Should You Switch from Aweber or MailChimp to ConvertKit?

Ever since I publicly switched email providers from MailChimp (my first love–you never forget your first love) to ConvertKit last fall, people have been asking me if they should switch too.

The answer is complicated, so I wanted to lay down my thoughts in a thorough review of ConvertKit and provide a sort of self-assessment for deciding if it’s a good move for you too.

Should you switch from MailChimp or Aweber to ConvertKit?

Why I Switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit

I was a MailChimp customer for almost 7 years. I knew after the first year or so that I had outgrown them. It wasn’t that the service was bad–it’s phenomenal–it’s that what I wanted to do with email marketing couldn’t be done on MailChimp. The main feature I was lacking was advanced segmentation (the ability to send people the best content or offers for them based on their interests). 

The other feature I was missing out on was easily being able to send out multiple opt-in incentives while maintaining a nice, neat list. 

As the years went by, MailChimp added more and more features and more and more integrations (mostly Zapier and LeadPages) that allowed me to cobble together most of the functions I was looking for.

However, this just left my account even more bloated and unwieldy.

But the biggest problem of all was that I was avoiding emailing people because I was afraid that I could segment them properly so that they would only receive the email that was meant for them.

That meant money left on the table. 

Nathan Barry, the founder of ConvertKit, phoned me up in September 2015. We chatted about the product, what they were working on next, and why it might be a good fit for a lot of my clients. He wasn’t trying to sell me. He just wanted me to mention ConvertKit when I talked about email marketing in classes and workshops.

But I was sold.

It was time to move on from MailChimp and I just didn’t want the hassle of a solution like InfusionSoft or Ontraport.

As I mentioned, the biggest reason I switched was the ability to send the right people the right email. It’s that simple.

What I Love About ConvertKit

Tagging in ConvertKitConvertKit makes highly targeted email easy. 

The inside of my account is set up with no less than 43 different tags. Each tag tells me something about the people associated with it. I can mix and match those tags and create email that is specially formatted just for the people I’m writing to.

Another reason I love ConvertKit is just how easy it is to create Sequences. Sequences (or courses, autoresponders, or automated email) can be trigger by just about anything that happens in the system. It can set a new subscriber down a Welcome sequence, a new purchaser down an On-boarding sequence, or an old subscriber down a Free Course sequence.

Based on a subscribers activity in one sequence, I can move them on to another.

The possibilities are endless.

I also love the simplicity of the emails I’m sending. My goal is to be your business mentor-from-afar in your inbox a few times a week.

Would your mentor send you a color HTML email? I doubt it. They’d pen something simple, easy-to-read, and personal. ConvertKit makes that really easy.

Email screen shot via ConvertKit

Why You Shouldn’t Switch to ConvertKit

Now, just because I’m into ConvertKit and recommending it to many doesn’t mean that you should switch. Here’s a few reasons why you shouldn’t.

1. You want an all-in-one solution. 

If you want an all-in-one solution that hosts content, takes payments, manages affiliates, etc… you should switch to something like InfusionSoft. Yes, it’s going to be a lot of work. Yes, you’re going to pay a lot for it. But it’s worth it if your business is such that having this type of solution is going to make your life easier and add to your bottom line.

Our main ecommerce tool is WooCommerce and I have an affiliate management plugin that works well with it. While seamlessness is awesome, it’s not always practical and I’m happy with the balance we’ve achieved in terms of integration and customization.

2. You want to send pretty emails. 

There are lots ($$$) of reasons to send plain-text or simple rich-text emails. There are also lots of reasons to send HTML emails. 

If you want to send something with lots of images, a banner/logo, and columns, you’ll need to stick with a provider like MailChimp. It can be done with ConvertKit but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Just keep in mind that lots of email is read on a phone or other mobile device. My emails may not be as “pretty” as they used to be but I know more people who start reading them will read to the bottom. That’s important.

3. You’re not willing to commitment to a tagging strategy. 

When I switched to ConvertKit, I tried to take my email taxonomy (such as it was) from MailChimp and transfer it over. That was a disaster. Luckily, one of my team members is a whiz with logic puzzles like this. She took what I wanted to be able to do with email and what we knew about individual subscribers and created the tagging taxonomy you see above.

Yours doesn’t need to be as complicated but, if you’re not willing to devote energy to figuring out a tagging system and then commit to using it successfully, don’t switch to a provider like ConvertKit.

This might be the biggest hurdle of all. However, you have to ask yourself whether you’re really committed to email marketing if you’re not willing to commit to figuring this piece out.

What’s Next for Your Email Marketing

In the end, whether you switch to Convertkit from MailChimp or Aweber or whether you choose something else entirely, the decision shouldn’t be based on where your business is at now.

You have to look ahead to what you’d like to be able to do with your email marketing, how you’d like to be able to communicate with customers, and how you’d like to prospect for new leads in the future. 

The longer it takes you to switch to the solution that meets more of your needs, the harder that switch will be (trust me, I know!). 

ConvertKit is probably the right choice for you if:

  • You want to be able to send the right messages and offers to the right people.
  • You want to start or accelerate automating your best messages so that sales start happening on their own.
  • You want to on-board new customers easily and with minimal effort.
  • You want to prioritize simplicity and clarity in your communications.
  • You want to use multiple email opt-in incentives to grow your audience and track your progress.

If that sounds like you, click here to give ConvertKit a try.

(That’s my affiliate link–if you’d prefer I didn’t get compensated for providing this information to you, click here for the non-affiliate link.)


Which story are you telling?

There are two stories to tell when communicating about your business. Neither are wrong, neither are right. The story you choose to concentrate on tells others quite a bit about why you do what you do and how you do it.

What are these two stories?

There’s a long-term story. And there’s a short-term story. Click to tweet!

Most online entrepreneurs are telling a short-term story. It’s the story that is focused on the present, on the growth of the business. It’s the story of immediate needs, quick fixes, and hype.

It’s based on perception. It’s works towards near-sighted objectives.

There’s a place for this story. It drives you to generate revenue now, to attract clients now. It keeps you motivated even when the going gets tough. It allows you to celebrate small wins – and celebrating is oh-so-important.

This isn’t a bad story to tell – especially when you’re telling it to yourself.

But there are those telling the long-term story. It’s the story focused on value, on the way forward, on the client relationship. It’s the story that produces movements, conversations, communities.

The long-term story creates collaborative goals. It’s the tide that lifts all the boats.

When money is tight, when resources seem scarce, the long-term story is the last thing you want to think about. The long-term story seems like a luxury.

But the long-term story is what your customers & clients are looking for. They want to know you’re here for the long haul. They want to know you’re as concerned with their needs as you are with your own. They want to feel care for, nurtured, understood.

The people attracted to the long-term story are the ones you want to work with. There the ones who want your best work. They’re the ones who pay what you’re worth and understand your value. They’re the ones that support you as an artist, thinker, creator.

Your customers believe in you because you give them a story to believe in.

Click to spread the word!

So what story are you telling? Does you website tell the long-term story or the short-term story? What story does your social media tell? What story does your person to person interaction tell?

What story are you telling?


If you’re interested in telling a long-term story, I invite you to sign up over at Kick Start Labs. You’ll start getting a free ecourse designed to help you blog a smarter, more engaging story around your business: your long-term story. Click here to get started now!

Anyone can write about personal development…

Anyone can write about personal development… anyone can read a few self-help books, change a few habits, and tell you to do the same. Anyone can tell me what I should be doing. Anyone repeat the same old cheers from the sidelines of life, waving tired pompoms in the air. Anyone can string together the language of the genre and tell me to live my best, most authentic, truthy, passionate life.

Then when someone decides to talk about your life in terms of the scriptural narratives that affect your thought & behavior patterns, I stand up & take notice.

Anyone can write about business… anyone can take what the “big guys” say and rewrite it in their own words. Anyone can tell you to hop on social media, build a tribe, create some products, fill a need. Anyone can convince you to tweak this, improve that, try this new application. Anyone parrot the same ideas as the rest of the industry and call it news.

Then when someone decides to examine business in a new paradigm for a new economy, I stand up & take notice.

Anyone can write about creativity… anyone can encourage you to pick up a paintbrush, get your hands dirty, try something new. Anyone can tell you what works for them, what coaxes them out of the box. Anyone can give you their version of The Artist’s Way, tell you to write your morning pages, and pat you on the head.

Then when someone decides to prompt & push you to creative action through the very nature of her prose, I stand up & take notice.

Anyone can let you know they’re going to be at an event & tell you to come find them.

Then when someone creates a whole experience around being “shot in the face,” I stand up & take notice.

Anyone can write about sex. Okay… maybe not anyone…

Then when someone tells personal stories, examines issues on multiple levels, and still gives you enough juicy bits to leave you wanting more, I stand up & take notice.

The barriers to publishing, public discourse, and commerce are lower than they’ve ever been before. If you’ve got something to say, you can say it and find people to read it.

Just how long can you sustain a business based on someone else’s ideas?

I ask — beg, plead — you to consider if what you’re saying is something new, noteworthy, or innovative. Are you just looking to put your spin on established truth? Or are you daring to push the boundaries of something, anything in pursuit of new truth?

You simply can’t compete with those who have already said what you have to say.

You won’t outspend them (they already made the big bucks), you won’t outproduce them (they’ve been at it for years), you won’t outangle them (they’re already top of mind).

So say something new. Say the thing that’s been on your mind — and frightening you to death — for so long. Say the new realization you had yesterday and ask for help working it through. Say something that goes against or beyond what we already “know.”

Watch how people follow you.

if money is power, who are you recharging? reflections from Blogher 2011

Money is power.

It’s not just cliche. There’s truth. Gut churning, denial busting, world rocking truth. You know it: with money, comes power.

You also know that this seems to be most often exploited: get money, exploit power selfishly.

But there’s the flip side: get money, use power for good.

Last week, I returned home from Blogher with much the same reaction as I had last year. It’s not my scene but I dig the camaraderie, the exultation of women of all ilks, and – maybe just a little – the shock & awe of the experience.

Tara Mohr, Megan Auman, and I came armed to present a different way to generate income from the immense work people put into their blogs. Our panel was well-received and I know we got quite a few people thinking. But I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the spectacle of swooning put on by blogger & corporation alike.

BlogHer is sponsored by BIG corporations: McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Proctor & Gamble, and Ford to name a few. There is a lot of money being waved, sparkled, and confetti-ed about. And while I understand the role that big corporations play in our economy (and government, healthcare system, technological evolution, etc…), I couldn’t help but think about the New Economic model I’m helping to build.

Money is power. Potentially, your power.

If the power just flows back & forth between individual and major corporation, we end up forfeiting choice. Corporations can choose to honor our will or not. We don’t have much say. If we claim the power – cash – for our own, we have infinite choice in the good it can do.

Starting a business, sustaining one, growing one isn’t just about earning a living – it’s about claiming power.

You – just like the on-fire women I met at BlogHer – have a vision for this world.
Maybe you want to leave it a better, more heart-driven place for your children. Maybe you want to eliminate poverty. Maybe you want to see college students make better decisions. Maybe you want to get healthy food on more tables, end bullying in school, or help girls learn to express themselves through writing.

I like you. I’m down with your goal.

Sisters, brothers, you’re going to need money to get there. Courting corporations, investors, or your Grandma Jean is probably not going to get you there. They each have their part to play – I’m looking at you, Grandma Jean (just kidding… I don’t have a Grandma Jean!) – but it’s your ability to earn your money and earn your power that’s going to give you the charge you need to create real world change.

A few don’ts:

  • Don’t compromise on your vision because it looks to big. Find ways to generate the resources to pick apart the puzzle one piece at a time.
  • Don’t be intimidated by those who seem to have it more together than you. Trust me, they used to be right where you are.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of starting small. We all start somewhere. Starting at the top is no better than starting at the bottom.

Do allow money to motivate you. Recharge yourself.

Not in the more, more, more-is always-better way but in the earn-more-to-do-more way. Feel confident about making the offer, charging what you’re worth, and developing new products by equating those things with furthering your mission.

Putting your mission out into the world – whether through blogging, designing, making, writing, engineering, develping… – is a drain on your batteries. Make sure the effort that you’re putting out is allowing power to flow back in – not just allocating it to outside holdings.


Want another account of BlogHer? Take a look at this article by Tara Mohr on Huffington Post: Why Blogher Got Me Angry.

WordPress: Setting fire to your burning questions

Today I’m setting fire to some of the burning questions you have about the magic that makes websites go. In this case, I’m talking about WordPress – how it compares to Blogger, what it means to self-host, how it’s really not about blogging, and more…

These questions come courtesy of some of my current students! Thanks to Betsy, Elle, Chantelle, and Brandy.

First, forgive my ignorance, but what does hosting or self-hosting mean? Does it mean just having a blog?

In the world of blogging and content management software, there are two main kinds: hosted and self-hosted.

Hosted blogging systems include, Blogger, Typepad, and Tumblr. In a hosted service, you set up an account and the platform does the rest. They provide the software you use to run it, they host your files, and they maintain your site.

Self-hosted platforms include WordPress and Movable Type. With self-hosted systems, you purchase web hosting (it’s like an eternally switched on hard drive for your website and is inexpensive) and then install the software to your web host’s servers. In tandem with your host, you are responsible for maintaining the software, backing up your site, and strengthening security.

Why take on the extra responsibility? To have control. Not to mention domains, subdomains, email addresses, other types of software (forums, shopping carts, etc…), more SEO options, and FTP access.

Why else? With the exception of a few legacy blogs that are still on Typepad (I’m looking at you, Seth Godin), self-hosted WordPress is what professionals use. Do they use it because they became professionals? No, probably not. They knew that it was the best fit for a growing, ever changing business and they started using it when they decided they wanted to create something truly special with their online presence.

Why would I switch from Blogger to WordPress? If I do, will I be starting from scratch?

People switch from Blogger to WordPress for a number of reasons.

One is control of your content. Ultimately, it’s you who decides what company hosts your site, how the database is maintained, how often you back up, what security measures are taken, etc… Sure relinquishing control of this to Google (who owns Blogger) is easy but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it.

Another reason people switch is the ultimate “extensibility” of WordPress. WordPress is open source – meaning a very industrious group of unpaid programmers work on it’s features, creating new & better ways of working with it all the time. Internal features are updated, plugins are created, themes are devised. The WordPress community is huge and helpful.

Switching to WordPress means you have that community at your finger tips.

As for starting from scratch, switching from Blogger to WordPress is not at all starting from scratch. All of your content comes with you – with about two clicks of a mouse!

What steps are permanent when beginning with WordPress, and which components can be altered later?

Really, no steps are permanent. Once the files are installed, they can be moved. Once the name is chosen, it can be changed. Once the theme is picked, it can be switched.

Everything you do with WordPress happens at your whim. Of course, some things are easier than others! But even dramatic changes like theme or name are mere switches.

Should I drive traffic to my blog or to my website first? Why? Oh… and what should I name it?

The trick to answering this question is to stop thinking of a blog as separate from a website. There is no site you visit regularly on the net right now that doesn’t have some sort of time-stamped, consistently updated content (a blog).

Same goes for blogs. There isn’t a blog that you visit every day that doesn’t have deeper content hidden away on pages.

See? It’s all the same. So the question then becomes how best to organize it. That’s going to be different for everyone. Questions you could ask yourself:

  • Do I have time to update content consistently?
  • What do my customers want out of my website?
  • How can I best communicate my expertise?
  • What is my sales funnel?

It’s important to realize though, that no matter how you organize it, most people will enter your home on the web through your blog. Blog posts generate the most social links, the best SEO, and the greatest interest among potential customers. So also be sure to ask yourself if it’s clear from your blog what your business sells and who it sells it to.

There also isn’t one right way to name your blog or website but I would suggest it’s much more difficult to maintain two brand names than one. So stick with something simple (like your name or your business name) and concentrate on providing great content that speaks for itself without a clever name.

When you choose a “theme” is that basically a template? Also, can you change your theme later?

A theme is a template is a theme. Your WordPress theme is a skin that sticks to the outside of all your content and all the internal WordPress files to create something that looks good and has certain functionality.

WordPress has a dizzying array of capabilities but most themes only scratch the surface of that functionality. You want a theme that not only looks good but allows you to take advantage of the functions that work best for your business.

Of course, you won’t know all that until you’re well under way with your site – which means it’s important to pick a professionally developed (doesn’t have to be paid) theme.

As you go, you can certainly change your theme as many times as needed. You can switch themes or edit the theme files to create a different look. You content remains constant.

Website Kick Start – my course on creating a custom WordPress website – is now open for early bird pricing. The next session starts April 11. Learn more.

opening the door to your home base

We have a lot of places to hang out online. We can pop in to Twitter for a quick chat. We can get cozy on Facebook with friends & family. We can get personal on online journals & blogs.

But the place we call home is our dot com.

Do you?

A home base is a place online that you own, that is your online ‘home’.
— Darren Rowse, ProBlogger

It’s where we can paint the walls, hang pictures, remodel the kitchen, and invite others over for dinner. We strive to make it represent who we are. We try to make it feel comfortable but also beautiful. We do our best to make it welcoming.

Your website is your home on the web.

What does your site say about you (and your business)?

We spend a lot of time trying to make sure our home says what we want it to say. But we need to spend – at least – equal time creating a home space for the others that visit us there.

Am I welcome here?

Okay, unlike your family home, your website is always open for visitors. But do visitors feel welcome? Do they know they’re in the right place? Do the recognize the surroundings? Do they know where to sit & prop up their feet?

Do they know where the bathroom is?

The first job of your website is to let people know they’re in the right place. Your website may be about you but every nook & cranny needs to serve those that visit.

You can create this feeling by choosing a tagline that reassures your right people. You can name your pages things that your visitors expect. You can choose colors and images that call people in instead of hastening their departure.

Do you own your home?

At home, I’m a renter. But on the web, I’m a home owner.

It’s important to have control over your content, your back end, and your services. Without complete control, you live in your home under the whim of your landlord.

And there aren’t nearly as many rules protecting your interests. When you put your best content, your “buy now” buttons, and your resources on something you don’t own, you’re exposing yourself to danger.

Owning your home means you have a solid, settled place to come home to, no matter what.

You can venture out into the Twitter cafes and Facebook lounges but you come back home at the end of the day, bringing your best friends with you.

Have you decorated?

Each room in your home is decorated to meet a certain purpose. Your bedroom is calm and quiet. Your family room is the center of entertainment. Your kitchen is functional and bright.

Your website has rooms too. Your blog functions as a conversation space. You have pages that act as information centers. You have resources that add function to your home.

You don’t want those who visit to just come into the foyer and turn around to leave. You want to direct them to the rooms they want to visit and provide what they need in each room.

Do you have a mailbox?

Of course, you’ve got email. But how else can others connect with you? How can you guide visitors to places they can connect with you outside your home.

The way we use the web is cyclical. We often find new places to visit via social media, we stop over for a bite to eat, and then we meet back out in the world again.

Visitors to your home appreciate you initiating that future connection: subscribing to a mailing list, connecting on Twitter, liking on Facebook, joining your forum. Extend the invitation and take advantage of the connection.

Take a look at your website home today. Does it say what you want it to say about you and your business? Is it all about you or are you welcoming in those that will visit?

My online course, Website Kick Start, will be opening for registration again soon. Learn how to create a website home you can be proud of. Sign up here to get the first notice of discounts & registration!

{ image by Barbara Walsh }