Moving from Mailchimp to Substack

“There’s nothing to do in Waterloo.”

I heard it so often that I decided to do something about it. In February of 2016, I started a weekly events newsletter to showcase music, art, theatre and cultural events happening around Kitchener-Waterloo.

Almost five years later, it was time to make a change. Not to the content of the newsletter — but to the platform behind it. Goodbye Mailchimp. Hello Substack.

Mailchimp is great, but it’s built for marketing and e-commerce. Building the newsletter each week was taking around two hours in Mailchimp. This is my personal project on my personal time. Two hours is a lot — especially since I build the newsletter on the weekend.

Substack was my choice for four reasons.

  1. It’s built for writers and it’s built for speed.
  2. You can build subscriptions into your newsletter — something I’m not doing yet, but may do one day.
  3. Founder and CEO Chris Best is a University of Waterloo grad and was the co-founder of Kik here in Waterloo.
  4. My favourite newsletter, Twelve Thirty Six, moved to Substack a while ago and I really love the way it looks.

Setting up is a snap. Create your account, name your newsletter, add a log and you’re off to the races.

Moving four and bit years worth of content was the next step. I exported my audience and campaign archive from Mailchimp and imported it in minutes into Substack.

I use the same format each week — events running Tuesday through the following Monday, a list of ways to support local charitable organizations and a reading list of local news.

There isn’t a way to copy an existing newsletter, so I created a draft that has the structure I can copy and paste from each week.

Moving to a new platform gave me a little bit of anxiety when it comes to open rates. Would subscribers get the newsletter in their spam/junk folders? I used the same send email address for both Mailchimp and Substack to help mitigate this. In the end, there wasn’t an issue — the open rate of the first Substack newsletter was around the same as when sending from MailChimp.

If you have an existing newsletter or are looking to move, give Substack a look.

And if you live in Kitchener-Waterloo, sign up here —

Freelance content marketer. Curates @gettlwr . Running from my problems with @RunWaterloo . I make skateboards too. He/him.

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