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By the end of this post, I hope I will have convinced you to choose Ghost (Pro) for your blog.
Since I am using Ghost (Pro) it is only fitting that my first post be a review of the product. Also it makes it easy to choose the topic for the first post I want to write about!
I’m a fairly technical guy & I have always made the whole website myself. I thought making everything by myself was the best way forward, thereby never using any libraries or templates that would prevent me from reinventing the cycle.
That changed however after making several websites. Several tech changes, countless bugs later, I am done with the manual process.
After assessing several blogging platforms, & weighing them with several criteria, I have chosen Ghost (Pro) to be my partner in crime.
Ghost website has an extensive collection of comparison with alternatives. See Ghost Alternatives page for more.
1. Ghost vs React, Angular or Vue JS
There are several reasons Ghost easily wins out this comparison:
- Single Page Apps are Development, Maintenance & Update nightmare!
- Tech changes constantly, so next time you open your code base, code would have rotten!
- Content update would be a hassle, unless you use Ghost as a Headless CMS.
- You need to handle Security, SEO, Speed all by yourself.
- You have to take care of Auth.
- You have to do everything listed on Ghost's features, that too manually.
- You'll certainly be out of budget, if you decide to outsource the development and potentially end up inheriting a mess.
- You'll encounter Dependency hell that is inherent with NPM.
2. Ghost vs Static Site Generators like Hugo, Gatsby
Static Site Generator together with Headless CMS make one master of Jamstack, a modern approach to building secure websites.
But after my little foray into using several Static Site Generators, here's how they pale in comparison to a full fledged solution like Ghost (Pro):
- Every new change you make, requires a build to happen, as pages are generated in a compile stage. So additional tooling like Netlify is required.
- Every change takes time, even if you use a fast builder like Hugo, unlike Ghost where changes are instantaneous.
- Doesn't come bundled with a CMS, so you definitely need something like Ghost CMS, Netlify CMS, or pay some more for a solution
- Themes are not that great. After going through the whole catalogue of themes, present in Get Hugo Themes, Hugo Themes Free, Hugo Themes, Gatsby JS Starters, Hexo Themes, I can say for certain that Ghost Marketplace has some of the best Themes on offer from a great community.
- Modifying anything and doing anything more than the theme with Hugo or Gatsby is a lot more involved process.
3. Ghost vs Medium, Tumblr, LinkedIn
Sites like Medium, Dev.to, Write.as or micro-blogging site like Tumblr have low barrier to entry, and may feel like the best choice for non technical people.
But I would like you to reconsider, because of several issues they posses:
- You don't own your content.
- Site policy can change overnight.
- Your account can be blocked.
- Lower potential for earning.
- You can't have fans of your own, as you don't have any user access.
- Restrictive theming capability.
- Pay-walled content.
For a detailed argument against Tumblr, read the official versus post by Ghost: Ghost VS Tumblr.
& For a detailed argument against Medium, checkout post by Ghost team: Ghost VS Medium.
4. Ghost vs WordPress, Wix, Joomla
Those are ghost of the past. (Pun intended)
- Those are slow as heck.
- WordPress is one complex software.
- Securing the site yourself, can be a nightmare.
- Plugins slow down the site and can introduce vulnerability too.
- You have to pay for each feature you integrate.
- Old way of hosting your site means, you have to get your hands dirty. Of course managed hosting is a thing, but other demerits still linger.
- Basically it's boomer tech, something that didn't age well though!
For a detailed argument against WordPress, read what team behind Ghost have to say: Ghost vs WordPress.
5. Ghost vs SquareSpace, Blogger
Ask yourself, are you really in charge when you choose these?
- Old tech, limited customisation.
- Limited theme & designs for blogger.
- SquareSpace is pricey.
- Not open source.
- With blogger, your data is owned by Google.
- Newsletter isn't even offered, which is core to the blogging experience!
Read a post by Ghost team, which plainly mentions why Ghost is way better: Ghost vs Squarespace.
Enough with the comparisons, next comes the fun part.
All the features of Ghost that make it worthwhile for every blogger!
See: Ghost Features Page or Exhaustive Feature Index for all of them.
6. Eye Popping Themes
Themes for Ghost are some of the best ones I ever encountered. The community behind theme development is great. It's mind boggling how premium the themes feel compared to a free alternative or any other platform.
Some of the theme developer behind Ghost, do build themes for other platforms, but some like Fueko build exclusively for Ghost, which says something about the platform I'm rambling about!
Some of my favourite themes from the Ghost Marketplace are:
- Newsportal by ElectronThemes. (It's the theme I'm using for this blog!)
- Okiro by Fueko.
You can find the full listing either in the Marketplace, or Themeforest!
The response time from theme creators is also commendable. For instance:
- Fueko stated that they can go above and beyond to implement any feature request made by a premium customer.
7. Elaborate Tutorials & Documentation
Tutorials made by the Ghost team, and so are the Documentation accompanying the site.
I wanted to add Table of Content and Google News Sitemap. I coveted those, in the theme I chose, but they were missing.
So I looked around and found aptly named tutorials on those (which shows how feature rich Ghost really is):
And here we are, both TOC & Sitemap integrated into the site. You can see the sitemap here & the table of contents in non AMP view of the site if you go to the top.
8. Built-in SEO
If you have implemented SEO all by yourself, you'll know the huge headache that it is!
From Sitemaps, Robots.txt, to Rich Social Cards, to Google AMP, Ghost has it all. It is simplified to the point where, you won't even know it is happening under the hood!
I don't know what else to say that would further prove how much of a lifesaver Ghost (Pro) is!
See: Exhaustive Feature Index.
9. Powerful yet Simple Editor
The content management system is just spot on. You can start as draft, publish your posts on a schedule, or immediately release your post to the wild.
Everything is user friendly. Be it adding primary or secondary links on your sites, tags, pages, or posts!
Every feature you can dream of, it's there. Member management, staff management, import / export of data, heck even dark mode is there.
Code Injection can be done on header and footer site wide or per page basis! Imagine how easy it gets to add any external library. You don't have to fire up the VSCode anymore for a minor change.
It's fast too, I was able to easily add in 5,000 words for an article as a test, and the editor didn't even sweat.
Editor works smoothly on desktops, mobile, even on the iPad Pro (With some minor issues).
There's alternatives to the official Editor, of course, you can easily integrate iA Writer, Ulysses, etc. See all the Integrations for yourself.
See: Ghost Editor.
Never knew it was this easy. I didn't even have to lift a finger to make this happen!
Try adding "/amp" to the end of any post you see on this site and you can see the AMP view of the post. (I have customised the AMP view of my site to match the main theme!)
Google will treat your site with some love, once it sees amp pages!
See: AMP Integration.
11. Open Source & Non-Profit
Which means, no transaction fees on any earnings. You keep what you earn!
Any recurring payment we do, goes towards the development of Ghost.
And further development of Ghost, means more features for you and me!
See: About Ghost.
12. Email Authentication
Oh the horror that is Authentication! Securely collecting and storing passwords. OAuth, SSO, Mobile Auth!
Of Course there's free services like Firebase Auth, but it doesn't even come close to the Ghost Auth's simplicity.
Ghost (Pro) comes with email authentication & advantages of using Email Auth are:
- Low friction sign-up and sign-in.
- Lower risk of password reuse across applications, which can undermine security of even well-selected passwords.
- The ability to authenticate a user while also verifying that the user is the legitimate owner of an email address.
- A user only needs an accessible email account to sign in. No ownership of a phone number or social media account is required.
- A user can sign in securely without the need to provide (or remember) a password, which can be cumbersome on a mobile device.
See: Exhaustive Feature Index.
Ghost (Pro) comes with Newsletter as part of the offering.
Else you would have to rely on an external service. One more expenditure averted and one less thing to work on.
While publishing a new post, you can even choose to send newsletter to members or paid members.
You can add custom content to your post that will only show up in the newsletter, and not on the website.
Thank you note to your subscriber or a secret download link for consumer delight, is absolutely possible.
See: Send Newsletter.
This is honestly the biggest reason to pick this up.
No annoying ads, just you your content and your fans, that's the vision Ghost (Pro) is aiming for.
Users mostly use adblock anyways, plus you have to beg them to disable the ads, by showing an annoying pop up, that is likely to piss off readers.
Instead you just post some premium content for free, some in exchange for membership, and some more in exchange for money.
Of course, that doesn't stop you from adding Ads later on, but still Membership might be more reliable form of income, provided content is regular and top notch.
See: Member Setup.
15. Subscription with Stripe
Seamless payment with Stripe, which also supports Apple Pay, so Apple users can have a hassle free experience.
- No hassle remembering or securing customer card info.
- Plus it's much better than Paypal!
- Customising the payment page is a breeze on Stripe.
- It just works, you don't have to fumble with it yourself!
See: Stripe Integration.
16. Countless Integrations
The amount of tech that can be integrated with Ghost is immeasurable.
iFrames, inline Html, Twitter, Instagram posts, anything and everything works.
Top it up with Zapier integrations and you are golden. Sky's the limit when it comes to automation overlord like Zapier.
You can send email when a member subscribes, automatically post to Social Networks.
See: Exhaustive Feature Index.
17. Blazing Fast
Changes take literally milliseconds.
One refresh, and you can see the updated site with the changes you made.
Things that make it fast:
- The site uses Brotli compression, which is superior to gzip. So files are smaller and arrive to you faster.
- HTTP/2 protocol is used, so content arrive with less overhead than HTTP/1, it's a great speed boost.
- Disk Caching is aptly utilised.
- Super optimised themes, which even mention performance metrics on their page.
- Architecture makes the difference as well. That however, is a topic for another day!
See: Exhaustive Feature Index.
18. Ghost's approach to Blogs
Ghost has well thought out & well curated list of features that makes it just right for blogging:
- Search functionality, a must have.
- Public & Private Tags.
- Multi Author.
- Prev/Next post navigation.
- Related post suggestions.
- Comment integration.
- Social share.
- Featuring posts.
See: Exhaustive Feature Index.
19. Ghost Pro
Spend less time on your server, more time on your site.
Ghost (Pro) is a fully managed, no nonsense service by the team behind Ghost.
In the beginning of this post, I did mention my trials & tribulations doing everything from scratch.
And blogging shouldn't be about behind the scenes, rather the writing of content, & marketing. Instead of spending 80% of the time on the back-end, a blogger should be able to spend 40% of their time on writing, & 60% of their time on promoting that content.
If you can implement all the feature mentioned above, then by all means do so.
Else, this is the way to hassle free blogging.
This diagram, taken from the Pricing page, says everything you need to know about how Ghost (Pro) simplifies life of a blogger!
This is the only post you should have to read to come to a conclusion that Ghost (Pro) wins out in all dimensions and in parallel universes too. (If those exist)
If I couldn't convince you yet, checkout the Changelog for all the features in a reverse chronological order.
What do you think?
If I missed something, let me know in the comments down below. And maybe subscribe!
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