Is Ghost the right choice?

Hey Ghosters, I was hoping to get some confirmation before jumping on the Ghost bandwagon.

Our agency took on a new project assuming Wordpress would be the right solution, but I’m not finding much support for “professional” publishers. I’m shocked…

Our task is to rebuild a leading hospitality industry website featuring news and editorial with about 75k subscribers, offering a membership community where they can customize their content choices and newsletter distribution.

Phase 2 would include a marketplace and paid premium content.

Can I please get some feedback if Ghost is THE clear choice or are there other solutions to consider?

Feedback is much appreciated. I’m a bit over my head on this project and would very much appreciate candid and unbiased advise.

Thanks in advance!


Are you seriously seeking an unbiased opinion about whether WordPress or Ghost is better, on the official Ghost forum? Haha! Well, if you look around, you’ll notice that many prominent companies actually prefer Ghost, but they use it just for the blog, not marketplaces or other more complex stuff. Ghost it’s much simpler compared to the already cluttered WordPress, because it doesn’t have plugins and just focused on few stuff.

Currently, I think Ghost offers everything you need to make any blogger successful, more or less. However, when it comes to professionals, I’m not entirely certain. Nevertheless, since the code is open source, you can always hire a professional to customize it according to your needs.

In terms of the marketplace, Ghost falls behind WordPress, which has numerous integrations like WooCommerce.

When it comes to paid premium content, Ghost is quite advanced compared to WordPress.

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Obviously, I’m a huge Ghost fan, but here’s some information that may help you.

Ghost supports multiple newsletters (which sounds like your need to customize newsletter distribution). There’s not a built-in way for a user to pick topics to receive in a combined newsletter, but you could run multiple newsletters each covering different topics and let users pick which one(s) to receive.

Ghost uses Mailgun for newsletters. There’s support for importing a mailing list into Ghost, but you’ll definitely want to talk to the Ghost Pro team (if you’re hosting there) before sending to your 75k mailing list. [A former client importing 10k new subscribers needed to reassure them that his addresses were double opt-in.] Newsletters are somewhat customizable, but not completely. You can’t rewrite the newsletter template unless you’re self hosting.

There’s no scheduled email drip for new users built in, but you can add a third party that does this. (Some users also use a third party bulk emailer for newsletter sending.)

Restricting web content (and/or newsletters) to registered users (members) or to paying members, or members on a specific paid plan is all possible with Ghost. Ghost uses Stripe subscriptions for this. Ghost does not natively support one-time payments for content, gift subscriptions, or individual article sales. Outpost has some of those, or you could ‘roll your own’. (ref: )

If by ‘marketplace’, you mean that users (not trusted staff users, but regular website visitors) can add content or listings and sell things, Ghost doesn’t support that natively. (You could certainly have a form that allows users to submit a new marketplace listing and use a human editor or write a cloud function to post that submitted content, but you’d need to sanitize submissions somehow.)

Ghost doesn’t really include an editorial workflow. You can have staff users who can create posts (which will be your main content type) but not publish them, but there’s not a full approval workflow. If you have a whole editorial team, they might want to track their editorial workflow elsewhere. (A small team could use tags to indicate a draft post’s workflow status (i.e. #needs-approval #needs-revision #ready-to-schedule). There’s not support for on-post commenting, although you could use something like for that.

One of the big spots that people are sometimes surprised about coming from Wordpress is that there’s no drag and drop page builder. Ghost is great for editing post content (with a primarily linear layout), but if your team is envisioning building more complex landing pages, there’s not a fully WYSIWYG way to do that currently. You can always include HTML, custom CSS, and Javascript, but the publishing team may not want to go there. You can partially mitigate against this by building templates they can customize.

Ghost lets website visitors/members (not staff) log in by way of a magic link. That’s the only built-in option. They enter their email address and then click the link that arrives in email. Once they click the link, they get a long-duration cookie. (They don’t have to do this for every visit!)

I hope that’s helpful! Post again if you want more input.

If you haven’t yet played with Ghost, I recommend signing up for the free trial and kicking the tires – hard – for two weeks. There’s a LOT to like in terms of blogging/news/newsletters.



That was a fantastic overview, @Cathy_Sarisky, thanks for writing such a detailed response. I found it very helpful!

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Hello Cathy, I really appreciate the amazing response here… so much to consider and you’ve done a fantastic job of helping make some sense of it all.

As you mentioned, it’s probably best I check out the trial and do some serious due diligence before making a decision.

Thanks again for your help and insights!


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Aww, thanks! :) Glad to help. Please post again if you have questions about specifics. I’ve seen new Ghost users get hung up on things that are easy (but perhaps non-obvious), so checking back here if you think a feature is missing is a good idea.

Hey Block, yeah… I thought I’d take a shot and both you and Cathy have really come through in flying colors!

This application would require much more than most bloggers…

I’m actually looking to replicate something similar to this:

I understand this is probably a totally custom build, so I’m looking for something that’s at least close or offers the ability to expand at some point.

Are you familiar with any publication on Ghost with similar characteristics?

Thanks for weighing in!


I don’t see anything on the front page of the site that you couldn’t build in Ghost right now. (Take a look at the Tripoli theme - it’s very similar in terms of layout and structure.)

Except events. No built-in events on Ghost. You’d need a third party integration or something sort of klunky. (Possible to build an all-Ghost solution, but maybe not ideal…)

And Ghost doesn’t track reads. So for ‘most read’ you could either replace that sidebar with posts with a special tag or marked to featured, or you could embed some analytics and periodically (small cloud function) update the tags on the most popular posts to cause them to show up there.

But yeah, you could get to 90% pretty quickly.

Yes, @Cathy_Sarisky is completely right. Most of the stuff on that website you can replicate quite easily with Ghost. If you want to try Ghost, you can also deploy a Ghost instance for free in around 2 minutes on, without any time limit. That’s where I do my testing!

Cathy, thank and will do…

However, it’s not so much the look of the site… it’s the ability to deliver a personalized experience to a subscriber who is interested in specific topics.

The hospitality industry is so diverse with operations, food and beverage and finance.

We have to be able to deliver that… everything else is a “nice to have”.

Here’s what you see once you log-in to

I would assume The Atlantic and those other large publications have this ability, right?

Thanks again!

Block, that’s encouraging… I just need to sort out the personalized content delivery aspect…

HospitalityNet is the leader in this space and that’s one of the reasons why.

Anything less than that would be a miss.

Ah. That wasn’t obvious without an account. :slight_smile:

Ghost doesn’t really have that built in. If I were going to build it (and I could!), I’d hijack the newsletter subscription functionality to store which topics users wanted on their homepage, but putting posts on the page would be a javascript-based solution to populate the custom homepage, because there’s no newsletter helper in handlebars.

I don’t know if the Atlantic has that functionality. I just looked at the NY Times (where I have a subscription), and I don’t see anything similar. Lots of newsletters and news alerts to sign up for, but no custom landing page.

Hey Cathy, sorry for the confusion…

Actually, I believe the personalization is just via the newsletter and not the actual website experience… but, I’m sure that’s coming for everyone soon, right?

Can you please tell me what you’re current situation is? Are you open to consulting or…?

Would love to explore this convo further, if you’re interested.

In any event, you’ve been a lifesaver!

Thank you, Cory

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No sign of that coming anytime soon, but if you’d like to vote for such a thing you can do so on the Idea topic I set up for exactly that.

Stromfeldt, I appreciate the input and all important things to consider.

Nice and helpful response, Cathy. Thank you.

Your second sentence caught my attention: “Ghost supports multiple newsletters.”

What’s the maximum? 10? 20? 1,000,000 newsletters? Does anyone know?

laughs I don’t know. Interesting question! Time to go find out! (Which is going to be pretty funny, since Ghost doesn’t support DELETING a newsletter currently…)

Ahha. Ghost Pro includes newsletter limits:

If you’re self-hosting, there’s probably not a limit, based on the fact that the Business version is unlimited, although I suspect there aren’t very many sites with thousands of newsletters, so it’s possible that huge numbers of newsletters are not well-tested…

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