Convertkit Free Plan vs Paid Plan – Which is right for you?

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Until recently, Convertkit was only accessible to those who could afford to pay a monthly subscription so it was exciting for many business owners when they announced the Convertkit free plan. 

Finally, a way to access the popular email marketing platform without breaking the bank. Whilst the $29 monthly subscription for the paid plan might not seem excessive, when someone is just getting started, running a brand new business can be expensive. The free plan with Convertkit allows business owners to get started for free and spend some time working out if it is the right platform for them and their business. 

In this Convertkit free plan review, I will be showing you what features you will gain access to and discuss the pros and cons of choosing the free plan over the pro version known as the Convertkit Creator Plan. 

I will also let you in on a secret and show you how you can extend the number of free subscribers without spending a penny!

But first, let’s talk about why you need an email list…

Why is it important to have an email list?

Email marketing is extremely powerful for any online business. Whether you are selling digital products and courses, own an Etsy store or are a blogger monetising with affiliate links, email marketing has the power to supersize your income. Here are the top 3 reasons why: 

1. We cannot rely on social media.

Algorithms are constantly changing, platforms disappearing, new ones popping up left, right and centre. It can be exhausting trying to keep up, right? Also, many social platforms actually smother your organic reach as a business owner because they want you to pay to play with paid ads. 

Your email list is the only thing you own where you are not impacted by the algorithm changes. It’s yours to do with as you please. If you move platforms, you take your list with you. 

girl sitting on a bed looking at a laptop deciding between the convertkit free plan and creator plan

2. We can build up the know, like and trust factor 

Whether you are selling your own products or someone else’s (via affiliate marketing,) you need to build the ‘know, like and trust’ factor so that your audience feels comfortable to rely on your advice to guide their buying decisions.

By appearing in their inbox weekly, sharing value and letting them in behind the scenes, they will start to think of you more as a friend and will be far more likely to make a purchase based on your suggestions. 

3. You can reach your audience frequently. 

By appearing regularly in their inboxes, you will stay in front of mind. Next time they need some advice about your topic, it’s you they will be contacting.

It also gives you plenty of opportunities to mention products so they become familiar with them. The Rule of 7  is a well-known marketing principle that suggests a potential customer needs to hear about a product an average of 7 times before they will feel comfortable to make a purchase. Having someone on your email list increase the number of touchpoints you have to mention that product. 

4. Email marketing yields a high return on investment 

Studies show that every $1 you spend on email marketing yields a return of $42! (DMA, 2019.) Obviously, this figure will vary wildly from business to business. But it does show that email marketing is powerful. So if you are selling your own products OR if you are an affiliate for someone else’s product, then email marketing needs to be part of your strategy!

Just getting started? Read my beginner’s email marketing guide!

girl sitting at a desk smiling down at her laptop emailingher email list

Why is Convertkit the best email marketing platform? 

I have tried out many email platforms plans including with Mailchimp, Mailerlite, Flodesk and Convertkit and I am a total Convertkit-convert!

Their clean, easy to use interface makes email marketing simple and stress-free but what really makes Convertkit stand out is how easy it is to tag and segment your audience based on their behaviours.

By tagging people who say interact with a particular link or sign up via a particular form, you can gather information about what interests them most. This makes it easy to deliver a more personalised experience by sending offers they are most likely to purchase. 

I use tags for a variety of reasons. Here are a few…

  • To send offers to people most interested without annoying the rest 
  • To exclude people from sales emails when they’ve told me they are not interested 
  • To send offer-ending deals to those who have shown interest by clicking on links 
  • To add people to funnels when they demonstrate an interest in a topic or product. 
  • To add or remove people from my newsletter list so that when they are inside a funnel, they are not being bombarded with emails. 
  • To download CSV files of people with a particular interest which I can then use for Facebook ad targeting. 

And you can make full use of these tags even with the free version of Convertkit! 

Still not convinced if Convertkit is the best platform?

Read my comparison of Convertkit vs Mailerlite and my comparison of Flodesk vs Convertkit and I’m pretty sure you will be convinced!

Okay, so hopefully you are satisfied that you need an email list and that you want to explore Convertkit. Let me now help you to decide between the free and pro plans…

Convertkit Free Plan Review 

An Overview of Convertkit Free Plan Vs Creator Plan

Convertkit Free PlanConvertkit Creator Plan
Unlimited broadcasts✔️✔️
Subscriber reporting✔️✔️
Broadcast reporting✔️✔️
A/B testing✔️✔️
Sell products direct✔️✔️
Tagging & segmentation✔️✔️
Form and landing page templates✔️✔️
Media library✔️✔️
Cold subscriber segmentations✔️✔️
Automations✔️
Migration assistance✔️
Priority Support✔️

Convertkit Free Plan Overview

The Convertkit free plan offers most of the same amazing features as you get with the Creator plan but without the automation features. 

This means that when someone joins your email list, they will go straight into your newsletter pool. You can send them emails and schedule ahead. But you cannot send new subscribers through a welcome/warm-up sequence. 

an overview of recent broadcasts on convertkit

In an ideal world, you would send someone through a sequence of emails designed to grow the know, like and trust factor and then promote affiliate (or your own) products in a timely manner based on the freebie that person signed up for.

So it is a shame that the free plan of Convertkit doesn’t offer automation. But that said, it could still be perfect for people who don’t have a lot of time to focus on building out funnels but who don’t want to neglect growing an email list either. 

a close up of a visual automation on Convertkit
The simple visual workflows in convertkit

By joining the free version of Convertkit, they can start growing their email list and keep them engaged with a weekly newsletter. Then when they are ready to invest a little more time in their email marketing strategy, they can upgrade to the Creator plan and start implementing funnels without the stress or transferring from another platform. 

Aside from automation, free plan members will only get access to basic support and won’t be able to get any assistance transferring their email list over from another platform. But this is actually very easy if you don’t have a lot of lead magnets and funnels. It’s just a case of downloading a CSV file of subscribers and then uploading it to Convertkit.

If you have people assigned to groups based on interest, then I’d recommend moving them over one group at a time so that you can apply tags in Convertkit and keep track of that information which can be really helpful when deciding what emails your audience might like!

What Features Included in the Free Plan of Convertkit?

Aside from automations, Conkertkit’s free plan is very similar to the Creator plan. You still get access to many of the awesome features with both plans including:

  • Send as many email broadcasts as you like
  • Subscriber and email reporting 
  • A/B testing emails 
  • Selling digital products/service direct from the platform
  • Fantastic deliverability 
  • Tagging based on behaviour e.g. link clicks 
  • Plenty of beautiful form and landing page templates
  • Easy to use form and landing page builder
  • A variety of form template types e.g. inline, ribbon, pop-up, slide-in…
  • Cold subscriber segmenting 
  • Media library 
image showing convertkit pricing plans for the free plan, creator plan and creator plan side by side

How is the Convertkit Free Trial Different from the Free Plan?

It can be easy to get confused knowing the difference between Convertkit’s free plan and their free trial. 

The free plan is free forever up to 1000 email subscribers. However, you cannot access automations or priority support.

The free trial allows you access to everything including automations and chatbox support. However, it is only for 14 days at which point you will need to decide if to subscribe to the Creator plan to continue accessing all features or to downgrade to the free plan until you are ready to invest more time and money into your email marketing plan! 

image showing convertkit pricing plans for the free plan, creator plan and creator plan side by side

How to earn more free subscribers on Convertkit’s free plan

You can also earn additional subscribers beyond your allocated 1000 for the free plan by referring new customers. Think of it as an affiliate program where you earn subscribers instead of money. 

You can earn up to an extra 1000 email subscribers this way (so a total of 2000.) For every new customer, you refer, you will earn an extra 100 subscribers for free. 

Convertkit also has a very generous affiliate program where you earn 30% commissions on a recurring basis. So you could also earn back your investment by recruiting a few new customers. This may help you to justify investing in the Creator plan going forward!

(As a side note, I am an affiliate for Convertkit so if you find its article helpful, I would be so grateful if you use my affiliate link when you sign up, even if you join the free plan – thank you muchly!)

Image shows convertkit referral details with private referral link

What are the benefits of upgrading from the free plan to the Creator Plan?

As well as being able to access the chatbox support (which is very useful) you will also be able to start creating automated funnels.

Automated funnels are a series of emails which people pass through in order to make sure that you

  1. Warm them up by providing lots of value and tips which helps to develop the know, like and trust factor
  2. Promote your products and offers (either your own products or services or affiliate products.)

So for example, by the time people reach my newsletter list having signed up for my free affiliate marketing challenge, they will have been sent lots of affiliate tips and tricks, inspirational and transformational stories to get them fired up to improve their own results and they will have been offered my full affiliate course.

They will also have been exposed to all relevant affiliate products like the plugins I use, Thirsty Affiliates and Amalinks Pro.

visual automations flow charts one of the best features of convertkit compared to mailerlite
The simple workflows in Convertkit

But funnels are not just for coaches and digital product owners.

Say you are a blogger promoting a photography course, you can use a funnel to promote the equipment you use, the presets you like, the editing software you use etc.

If you are a travel blogger focussing on one destination, your funnel might guide your readers through emails about booking accommodation, day trips, travel insurance, things they need to pack etc.

So funnels are a great way to monetise your email list. Yes you can promote affiliate links or your products in regular emails (and you should) but you will be limited how often you can mention them (so you don’t sound like a broken record.) So it’s possible newer subscribers might not hear about your offerings for several weeks/months if they signed up after you last mentioned them.

So if you are serious about monetising your email list effectively, creating funnels is the way forward. But if you don’t have the time to do this yet and you just want to build your email list so you can monetise it in the future when you have more time, then the Convertkit free plan may suffice.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you opt for the Creator plan, you will also get free assistance migrating to Convertkit. The level of assistance will depend on the number of subscribers you are bringing with you!

Convertkit Free Plan Alternatives 

There are a few email marketing platforms that offer free plans but not without their flaws. Let’s look at a couple of email marketing software options in more detail…

Mailchimp. 

Personally, I would advise avoiding Mailchimp. At one point they banned affiliate links. Nowadays they allow affiliate links in emails but not affiliate marketing… (Confusing, right?!) I think they are basically saying the occasional link is fine so long as your newsletter is more than an affiliate funnel. But they also mention a blacklist of affiliate links they ban with no information about which programs are actually on that list!

Their policy on affiliate marketing is still very vague and since affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetise an email list, you don’t want this cloud of uncertainty hanging over you. 

Secondly, Mailchimp is kind of sneaky in that sometimes they end up charging you more than once for one subscriber. Say someone joins your email list then later signs up for another freebie. They are now on two lists in Mailchimp and so you are being charged twice. So although their paid plans appear a little cheaper than Convertkits, in truth, you could end up paying more, especially if you have a lot of freebies on your site! 

Finally, I found Mailchimp a little outdated with very basic looking sign up forms and clunky automations. 

I started with Mailchimp and moved on pretty quickly…

Mailerlite 

Mailerlite is a slightly more competitive alternative to Convertkit’s free plan. Like Convertkit, it is free forever for up to 1000 email subscribers. The benefit of Mailerlite is that you can access automations/email sequences even on the free plan. 

Mailerlite overview of groups example

That said, I’m not a massive fan of Mailerlite in general. It’s glitchy and many tasks involve creating time-consuming workflows which in Convertkit can be set up in seconds. For example, adding a tag to someone based on the links they click on.

This can be done within the email editor on Convertkit whereas, with Mailerlite, you need to create a new page on your WordPress website, then set up an entire automation with that URL as the trigger to assign someone to a group.

Mailerlite did not score as well as Convertkit for deliverability in tests ran in September 2020 where Converkitkit scored an impressive 95%. Mailerlite wasn’t bad but did lag a little behind with 91%

Flodesk 

Flodesk is not a free option but it is very affordable, especially as you will save 50% when purchasing it through my link making it just $19/month for life. 

Flodesk excels in aesthetics. So it’s emails are truly beautiful and therefore it lends itself to very visual niches such as photography, interior design, fashion and those with an Etsy or Shopify store to promote. 

It’s also very simplistic which may appeal to beginners. 

Mockup of email builder tool inside flodesk

That said, it’s not without its flaws and when compared with Convertkit, it didn’t stack up. In general, open rates are significantly lower and it was missing a lot of vital features most email marketers will need at some point. You can read more in this comparison with Flodesk. 

When all is said and done, Convertkit is (in my opinion) head and shoulders ahead of its competitors. The only downside with opting for the free plan is the lack of automations. 

But when you are ready to set up some funnels, it’s easy to upgrade and the advanced segmentation tools will make it a lot easier to monetise your email list (without too many unsubscribes,) helping you to earn your investment back very quickly!

Nb, all other email marketing platforms including Flodesk, Mailerlite and Mailchimp will require you to use a physical address as a legal requirement. As of writing this article, Convertkit is the only platform to allow you to use their email address which is reassuring for many who are concerned about people knowing their address!

Convertkit Free Plan FAQs

Is the Convertkit Free plan really free forever?

Yes, the Convertkit free plan stays free forever as long as you don’t
exceed 1000 subscribers (or 2000 if you earn more subscribers along the way.) 

How long is the Convertkit free trial?

The Convertkit free trial is currently for 14 days. At that point you will be invited to upgrade or opt for the free Convertkit plan.

What happens when my trial of the Creator or Creator Pro plan ends?

You won’t be required to enter any credit card details during your free trial so if you decide not to upgrade, you will not be charged. You can now either set up a free plan or invest in the creator plan. 

What happens when I outgrow my subscriber limit on my plan?

You can upgrade from the free plan easily and instantly when required. This will never happen without your consent – no credit details will be required to join the free plan. When you go over 1000 subscribers, Convertkit will invite you to add credit card details and upgrade to a Creator plan. 

If you have opted into a paid Creator plan and exceed the subscriber limit for that band, you will instantly be upgraded to the next tier. 

What happens when I outgrow my subscriber limit on my plan?

You can upgrade from the free plan easily and instantly when required. This will never happen without your consent – no credit details will be required to join the free plan. When you go over 1000 subscribers, Convertkit will invite you to add credit card details and upgrade to a Creator plan.
 
If you have opted into a paid Creator plan and exceed the subscriber limit for that band, you will instantly be upgraded to the next tier. 

What happens if I clean my list and go under my current subscriber plan?

If you dip below 1000 subscribers and are not using automations, then you can ask to be downgraded to the free plan.

Similarly, if you are on the Creator plan and you drop into the next threshold after cleaning your email list, just drop Convertkit an email to remind them and they will lower/adjust your payments accordingly.

Is support still provided on Convertkit’s free plan?

Yes, you still get access to basic free support however you won’t get to use the chatbox. 

Can I import my current list on the free plan with Convertkit?

Yes, you can bring your existing email list subscribers with you. It is as simple as downloading then uploading a CSV file with their email addresses. You will have to recreate sign up forms but that is very simple inside Convertkit.

Yes, you can bring your existing email list subscribers with you. It is as simple as downloading then uploading a CSV file with their email addresses. You will have to recreate sign up forms but that is very simple inside Convertkit.

If you do opt for the paid plan, then Convertkit will help you to migrate free of charge. The amount of free assistance/concierge migration they offer will depend on the number of subscribers you are bringing across.

How can I switch to the free plan if I’m already a customer?

If you want to downgrade to the free version, all you need to do is send the support team an email and they will sort it for you. The email you need is help@convertkit.com. Of course, you will lose access to your automations though they will be there waiting if you choose to upgrade again!

Can I segment and tag subscribers I collect on the free plan?

Yes, absolutely. You should start tagging and segmenting your email list as soon as possible. The more information you have about your audience, the better you will be able to cater to their needs and the easier it will be to monetise your email list. 

How does the referral program work?

You will get a unique referral link and if someone signs up with your link, you will unlock an additional 100 subscribers (up to an extra 1000 subscribers max.)

Is it hard to switch to ConvertKit if I already have an email list somewhere else

No, it’s super easy. All you do is download a CSV file of your list then import it into Convertkit. It takes a few moments. 

Can you sell products on the free plan of convertkit?

Yes, you can! You can sell digital products, services, even recurring subscriptions for example for a membership. Convertkit will take a small commission but it’s otherwise free to use and so fantastic for beginners just starting to sell products online. 

Do I need to upgrade to the Creator plan?

If you want to access automations then yes, you will need to upgrade to the Creator Plan. But automations are awesome and can help you monetise your lost so the investment will pay for itself many times.

You can warm up your subscribers with lots of tips and value then make purchase suggestions and promote products – either your own or affiliate products.

So which Convertkit plan should you choose? 

If you don’t have much time to dedicate to creating email funnels, why not opt for the free plan and see how you get on. Once you are ready, you can upgrade. 

However, if you want to do email marketing properly and have a welcome and warm-up sequence (and perhaps pass subscribers through affiliate promotions) before they land on your regular email list, then you will want to opt for the Creator plan. 

Convertkit is an incredible email marketing platform that I think you’re going to love, regardless of which plan you choose! 

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