What’s the biggest concern holding you back from choosing between Mailchimp vs. Mailerlite?