Why I chose Ghost?
Ghost is Open Source
Given the primary focus of my channel on Linux and open source, I really wanted to research the options that were open source and see which if any were the best fit for me. After looking through the options, my contending options were:
I setup dev environments for Ghost and Hugo and tried to see which was the best fit for me. Hugo is more of a static site, that was appealing. However, while front end development is interesting, realistically I just don't have the time to focus on it, which brings me to:
Ghost lets me focus on content creation
My time is very limited, I work full time, practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and create YouTube videos.
I'd really like to start writing up some website exclusive content once I get into a solid workflow, but I want to at least be able to to write some companion pieces for my videos. Generally if I need to share a console command or config file, this isn't ideal in the description or comments. Also, sometimes it's easier to read along and work at your own pace compared to trying to pause a video.
Ghost can grow with me
Right now, my audience is very small, my needs for a website are minimal. With time, I expect my needs to grow as my audience hopefully grows. Ghost offers many integrations with other services. As it makes sense to add those services I can do so, or setup custom integrations.
Ghost has good SEO out of the box
One other key reason is that Ghost has good SEO. One of the biggest challenges for smaller creators is being found, I am hopeful that my site will be another avenue for people to find my channel or at the least find the information they need. Trying to find a solution to a problem is frustrating enough without needing to go deep into a search simply due to bad SEO.
Ghost can be as simple as you like
After launching your ghost site, you can stick with all the default settings and just focus on writing posts and sending out those posts as emails. Things like paid memberships would need to be setup if those were wanted, but ultimately, the site would be functional.
However, after learning a bit more about Ghost, more can be done, multiple newsletters can be created, multiple collections could be added, tags could be added, plus the afore mentioned integrations. A custom theme could even be created. A good bit can be done to make the site work in different ways. Once thing I plan to do as I get more familiar with Ghost is to setup a newsletter that is separate from the main articles.
Why I chose Ghost Pro for my hosting?
I elected to use Ghost Pro as my host and my reasoning was simple:
It supports the development of Ghost
Since I would like the open source project of Ghost to grow, using Ghost Pro is one simple way I can support development of the project. Ghost 5.0 was released in May with several new features.
I want to try to support open source projects that I use on a regular basis and this seemed like an excellent way for me to do so.
Ghost Pro lets me focus on content creation
Much like my reasoning above, Ghost Pro let's me really drill into writing content. No worrying about infrastructure, updates, or needing to manage security. I am still a novice at these areas, the time it would take to handle these myself would detract from time I can spend creating, editing, or planning my next video and/or article.
Since Ghost is open source, it could be hosted on a site like Digital Ocean. Doing this would mean everything would have to be managed by you. Cost would start around $5 or $6 a month. Since Ghost is open source, none of the funcationlity would be lost due to this.
Some sites like Substack are free, but charge you based on the amount of money you make. While this is nice as a beginner, it can really start costing a lot as you start gaining more revenue. Ghost does not have any extra fee based on revenue. Payment processors will have fees, but that's out of Ghost's hands.
Ghost Pro plans start at $9 a month when paid yearly. This would be an excellent starting point and would allow a custom domain to be setup and to start writing. This also allows up to 500 members (paid or free). If 3 members sign up at $5 a month, even after payment processing fees, the site would be earning a profit. From 500 to 1000 members it's $15 a month on this plan.
The next tier starts at $25 a month with the yearly billing option. This allows more integrations, including integrations using Zapier (which has a free tier). This could be an awesome option if looking to use a different service for email. There are also many other integrations that open with this tier.
The Editor for Ghost is very powerful. There are lots of built in blocks like:
I can add lots of information in this box that can be expanded or collapsed. Could be useful when it comes to adding extra tips, etc.
You can embed tweets:
There are also specific things you can add to posts that only show up in emails. This could be very useful. All of these can be accessed by typing
\ at the beginning of a new line, or clicking the plus image:
There's also direct access to searching Unsplash
You can even have HTML Blocks:
Memberships + Newsletters
When visiting. your site, people can elect to sign up as a member. Site settings can allow for free memberships, paid memberships, or a combination thereof. By default, Ghost uses Stripe for payments, but with the Creator tier of Ghost Pro, other payment options can be used.
There can be tiers of membership or even specific types of membership or newsletters. Want to give members the option of opting into a gaming newsletter, you can create a separate newsletter or collection just for gaming stuff. Want to create a newsletter separate from your standard articles, maybe more of a weekly digest format? You do that as well, and provide an archive for members to look back at if desired.
By default, each article can be sent out to members as a newsletter. There are even blocks that can provide email exclusive content or calls to action. Alternately, something like the above mentioned weekly digest could be setup.
Additionally, articles can be set to members only, or even specific tiers of members much like a service like Patreon.
What type of site is Ghost best for?
Ghost is best for a site that will be updated on a regular basis. While the primary focus is written content, youtube videos can be added very easily, there are even themes that are focused on podcasts.
While ghost could be used for simpler sites that don't tyically get updated, this likely would not be taking advantage of what Ghost offers.
Sites like blogs, creator archives, news sites, newsletter focused sites, and any other sites where new posts are added on at least a somewhat regular baiss would be the best type of site for Ghost.
Who is Ghost best for?
When looking at the main page of ghost.org, the groups being focused are creators, publishers, and businesses. All three seem like the groups Ghost is the best fit for.
Ghost seems ideal for people that need to focus on content. The editor is clean, offers some nice built in options to add different types of content and saves fairly often while working, meaning if the computer or browser crashes, very little if any work should be lost.