Written by A Guest Author September 2nd, 2021

What Writers Need to Know About Newsletter Service Providers

By Olaitan French

Many contemporary writers build their audience and supplement their income by creating a newsletter and sending it through a subscription service.  Newsletter service providers allow content creators and individual writers to carve out a revenue program either as a side hustle or as a full-time business venture. Very little technological knowledge is required to use these services.

Bulletin, Substack, and Revue are the the three services currently leading in this field. While these different platforms perform the same function in terms of sharing and monetizing the content you create, there are still slight differences between them which make them favorable or unfavorable, depending on the content creator.

Platform Purpose and Function:

Bulletin: This is a recently launched writing platform by Facebook to help independent writers and content creators make a living off their creative work. Bulletin is designed to approach journalism and writing from an angle that benefits writers. With it being new to the business of writing and paying writers, it is still only available to be monetized by select writers, handpicked by Facebook.

There’s no definite information about the platform’s intention to be made accessible to non-selected writers yet.

Substack: This is an email newsletter publication accessible to all writers regardless of location. The platform allows both upcoming and established writers to create and monetize through paid subscriptions and donations. Substack leverages writers’ independence to write whatever and provides the audience a way to support them.

Revue: This is a newsletter publication recently acquired by Twitter to spark and enhance conversations the microblogging site already encourages. The idea behind Revue is to give writers with Twitter accounts the opportunity to monetize their content through paid subscriptions.

Platform Business Model

Bulletin: The idea behind Bulletin is to help independent writers generate revenue through paid subscriptions during their period of partnership with Facebook. Presently, this option to earn while using Bulletin as a writer is still subject to Facebook’s selection process.

Substack: This is a free publication newsletter open to the public. The platform allows independent writers to create content and also monetize their creativity. As a writer on the platform, you can either decide to make it completely free or paywall your content. Substack takes 10% of revenue generated from paywalled content.

Revue: This is designed to cater to writers and content creators with Twitter profiles, making Twitter a better home to writers. Revue provides writers and creators on Twitter a means to monetize their skills through paid subscriptions.

Writer Monetization Method

Bulletin: Monetization is one of the major reasons why Facebook launched Bulletin. As a writer on this platform, earning is made easier as you’re paid directly by Facebook. On Bulletin, writers determine the price for newsletter subscriptions and can pull their content and subscribers whenever they deem fit.

Substack: Monetization on Substack is solely dependent on the individual writer. A writer can either decide to make their content free or paywall them. When paywalled, Substack deducts a 10% fee from the writer, with a 2.9% fee by Stripe and up to 10% for income tax, depending on the writers’ location. Presently, monetization on Substack is limited to only locations where Stripe is available.

Revue: While Revue caters to writers with Twitter profiles, it provides the opportunity to monetize their skill through paid subscriptions fees which are sent through Stripe.

Just like Substack, this monetization process is limited only to writers in regions where Stripe is available.

Content Discovery

Bulletin: One of the avenues through which Bulletin is setting the pace for independent writers is through its discovery tool. To connect writers to their readers, Facebook provides distribution via Facebook News and through other channels like the Facebook page. Bulletin also allows writers to publish and share their works across different social platforms, thereby helping audiences interested in particular subjects to locate and subscribe to their newsletter.

Substack: There’s a limited content discovery tool on Substack. The platform only has a leader board page displaying top posts and newsletters. This makes the discovery of smaller newsletters difficult.

Revue: There’s no real way to find new content or content creators on Revue.

Platform Tools

Bulletin: This has writing, publishing, and distribution tools that make the process easier for independent writers. Each creator on the platform has access to a standalone website in which they can customize the color palette, logo, and name of their publication. There are also writing tools that allow writers to customize articles, and embed multimedia.

The platform also has analytics which helps writers understand and keep track of their audience flow. Writers on the platform can create community groups (paywalled or not, or hybrid) with features for communication like Facebook Live and Live Audio Rooms.

Comments can be moderated, third-party features like design support and financial services, and legal resources are extended to Bulletin writers with the addition of editorial independence.

Substack: On Substack, you get your domain when you choose a URL which is also where your newsletter archive is hosted. Substack has comment moderation and paywall settings and a word processor built in where you can write and format posts.

One of the interesting things about Substack that attracts writers is its analytics that gives a detailed rundown on email open rates, subscribers’ engagement with embedded links they clicked in your newsletter, which makes it great for email marketing. Substack users also have the opportunity to pull off the platform at any time.

Revue: Revue comes with different writing and publishing tools for writers as well as tools to design their domain. On Revue, there’s also Google analytics to help writers keep track of their audience flow.

Final Thoughts

What these newsletter platforms have in common is: they offer writers an avenue to build, reach an audience, and generate revenue in the process. Their operation rules and methods of monitization differ slightly, which is often what determines a writer’s interest.

Bio: Olaitan French is the pen name of an African writer, author, economist, and poetry editor. He has received multiple nominations for his works, published in several journals and anthologies. He has mentored in workshops, paneled in prizes, and organized literary events, festivals, and masterclasses.


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