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Ghost

Ghost Pro

Ghost is a relatively simple, open source Content Management System (CMS) from Singapore-based non-profit Ghost Foundation, which also offers the "Ghost Pro" fully managed service.

  • The platform's primary benefit lies in free and/or inexpensive newsletter publishing with subscription management; think of it as a potentially superior alternative to Substack
  • As a more general-purpose CMS, Ghost Pro is best suited for micro-independent news organizations with little or no technical resources that want to quickly deploy an inexpensive and very out-of-the-box platform with simple configuration offerings
  • Some of the named customers include The Stanford Review, The Atlantic, Madison Minutes, The Browser, and Harvard International Review (all U.S. based)

Likely fit

Ghost is suitable for very small editorial teams — especially those that lack technical resources and where the business model focuses on memberships and newsletter subscriptions — that would benefit from an unusually low platform total cost of ownership. The platform would likely prove a poor fit for more complex websites or those that require customizations or heavy integrations. Finally, since each website is a freestanding Ghost Pro instance, it may not work well for multi-site publishers that want to manage multiple titles from a single interface.

At a glance

Primary Customer Fit

Micro-Independent News Organization

Secondary Fit

Small Independent News Organization

Most Active Geographies

North America

Official Support Hours

Email: 9am (GMT) to 6pm (EST)

Officially Supported Languages for User Interface

EN

Third-party Language Support Available?

Yes

License Model

$9 - $199 per month, depending on number of users, support levels, and usage limits. For example, $9 per month allows a single user deploying official themes. $199 per month supports unlimited users, priority support, and better uptime agreements.

Scope Summary

Publishing platform focused on small independent publishers and newsletters with capabilities for subscription management

Tech Base

Based on Node.js with a JSON API

Cloud Model

Managed Service (PaaS)

Headquarters

Foundation is based in Singapore

Head Count

35

What customers report

  • Publisher-friendly for simpler use cases (think newsletters, but also blogs/podcasts)
  • Focused on newsletter publishing; doesn't charge a share in revenue unlike some others
  • Comparatively inexpensive for what you get
  • Customer service gets good reviews
  • Membership lies at the core, and subscription management features are handy
  • Has built-up a strong and supportive customer community
  • Lacks useful features such as referral capabilities or basic reporting
  • No way to personalize newsletters for different types of subscribers
  • Lacks any approval workflows, even basic ones
  • Focused on English-speaking journalists; you can publish content in other languages, but the templates and admin interface are English-only (past history in the CMS market suggests this could prove difficult to redress anytime soon)

Background

  • Ghost was founded in 2013 with a sole focus on professional publishing. Ghost Foundation, the non-profit that runs Ghost, is a virtual company, technically headquartered in Singapore. The Foundation has 35 employees (including 19 developers) spread across all continents.
  • Ghost the platform is open source and available for free if you install and self-host it on your own servers. Alternatively, you can obtain hosted Ghost installations from one of several hosting providers. However, most media firms would opt for Ghost Pro, a fee-based platform-as-a-service from the Ghost Foundation, currently with about 18K active licensees. Ghost Pro also includes access to the Foundation's support team, as well as a concierge program that helps you migrate your old content and membership lists for free.
  • Unlike most legacy CMS platforms, the concept of "membership" lies at the core of platform, with publishing capabilities for a website and newsletters centered around memberships and subscriptions. Unlike some other competitors (e.g., Substack), Ghost doesn't take a cut of revenue. The Ghost platform sees regular updates, most recently some new capabilities around audience feedback for newsletters, membership attribution analytics, newsletter click analytics, and an ability to update links in newsletters after they've been sent.
  • Each Ghost site or newsletter is a separate instance (aka, installation), with only trivial capabilities to manage content or capabilities uniformly across multiple titles. So while Ghost could potentially stretch from micro-publishers to meet the needs of small single-title firms, it would not prove suitable for multi-title news organizations of any size.
  • It seems that most licensees just use the platform as-is, without recourse to technical resources for advanced customization and integration. Note that the Ghost Foundation doesn't have a big services team, so if you do need help customizing or extending the platform, you'll likely want to turn to an outside consultant. Ghost maintains a directory of such experts. You can also find a marketplace of Ghost themes and a directory of supported integrations. In addition, you can find good documentation as well as community forums.

Package scope (as reported by vendor)

Core platform - i.e., bundled in product (yes/no/beta) Add-On (yes/custom/3rd party)
Content lifecycle: author / classify / edit / approve / publish / re-purpose / archive / dispose
Basic digital / voice / media asset management
Support print publishing
아니요
Simple social media re-publishing
Optional modules: forms / polls / social widgets / etc
Connector library (OOTB connectors, APIs, etc.)
Bundled CDN (with DDOS protection)
User registration
Subscription management and fulfillment - digital
구독 또는 멤버십
아니요
맞춤설정
Ad management - digital
Ad management - print
아니요
콘텐츠 관리
아니요
조사
콘텐츠 관리
Video management / OVP
Audio management / podcasting
데이터 저널리즘 및 시각화
Classifieds
Commenting / community features/
Newsletter production and management
Notifications and alerts
A/B testing
SEO
Multi-title management with variable inheritance
Complex layout and subsite / subsection cloning
AR- / VR- enhanced services
잠재고객 분류
Online user / partner forums
Regular user group meetings
아니요
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