After two free-trials, I finally decided to switch over to Ghost(Pro).
I used to run my blog/personal site on Tumblr (100% free), which was easy for posting and set-up, but was always a bit janky looking.
Things Ghost does great:
- The Ghost customer support is some of the best I've ever dealt with. I had a bunch of questions as I was going through my trial and they always had timely, thorough, and to the point responses. I don't think I would have converted to paid without their help. As a somewhat petty side note, I emailed Substack with a complaint/question on June 5th and still have not hear back from them. (I also have a substack and if you search "eastmeetswest.substack.com" on Google, the meta data / SEO has nothing to do with my publication.)
- Ghost has a lot of really nice subtle features. For example, it's super easy for me to have different tabs on my page (right now, personal, crypto, east meets west) for different types of posts. I just have to put a tag on the post when I make it and it lands in the right tab.
- They have a (slightly buggy) desktop app, which makes posting even easier. I'm interested to see if I will start drafting in the Ghost desktop app rather than Evernote or Google Docs.
- They have a lot of great features that aren't applicable to me right now, but include things like author tags, setting up multiple members per account, etc. This would be great if I was running a larger publication on Ghost.
- They allow you to customize Meta Data for your site and posts, which helps your posts to appear in Google's Search.
- Their (beta) newsletter feature also seems really good and I will probably move my Substack subscribers over to Ghost. If I had a paid newsletter, Ghost would unquestionably be the way to go.
- They have native integrations with a lot of plugins, including Zapier, Slack (good for e.g., running a company blog), Google AMP for mobile reading, etc.
- I really love a line from John O'Nolan's introduction of the product:
But [Wordpress] is not what I want for blogging. There's too much stuff everywhere, too much clutter, too many (so many) options getting in the way of what I really want to do: publish content.
Things for Ghost to improve:
- The Ghost setup could definitely be easier. I don't exactly remember why I gave up on my first free trial with Ghost, but presumably they caught me on a day where I didn't want to put in a lot of work. More educational materials for stupid-easy-non-technical setup would be great
- They could use more themes. Their theme marketplace is pretty limited. They have a lot of themes available for download outside of their marketplace, but presumably most people don't look that far.
Some things that I wonder:
- I find it odd that they're a non-profit. I understand that there is some ideological appeal there, but I also think this could be a huge company and if the potential to do that is there, why waste it? Why not offer employees equity and hire a BD team to grow this thing? (they have a section on their site about sales)
- It seems like with everyone going remote and more of ourselves moving online that Ghost could be poised to dominate the "personal portfolio" market by allowing people to easily create personal sites. Not sure they do any outwards BD or marketing though
- I think if Ghost doubled down on making set up stupidly easy and offered "concierge" services to VIP clients, it could be trivially easy for them to poach some of the large publications from Substack. Ghost's highest pre-enterprise paid plan is $2,400 annually. With Substack's 10% fees, Ghost becomes the lower cost option once you're past $24,000 in annual revenue. For a Substack publication like The Dispatch that's doing more than $1m in annual revenue, assuming no special deals, they're paying substack $100k/year. And listen, I think Substack is awesome, but that take rate is tough to justify when something like Ghost exists.
If you're interested in learning more: