What do you know about Ghost now that you wish you knew when you started?

Hey fellow Ghost users!

I’m new to Ghost since the company I work for is currently migrating over from Wordpress (which we plan on sunsetting at the end of March) and I’m really enjoying it over here so far.

With Wordpress, I found that by the end of my time there I discovered a bunch of hacks, tips and tricks that really sped things up, and I’m assuming it’d be the same over here on Ghost, so that brings me to my question:

What do you know now about Ghost, that you wish you knew when you first started? Anything you can pass on to help someone new like me?

Thanks in advance!

Best regards,
Tommy

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I am also very interested in watching this thread. Same situation with me. Wordpress migration to Ghost in the new year. My free trial runs out today and have been uber impressed with Ghost so far.

I could probably write a book, or at least an article, on this topic. But, for the sake of others :wink:, I’ll just bullet-list it.

:x: The lack of some expected functionality, especially compared to the base install of Wordpress. I just assumed there would be a way to sort, bulk edit, bulk tag, and so on.

:x: The lack of some expected functionality in the editor.

:x: The need to really dig into the theme files, HTML, and CSS, if you want to do something different than what the theme provides. Can be tough for a newbie.

:white_check_mark: Overall speed. With Wordpress, one is tempted to add plugin after plugin, which can create a bloated, slow-loading site. Without any tuning at all, Ghost out of the box is much faster. I suspect if I had access to the backend (which I don’t), I could get the speed scores up even further with some backend tuning.

:white_check_mark: Snippets. Yes, you can get these in WP with some third-party tools, but they are included in Ghost from the get-go. If you are good at doing some coding, you can build yourself an entire library of snippets to greatly reduce production time. In fact, I have some snippets that are entire web pages, which I use for posts series.

:white_check_mark: Costs. A great example of a two-edged sword: since Ghost doesn’t really have a plug-in infrastructure, there are things you did in WP that you can’t really do in Ghost. But, at the same time, you don’t have the costs associated with plugins. My base cost dropped quite a bit when I moved to Ghost.

:white_check_mark: Membership, tiers, and newsletters built in. This is a big deal. You get capabilities that with WP you have to buy separately – and, they are integrated right into the site. Frankly, the self-service member portal, with the option to opt in or out of individual newsletters, was one of the main reasons I switched.

Okay, there’s a few things. I’m glad to expand on any if needed.

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Wow, thanks for the great reply Bruce! It’s funny you should reply, I’ve actually been following some of your posts regarding metered paywalls which I’m going to try and implement at some point.

Would you mind elaborating a little on what you mean with Snippets? So far I only see them as a saved ‘copy and paste’ tool, how can I get more out them?

Thanks in advance!

Tommy

I use snippets to capture custom content that I plan on using multiple times, so I don’t have to recreate them each time. They range from custom HTML blocks that contain both text and formatting, to large blocks that serve as templates with headings, standard text, and placeholders.

Here’s an example. Ghost doesn’t have a built-in way to float images, so I built a snippet that I use to do this. It’s basically a template, with parts I have to fill in.

<section>
<figure style="float: right; width: 40%; margin-left: 0; margin-right: 15px;">
<img src="https://forwardky.com/content/images/2021/10/DrBrianClardy-1.jpg"   alt="Dr. Clardy" />
<figcaption style="text-align: center";>Dr. Brian Clardy</figcaption></figure>
<p>Some text here.</p>
</section>
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Similarly, I use snippets as templates for citations, CC license requirements, and previous / next buttons where a post is part of a series.

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Members don’t have traditional passwords

When visitors subscribe to become members, Ghost doesn’t store passwords for them. In order for a member to login, they enter their email address, Ghost emails them a magic link, and they’re authenticated after they click the link. Having switched from WordPress to Ghost as well, I didn’t realize this until much later.

Only members can comment

With regard to comments, and this is by design, only members (i.e. people with an account) can leave comments. Because of this, migrating comments isn’t straightforward, because you would essentially need to create an account for each commenter. I didn’t do this, because it didn’t feel right to create accounts for people without their consent.

I mention this, because in WordPress, leaving a comment and having an account are two different things.

Along those lines, far fewer people comment now, because most don’t want to sign up to become a member just to leave a comment, but this was expected, because I’m like this myself.

No media management

The one thing I do miss is some kind of media management. For example, when I upload featured images or add an image gallery to a blog post, there isn’t a way to see everything I uploaded. And when you remove uploaded images from a post, I think they stay on the server. I always connect to the server and remove them manually.

Overall

I love the publishing experience in Ghost. I’ve used WordPress personally and professionally for over 10 years (and still do), but I appreciate the simplicity of the Ghost interface. You get many features for free (newsletter, subscriptions), you’re nudged to focus on writing vs. spending time creating layouts, and themes are interchangeable (whereas in WordPress, many themes have fine-tuned settings that don’t carry over from theme to theme).

The best way to experience Ghost coming from WordPress is to avoid trying to recreate WordPress functionality in Ghost, but rather ask yourself: how can I simplify?

For example, in WordPress you have categories and tags, but in Ghost you only have tags. Simplify.

In WordPress you can build many complex menus, but in official Ghost themes, the menus are lean and limited to a primary and secondary navigation. Simplify.

Now, I’m only talking about out-of-the-box Ghost features. I’m sure with custom development it would be possible to extend Ghost to do more, but I’ve used this opportunity to keep things simple. In fact, that was a big driving factor for switching.

Hope this helps!

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This is all great, thanks so much for your brilliant answer Ryan!