This debate over free eMail autoresponder scripts and services vs. the paid ones is a constant topic on most marketing forums. This thread has some age to it, but still gets posts.
One thing many people fail to consider is that there are potential legal ramifications (in the US at least) if you mess up in this area. We have a LAW called CAN-SPAM.
If you self-host a free or paid script, then the CAN-SPAM compliance and the deliverability issues are on your back. Basically, it is you against some large ISP who really doesn't care about you and your subscribers when you get a complaint. Notice I said when.
If one or two AOL users click the SPAM button, there goes your deliverability there. And so on with Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.
Too many complaints and your web host and domain name registrar may get involved too. I don't know about you, but I don't have time for all that.
Because of this, a marketer you may know of, Mike Filsaime, uses a private label version of Aweber. Mike has hundreds of thousands on his lists. In a recent Warrior forum post, he states that he should have used it from the beginning.
Last I heard, Jonathan Mizel has over a million on his Aweber lists.
I use it too.
What do these marketers know that you aren't thinking about? Delivery and conversion. Why send emails that don't get read? The more that get read, the higher your conversion. End of story.
Yes it costs $19.95 a month. If you can't envision making more than twice that from email list marketing after a month or two, why would you even want to go through all the work of email list marketing?
Don't have anything to sell? Just want to keep in touch with site vistors? Then blog and use one of the free email notification services that cater to the blogging crowd. Your blog will get traffic to your main site. The notification emails will get them to come back to your site or blog. And of course you need to make it easy for folks to get your RSS feed.