So many self-publishing platforms to choose from. Medium, WordPress, Substack. And Ghost. I choose Ghost and started writing things on the web five years ago.

Key reasons why I choose Ghost

  • Fast & Modern - built on Node.js it is ridiculously fast. 98% page speed score is great for both search engines and visitors.
  • Additional functionality is enabled with integrations over API replacing the security nightmare of plug-ins with Wordpress and similar.
  • Industrial grade SEO - XML sitemaps, keywords, Open Graph, social media cards, ALT-tags, metadata. Search engines and social media platforms play really nice with Ghost, this drives more traffic.
  • Community. Built-in support for membership, paying subscribers and email lists. Integrations to maintain a sales funnel are available.
  • Author friendly. Clean and smooth experience when creating content. Text, images, links, media. Then preview, publish & e-mail. Zero frustrations.  
  • Mobile-first. All templates are responsive and Ghost is built from the ground-up to play nice on mobile - all content displays beautifully on mobile, desktop and tablet.
Google PageSpeed Report

Growing up with words and photographs

Growing up pre-Internet I had a pen pal in Ghana. I found addresses in comic magazines and wrote them a letter in a thin airmail envelope, three weeks later a letter from Ghana appeared in the mail.  Checked the world globe; where is Ghana? What is Africa? How do you get there?

Today a message travels to Accra in Ghana in 133 milliseconds.  Things have changed. What was initially an idea of sharing knowledge freely in the academic world (Funded by the DARPA agency, I know, but anyway...) has been commercialized with Surveillance capitalism. Not ideal.

Ghost has a unique business model

The idea of a platform (Substack, Medium, LinkedIn..) providing an audience is tempting, but the Internet operates according to The Long Tail. It's a very steep drop, platforms love to brag about the revenues of the 2%, not the 98%.

The odds of my writing becoming the top 2% is..  not great. Possible yes, but not great. I use Ghosts SEO features combined with social media and let an audience find me.

Illustration by Professor Jeffrey A Hart - Indiana University

The legal entity behind Ghost is a non-profit foundation in Singapore. The developers are distributed globally, there is no office.

Our legal constitution ensures that the company can never be bought or sold, and one hundred percent of our revenue is reinvested into the product and the community.

Make your readers stronger, smarter and the world a little bit better. To show someone a way - the way you wish you had known about. Build a community and share your knowledge on muffins, Ukraine, greyhounds, asynchronous requests or personal wealth creation.

Instead of handing over your readers desires and dreams to targeted advertising you can share your work and ask for an honest exchange of value from your readers, of which you can keep 100%.

To me, publishing with Ghost is aligned with the foundation of the Internet - a global network of ideas. This is where Ghost is fundamentally different.

Daily use

Ghost is also a joy to use on a daily basis. I can immerse myself adding media, links, images, audio, video, headers, tweets & music without getting frustrated or distracted. Here's a video of some basic editing..

Preview of posts on desktop, mobile, Twitter, Facebook, Google and for e-mail subscribers before hitting the publish button is built-in.

Memberships and Stripe payments

Ghost integrates with Stripe for payments when you have paying subscribers. Posts to members are sent using Mailgun, subscriber and member management are on three levels - public, members and paid-member.

Ghost access levels - public, member, paid member. 

Responsive themes

The look-and-feel is managed by responsive themes using the Handlebars templating engine. Have a look at some commercial and free themes on ThemeForest, Bironthemes and the official Ghost Themes

The nice thing about Handlebars for a geek like myself is the ability to make adjustments and tweaking a theme without breaking things.

Handlebar tags for Ghost Templates

Analytics and integration

Get Plausible. I wrote a post on this privacy-first analytics platform replacing Google Analytics. Open Source, No cookies, no GDPR-banner and no surveillance capitalism.

Privacy-first analytics using Plausible
Google Analytics is total overkill for most website owners. More importantly data is processed outside of the European Union. Austria, France, Denmark and Italy has ruled GA illegal - it breaks GDPR - more countries will follow. Plausible in comparison is an open-source privacy-by-design web analy…

Getting started with Ghost

If you're more of a humanist use the official hosted version  Ghost Pro - everything messy taken care of for $25 / month. Compare Ghost to other platforms here.

Anyone comfortable with SSH sessions and a text-based console can get up and running self-hosting Ghost on Digital Ocean, Amazon or Google Cloud with a single click.

Five years after the launch of Ghost 1.0 there are also integrations available for just about anything - automation, collaboration, podcasts, analytics...

I get a commission if you sign up for a Ghost Pro account from this post. Thank you, appreciate it.

Have fun!