Memberful, a subsidiary of creator platform Patreon, is expanding its membership platform to include a new feature – paid newsletters – reports TechCrunch. Acquired by Patreon in 2018, Memberful offers customizable membership programs to creators, allowing them to develop their own subscription plans, complete with payment processing, member management and dashboard analytics. The company’s free and Pro plans include Memberful’s branding, similar to Mailchimp and other services, but the Pro plan allows creators to use their own branding. The paid newsletters will be a new feature that will allow Memberful to compete with similar services like Substack.
“The Memberful team has been busy working on a new way to communicate directly with your members from within Memberful itself. No more do you need to harness one of our third-party integrations to send and publish content to your members. We still make that easy should you require more control,” said Memberful’s Andy Leverenz in an October 11, 2021 blog post.
“Now you can use our newsletter authoring and distribution tools to send newsletters directly to your members for no additional fees. These are all included when you sign up for Memberful from day one. Press send and start earning immediately,” Leverenz added. “As a bonus, you can publish your newsletter content via email and member website. That way there’s always a place for your members to link back to.”
Memberful subscribers can choose to use the Memberful newsletter tools, or they can integrate with popular email marketing services like Campaign Monitor, Drip, Mailchimp and Mailerlite. The integration will automatically sync their members with their subscriber lists and, of course, the creators own their lists.
Memberful fees vs. Substack and Revue fees
The newsletter feature is included with Memberful’s Pro and Premium plans at no additional cost. The membership platform offers a free plan, a Pro plan for $25 a month + a 4.9% transaction fee and a Premium plan for $100 a month + a 4.9% transaction fee.
Though publishing on Substack is free, the newsletter platform charges a 10% fee for paid subscriptions plus the credit card fee charged by Stripe, their payment processor. It is also free to publish a newsletter on Revue, but when sending out paid newsletters, Revue charges a 5% fee plus a payment processing fee.
Substack is the paid newsletter leader to beat. The service was launched by founders Chris Best and Hamish McKenzie to try to replace the broken, ad-supported journalism model which wasn’t working in a digital age. Their mission was to make it simple to start a subscription-based publication. More than half a million people subscribe to a publication on the platform, and the top 10 publishers make more than $15 million a year. In April of this year, Substack raised $65 million in Series B funding to expand its platform. They also invested $1 million in the Substack Local Initiative to support local news.
Twitter acquired newsletter platform Revue in January, and the company is in the process of testing newsletter subscription sign-ups on participating user profiles. This option is currently only available to a limited test group, but the intent is for the service to be an editorial newsletter subscription service where creators have the option to publish free and/or paid newsletters.
Other players that could gather steam simply because of the size of their platforms are Facebook Bulletin and Google Museletter. Facebook is currently testing Bulletin, which is separate from the Facebook platform, with select creators, including high-profile creators and influencers like Malcolm Gladwell, Mitch Abom and Erin Andrews. Google is also testing Museletter which will work in conjunction with other Google tools including public profiles and Google Drive.
In August, Bloomberg reported that The New York Times plans to compete with paid newsletter services. The legacy media organization currently produces about 50 newsletters that reach 15 million readers weekly. Eighteen newsletters, new and existing, will go behind a paywall. The newsletters will cover a variety of topics including everything from politics and economics to technology and lifestyle. Some newsletters will remain free. Though these newsletters will compete with other content platforms, they don’t appear to be open to creators who want to start their own service.
This sounds like it was a no-brainer for Memberful and, of course, for Patreon. They were already providing a membership platform to their subscribers. The fact that they added the paid newsletter service at no extra charge was a huge bonus for their existing customers. This will likely help them attract new customers, especially because they are able to offer flat rates for their platform.