Why pay for my own instance?

I’m a little confused by what I’m seeing in the Docs. Unless I’m misreading, it suggests I’ll need to pay ghost for my own self hosted instance. Shouldn’t I just be able to setup my own server on Amazon or GCP and use this as is?

For context I have a newsletter with 10k subscribers but don’t intend to monetize it. I’d like to get off substack but the monthly cost for ghost is quite high for me for a newsletter that is free.

This is not correct. Ghost is open source software. You can download a copy and install it wherever you like.

The team that makes Ghost is also part of Ghost Foundation, which offers Ghost Pro (sites with domains .ghost.io), which is a paid hosting product. That’s probably where the confusion is coming from.

So, you can pay the team that creates Ghost (the open source software) to provide managed hosting. Or you can pay someone else to host the Ghost software for you. Or you can download a copy of the Ghost software and install it wherever you like, paying whatever it costs to keep that server online.

For newsletters, be aware that Ghost is pretty tightly integrated with Mailgun. If you want your newsletters to go out through your own SMTP server (which is quire possibly a bad idea, but that’s not what you asked), you’d need to make changes to the core software. You’re allowed to do that (it’s open source!), but it won’t be a trivial change.

How much does Mailgun cost? $35/month for 50k emails on their foundation plan looks about right, if you’re going to send one newsletter per week.

A Ghost plan for 10k members looks like it’s $99/month, for unlimited newsletter sending (to those 10k people). If you do a daily newsletter instead of weekly, Ghost Pro’s pricing is possibly better than Mailgun’s.

(Smaller newsletter senders: You probably want the pay as you go plan instead. On their not-really-advertised “pay as you go” plan, you get 1000 messages per month free and then $1/thousand messages. (https://help.mailgun.com/hc/en-us/articles/360048661093-How-does-PAYG-billing-work-) )

Before you decide to self host, make sure you’ve got the technical expertise to do it, or the willingness to learn. If you end up paying someone to help with server administration for a couple hours, you’ll quickly use up any savings gained by self hosting. This forum does lots of community support for self hosters, and we’ll try to help you if you get stuck, but if you’re going to need a LOT of help, you might be happier paying for managed hosting. It’s a question of trading time (yours to set up and administer the self-hosting) vs money (paying someone else to do it).

1 Like

This is super helpful, thank you for clarifying!

I’d really rather not self host and setup my own SMTP server. I can figure out the technical aspect but wouldn’t be able to devote the time to keep it running.

This newsletter goes out every 2-3 months so it’s difficult to justify paying so much monthly, especially since it collects zero subscriber revenue. If you have any recommendations for such a scenario I’d really welcome it. Ghost looks awesome, just too pricey for me right now.

Yeah, I hear you. Ghost.org’s pricing per member works really well for frequent newsletter senders and folks who are monetized, but less well for low-activity folks.

There are other hosting options that price things differently. I’ve also seen folks choose to run Ghost for the web presence/blog but keep their newsletter sending and subscriber database somewhere else.

Hey Alan!

There are some other Ghost hosting providers that might be fitting for your case, as Cathy mentioned. Disclaimer, I run one of them (Magic Pages), but always try to be as unbiased as possible here in this forum.

If you have around 10,000 subscribers Midnight or Magic Pages might be the ones that could work for you. The others (recently summarised them here) might be a bit too limiting in terms of the emails they include.

Midnight has a plan for $21 per month that includes 12,000 emails every month. That could be a good number of emails for your newsletter, since the number of members/subscribers isn’t limited: Pricing - Managed Ghost blog hosting - getMidnight.com

At Magic Pages I am currently re-working the pricing structure. With the new monthly prices, you could get 10,000 emails for $12/month ($5 for additional 10,000 emails). Same as Midnight, there is no limit on the number of subscribers: Monthly and Yearly Plans In Addition To Lifetime Offer

Gloat (@dan is running that) is offering 20,000 emails/month for $19/month, again with no limit on the number of subscribers: https://gloathost.com/


I’m in the process of moving a similar-sounding newsletter (000’s of subscribers, no real revenue) to Ghost. Midnight Pages and DigitalPress responded quickly to a pre-sales technical enquiry … @jannis within an hour or so :smiley:. Midnight took a day or two and I never heard from Gloat, despite trying a second time.

1 Like