Authors: Brandon Hopkins, Suparna Ganguly

What is Ghost?

Ghost is free and open-source web server software that you can use to host a website. It’s a unique and elegant web publishing platform. Ghost provides a modern and sleek interface where you can publish articles, newsletters, and subscription-based content. It offers advanced features for monetizing your content. So, with Ghost, you can charge your subscribers a monthly fee similar to Patreon.

Ghost’s Similarities to Medium

Thinking if Ghost is anyhow similar to the blogging platform Medium? Well, both have almost identical content writing features. Both Medium and Ghost are dedicated to blogging and writing clean, easy to read content. Unlike Medium you have full control of all aspects of your platform. WordPress is often preferred for its flexibility and overall wide adoption. However, Ghost is a much simpler format for simple blogging, newsletters, and subscription services.

Content Delivery: When it comes to content delivery, both Ghost and Medium are very similar. Just write your content, add images including alt text, do some SEO, then Publish. Have you been using some clumsy content delivery platforms that caused nothing but frustrations? Then go for Ghost or Medium as they are made purely for writing purposes.

Block for Editing: Medium and Ghost have amazing visual editors. And it’s a pleasure to use such blogging platforms for any writer or reader. Medium’s most admired feature is Block for editing. Ghost has the same. Both allow you to use their in-built content blocks. And these are very easy to get started with.

Ghost’s Subscription Feature

Ghost’s native subscriptions turn your free readers into paying subscribers. You can generate recurring revenue from your content. Once you have members signed in to your website, you can ask them for supporting your work financially. Let’s take a look at Ghost’s subscription features.

Ghost has an in-built integration with Stripe. It connects your Stripe account to Ghost. Once connected to Ghost you receive Apple Pay and credit card payments. Customer information pulled up from your site gets securely stored and automated with the help of Ghost. If you’re not a fan of using Stripe there are other options. With a Zapier integration, you can connect to any other payment gateways. If you’re or have a developer, you can use Ghost’s API to directly connect to those payment gateways.

It is totally up to you whether you want a larger audience at a cheaper price, or you want your dedicated followers for a premium fee. With a recurring revenue model, you can create your own pricing structure. You can even test and change your pricing whenever you want. Getting paid is the best subscription feature in Ghost. Any revenue you generate from your paid articles and newsletter is completely yours. Ghost keeps 0% from your sales.

Ghost’s Newsletter Feature

With newsletters, Ghost allows your content to reach the right kind of audience. You can run your email newsletters from your website. It helps you keep everything in an organized manner. When you publish a new post it goes directly to your site members’ inboxes.

Free and Premium Email Newsletters: Ghost offers two types of email newsletters, such as free and premium. You can send newsletters to different members whether their memberships are paid or free. Emails can be sent using a nice-looking template that includes unsubscribe links too. Below are the benefits of using Ghost’s email newsletters.

  • Ghost provides customizable designs for their email newsletters.

  • You can create newsletter-exclusive content that appears only in your newsletters.

  • Ghost’s email cards support links, text, and basic formatting.

  • With Ghost’s email call to action cards, you can send content to paid and free members. Also, you can add links, buttons, formatting, and dividers to separate it from other email content.

  • In the email analytics feature, open-rate analytics is enabled to check your content performance.

  • With the unsubscribe links sent to you in emails by default, you can unsubscribe yourself from Ghost’s emails at any time. By doing so, your membership status won’t get affected.

Ghost’s Paid Hosting Plans & Open Source Self-Hosting

Undoubtedly, Ghost is the right place to launch your creative business keeping newsletters, content, payments, members – all in one place. Ghost has four different paid hosting plans, such as Starter, Creator, Team, and Business. These plans have tiers such as the amount of staff users, website members, file upload sizes and custom theming.

Free and Open-Source Ghost CMS

Ghost is a free and open-source CMS that comes with a self-hosting option. The most efficient way for deploying a production-ready instance is on Ghost’s fully-managed PaaS. Ghost (Pro) runs a similar open-source codebase. It has no limitations. Ghost (Pro) is the best possible way of installing and managing your website’s environment. Here’s a comparison between Ghost (Pro) and self-hosting.

  • Product features are the same in both Ghost (Pro) and self-hosting.

  • Managed install and setup are provided in Ghost (Pro) and not in self-hosting.

  • Server maintenance and backups, worldwide CDN, and enterprise-grade security are available only on Ghost (Pro).

  • Threat and uptime management is available only on Ghost (Pro).

  • Ghost (Pro) offers an automatic SSL certificate, but you get a manual SSL in self-hosting.

  • As customer support, priority email support is given in Ghost (Pro). Self-hosting users get community support.

  • Only Ghost (Pro) helps to fund future dev works of Ghost software.

Ghost’s Self-Hosting Option / Linode One Click

For self-hosting, the Ghost-recommended stack is, Ubuntu 16.04, 18.04, or 20.04, NGINX, Systemd, Node version via NodeSource, a server having 1GB memory support, a non-root user to run ghost commands. Luckily, Linode makes the process of setting up your very own Ghost website easy with their one-click installer. The video below will walk you through the process including domain management, prerequisites, and the general installation and setup process. If you’re interested in a written step-by-step tutorial you can check out the official guide from Ghost.

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If you don’t already have a Linode account you can use this link to get a $100 credit to get started. To get this started you only need to use the Nanode tier, but as your website grows you can always upgrade.

In an ecosystem of vast options to deliver content, Ghost shines bright as a wonderful option. Today subscriptions and paid memberships have become the standard business model for big media companies and small creators alike. But what if someone wants to build their own stack with open-source? Then Ghost is a must-try. Their features are included in open-source, self-hosted, and also organizations’ paid and hosted SaaS products.

Get started on Linode today with $100 in free credit for 60 days.