WordPress.com, one of the most popular platforms for creating websites and blogs, is taking on Substack by introducing paid newsletters. The feature, called WordPress.com Newsletter, was initially launched in December and allowed writers to send posts directly to their audience’s email. Now, WordPress.com is expanding the functionality to support paid subscriptions and premium content.
In recent years, people have grown tired of cluttered websites filled with ads and annoying pop-ups. Many readers prefer receiving content through email because it provides a more direct and convenient connection with their favorite writers, journalists, and publishers.
WordPress.com’s entry into the newsletters market is significant due to its massive user base. WordPress powers 43% of all websites, including its open-source version. While the initial version of WordPress.com Newsletter lacked some competitive features for running a revenue-generating newsletter business, it offered useful tools for general newsletter management, such as importing subscribers, customizable designs, scheduling, and posting via email.
With the latest expansion, WordPress.com publishers can now monetize their newsletters by offering paid subscriptions and premium content. Even users on the free plan can access these features, but as their newsletter business grows, they may choose to upgrade to paid WordPress.com plans, which also reduce transaction fees on newsletter subscription emails.
WordPress.com processes the transactions through Stripe, a popular payment processing service. The fee structure is similar to Substack, with a 10% charge. However, WordPress.com’s Commerce plan users enjoy a 0% fee. It’s important to note that the availability of these features depends on the market’s support for Stripe.
Similar to Substack, WordPress.com authors have the flexibility to decide which posts will be free or available only to paid subscribers. They can mark their posts as accessible to everyone, subscribers, or paid subscribers during the publishing process.
One advantage of using WordPress.com for newsletters is its versatility. As a broader publishing platform, creators can expand their efforts over time and transform their newsletter into a full-fledged website. They can also collect one-time tips or donations to support their projects outside of subscriptions or even run an online store. Additionally, WordPress.com offers a wide range of plugins, themes, and design options to customize websites according to individual preferences.
However, since WordPress.com isn’t solely focused on newsletters, it may lack some specific tools that competitors provide, especially for large-scale newsletter operations or online businesses. WordPress.com also falls short on the social side compared to Substack, which has developed features like Notes and Chat to foster an online community. Substack’s efforts to create a social platform raised concerns from Twitter owner Elon Musk, leading to Twitter censoring tweets containing Substack links.
Although WordPress.com doesn’t come with a built-in social community, its parent company Automattic recently acquired an ActivityPub plugin. This plugin enables blog owners to join the Fediverse, a network that includes Mastodon, an open-source alternative to Twitter. By posting updates directly to Mastodon, WordPress.com users can engage with their audience beyond email.
The new paid newsletter options on WordPress.com are available now, giving writers more opportunities to monetize their content and connect with their readers.