Cheaper, Affordable Mailchimp Alternative

Mailchimp is great, but more than a significant amount of subscribers and you’re going to go broke. Today I’m going to show you how to make your own service to send newsletters as a much cheaper alternative to Mailchimp using Sendy. The best part is, you can do this even if you don’t know programming or are technical!

How is it so cheap? The system we will be using to send emails will be Amazon’s robust SES service to send out emails for a per email cost. It is important to note that while Mailchimp and similar services (ex. Aweber, ConstantContact, etc) may offer unlimited emails per month, most people will not need to send out too many emails per month. It’s worth running the analysis below for your own variable and determining whether Sendy is cost-effective for you – in most situations it will be.


Cost Breakdown

Sendy has a great widget to play with on their site to determine how much you’ll save but I’ll do a quick breakdown below.

Sendy – Sendy Software ($59) + Hosting/Set-Up ($130 yearly though can vary) + Amazon SES ($0.0001 per email)
Mailchimp – 2 main pricing models:
1. Monthly – Subscriber based (Subscribers/Monthly Cost):

(Note: for under 2,500 subscribers Mailchimp also has a free plan)

2. Pay As You Go

Lets calculate a hypothetical scenario: I have S subscribers in my list I send a newsletter to every week for a year. I’ll include the initial Sendy software cost ($59) – note though that this is only a one-time cost.

For S = 5,000 subscribers
Sendy setup: $59 + $130 + (5000 subscribers * 52 weeks * $0.0001 per email) = $215
Mailchimp: $50 * 12 months = $600

For S = 10,000 subscribers:
Sendy setup: $59 + $130 + (10,000 subscribers * 52 weeks * $0.0001 per email) = $241
Mailchimp: $75 * 12 months = $900


Analytics – While Sendy does have a great analytics dashboard for analyzing open rates and other key email metrics, Mailchimp does offer a superior analytics layer. For some, this may be a deal breaker though for me analytics wasn’t always a huge factor and the basics sufficed.
Email Editor - I have to hand it to Mailchimp on this one for creating an awesome email editor that makes it super simple for even the least technical individuals to create a beautiful looking email. Sendy’s email editor is pale in comparison to Mailchimp’s editor. One workaround that I’ve been using is to simply create the email in Mailchimp and copy over the html into Sendy’s email editor. This takes some minor HTML knowledge but is doable. Look out for a future blog post detailing this method.

Set Up

Judge for yourself how much these caveats are worth. Several hundred dollars? Maybe Mailchimp is better for you. If not, then great lets finally get to how to build our own solution!
First purchase Sendy.
Note: The link is a referral link. I found out about their referral program just as I finished writing the article. Help me keep this blog running :)
Next up we have to decide where we’re going to host Sendy. Sendy is just the software layer but we need a server to put Sendy on so that we can access it online and actually send the emails. This is where some paths can diverge. While many opt to create their own server using their favorite stack of technologies, the simplest solution came to me in a response in Sendy’d forums.
The good folks over at Hosthese have a created pre-made dedicated Sendy environments, optimized to its requirements. Their services can be used without limitation on webspace or traffic for a yearly price of € 109 / ~$ 130.
All you have to do is contact Hosthese and they’ll create a new hosting environment with your Sendy license without you having to dabble into the technical details at all. I should note that this does require a domain/subdomain that can be pointed at the hosted Sendy solution. This is as simple as creating a CNAME record that points to Hosthese’s servers.
You’re done! Sendy supports importing contacts so to transition from Mailchimp or any other service, simply export your current subscriber list and import it into Sendy!
If you have any trouble, feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out!

Update: New post is now live: Sendy Hosting & Advanced Set-up

9 comments Write a comment

  1. Thank you for the information. Right now I’m well under the mailchimp free limits, but I was looking for cheaper alternatives to mailchimp. Does sendy support dynamic emails like mailchimp does?

    I use the groups tags in mailchimp for all my emails to create dynamic content based on the subscriber preferences.


    • Yup, you can insert fields into your email messages as well as send an email to certain segments of your list. It can be determined by a simple field when users sign up.

  2. One thing is confusing me…
    Well, I have 1 lakh subscribers… And I want to send them one email daily. (for 30 days in a month)
    So what will be the pricing ?


  3. Nice article! I actually switched to Sendy and I am pretty satisfied, although it’s all pretty new… I would really like to read about the way you use mailchimp editor. I tried it and it seems to work, but It feels like there might be a better way.

    • Currently I just build the email in Mailchimp and then view the code for the email and copy it into Sendy. Then edit the code if there’s any small tweaks I need to make. It’s an additional step but I don’t mind considering the substantial cost benefits I am getting!

  4. Excellent overview. Thanks. The HTML editor has me a bit concerned. I created a simple template in MailChimp’s drag-and-drop tool and it looked great as a test from MailChimp. Then, I exported the HTML and put it in my Interspire Email Marketer (which is what I’m looking to dump) and when I sent the test email, it stripped out the styling in Gmail (though, looked good on iPhone). Just wondering, when you take your HTML from MailChimp to Sendy, are you using MailChimp’s basic editor (in which you can import your pre-designed HTML) or are you using their drag-and-drop editor? Thanks.

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