I am a journalist looking at starting up a news site. I need something slick, professional, with good SEO and tools for monetisation. As far as I can tell Ghost is all of that, especially with the 3.0 release. However, I am not a coder, and while I’m happy to learn a few new things I will not have much time as that would take me away making my product - news.
I also need to minimise the amount I spend on tech support - but not to the point of being counterproductive. I understand some investment is required.
Ghost says on its site:
The entire platform can be modified and customised to suit your needs. It’s very powerful, but does require some knowledge of code. Ghost is not necessarily a good platform for beginners or people who just want a simple personal blog.
Is Ghost the wrong choice?
Should I use WordPress where there is a lot more material out there explaining how to do things for non-tech people like myself?
Your thoughts would would be much appreciated. I know if I get the choice of platform wrong I will suffer!
Hi Pete, the answer to this is actually fairly straightforward. If you’re happy to use Ghost the way it works by default, then it requires absolutely no code knowledge at all, and can be setup and working within 15 minutes – it’s no more difficult than setting up a Medium account.
If you decide you want to change, adapt or customise how everything looks and works to be different from the default, well then (no matter what platform you use) things start to get more complex.
Candidly, the new monetisation tools are actively in beta - and are not yet as easy and simple to use as they will be in future. Some technical skill is required to configure a paid publication for the first release of our members and subscriptions functionality - but we’re actively improving and refining it daily.
The best place to start if you don’t want to touch any code is with a free 14 day trial of Ghost(Pro) - which will set you up with a new site, and take care of all the maintenance and updates for you automatically. From there you can figure out whether it fits your needs or not
I am moderately technical but in a systems administrator way, not an HTML/theme way. I’m also a writer and prefer spending my time on content and writing. I started with WordPress years ago, and even though some might say it is “easier” to customize, I found myself spending more time futzing with themes, plugins, and other adjustments that really mattered to me, but were completely unnoticed by my readers. I know I spent more time and money with WordPress, particularly with plugins, many of which come natively with Ghost. When I moved to Ghost(pro) last year, I wrote a bit about my journey and costs - with 3.0 things have gotten even better, especially with the WordPress importer.
I did learn some basics about customizing the Casper theme and have been very happy with that result. The new Deploy from Github feature is awesome, although that does require a bit more technical knowledge. Combining that with some basic modifications to Casper, plus Code Injection has given me exactly what I want, and I don’t muck with it too much anymore.
While having your own look and feel are very important to your brand, readers don’t tend to be as focused or picky on things like fonts, layouts, colors, and the like, which as content/site owners, we can often get distracted by. They care about quality content delivered on a regular schedule.
I think Ghost has helped me focus far more on those exact areas, and with the 3.0 Members stuff, is a perfect platform for the next step when I’m ready to take it.
John and Steve,
Thanks for your feedback - really useful.
Steve, the benefit of not having a fleet off add-ins to worry about that you mentioned on your linked blog post really resonated. IT support is not my core skill. Overall Ghost sounded right for me except for the inability to do custom page layouts without HTML. However, that’s not something I would need at the start.
John, yes I’ll try the free trial once I’ve developed my plan a bit more. I’m not worried about memberships being in beta for a while as I intend going free first to build numbers and ask for money later.
I’ve been down this dreadful road.
Continuously tossing up between different CMS’s and always got hung up on the technicalities of what themes, plugins, servers to use and got absolutely no where. I gave up on numerous content related projects because I wasn’t satisfied with a damm theme/platform.
Then I realised.
The viewer doesn’t care about fancy stuff. They just want good/useful content in a simple to read layout.
And that’s why Ghost is the perfect choice to get started, you can solely focus on making engaging content. All the tools you NEED (not want) are baked in by default.
Once you start growing your publication, then you can start looking at customizing the theme etc. (I think Casper 3.0 is all you need.)
It’s good to have a loose/open plan on how to monetize, but not implement it until you something valuable to offer.
My 2 cents.
Thanks for asking this, Pete. I’ve been wondering the same thing lately so the responses have been helpful. It’s past time to move away from Wordpress.
I’ve used Squarespace, Webflow and Duda and while they’re all great in their own right, I’m just ready for an easier life where all I have to do is focus on my writing and sharing.
I came across Ghost a few weeks ago and have battled the “do I” or “do I not” but ultimately, the ease and simplicity, and the fact that it just works has such a great appeal to me right now. The peace of mind that Ghost provides is enough. So I’m staying put for a while and going to use the new membership option to my advantage.
I’m just about there with the decison to go with Ghost. I don’t want to spend long fiddling with the site but I am concerned that if I need a small change it will be more of a hassle with Ghost, whereas with Wordpress there would probably be a plug in to sort it out.
In my case the issue I’ll need to address is the lack on LinkedIn functionality, as that is important for my target audience.
Thanks for all your comments - thay have been really helpful.
I’ve looked at a few - one of the things I worry about is security - Wordpress is always being broken into.
I started using Ghost myself and loved it, and now I have my Luddite Grandma blogging using Ghost.
Out of the box it is beautiful, and making small tweaks is easy because under the hood, it is very very well designed.
Go for Ghost - you won’t regret it.