Brown Girl Bloggers > on blogging  > I Tried Convertkit & It Felt Like I Was In A Cult: Convertkit Review

I Tried Convertkit & It Felt Like I Was In A Cult: Convertkit Review

A few months ago I decided to give Convertkit a try. I saw so many people raving about it and I was tired of being charged twice for subscribers on Mailchimp which pushed me towards finally signing up. I thought it was going to be a perfect fit based on the reviews and the fact that it’s made for bloggers by bloggers. 

I knew immediately that it wasn’t for me but I had spent a lot of time setting up forms on this website, I already paid for it, and I didn’t want to give up too soon.

Convertkit is touted as something simple, elegant, and built for bloggers. It’s supposed to help us set up automation tools and make our newsletters more personal which makes it standout from it’s competitors. Although I only saw positive reviews of Convertkit (I’m wondering if the affiliate program has anything to do with that) it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Let’s discuss the pros and cons. 

 

Automation

 

The features everyone talks about the most are their automation tools. Convertkit uses forms and tags instead of lists. This means that you segment your subscribers a little differently and you aren’t charged twice for one subscriber. Someone can be subscribed to multiple Brown Girl Bloggers newsletters, my personal newsletter, and a newsletter for any of the other blogs I run and I’m only charged once for that person as opposed to my Mailchimp account where several people are on more than one list and I’m charged for them as if they are a new subscriber on each list. 

It’s also easy to separate everything by forms and tags. The email subscribers from my blog come from a certain form so it’s easy to send them a specific newsletter. Within this blog I have a few different forms that I use to segment subscribers as well. I liked that part a lot. 

You can also set up different automation rules.

I can segment people who click certain links within my newsletters and target other things towards them. For example, if someone clicks a link about me in the BGB newsletter they might be interested in hearing about my speaking engagements because they care about what I have going on. I might tag them ‘Interested in CV’ and then target a newsletter that focuses more on what I’m doing with BGB as opposed to a more general email that doesn’t include info about me. That’s also something I liked doing within Convertkit.

 

Creating  Newsletters

 

The first thing that killed Convertkit for me was the actually newsletters. Convertkit simplifies the way your newsletter looks. There are very basic newsletter templates and you have to use HTML to customize it in any way. Customizing your newsletters is kind of annoying because of the way they use variables so most people’s emails look similar to the templates.

Although all the reviews I read said Convertkit is easy I’d actually say there is a learning curve. If you’ve never used automation tools you might find it hard to adjust and if you want to create an email that is unique in any way you need to know how to do that yourself of pay someone. In my opinion, Convertkit is annoying and clunky. Almost every review I read said it’s easier to use than Mailchimp and I have to disagree. I think Mailchimp is very easy to use and you can create a newsletter that has different elements in it. I get the premise of Convertkit but I like adding recent blog posts, things that I love, and blogger spotlights to my newsletter. It’s kind of hard to do that if I’m only adding links and no pictures. We live in a visual society people! 

 

Adding Convertkit To Your Website

 

Like emails, creating a form, pop up, or landing page for your blog in Convertkit isn’t going to give you the best looking results. They’re ok and I use one at the end of my blog posts but I had to use Contact Form 7 to add most of my Convertkit forms to this blog. I couldn’t deal with their ugly forms. The one I use at the end of blog posts (which will be removed a little bit before my plan is cancelled because again, lazy) is one of the three options you get.

 

If you want something that perfectly matches your theme you’re going to have to create your own sign up form or use a plugin to get something decent looking for your site which is another cost.

As for the landing pages, I just accepted the way they look because they’re ok and I have other things to concentrate on. 

If you sell a lot of stuff on your blog and you use your newsletter primarily to sell things Convertkit might be for you. Automation makes it very easy to set up emails that sell people stuff based on what they do so it’s really great for segmenting your subscribers which is the feature I’m going to miss the most. I just can’t deal with the ugly newsletters. My soul won’t let me be that basic.

 

The Bloggers Who Use Convertkit

 

When I decided to use Convertkit I made a point of signing up for the newsletters of everyone who I saw promoting it. I also started paying more attention to their blogging friends. I noticed that almost ALL (and I’m adding almost to be politically correct) of their emails sound alike. I swear these people all use three copywriters and the choices are: badass woman who doesn’t take bullshit and will change your life, super sweet and charmed small town girl who will change your life, and blogger who will help you find your intention, or sweet spot, or soul tune, or whatever…

I also noticed that most of them are selling something in every. single. email.

I get blogging as a business, hello, look at where you’re reading this, but blogging is supposed to be personal. I like talking about the things I love in my newsletters, I like sharing posts you might have missed and answering questions. I LOVE getting replies to my newsletter and if no one has emailed me back after 30 minutes I get pretty sad. Lol

But seriously, it felt like a cult of people who’s courses, classes, or books will change your life. You’ve GOT to be there for the next live training, they are going to teach you the ONE thing you need to be a six figure blogger, and they send you these emails multiple times a week sometimes.

 

The Affiliate Program

 

The final nail in the coffin had to do with the affiliate program. I signed up so that I could use an affiliate link to promote Convertkit if I liked it. I always sign up for affiliate programs fairly early on because sometimes you have to be approved and it might take a while. They have a really good affiliate program and I’m never mad at making a few coins off of something I use anyway.

A few weeks after being a part of the program I got an email from someone who is my affiliate manager basically telling me to promote their new course. I’ve never taken this course, this course wasn’t offered to me, and I didn’t even get a discount code to check it out so that I could tell people about it. I just got talking points and was expected to shill this course to y’all. I’m sorry but that’s gross. It’s gross and it’s what’s wrong with the blogging community in my opinion.

It’s the reason I put off doing The Membership Area (which will have a paid option) for so long, it’s the reason I shied away from courses despite so many of you asking for them, and it’s the reason I’ve stayed away from conferences. If I’m going to take people’s money or ask them to spend their money I’m going to make damn sure that it’s worth their time. I’m not going to sell a course for a couple hundred bucks based off the fact that a person I don’t know told me I’m going to make commission off of it.

Sorry, not doing it.

It did make me wonder if everyone who’s saying it’s easy to use is only promoting it because of their bomb ass affiliate plan. That’s great marketing on Convertkit’s part but it makes me wary to trust just any and everybody.

Anyway, If you can’t tell that whole thing isn’t my cup of tea so I’m back to good ol Mailchimp and I’ve noticed that since I’ve spiced up the newsletters again my open rates are better. Go figure.

PS: This doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try anything other than Mailchimp but I’m sticking to what I know at the moment.

PPS: The Membership Area is coming THIS MONTH! Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter (use the form below for now) to learn about it when it first drops. It’s going to be real and I PROMISE it’s going to be worth it. 

What email marketing tool do you use?

Get The Newsletter
Our weekly newsletter, written by BGB creator and editor Candice VanWye, is full of inspiration, behind the scenes musings, tips/tricks, and giveaways. Basically all the stuff other people promise in their newsletters but better. Join to see what we're talking about. 
We respect your privacy. We don't sell your email or spam you.
Profile photo of Candice VanWyeProfile photo of Candice VanWye

Candice VanWye

Founder

I'm the founder of this community and a creative millennial. In my spare time I write on my my personal blog and make youtube videos. I also have a podcast called The Creative Millennial where I interview cool people. I love to eat, hate to cook, and shop too much. Click the buttons below to follow my socials and follow me on snapchat: @candicevanwye

  • I use MailChimp too, but I tried ConvertKit a few months ago because so many of the bloggers I subscribe too were promoting it. However, I found it more difficult to use than MailChimp as well, and it I thought their forms were horrible. Why so many bloggers were ranting and raving about it I just couldn’t understand??? Also, I noticed that some of the people that were promoting it didn’t even use ConvertKit. A lot of them wers using InfusionSoft (sideeye?).

  • Soooooo, the same night I read this post & the comments I got to searching for a different solution. I found another program that pretty much combines Convertkit with leadpages with Mailchimp. It’s called MailerLite and I had never heard of it before. I’ve been slowly playing with it for the last few days (here’s a landing page I made: http://dothisbeforeyoubrand.viayuri.com/ ) and I think I’m gonna make the switch!

    Here’s the link: https://www.mailerlite.com/ (and NO this isn’t an affiliate link, lol). Y’all should check it out – it could be what we’ve all been looking for. The only downside I’ve ran into so far is that there aren’t too many official integrations, but I’m using zapier to connect it to my DPD account.

  • It’s worth it if it helps you keep your sanity! So far so good with Thinkific, but if they start messing up, I’ll be hosting courses on my own site as well. Happy Course creating! :)

  • I agree with the teachable aspect. I have one course that I’m rolling out and I’m actually hosting it on here because it’s way more simple. It’s more money up front but in the end I have less stress and keep more of my money. I’m going to read your post on the automation by the way. Thanks!

  • I agree. I’m lazy about figuring out how to pretty up the newsletters. I haven’t even done any research on that. I think it’s fine to be an affiliate if you love it but I wish people would be honest. I do love the segmentation so much. I know Mailchimp has segments and it’s included but I haven’t looked into it yet. I think Convertkit could be something if they let go of that whole ugly design aspect. It’s going to work for some people but it just didn’t work for me unfortunately.

  • Completely agree about Teachable, I currently have a free course on there but I feel limited and hate that all their sales pages look the same. And will def check out your post on Mailchimp now, thanks!

  • In your newsletter I saw you wrote a post about Convertkit (and hinted it wasn’t all that), so I was super curious. I actually have been using Convertkit for the last year+ and I enjoy it for the same reasons you did – the segmentation -which is super helpful for the kind of blog that I run. However, I completely agree that the visuals are lacking and as a designer I pay for other services to help “pretty them up”, which has always bugged me. I also have added some custom code to all my forms to make them more of my aesthetic. But I do have to say that for the segmentation and the email sequences alone Convertkit is worth my money (+ the automations). But if you told me that Mailchimp could do that same thing now I’d be obliged to make the switch solely for the design. Anyways, I’m an affiliate (though never promoted so I haven’t made any sales from it). But, this post made me think twice about trying to promote it and that if I do I need to make sure I’m doing it from a completely honest standpoint: I love the features just hate the design and I do other things to help spruce the aesthetics up. P.S. I don’t think my newsletters sound the same as everyone else (though I hear ya on others & feel I know exactly the people you are talking about, lol). Thanks for the honest and frank post!

  • I’ve used Convertkit and also gone back to MailChimp. I also don’t feel that the value of what is provided by Convertkit matches the price. If I want to create a non cookie cutter newsletter, I don’t feel like I should have to bust out my coding skills and in addition to learning their shortcode to do so. I feel this way about Teachable as well. Those same bloggers that promote Convertkit, do the same for Teachable.

    Everyone’s all in love with Teachable, but if you took time to research they have a ridiculous amount of customer service complaints. It doesn’t seem like Teachable treats those who aren’t considered “influencers” the same way. It took them 3 weeks to answer one simple question. Thinkific answered the same question right away (I’m going to be writing a review about Thinkific soon). Enough said.

    By the way, MailChimp’s automation is awesome and it’s free now (they used to charge for it up until 5 days ago)! In case you are looking for a shortcut in learning more about their automation process, I did a tutorial about it: https://starengu.com/mailchimp-automation/

  • Same here! I struggle with sending so many emails sometimes because I personally get overwhelmed with the info overload. But I also understand staying in readers’ inbox to be on their mind. #thestruggle

  • Haha! I felt like a bad blogger too but honestly that’s what I get for jumping on the bandwagon. I haven’t explored Mailchimp’s automation at all yet but I’m going to check it out soon.

  • LOL I love your sense of humor and transparency! I’ve felt like I wasn’t doing the “right” thing by not signing up for ConvertKit or selling all this stuff in my emails BUT after reading this, I’m more comfortable with my mindset. I’m sticking with MailChimp too.