Welcome! Here's a helpful section for travel bloggers that talks about dealing with behind the scenes email decisions. For regular travel, without the blogging part, head back to the home page. Cheers!
Should you switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit or Ontraport if you're a blogger? If you're brand new to this digital world, is it worth signing up with a paid email provider? Or should you start with Mailchimp first.
It's not sexy, but it is important.
It's annoying to change (think expensive and time consuming) but the costs are a bit too high to justify "winging it" if you're just starting out.
I'm a blogger and I've been blogging and dealing with email lists for over 10 years. I know it's not an exciting topic (or at least, it doesn't excite me) and so I dread reading email provider reviews. I spend ages dithering back and forth.
Should I switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit? What about Ontraport? Should I pay to upgrade Mailchimp? Is it worth it? What's the ROI? What happened to the exciting parts of my life?!!!
Well, to save you ruminating through the same old email mill, I've condensed my thoughts here. I've been with Mailchimp for years. Switched to Ontraport last year after I came back from maternity leave. And then switched again to ConvertKit recently.
So while it's all fresh in my mind, let me share the ins, outs, ups, downs and twirls around.
Note: if you sign up using the link in this piece, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. That doesn't make any difference to my thoughts on which to recommend since they all have affiliate programs and, well, I'm not sleazy like that! Life's too short!
If you want to cut to the chase, for professional travel bloggers, I'd recommend ConvertKit. If you're just starting out and don't have an aggressive plan to expand and sell, go for Mailchimp. If you have a more complex business that involves appointments and services then Ontraport may be a better fit for you. All three are good products, run by friendly, helpful people. But they are different...
Let's delve in.
Mailchimp is the first true love for most bloggers because, well, it's free and it has a cute monkey on it. More importantly, it's also easy to use and easy to understand.
The software provides forms which you can embed on your site to collect email addresses. It also has a (somewhat glitchy) RSS to email service, which is a colossal time and money saver for bloggers.
Once you hit 2000 subscribers you have to pay, but the payment isn't all that straightforward (or at least I didn't find it that way.) It's done on number of emails sent rather than subscribers, which requires a bit more attention to detail than I want to give a product that's supposed to be running on automatic in the background.
Also, the feature you'll keep seeing in other reviews that pitch Mailchimp vs ConvertKit is that one is list based, the other subscriber based.
In email marketing, this is seen as crucial but to be totally honest, I'm not sure it is for travel bloggers. We rarely need extremely complicated systems and you can segment readers in different ways using Mailchimp, ConvertKit and Ontraport.
Their prices are split across three plans as follows:
Basically allows you to send emails up to 2000 subscribers
Allows you flexibility to take the next step without jumping in at the deep end. You miss out on advanced segmentation, premium support and multivariate testing.
All of the above!
I signed up to Ontraport on the basis of recommendations from the phenomenal travel blogging team, yTravelBlog. They wrote a full review here.
They have several different websites and run a complicated machine. They process hot leads brilliantly and attend conferences run by Ontraport: ontrapalooza.
When you sign up, there is a generous trial period because the software is a little complicated to learn. Not impossible for non tech people. But it doesn't follow patterns you'll find elsewhere on the web.
It's subscriber based, so you can see a card of each subscriber that details everything you know about them, from what website pages they visited to which emails they opened to where they are and what their favourite type of smoothie is (kidding. Kinda.)
The advanced automations and customer profiling capabilities are great.
They have a fantastic algorithm for setting up appointments, working with teams, sending out reminders for said appointments and even mailing/posting out physical postcards.
In fact, that's the main con. It's a little too much for most bloggers and the price tag reflects it.
There is no RSS to email capability and it's a steep learning curve. It didn't play nicely with my theme (though that might just be my theme - Thrive.)
Their prices are split out over four plans as follows:
Suitable for up to 1,000 contacts and 1 user.
Allows up to 2,500 contacts and 2 users.
A big jump up to 10,000 contacts, 3 users and the bonus of email consultation.
Email 20,000+ contacts via a maximum of 5 users, with the benefit of a personal account rep.
Ah, ConvertKit. How I love thee.
ConvertKit is designed with bloggers in mind. It is easy, easy, easy to use and constructing emails feels like sending emails from your normal desktop email client.
Like Mailchimp, it's quick and easy to set up subscribe forms but you can also easily use automations and landing pages as well.
What's an automation? Well, say you like the look of the "how to plan the perfect road trip checklist" over here. You sign up and receive the checklist.
All three providers have a mechanism for doing this but ConvertKit has the easiest by far. You just upload the file as you would an attachment in an email and it's done.
But beyond that, you can set a tag and an automation so that you can easily send that reader more of what they want. Maybe you're interested in road trips but you're not bothered by packing lists (or blogging tips, ahem.)
Instead of sending out the same email to all your subscribers all the time, you can set up automations to send more focused material to your readers.
All three programmes let you do this. But ConvertKit makes it so easy to do.
Likewise with A/B testing (where you try out two different headlines to see which is more successful.) ConvertKit has it added in so that it's almost harder not to do it.
Split out over four plans that all have similiar features as follows:
So those are my thoughts, in brief, for bloggers. If you want to dive into the technical details, you can find thorough guides and reviews here:
If you don't, then I highly recommend you hire someone to help manage the tech side of your blog. At least if you plan to turn it into a business.
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, which means I may earn a small amount of money if and when you click on them. As ever, all links are the result of my honest and insightful thoughts, or at least the best I can d ;-) I've benefitted so much from reading from other bloggers and now it's my turn to help out. Best of luck!
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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