Flodesk Review: My Take as a Flodesk User

My Flodesk review is I love it: It makes building beautiful newsletters easy. Here’s more.

Hello! I’m the author of the Faraway Places newsletter, and I urge you to subscribe, if you like reading newsletters about France and travel. Regardless, whatever your interests are, I am writing this to recommend Flodesk. Use my affiliate code and sign up here.

I’ve used basically every newsletter platform out there: Mailchimp, Tinyletter, ConvertKit, custom-designed systems for large editorial outlets. I haven’t used Substack, but I have an argument against it, which I’ll get to, below. Here’s a primer on what for me were the most important things to know.

What is Flodesk?

Flodesk is a platform for sending email newsletters to your email list. It’s made to be easy to use. I think of it as an email sender for people who are artists, writers, florists, designers, whatever — basically, everyone but marketers. Marketers, I’m sure, would be happier with more “robust” programs like ConvertKit, Mailchimp, AWeber, etc, offering more intense segmentation, retargeting, and stuff like that — but if you’re at the place in your entrepreneurship or creative journey where you want an easy, beautiful way to send email newsletters, I honestly don’t think Flodesk can be beat.

I think Flodesk sits at a really interesting spot on the spectrum of newsletter senders: right between the more marketing-centric offerings like Mailchimp and the more community-based options like Substack. I’ve used them all and they’re all great — it’s just a question of what makes the most sense for you.

How much is Flodesk?

It’s $38 a month — a little cheaper if you pay annually (it works out to $35 a month) and substantially more if you add some ecommerce features, including an integrated checkout ($64 a month).

Flodesk vs Mailchimp

I started out on Mailchimp, and I would likely have stayed with them, but they introduced tiered pricing. I have just under 10,000 subscribers — which is $135 a month on Mailchimp! Yes, there’s more functionality, but I don’t need it. I just want a way to send out a text-based email every week or so to my subscribers. $135 was not going to work for me. (And by the way, that number continues to climb as your list grows — 100,000 subscribers is $800 per month. At Flodesk, it’s still just $38.)

Mailchimp has better customer service than Flodesk — officially with Flodesk, you can get help by email, but practically, the fastest assistance comes via their official Facebook group. Mailchimp, by contrast, has 24/7 support by email and chat support, and if you’re on a premium plan, help by phone as well. Flodesk only recently debuted analytics, and they’re much less fine-grained than Mailchimp’s. Finally, if you have a very small list, the pricing can be quite competitive — if you have 500 contacts and send under 6,000 emails per month (that’s 12 sends to your whole list), it’s only $20 a month. Plus, there are lots of features a growing business might want down the road, including advanced segmentation and behavior targeting.

If you’re building a brand, I think Flodesk is the better choice. If you’re building a business, I think Mailchimp makes sense.

Flodesk vs Substack

As a writer, Substack could make a lot of sense for me. It’s built its reputation as a home for writers and thinkers, and it’s made to accommodate subscription tiers (free and paid). For me, though, I just didn’t want to buy into a platform with its own vibe — does that make sense? People say they have “a Substack,” not a newsletter. I personally wanted to get as far away from this as possible — when you buy into a platform with its own reputation, that reputation commingles with your own. Just consider the recent controversy (“Substack Says It Will Not Ban Nazis or Extremist Speech“). I want nothing to do with this. I work hard on my newsletter and refuse to let it become tainted by someone else’s bad morals, bad taste, or bad decisions.

I do feel a little #girlboss-y (not in a good way) having a “newsletter” rather than a Substack, which I think is the “cool” option, especially for writers and artists. And I miss the opportunity to have a sense of community around my newsletter, which you’ll see on the best Substacks.

Substack is free for readers and writers — unless you’re selling subscriptions, in which case it charges fees that add up to about 13% of your price. I think this is the biggest difference between Flodesk and Substack: the monetization. Substack is primarily subscription-based (as in subscriptions to the newsletter itself), while on Flodesk, if you’re selling anything, you’re selling something other than the newsletter. Personally, I’m more of a product maker than a subscription seller — I like buying and selling things (did you want to buy some postcards??) versus subscriptions to my musings. Probably this is something I should work out with my therapist — but I like the idea that if people want to support my work monetarily, they get something material in return. I’d rather sell tote bags than subscriptions — which isn’t a value judgment, I just think making tote bags is fun. But if you’re the sort of writer (and I say “writer” because that’s Substack’s vibe) who’s turned off by this late-stage capitalistic tote bag selling, then Substack’s the place for you.

For all these reasons, I’m happiest on Flodesk. But there’s a program here for everybody.

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