As I work on my first novel, I’m also working on my marketing platform for authors. My guide in this task is David Gaughran and his ebook series on the topic. If you haven’t heard of David, I can highly recommend his ebooks. Links to the series are at the end of this article. Although I picked up some marketing skills this millennium, David has decades of professional and corporate experience. His books filled in all the gaps in my knowledge and then some.
Recently, I started preparing to build an email list. David gives step-by-step instructions, which I’ve been following. Being an engineer, I like to gather my own data on a complex project like this. So when he recommended MailerLite as the best email marketing service, I wanted to compare it to a few other services.
My research yielded an opportunity to save money with a different service provider, under the right conditions. I found that SendGrid cost about half of MailerLite’s pricing for the same number of contacts. The only catch is that you must live with a limited mailing volume, no more than three messages per contact per month.
The opportunity I found exists because the two services have a slight difference in pricing strategies. SendGrid limits email volume where MailerLite does not. Both have a Free option to get started.
- MailerLite Free, 1,000 contacts, 12,000 emails/month
- SendGrid Free, 2,000 contacts, 6,000 emails/month
When your list outgrows the Free limits, the least expensive plans show the differences that persist as the number of contacts increases.
- MailerLite $29/month, 5,000 contacts, Unlimited emails/month
- SendGrid $15/month, 5,000 contacts, 15,000 emails/month
Once you start on the paid plans, the primary difference between MailerLite and SendGrid is cost per month and mail volume. For unlimited mailing, MailerLite is almost double the cost of SendGrid. SendGrid limits your email volume to three messages per month for your list. The chart below shows the costs up to a 50k mailing list.
One variation on the cost analysis is to calculate the cost per contact per month. I divided the monthly charge for the service by the maximum number of contacts for that plan. This second chart shows how the cost per contact drops as the number of contacts increases. The most expensive contacts are the earliest ones. However, this is a tolerable pain to get the platform rolling. The good news is that MailerLite and SendGrid have much lower starting costs than other services.
I trust David Gaughran’s recommendation of MailerLite. And I can see where unlimited mailing can be an essential feature for some authors. However, I can’t envision sending more than two emails to my mailing list each month. Initially, I plan to send only one per month.
Long ago, I tried to operate a weekly newsletter. It was a disaster. I spent far more time coming up with newsletter content than I did on all other business tasks combined. To me, this business of writing is no different. My newsletter needs to pull its own weight. Each marketing service takes care of the mechanics of running a newsletter. As long as I can write decent content in a day or two, that investment is worthwhile. But if I need to spend a day or two per week on the newsletter, that doesn’t leave me enough time to work on my next novel.
And that’s the essence of the opportunity. If you want to spend most of your time writing fiction, then a monthly newsletter is probably good enough. It’s a solid foundation to a marketing platform for authors.
For me, the SendGrid Free plan is the obvious winner. At 2,000 contacts, it gives me an initial list twice as big as MailerLite. The least expensive SendGrid paid plan is almost half MailerLite’s lowest paid plan. Both have the same maximum list size of 5,000 contacts. I opened my SendGrid account even before I bought the domain raynfranklin.com for my author website.
David Gaughran has a series of ebooks on marketing, specifically for authors. Several items in the list below contain my Amazon affiliate links. I earn a small commission on each sale.
- Let’s Get Digital, free as of 4/1/2023
- Strangers to Superfans, $4.99
- Bookbub Ads Expert, $4.99
- Amazon Decoded, $4.99
- Following, free for subscribing to DG’s newsletter, David Gaughran website
Here’s a final thought. DG does offer sale prices on his books from time to time. If you follow him on the Amazon David Gaughran author’s page, you will get email notices of those specials. Best wishes for success with your writing and your marketing platform for authors.