13 min read

beehiiv review: it's good... but not for every creator!

A young platform that aims to dethrone big incumbents...

In this review, you will learn more about beehiiv, a simple platform for sending newsletters and having a website all in the same place.

From a technical point of view, this platform is great and suited for professional use with several thousand subscribers, but if you're looking to only use their free plan, I have bad news for you.

Let's see why.


Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links are affiliates. This means that if you buy after clicking on one of those, I get a commission at no additional cost for you.


What is beehiiv?

Beehiiv is a relatively young, hosted newsletter platform built for businesses and creators— be they, professionals or hobbyists.

It works as a hybrid of a blog and a newsletter all in one place.

This implies that it combines the functions of both systems of your email program and your own website; not only using it to send newsletters but also to publish posts on the site using a singular software.

Co-founded by the popular newsletter Morning Brew ex-staffers Benjamin Hargett, Tyler Denk, and Jake Hurd, beehiiv initially was marketed as “the most creator-friendly newsletter platform.”

beehiiv overview

Paid features analysis Website Newsletter Combined rating
Content creation 7.4 8.5 7.4
Customization 5.4 8.3 6.9
Growth tools & SEO 8.1 8.8 8.2
Management 8.1 9.1 9.2
Monetization 8.0 7.8 5.4
Total 7.4 8.7 8.0

As you can see in the table above, beehiiv is a solid platform all-round!

It's a fantastic platform to manage and maintain, whether you work alone or in a team. Basically, you won't even have to think about maintenance because they take care of everything for you.

It's also a very solid platform when it comes to SEO and other "growth" features. They have automated email sequences, referral program, recommendations, and a lot more.

Their newsletter customization is also great and allows you truly unique styles. But their website customization is still weak.

Creating content on the platform is okay. Their editor works, looks good, and is easy to use. The rating is only okay, but it lacks features like code injection that advanced users want and need!

beehiiv's free plan overview

However, when we look at the features available in beehiiv's free plan, things are much different, and ratings are average.

Free plan analysis Website Newsletter Combined rating
Content creation 7.4 8.5 7.4
Customization 4.6 8.3 6.4
Growth tools & SEO 6.6 2.6 5.2
Management 6.3 8.1 8.5
Monetization 7.1 3.3 2.3
Total 5.9 5.7 6.0

In the free plan, you lose a lot when it comes to SEO and Growth.

Beehiiv'e free plan doesn't allow custom domains, custom sending domains, email sequences, referral program, and newsletter recommendations, just to name a few important stuff.

In the free plan, you also loos the possibility to invite your team, and you'll have to go back to password sharing.

To charge for newsletters, you'll also need to use a paid plan, and this explains the incredibly low rating you see above.

Overall, beehiiv's free plan is only suited for hobby projects or use as a 'trial' by professional publications.

beehiiv's strengths

Now, I'll go into the details of why beehiiv is a great platform for creators.

Monetization with 0% membership fees

Beehiiv allows you to charge memberships for a newsletter without taking a percentage of your revenue.

This means you don't have to give them more money when you earn more money, as it happens on Substack.

You only get deducted Stripe fees (usually between 2%-3.5%).

To enable these memberships, you only need to connect your Stripe account, so you don't have to install any plugins.

When it comes to the safety of your content, people will not be able to disable the paywall and read posts on your beehiiv site without paying as they can do on most WordPress sites.

The reason for this is that posts are locked on the server side, and users need to be logged in to read them.

Also, beehiiv has an Ad Network that connects creators and advertisers. It deletes friction and makes monetizing a newsletter easier.

This alone could be more than enough reasons to pick beehiiv to create a paid newsletter

Good SEO

Content creators understand how crucial SEO is to crack open that digital market, get more traffic, and turn visits into paying subscribers.

The good news is; beehiiv is solid when it comes to SEO.

Some of its important beehiiv SEO factors include:

  • Custom domain: Branding your site campaigns is crucial to credibility, but most importantly, to build authority in the eyes of search engines.
  • Robots.txt:  Though not necessarily a website essential, this file informs robots what pages they can and cannot crawl, which can avoid overloading your site with too many requests.
  • XML Sitemap: this file lists all posts and pages that are important on your site. This makes it easier for search engines to find them faster;
  • Noindex URL: allows users to prevent a page from being indexed by search engines like Google;
  • Schema markup: this code helps search engines understand the type of content on the page and can bring SEO benefits;

Early on in its development, the website features for SEO were pretty awful, but they have fixed almost all the hitches. Now, beehiiv is solid when it comes to SEO (if you use one of their paid plans).

Though there are some important SEO aspects that are still missing, like redirects and nofollow links.

Overall, the SEO tools of beehiiv are good and should allow someone using a custom domain to find success via organic traffic.

Nothing to install

Say anything you want about beehiiv, but this young platform nails one thing: keeping it simple.

Simplicity always makes for a better user experience and takes care of those early how-to-do frustrations.

To get started with beehiiv, you just need to create an account.

Then, in less than 2 minutes after successfully signing up, you’re now ready to start creating your content.

How’s that?

The process is pretty direct and saves a lot of pain: create an account, import your content (optional) which is another amazing beehiiv feature, or you can just start crafting your first newsletter.

And one more thing, the creator also doesn't need to worry about software updates —beehiiv takes care of it.

And poof! Beehiiv will keep things tidy and working well while you only focus on the essential: creating content.

Works as a blog + newsletter

Beehiiv is no typical newsletter tool.

As mentioned, it is a hybrid platform where you can have a website to publish articles and send out newsletters, all in the same place.

So, when you have a newsletter that you’re going to send or publish on the site, you can decide whether to publish only, only send by email, or do both.

With this handy feature, you can build an environment where you decide how your content gets published; on the web, for everyone to see, or via email to only a target audience on your list.

In a nutshell, you get to create and send out email newsletters and have your newsletters/content all from the same place—isn't that great?

Integrations

Software integration opens doors for many things.

For starters, it allows seamless communication between different tools, enhanced efficiency by saving you time and allows you flexibility.

So, when it comes to the beauty of integrations, beehiiv knocks it out of the park!

With beehiiv, you can have accessed integration with tools like Shopify, Wix, WordPress, or Zapier, giving you almost endless possibilities.

What I love about API integrations is the two-way communication between software programs without putting too much work into it.

It has also an added security benefit that comes as you create an API key for each integration. And whenever you want to rid of that integration, you can just delete the key to cut off data sharing from that other tool.

Great email customization

Email esthetics might be a small thing among other great things in beehiiv. Nevertheless, it still adds value to your work.

With the splash of theme and design, you get to strongly position your brand. And in the newsletter aspect, beehiiv is fantastic with email customization.

You have full control over how the newsletter would look like; font-weight, color, size, and spacing. You do this all without writing code just buttons and sliders that allow you to preview your work.

In May 2022, beehiiv introduced additional fonts to a much greater selection, email bylines and custom footers, which takes advantage of an already profound, rich editor.

Email analytics

I’ve noticed that people love to complain about newsletter tools and blogs with no strong analytics.

Fortunately, beehiiv excels in that department because it has analytics built into the platform.

As soon as you get on your dashboard, you get to have an overview of relevant information for the last 30 days and the percentage variations to the previous period.

Screenshot of beehiiv dashboard.
Dashboard after logging in to beehiiv.

It can show you things like:

  • Active numbers of subscribers;
  • Average open rate;
  • Average click rate;
  • Subscribers’ information;
  • Sign-up from the past week;
  • Subscription breakdown between free and paid members.

This means that you get to see the fruits of your efforts upfront. Primarily, the clicking rate, which is the percentage of your active subscribers who click on the link within your newsletter, is of high importance as an engagement metric.

Multiple Newsletters Per Account

You might marvel at whether or not you can create more than one newsletter per account. Beehiiv says, you absolutely can!

They were one of the first platforms to introduce the possibility of running multiple newsletters in the same account, opening opportunities for big creators and media publications.

This is a strong suit for beehiiv because now, users who have diverse interests can expand to more newsletters without the strain of creating separate accounts.

Just imagine not needing to create different logins for users to write different content heaven!

Now, one website can create different newsletters by category. For example, a news publication can create different newsletters for sports, politics, and health and have them managed on the same account.

However, this feature can only be accessed by advanced users using a paid plan.

A small sum of investment, I’d say, for a much more interesting and swift venture.

Email automation and segmentation

The secret sauce to effective email marketing is email segmentation. It’s a process where you divide your audience into segments based on things like behavior, demography, geography, and/or interest.

At beehiiv, you can do it in 2 ways:

  • Static: where you segment your consumers manually, and can only be generated once during creation without updates.
  • Dynamic:  daily updates are done automatically as new subscribers join your email list or as existing members are removed when they no longer meet the requirements.

To cite a beehiiv example, if you want a quick snapshot of active subscribers who click on a link, you can do so by creating a segment.

You can check out this feature by visiting the Audience tab and selecting Segmentation. Then you edit the segment according to name, segment type, and click rate condition.

On top of this, beehiiv also provides email automation.

It’s where you can create multi-step email sequences on different triggers. These triggers are like actions taken by subscribers whenever they sign up for your newsletters or upgrade to a premium offering.

Sign-up and Upgrade are beehiiv’s simple triggers. You can leverage this through the “welcome series.”

A welcome series email you send out to new subscribers joining your email list. This is a great way to introduce your products or services, expand your brand and build a relationship with your audience.

It sounds like a lot of work, but trust me,  it’s worth taking the time for an effective communication strategy.

Offers and trials

As a content creator, you need to find ways to effectively market your content. Beehiiv lets you do that by allowing your consumer a first-hand experience.

Its premium subscription offers discounts and free trials as a means to attract readers to upgrade.

Within the Publication settings, you can create such offers and manage them by modifying the selection plans and terms, variable discount period, and length of the trial.

And every time you create an offer, you also get a unique link to share with your audience.

So, each time you share the offer link, your readers will be redirected to the upgrade page with automatic messaging breaking down the offer.

There are even offer coupons added to the checkout page, making it seamless for subscribers.

beehiiv limitations

I must say that for a young newsletter platform, Beehiiv is winning major points for bringing out almost all the features you need to grow and scale your newsletter to the next level.

However, there are some things I wish it had.

Limiting free plan

Beehiiv has great plans for everybody.

Unfortunately, a lavish-free plan is no longer one of them.

I mean, you still have the free-standing offer of raising your subscribers up to 2,500. In comparison to other competitors with a cap free of 1000 subscribers, this arrangement is already generous.

However, SEO and GROWTH are only available on their paid plans.

I'm referring to things like custom domain, paid newsletters, integrations, email sequences, referral programs, and other key elements in expanding your digital reach.

For instance, if you're working on a team, then you need to hustle with the oldfangled affair of sharing passwords. Your free plan doesn't allow you to give access to your team members.

Case in point, if you only use newsletters software for leisure, Beehiiv is a great place to experiment.

But for professional and advanced users, I only recommend the platform if you use one of their paid plans.

Pricing page on beehiiv's website.
Pricing page on beehiiv's website.

Limited website customization options

Beehiiv is right on the bare minimum in its website customization, a contrast to what you can do for the newsletter.

They only have a limited selection of their default layouts.

That means you can’t either buy themes or build one from scratch.

And as of this writing, they only have a couple of options that make the sites look the same, and honestly, none of which I like.

Yes, you can decide the button colors, change fonts, and shift between light or dark modes. But from there, there’s pretty much nothing else.


No code injection (CSS and JavaScript)

As you maneuver through Beehiiv, you might have realized that there’s no room to add custom code.

Now you ask, is that a problem? Yes, a big one!

For example, beehiiv’s lack of code injection impels the usage of 3rd party analytics outside Google analytics. And as a non-fan of Google Analytics, that’s one of my biggest downers.

Furthermore, with the rise of cookieless analytics platforms like Plausible or Fathom, this becomes a major blow if you want to seek out information about each user diving into your website.

Also, you cannot embed scripts like CSS or JavaScript. Only HTML is available, which can be really annoying and limiting for advanced users.

And lastly, the lack of code injection means you cannot add comments to posts. Unfortunately, Beehiiv doesn’t have a native comment system. Therefore, users cannot comment if they’re not on your website.

Code injection is essential for a professional platform. Without it, the platform prevents you from doing simple things like adding custom styles to buttons and the other problems mentioned above.

Alternatives to Beehiiv

Beehiiv has great things going on for them as a newsletter platform.

However, it's still young and developing, that's why I've rounded up some alternatives, just in case Beehiiv doesn't work for you.

Ghost

Ghost CMS is a great alternative for Beehiiv.

This platform, created in 2013, is a non-profit and open-source platform. Which has several advantages:

  • it's less likely to disappear as it is open-source. Anyone can make a copy to keep developing it.
  • It cannot be acquired by a big corporation that will come in and raise the prices from one day to the next.

Main Similarities between Ghost and beehiiv:

Just like Beehiiv, Ghost is a hybrid newsletter platform where you can write content and send out newsletters in the same place.

They are quick and straightforward, their dashboards are easy to manage, and they include vital analytics features like active subscribers and click rates.

Both also share great integrations with Zapier, Stripe, Google Analytics, and other tools.

Main Difference between Ghost and beehiiv:

Though Beehiiv and Ghost operate in the same essence, they have several variations.

For starters, Ghost is more flexible for website customization. If you want your site to have a feel and look about it, Ghost has plenty of beautiful themes to choose from. And you can buy one or build one from scratch—possibilities are endless!

Ghost also allows code injection, where you can embed scripts and do basically whatever you want with them.

On the other corner, Beehiiv has more advanced newsletter features, like email automation and email customization.

Though Ghost is one of the best platforms for blogging, when it comes to newsletter capabilities, beehiiv comes on top.

Overall, Ghost is better for the website part, while Beehiv is much better as a newsletter and is becoming one of the best at it!

Substack

With a reputation that existed for a lot longer, Substack became the go-to platform for non-technical users, and it made newsletters cool again! But what's the difference between beehiiv and Substack?

Main similarities between Substack and beehiiv:

Beehiiv and Substack are hybrid platforms with newsletter and blogging capabilities. This means that they do many of the same things.

In writing newsletters, both are super friendly and have advanced customization options.

And when it comes to monetization, membership is the bread and butter for these platforms. They follow the same concept of paid membership as the main route for revenue.

Main differences between Substack and beehiiv:

Substack has always vied for its “ease-to-use” motto. However, this is an "advantage" that turned painful over time for the lack of essential features that most advanced users and professionals demand.

Whereas beehiiv has a lot of those things that professional and advanced users require.

For example, Substack doesn't have integration options and is poor when it comes to SEO. And on top of that, they even take 10% from every paid subscription**.**

For the lack of reinvention, it can be a bad avenue for growing your website and newsletter**—you can** explore more on this through our Substack review.

Alternately, Beehiiv is focused on becoming the best newsletter platform possible with strong blogging capabilities.

It has some powerful integrations, analytics, and competent SEO **—**boy, it’s not even close to their comparison in this category.

Beehiiv has improved its weak spots and developed new features frequently, which tells us that they listen, and soon enough, this supposed Substack alternative can outmaneuver its forerunner.

Final Thoughts

Newsletter service-wise, Beehiiv has some of the best put-together packages in the newsletter universe, hands down!

Beehiiv is one of highest rated hybrid platforms I have tested.

For novices and regulars starting out a journey, this is a safe place to be.

You can easily start an account and send out your first newsletter with zero dime and minimal effort. And as soon as you face your dashboard, you get vital analytics and a plethora of customization options.

But if your newsletter is more than a hobby, you should only consider using beehiiv with one of their paid plans!

This platform keeps most of what makes it great only available on their paid plans.

If you can afford it, this platform can be just what you are looking for.

And the icing on the cake is having to keep your newsletter and website in the same place. This makes it easier to use integrations and referral programs.

For a young newsletter software, Beehiiv's functionality is gaining speed to what is in the current market, and it's scary how fast they're developing.

With a jampacked opportunity like this, why try to look the other way? Sign up for Beehiiv today!