Trusted WordPress tutorials, when you need them most.
Beginner’s Guide to WordPress
25 Million+
Websites using our plugins
Years of WordPress experience
WordPress tutorials
by experts

Substack vs WordPress: Which One is Better? (Pros and Cons)

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on WPBeginner. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations. Learn more about Editorial Process.

Are you comparing Substack vs. WordPress and wondering which one is better?

Substack and WordPress are both publishing platforms that allow you to easily publish content online and sell membership subscriptions.

In this article, we will compare Substack vs. WordPress to find out which one is the better platform.

Comparing Substack vs WordPress

Editor’s Note: Looking for a more affordable Substack alternative? We recommend ConvertKit. It has all the powerful features without the predatory pricing of Substack, which takes 10% of your newsletter revenue.

Since this is a detailed comparison of Substack vs. WordPress, here’s a quick table of contents:

Overview: Substack vs. WordPress

Before we start with our in-depth comparison of the two popular subscription platforms on the web, it’s important that we cover the basics and highlight what makes these platforms stand out.

What Is Substack?

Substack is an online newsletter publishing platform. It allows you to easily send newsletter emails to your subscribers.

You can have both paid and free subscriptions, and Substack gets a share of all your paid subscription fees. Apart from newsletters, you also get a basic website and podcast hosting.

With paid subscriptions, you can think of Substack as a Patreon alternative for newsletters.

However, Substack doesn’t have all the functionality of a typical blogging platform or a content management system.

What Is WordPress?

WordPress is the world’s most popular website builder. It allows you to easily make any kind of website you want. It works seamlessly with almost all popular email newsletter services to send newsletter emails.

You can have both free and paid newsletter subscriptions. Plus, you can use it to make a podcasting website, eCommerce store, membership website, and more.

Note: When we say WordPress, we are talking about self-hosted and not For more details, see our article on the difference between vs.

What to Look For in a Subscription Platform

Choosing the right platform for your subscription offering is the most important decision you’ll make. Once you start growing, it will be harder to switch platforms, and you may lose users in the process.

Here are a few basic pointers that you should keep in mind when choosing your subscription platform.

  • Ease of Use – How easy it is to get started on your own
  • Costs – How much it will cost
  • Integrations – Can you connect it to other apps to grow your subscriber base?
  • Data Portability – Can you move your data away?

Keeping these parameters in mind, let’s take a look at Substack vs. WordPress in detail.

Ease of Use

Most publishers are not website designers or marketers by profession. Choosing an easy-to-use platform helps you focus on what you do best and leave the technical stuff aside.

Substack: Ease of Use

Substack is incredibly easy to use for bloggers. Even absolute beginners can use it quite comfortably. All you have to do is sign up, and you will be able to start working on your content right away.

Substack signup

Substack is highly focused on writers and easy publishing (similar to Medium).

It comes with a minimalist editor where you can create newsletter emails, write articles, and upload podcast episodes.

Substack editor

You can choose whether you want an article to go to paid subscribers or everyone on a post-by-post basis.

Even though writing a post is incredibly easy, there is not much room for creativity in the default substack editor. There are fewer customization choices and formatting options.

WordPress: Ease of Use

WordPress is open-source software, which means you install it yourself and manage updates and backups. While this may sound technical, WordPress is incredibly easy to install and use.

You’ll need a domain name and a web hosting account to install WordPress.

We recommend using Bluehost, which is one of the biggest hosting companies in the world and an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.

They are offering a free domain name + a generous discount on hosting to WPBeginner readers. Basically, you can get started for $1.99 per month.

Bluehost will automatically install WordPress for you, and you can simply log in to your WordPress dashboard in your account.

Login to WordPress by click on the Edit Site button in Bluehost

WordPress comes with an incredibly easy-to-use and powerful block editor.

This allows you to create content on your website and design it any way you like.

WordPress editor

To lock your premium content behind a paywall, you’ll need MemberPress. It is the best WordPress membership plugin that allows you to easily restrict content based on a user’s subscription plan.

Unlike Substack, where you can have only one subscription plan for all users, you can create multiple subscription levels with different benefits.

Add memberships

To send out newsletters, you’ll need to connect WordPress to an email marketing service. We recommend using Constant Contact, which is the best email platform for small businesses.

However, with WordPress, you can choose any email newsletter platform like Brevo (formerly Sendinblue), Drip, ConvertKit, Mailchimp, and more.

For details, see our article on how to create a paid newsletter in WordPress, which has step-by-step instructions for beginners.

Winner: Substack

Cost of Running a Paid Subscription Service

The next important factor to consider is the cost of running a paid subscription service. Higher costs and low profitability could make it challenging to scale your business as you grow.

Actual Cost of Substack Paid Newsletter

You can send the free newsletter to your free subscribers. This helps you grow your audience and build a subscriber base. However, having only free subscribers is not profitable in the long run.

You can remedy that by adding a paid subscription option for your newsletter. This allows you to send exclusive content to your paid subscribers.

Turn on paid subscriptions in Substack

Substack allows you to use Stripe to accept payments. Stripe is available in select countries. If you are not located in one of those countries, then you cannot receive payments.

Both Substack and Stripe take their cut from each transaction. Substack charges 10%, and Stripe charges 2.9% + 30 cents on each transaction.

If you charge $10 per subscriber, then the Substack + Stripe fee will be 1.59.

This may not sound a lot, but let’s suppose you have 100 paid subscribers, each paying $10 per month. You’ll be paying $159 each month and $1908 each year.

Cost of a Paid Newsletter Using WordPress

WordPress gives you the freedom to choose your own email platform, website hosting, plugins, and tools. This gives you control over the costs, and you can decide how much you will spend on your paid newsletter subscription.

You can get website hosting with a free domain name via Bluehost for just $1.99 per month.

Bluehost website

Pricing for email platforms varies. For instance, Constant Contact plans start from $20 per month, and the pricing varies based on the number of contacts.

Similarly, you can start for free with Brevo (Sendinblue), which allows you to send up to 300 emails daily. After that, you can upgrade to their lite plan, which allows you to send up to 10,000 emails per day for $25.

Apart from email marketing, you will need MemberPress to sell subscriptions, which costs $179.50 for their basic plan.

You can use Stripe, PayPal, as your payment gateway. These payment gateways will have their fees.

In the long run, WordPress gives you more freedom to cut down costs and increase your profits.

Winner: WordPress

Integrations Available to Grow Subscribers

In order to promote your paid newsletter, you’ll want to use third-party tools to grow your business. Let’s see how Substack and WordPress perform in this category.

Substack Integrations

Substack is an all-inclusive platform with limited to no integrations.

It comes with limited SEO features built into the platform. You can connect your custom domain name, Google Analytics tracking ID, and social media profiles from the settings page.

Substack settings

To grow your subscribers, you will need to promote your Substack on social media platforms. This makes it a bit tricky for new writers to start earning right away.

The platform does not allow you to do any design customizations, use your own fonts, or use formatting and design options to engage users.

Limited integrations also limit your potential to access other tools that may help you convert more visitors into paying subscribers.

WordPress Integrations

WordPress is an open-source platform with thousands of third-party integrations available. This allows you to easily get more subscribers for your paid newsletter.

With more than 59,000+ free plugins and thousands more paid integrations, WordPress gives you the freedom to use any tool you like to grow your business.

Here are some of the popular integrations and add-ons that will help you grow your paid newsletter:

  • All in One SEO for WordPress – A complete SEO solution for WordPress websites that helps you improve your website SEO and get more free traffic to your website from search engines.
  • OptinMonster – The best conversion optimization software on the market that helps you convert website visitors into paying subscribers.
  • WPForms – The best form builder plugin to easily create newsletter signup forms and contact forms, with its own payment and email marketing integrations.
  • MonsterInsights – An easy-to-use Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It shows where your visitors are coming from and tracks how users interact with your website.
  • SeedProd – Need a quick landing page for a new campaign? SeedProd lets you easily design landing pages for your website. It comes with beautiful templates and an intuitive drag-and-drop design tool.

Need even more extensions? Look at our pick of the essential WordPress plugins for any new business.

Winner: WordPress

Data Portability

Both WordPress and Substack allow you to download your data and use it elsewhere.

Substack Data Portability

Substack makes it super easy to download all your posts, pages, and email list subscribers. You can simply go to the Settings page and scroll down to the ‘Export your data’ section.

Exporting data in Substack

From here, you can download all your Substack data to your computer.

Your newsletter email subscribers list is in CSV format, which allows you to easily import subscribers into other email services. However, most email services will require users to opt-in again, and many users may not resubscribe.

For post data, you can use the Substack importer for WordPress to import the data into a WordPress blog or website.

WordPress Data Portability

WordPress allows you to export all your data using the built-in export tools. This includes all your posts, pages, comments, users, etc.

Simply go to the Tools » Export page to download your export file.

Export WordPress data

Your newsletter subscriber data is safely stored with your third-party email service provider. Almost all reliable email companies let you easily export your email list, which you can use elsewhere.

Once again, if you import your email list into a new email service, they may require users to opt in again.

Winner Tie

Conclusion: WordPress vs. Substack: Which One Is Better?

WordPress is better than Substack regarding flexibility, scalability, and profitability.

It allows you to grow your newsletter differently and unlocks access to much better tools and extensions to do just that.

Plus, you are not just limited to paid subscriptions for monetization. You can extend your WordPress site to sell merchandise, display ads, add paid forums, and more.

On the other hand, Substack is better if you only want to easily send newsletters to non-paying subscribers and host a free blog.

You will not have the same flexibility as WordPress, and if you want to switch to a paid newsletter, you will pay a significant amount to Substack.

If you don’t want to use WordPress but still want a more affordable Substack alternative? We recommend ConvertKit. It has all the powerful features without the predatory pricing of Substack, which takes 10% of your newsletter revenue.

We hope this article helped you compare Substack vs. WordPress. You may also want to see our guide on how to get more traffic to your site or see how to create an online store on your existing website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. See how WPBeginner is funded, why it matters, and how you can support us. Here's our editorial process.

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

The Ultimate WordPress Toolkit

Get FREE access to our toolkit - a collection of WordPress related products and resources that every professional should have!

Reader Interactions

7 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
    Every month, our top blog commenters will win HUGE rewards, including premium WordPress plugin licenses and cash prizes.
    You can get more details about the contest from here.
    Start sharing your thoughts below to stand a chance to win!

  2. Teresa Blaes says

    I am considering substack as i am blind, but want to start a news letter. I have many wp sites for our podcast production company and other things, but I want to develope a following and maybe in future offer a paid subscription thanks for the read, gives me something to think about.

  3. Ridho says

    I have a WordPress website where I publish long format blog-posts (for free). Profiting from my writing is yet to be a concern of mine, but it may be in future as I get better and it becomes more professionally informative (I write predominately about architecture, but am not limited to it). Your post has me leaning towards retaining my WordPress site, rather than shifting to Substack, which I was pondering, as the design of the webpage is of great concern to me and my writing often includes pictures that I prefer to be properly composed alongside the text.

    My main wonder is whether Substack allows greater opportunity for audience growth, given that it appears (I’ve really not researched it enough) as a major platform with a large number of subscribers, and I would assume there’s the possibility of drawing from this pool organically via Substack itself. From this article I get the impression that with either WordPress or Substack, audiences would still mainly be drawn from social media i.e. Instagram, Facebook etc… and that there is no advantage for either in this regard. Please let me know if it’s otherwise.

    • WPBeginner Support says

      There is a possibility that your site could rank if Substack decided to feature you in their discoverability but you cannot guarantee your site will be featured. We would normally recommend WordPress first as it would give more tools and options to be discovered by search engines as well as when you share on social media.


  4. Bob says

    I’ve used both. I love how easy it is to post to Substack. WordPress I feel like I have to wear many hats. While that’s fun and I see the scalability, it’s a continual learning curve. I find SEO a grind. But I agree ultimately WordPress is more powerful. I love your blog. It’s such a great resource! Bob

Leave A Reply

Thanks for choosing to leave a comment. Please keep in mind that all comments are moderated according to our comment policy, and your email address will NOT be published. Please Do NOT use keywords in the name field. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation.