Are there affordable newsletter options?

Budget Newsletters for Bloggers

Besides budget mailboxes, every blog or a business website needs a reliable email sending service. Many site owners prefer to leverage WordPress’ internal mechanism for delivery of important notifications or buy expensive solutions for newsletters. However, retaining email sending services with your web host is a bad practice. At the same time, sending blog posts, newsletters, and notifications should not cost an arm and a leg. Here’s a comparison of popular email service providers and our recommendation for budget newsletters for bloggers.

What email sending requirements does a blog have?

There are three main email sending requirements that every site owner should consider: site notifications, blog broadcasts, and newsletters.

  • Site Notifications: Since notification emails are triggered automatically on an event or when someone transacts with your website, these are also known as transaction emails. For instance, when new users register, when someone visits your site and submits a contact form, or when backup and security scanning operations fail or succeed, site admins should be notified.
  • Blog Broadcasts: Whenever you write blog posts, you need a way to alert subscribed followers of the new article. The size of an email blast depends on the number of blog subscribers your site has. For more control, site owners may prefer to disable automatic sends when blogs are published and instead, prefer to merge blog-related updates as part of their planned newsletters.
  • Newsletters: If you are planning to send newsletters, you need a way to send communication and updates to all newsletter subscribers. Again, like blog post notifications, the size of an email blast depends on the number of subscribers your site has.

While notifications are critical and blog updates are common for bloggers, newsletters are a special category of email sends that not everyone needs when taking their sites live.

Should every blogger start a newsletter?

Newsletters are a business decision. As a new blogger, it is easy to follow the herd and just ‘get on with it’. If you ask around, chances are almost everyone will recommend you to engage with your audience via email. Strictly speaking, they are not offering the wrong advice. It’s just that, they may not know your context. You need to assess whether newsletters are for you and whether you should start one, now. It needs careful planning and is not a simple toggle of a button.

Does every blogger need to start a newsletter?
Pin Question Should you start a newsletter?

When starting out on your blogging journey, you need a lot of time and effort to design, develop, and brand your site, create valuable content, optimize for search engines, and so on. Adding a newsletter to that list of things to do, especially without a clear direction, is a recipe for confusion and worse, a burnout. Remember, blogs or small business sites need to be financially sustainable too. To help with the decision whether you need to start a newsletter now or later, ask yourself:

  • Do I have a product or a service that will attract potential customers?
  • Would my business cover the cost of email marketing?
  • Do I have the time to run effective email marketing campaigns?

If you answer a ‘yes’ to each one of these questions, you definitely need to get on with newsletters. Otherwise, it is best to go slow, observe how your blog/website evolves. In the meantime, build your reputation online and focus on attracting more potential customers.

Why offload bulk eMail sending operations?

Typically, for ease of setup, site owners buy ‘hosting packages’ that include domain registration, DNS, web hosting, email hosting, and a default mail relay. As such, a lot of people rely on web hosts for their email needs. While web hosts can handle the delivery of critical site notifications, they are not designed to send bulk emails.

Web hosts may rate limit your operations and your emails may never be sent. If a web host’s shared IP address is blacklisted, your emails are likely to find the spam folder, instead of the recipient’s inbox. Besides, web hosts are not likely to be up to date with various laws to ensure compliance and avoid spam filters.

You need specialized infrastructure to handle bulk email traffic and overcome these challenges. For security and performance reasons, especially when using a shared server, we recommend using a web host to do just that – host your website. Offload everything else. But, aren’t newsletter services expensive?

How much does a newsletter service cost?

Many email service companies offer comprehensive solutions, a good choice for enterprises or profitable businesses, to help manage marketing campaigns. Just as web hosting, the email service provider market is a crowded space. The many comparison-factors makes the selection a complex process. Let us simplify it by limiting the decision criteria.

Feature SendPulseSender.netMailerLiteMailchimpBenchmark
Entry Cost*FreeFreeFreeFreeFree
Subscribers2,5002,0001,0002,0002,000
Sends/month15,00015,00012,00010,00014,000
WordPress IntegrationPluginCloudflare AppPluginPluginPlugin
Upgrade Cost*$95$120$120$120$168

* Annualized prices in dollar terms. Data as of July 2019

As you notice, there are generous sending limits in the free-tier. But, once you cross the free thresholds, running a newsletter or a marketing campaign gets expensive (see the upgrade line item in the table above) and adds to the annual operating cost of a blog. If the annual cost of email sending exceeds the annual cost of shared web hosting, things do not seem right.

These are some of the budget newsletter services, arranged in the increasing order of cost. If you ask around for cheaper alternatives, wellmeaning folks might throw a standard advise to increase your income and pay for these. However, when our blog/newsletter subscribers are increasing but the revenues are not, we do not need additional expenses. Instead, we need real ways to cut costs.

Budget Newsletters for Bloggers

One way to deal with this challenge is to use transaction email services. Again, this is a crowded market and let’s consider the following limited decision-making criteria for comparison. As you notice, there are no free sending limits here. However, sending is cheap as cheap gets.

From the options below, we use and recommend Amazon SES, available at a rate of $0.10/1,000 emails. It offers the muchneeded control over expenses, without an anticipated shock upon exceeding a certain sending threshold. There’s a bonus too.

Feature Elastic EmailAmazon SESSendGridMailgunSparkpost
Sends/month50,00050,00050,00050,00050,000
Estimated Annual Cost*$54$60$180$240$240
HTTP API?YesYesYesYesYes
WordPress IntegrationPluginPluginPluginPluginPlugin
Cost of Extra Emails per 1,000*$0.09$0.10$0.10$0.50$1.00

* Standardized in dollar terms. Data as of July 2019

When you use transaction email services for newsletters, you also get to use it for critical site notifications. That is, the same transaction service (such as Amazon SES) will help notify when new users register, when someone submits a contact form on your website, etc.

But, isn’t sending emails from your shared web host a strict no-no? Yes, it is. However, in this case, you have the option to and should send newsletters from your web host to an email service provider or an ESP (such as Amazon SES) using HTTP. The ESP then takes care of routing the newsletters using standard SMTP protocol. In other words, a transaction mail service plugin (say, WP Offload SES Lite) configured to send emails with HTTP is not the same thing as using your web host’s SMTP mail relay that is prone to sending risks.

How transaction email services can reduce cost of newsletters?
Pin Transaction eMail Services for Newsletters

What about list building and email design?

eMail marketing companies offer comprehensive solutions comprising the following three main components.

  • Email List Building: Typically, site owners add a box on their website that visitors can use to input their name and email address and subscribe to future updates. This is usually seen as a popup, a box inline with content, or as a widget in the sidebar or footer.
  • Newsletter Design: Many site owners like to use site branding and colors for newsletters too. However, coding everything in HTML is timeconsuming. This is where eMail templates come handy.
  • Reliable Delivery of Newsletters: Bulk email sends need specialized infrastructure, with proper DNS configuration, to ensure emails are delivered to a recipient’s inbox and not to their spam folder.

Transaction email service providers, such as Amazon SES, and related plugins (say, WP Offload SES Lite) solves only part of the equation – that of reliable delivery of newsletters. But, worry not. There are free and effective plugins to help with the requirement of list building and email design. We use and recommend MailChimp for list building (subscription box) and Email Subscribers and Newsletters plugin by Icegram for newsletter design and sending to an ESP.

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What are budget newsletters options for bloggers?
Pin this Guide for Budget Newsletters for Bloggers

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