Why Beehiiv > WordPress For Building An Audience
This is why I left WordPress & Ghost for Beehiiv.
I stumbled upon Beehiiv while looking for an alternative to WordPress for SERP Insider, where I'd post exclusive content/newsletter for subscribers.
I was simply tired of the constant need for updates, issues, and overall, I just couldn't get everything in one place, especially as I was putting more focus on growing SERP Insider, my newsletter.
I realized I was spending too much time touching up my WordPress, than actually writing, and when I did write, I found it pretty difficult to turn my readers into subscribers.
I've had decent results with ConvertKit, but it just wasn't "it". I'd gather subscribers from my content, there was no simple way of gating my content through ConvertKit.
While ConvertKit itself is nice, still having to manually integrate it with WordPress, and managing them both was starting to become a hassle.
All WordPress membership plugins were clunky, there just had to be a better way, so I decided to venture out for the first time ever, and that's where I discovered Beehiiv.
Keep in mind, my main goal here is to grow my newsletter, not build a niche site, which WordPress is far superior for.
The SERP Insider Newsletter & website had to be a place that could host my content, reduce the stress of running on WordPress (after my last hack), and had to be a format that would convert subscribers.
This is why I left WordPress for Beehiiv, and then moved to Ghost, you can read about why I did that here.
Chapter 1, the problem..
I have used WordPress for over a decade, and I've been very comfortable using it for all use cases, whether it's for blogging & niche sites, or eCommerce (WooCommerce), I've always found it steady and reliable enough.
When I decided to start building my Newsletter & exclusive content, I initially found it difficult or at least clunky with WordPress.
Firstly, there's no integrated opt-in system, and so this opens up the question as to what email marketing platform you're gonna use, and initially, I tried MailChimp, then MailWizz, and finally landed on ConvertKit.
Don't get me wrong, WordPress is a great platform all-around, and you can deeply customize almost everything on the go, which is what made it desirable for me.
One big factor in my websites and content, is their simplicity, design and functionality, which I initially thought wasn't a big deal, until I started getting more traffic, and realized I wasn't actually capturing as many leads as I should.
This is where I decided to put it to the test.
My theory was, because my WordPress wasn't gating content correctly, I wasn't gathering subscribers anywhere near as much as I should, and by optimizing the journey from reader to subscriber, I should see explosive results.
This was my WordPress & ConvertKit setup, a simple home page with the ConvertKit embed.
Within my content was another form but there really was no urgency to subscribe, and I hate trying to give cheap incentives to grab emails.
I wanted my content to be behind a "subscriber wall", and that had to be the whole incentive in the first place.
The first 2 months on ConvertKit net me just over 200 subscribers with over 40 posts, several viral tweets, and lots of effort, I was fucking stumped.
Then I took to Twitter and asked for alternatives, lots of newsletter operators recommended Beehiiv, I even remember asking if they had time-based delivery, and one of the founders responded to my comment, saying it was coming soon.
I'm looking for one more reason to use Beehiiv over ConvertKit, convince me?
The one thing I want is time-zone based scheduling which neither have :/
The move to Beehiiv is mostly about their monetization/subscription modules seem a bit better.
— Eric • SERP Insider (@serpinsider)
Jun 5, 2023
I was intrigued, and almost felt cheated, that I hadn't checked out these platforms sooner, I'd never questioned the almighty WordPress until now.
What even were my pain points, what did I REALLY want?
Until then, I'd never even known what I wanted, I just knew something was wrong, and then it all clicked, I was using the wrong platform to execute my vision, and even finding Beehiiv put me down the rabbit hole.
I started with actually defining what I wanted to achieve.
I wanted to post content that was exclusive to my subscribers, on web, and on email, and IDEALLY have everything in one place.
This was impossible with WordPress, without plugins, customization, constant tweaking and monitoring, to some degree, at least in my experience, it was almost unachievable.
There would always be one issue, or something broken, or something that needed upgrading or updating, and for some time, I felt like it was my duty to do all these things, or even just worry about them.
Once I took the direction of trying to gate my content on WordPress, I game into severe issues.
First of all, having to manage plugins, embeds, snippets, and multiple apps to-and-fro from WordPress, that needed to go, why couldn't there be just one place where I can post content and send it to my subscribers, and monetize them?
WordPress Plugins suck. Simply, managing plugins is not fun, firstly, with auto-updating, they can break your site, and if you don't set up auto update, when they do update, they can leave vulnerabilities on your site, and you can get hacked, AND OF ALL PEOPLE, I got hacked this exact way.
Secondly, WordPress CMS is outdated and super bland at this point. Yeah you can download themes for your admin board, and you can buy themes for your site, but if you've used it for 10+ years, trust me, you're over it, especially when you find out that all these little hassles could have been avoided in the first place.
Thirdly, my goal was to gate my content and build a newsletter, neither of which was a clear cut option for WordPress.
To gate content, you'd use some ugly plugin, and connect that to another ugly plugin, so that you can connect that to your email provider, then you'd have to log into your email provider to write and send emails, which would be sent via email only, and you know, all just a massive loop of endless suffering and mounting costs.
The only few reasons I used WordPress was because it was free, and it was customizable, and easy to whip up sites in an afternoon, but with so many plugins and apps, it now costs me a mini fortune to run it ($40/mo).
I still recommend the platform for niche site builds, but let's leave that for another post, let's get into why Beehiiv is a better option when it comes to gating content & building a newsletter.
Admin User Experience
The first topic I want to discuss is how integrated everything is, compared to WordPress.
With my previous setup, I'd have to post the content on WordPress, then manually condense the content, and send it to my subscribers through ConvertKit.
With Beehiiv, everything goes in one place, one dashboard, shows your subscribers, open rates, analytics and more all at a glance.
Now let me dive deeper into how convenient this really is compared to otherwise.
Keep in mind, I'm coming from the angle of building a newsletter/exclusive content, not building a niche site or eCommerce business.
Let's start with how simple and straight forward it is to set up compared to WordPress.
For better or worse, the customizability of WordPress comes at a cost, and even though I've posted about how I can build a starter niche site in under 60 minutes, for the average person, it's still difficult and needs constant tweaking.
When you install a brand new WordPress site, it's bare, it's got no plugins, it's slow, let alone setting up hosting for WordPress.
With Beehiiv, it's pretty much all ready to go besides a few minor tweaks like color and so on, but otherwise, you just point your DNS to theirs and you're ready to go.
No more spending hours configuring plugins, fixing bugs, and dealing with vulnerabilities.
As an experienced WordPressoor, this kind of stuff doesn't bother me, but I can imagine a less experienced user actually struggle getting most of this done.
This is a massive pain point for lots of people looking to start sites, having to deal with all this stuff instead of focusing on their money maker.
Here you select a primary, secondary, and tertiary color for your blog, and it automatically applies it.
Then on your Publications page, you can edit information about your blog, I must say, I was quite surprised to see that that was it.
I have to mention that this was the only thing I didn't like about Beehiiv (or Ghost, or any other platform besides WordPress), is that you can't customize much.
At the same time, I feel like it's almost liberating to know that your site is running perfectly while also looking passably good, as you can see here, right out the box, my Beehiiv landing page looks pretty decent.
This did not take long to set up either, which got me thinking, did I ever need to spend all that time over-optimizing my WordPress?
It comes with the subscriber monetization options built in, and the page is super easy to customize, and is an overall great user experience (for your subs)
Now remember how I told you I really wanted to gate my content to visitors?
This is what that looks like, and I know you could do that with WordPress, but it's simply not as integrated and sleek as this.
From there, you can tag your subscribers and enter them into automations, but we'll get into all that later.
Let's start with the publishing area. It's deceivingly bare, because you have all the tools needed to post on your site, or email, or both, all from the same dash.
This eliminates the need to log into WordPress, and then back to ConvertKit, schedule, rewrite, and back, all gone, all in one spot, perfection.
Posting content is simple and pretty straight forward here, it's intuitive, but notably, it has those "Subscriber Break" and "Paywall Break" features built in in such a way, that you can gate a piece of content at any point.
I like this because you can entice the reader to subscribe (I did that with this post if you realized).
You'll also realize you can move blocks the same way as any other CMS.
Now this next part is something I highly appreciate, and one of the things that made me convert.
Here you can set the Title/subtitle, and even add Guest Authors to your publication.
The next tab lets you configure how your publication will appear on email, and has an in-built A/B Test, which many marketoors will agree is massively useful.
Next section lets you manage the posts settings, enable/disable gating, comments, and even set featured posts to appear under the post.
Few SEO features here, all you need, you can edit Open Graph/images for each platform like Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.
Finally, another great feature here is the ability to deliver content by segment, so you can deliver it to free or paid subscribers, both, but you can also post your content on the web, or send it by email, or both.
This is a feature I've always wanted to have, and never knew was possible.
Once you've posted a piece of content, you can track each posts Analytics from within Beehiiv, so you no longer need to be checking GA or Fathom regularly.
This dashboard will show you your deliverability, open rates, clicks, spam reports, and clicks on both web and email.
You can also see the results of your A/B tests and Polls from this menu, as well as respond to comments all in one spot.
Next, in your publishing area, you can also create automations and drip campaigns to whatever configuration you choose.
For example it can tag free users that signed up and send an email sequence to those, but send another email sequence to paid subscribers tagged as premium members.
The sky is the limit with automations, something I had to do manually between WordPress and ConvertKit.
Another great in-built feature is your Subscribers Report, a feature that shows how your publishing has performed on web and email.
Monetization is also another thing Beehiiv has done better than WordPress.
Besides monetizing your subscribers with its in-built payment gateway and integration with Stripe, Beehiiv offers many other means of promoting and monetizing your newsletter.
Beehiiv has basically built its own newsletter ad network so creators can easily find sponsors, which is pretty much unheard of, and really opens up tons of opportunities for both small and big creators.
They also developed Boost, which is another way to attract subscribers from within the Beehiiv network as well.
These two features are a great way for creators to generate even more revenue from their publications.
Now what made me actually leave WordPress for Beehiiv (initially)?
WordPress is ugly, outdated, clunky, and requires lots of tinkering to get to this level.
With these platforms (Beehiiv and Ghost), I'm able to focus more on publishing great content that my subscribers will actually enjoy reading, rather than wasting time trying to get WordPress to perform.
When I mentioned that WordPress was free earlier, that's only if you're just starting off.
When you consider that you have to pay for themes, plugins, and an email/newsletter platform, you come to realize that it costs hundreds if not thousands to run a great site, if you want to do it right.
For example, if you legit paid for themes and plugins like GeneratePress, GenerateBlocks, WP Rocket and RankMath, you're looking at at least $200 per year.
I wrote a guide about how to save 80% on your WordPress Themes & Plugins with a FestingersVault subscription here.
When you factor in $40/mo for ConvertKit, you're looking at about $480, all in all $680/year.
When you factor in more stuff like hosting and bug fixes, you're talking at least a thousand.
Now, all that, plus you have to deal with all the bullshit that comes with it, bugs, hacks, speed issues, it all starts to add up even more.
Beehiiv offers a free plan for people looking to get started, but their Grow plan starts at $49/mo and Scale starts at $99/mo.
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