Great timing. My billing info on mailchimp needs updating so now is a good time to switch to aweber. When I had to decide between the two a few years ago I picked mailchimp because their template system is way cooler. Aweber’s stuff looks like teenagers’ homework assignments in the 90’s. In contrast to an all male engineering team mailchimp seems to have a few girls on board to spruce things up. But as you said the functionality behind the email is more important than the look so I’m jumping ship. Oh, I’ll also be saving $20 pm.
A cool way to tease your email content is to syndicate your content on a platform like Medium or LinkedIn Pulse. Or, team up with an influencer in your space to help spread the word about the awesome content you’re sending through email. The more you promote yourself to relevant communities and groups, the more likely you are to keep your email list growing and growing.
This is where you can see the list of subscribers. For those who are moving from Aweber, GetResponse, or any other email service provider, you can import your existing subscribers. When you are importing, ensure that you add tags to segment your list. For example, in my case, I imported my list from Gumroad & tagged them as Gumroad buyers.  (You can refer to this help guide to learn more about importing email subscribers to ConvertKit.)
The tag is a bit of metadata added to a subscriber’s profile to track their activity or preferences. Tags can be used to keep track of purchases, what a subscriber is interested in (e.g. design vs. marketing), how engaged they are (clicked a link in a launch sequence) and where they were imported from. A subscriber can have an unlimited number of tags.
Overall, our impression and experiences show that Aweber is easy to use, they have a great reputation, and they’ve been around for a long time. We have quite a few subscribers with Aweber since this is one of the first autoresponders we started using. Since we’ve been with them for a long time, we’ve also noticed their delivery can be iffy at times.
When choosing a theme, focus on something that is clean and uncluttered. Please refrain from going for anything particularly striking or “flashy” – it’ll typically result in a blog design that is not conducive to reader retention. Social Triggers is a great example of how a clean and simple design with plenty of whitespace offers an experience that is easy on the eye.

Aweber is another favorite tool that is aimed at small and mid-sized businesses. It also packs an enormous amount of features, making it an outstanding email management software tool. Automation, tracking and template building are all easy to perform with this tool, earning it a place on this shortlist. It can also be easily integrated into all types of websites.
Upon signing up there’s a skippable introductory video. AWeber has a bit more of a setup procedure than most ESPs; to get started, you’ll need to fill out information including the business address you want to feature on the bottom of emails, as well as any customizations you want to make to AWeber’s standard opt-in confirmation message. Once you’ve finished those basic configurations, you’ll be free to explore the program.

The only other thing I would have mentioned under design is to not underestimate the power of colour and textures – in my hunt for a theme that I actually want to work with, I’ve narrowed it down to finding a minimalist theme and just giving it a hint of colour to add some flair. Otherwise things can just detract from your content just like you said.
I do agree that you should not build your business on free entirely. However, I also agree that if you are a small blogger or a non-profit organisation it is nice to save some money as you do not earn much. I’ve actually been using Mailerlite forever free plan until I’ve learned to comunicate with my audience and grown my business a bit to finally pay some money for newsletter service. You can check their quick comparison to MailChimp here: https://www.mailerlite.com/mailchimp-alternative That’s my personal alternative to MailChimp. Cheers!
Email marketing has the highest conversion rates of any marketing channel. In fact, sixty-six percent of online consumers made a purchase after receiving an email marketing message — which is more than social and direct mail, according to the Data & Marketing Association. And transactions from email are three times more profitable than those made on social media, reports the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
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