5 Places To Build A Mailing List, Free.

If you’re not building a list, most people will never see your posts.

Linda Caroll
Nov 13, 2019 · 4 min read

You already know “reader loyalty” is part of the new algorithm, yes?

Here’s what Medium said in their announcement about the changes…

If you’re not building a list, most people will never see your posts.

The homepage is too full. There are 200,000 writers here. Doesn’t matter how much your readers love your writing, if you don’t show up in their feed and you’re not curated or an editor’s pick, you might as well be invisible.

Email is one of the best ways to connect with your readers.

I already talked about why we writers need to develop reader loyalty and some ways to do that in this post, so I won’t rehash. Suffice to say, email is one of the simplest ways to connect with your readers.


Not everyone wants to pay a chunk of cash for an email list provider. And that’s not the only cost…

If you’re a business, it’s easy to justify the cost of a mail provider like Mailchimp or ConvertKit, or whatever. It’s just another business cost you can claim on your taxes.

But if you’re a solo writer who just wants to connect with readers, that cost might be a lot harder to justify.

Sure, they start cheap. Maybe even free. But as soon as your list starts to grow, the dollars grow real fast, too. And are you really game to spend $50 or $100 every month to reach your readers on Medium?

And that might not be the only cost…

According to CanSpam, every outgoing email has to contain the physical address of the sender. So, if I was using Mailchimp, for example, they’d be putting my home address in every outgoing email. Um. No.

Maybe not something you want if you’re a woman writing about feminism. Or a woman writing about anything. I mean — what woman wants any random person who joins her list to have her home address?

And not just women. Maybe you’re a guy that doesn’t want every random subscriber to know where your kids come home after school.

In which case you might want to get a PO Box or an address forward. Which means another cost. Easy to see why a lot of writers just don’t. You know?

ConvertKit lets members use “their” physical address, but they’re pretty pricey. As soon as you pass 1,000 subscribers, it’s $50/month. Pass 3K subscribers and it jumps to $80/month.

To email your readers? Ouch. Those prices are fine if you need all the tags and segmenting and bells and whistles. If you’re selling stuff and the list is paying for itself.

But if you just want to send a weekly digest to your readers, maybe that’s a bit much? Free services to the rescue.

5 Places You Can Build a Mailing List Free. No strings.

I read a post by a someone who said his list was costing hundreds/month and wasn’t paying for itself. So he killed the list. Poof. Gone. I wanted to shout no, no, no, move it to a free provider.

If you’d like to build a list, but don’t want to pay a chunk of cash to do it, here’s 5 places you can build a list absolutely free. No strings. They don’t wait until you get a certain size and then hit you with a bill. They’re free, forever.

1. Substack

Substack allows you to create free or paid newsletters. Every time you write a newsletter, you have 2 options: publish, or “publish and send” — the latter option will email your subscribers. Then all you need to do is add a link in your profile or footer and voila — your “list” is taken care of.

2. Gumroad

If you’re selling goods on Gumroad anyway, it’s helpful to know they also let you build a list, free. If you’re on a paid plan instead of the free plan, your monthly fees are based on “customers” not subscribers. Subscribers are always free. So you can have your store and list at the same place.

3. MailMunch

MailMunch also allows you to build a free list. They also offer several types of opt in forms, so you can use pop windows, hello bars, sidebars, sliders and more. The only stipulation is that the free account is a single site account.

4. Qazy

Qazy is much like substack in that they let you run free or paid newsletters. Both let you post public archives so people can read past issues to see if they want to sign up. Qazy says theirs is prettier than substack. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I plan to for my other site.

5. TinyLetter

TinyLetter is a free service offered by Mailchimp. It’s my least favorite because they put “your” physical address in every email to comply with CanSpam, whereas the others (listed above) use “their” physical address. If you have no problem with your address being in every email, it’s another free option that’s simple to use and free.

Hope that helps!

Before you go…

I don’t believe you can stand head and shoulders above the crowd by doing what everyone else is doing. You have to pick. Blend in, or stand out. If you agree, you’ll probably like my free weekly emails —get them at: xo, Linda

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

Linda Caroll

Written by

20 years in design and marketing. Get writing and marketing tips on Fridays at https://lindac.substack.com/

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade