Before subscribing to a Ghost hosting service, you might want to run Ghost on a local machine first to try the experience of blogging with Ghost. You can install Ghost in Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Features to Consider when Choosing a Ghost Hosting Service
Despite its minimalist concept, Ghost is designed to be a professional blogging tool. When blogging with Ghost, you are encouraged to apply a membership business model to monetize your blog although you can also apply other monetization models. To make it easier for you to apply a membership business model, Ghost has included a membership feature as its built-in feature. On top of that, Ghost has native integration with Stripe for payment processing (you can also integrate your Ghost blog with PayPal).
With the Ghost membership feature, you can effortlessly publish exclusive content to members, be it as a blog post or newsletter.
The newsletter feature of Ghost uses the service from Mailgun to deliver the emails. That being said — unless you don’t need the newsletter feature — you need to make sure that email delivery has been included as a default feature before you subscribe to a certain hosting plan. Most Ghost hosting services have included email delivery (Mailgun integration) as one of the default features, but it might not be available on all plans. So, read the features included on plan you want to subscribe to carefully before you subscribe.
If the plan says something like “20,000 newsletter emails per month”, this means that email delivery feature has been included on the plan.
Here are some key features you need to notice:
- Email delivery (Mailgun integration)
- Number of subscribers (members)
- Number of monthly visitors
- Ability to install custom Ghost themes
- Number of integrations
- Media storage
Best Managed Ghost Hosting Services
Ghost.org is the main website to find any information about Ghost. It is the official website of the CMS. On this website, you can learn the development stage of Ghost, find the source code, find a Ghost expert, and so on. In addition, Ghost.org also offers a managed hosting solution to run a Ghost blog.
The way Ghost.org works is pretty similar to WordPress.com whereby you can register a blog under a sub-domain (e.g., yourblog.ghost.io) with an option to set up a custom domain. The difference is that Ghost.org doesn’t offer a free version. Also, Ghost.org doesn’t offer a domain registration service. So, you need to prepare your domain name in advance before registering your blog. Ghost.org offers four plans you can choose from: Starter, Creator, Team, and Business.
The Starter plan (the cheapest plan) costs $11 per month. This plan doesn’t allow you to install custom Ghost themes (themes developed by third-party developers). You need to subscribe to the Creator plan (or higher) if you want to install a custom theme. The hosting features offered by Ghost.org include email delivery, SSL, and CDN.
So far, the easiest way to create a Ghost blog is by registering an account on Ghost.org. But if you find the hosting plans offered by Ghost.org don’t suit your needs, there are some alternatives you can consider. Gloat is one of which.
Gloat is a managed Ghost hosting service that offers a simple pricing plan. The fact is that it offers only a single pricing plan, which costs $19 per month (or $189 for yearly payment cycle). Gloat has included all the necessary features to run a Ghost blog, email delivery (limited to 20,000 emails per month), SSL, and content backup. Unfortunately, it offers no CDN.
Gloat allows you to install custom Ghost themes. Plus, you can add as many integrations as you want to your blog. Other notable features offered by Gloat include unlimited members, unlimited authors, and unlimited bandwidth.
Midnight is another option to create a Ghost blog. It also offers a managed hosting solution whereby its server configuration is optimized for Ghost CMS. Midnight includes all the necessary features to run a Ghost blog and to use all Ghost built-in features, including the Mailgun integration for email delivery. However, the Mailgun integration feature is not available on its cheapest plan so that you need to set up the integration yourself if you use this plan.
Midnight offers three hosting plans you can choose from: Standard, Plus, and Business. All plans include the following features:
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited members
- Unlimited authors
- CDN (powered by Cloudflare)
- Ability to install custom themes
- Unlimited integrations
Midnight is a perfect option if you already have a Mailgun account.
Being a minimalist CMS, Ghost doesn’t support plugins. If you need to add a certain feature to your blog, you can do so via integration. If you subscribe to the Starter plan on Ghost.org, you are limited to its built-in integrations.
Since Ghost doesn’t support plugins like WordPress, integrations are crucial. If you have just heard about Ghost and want to experiment with it first before going further, you can use a service from DigitralPress. The service allows you to create a Ghost blog at no cost. If you enjoy its service, you can upgrade your plan to access more advanced features.
The free plan offered by DigitalPress allows you to add custom integrations, which is crucial if you want to experiment with Ghost. You can also send newsletters although limited to only 200 emails per month. DigitalPress also includes SSL and CDN for its service.
Ghost.org vs Gloat vs Midnight vs DigitalPress
To make it easier for you to learn the features offered by the Ghost hosting services above, we have created the following table. The table compares the features offered by the cheapest plan of each hosting service.
|Starts at||$11/month||$19/month||$15/month||Free (contains ads)|
|Email newsletters||Unlimited||20,000/month||Depending on your Mailgun plan||200/month|
The Bottom Line
Ghost has great potential to be the next main option of blogging tool. The minimalist concept adopted by Ghost is what makes it so appealing. So far, the biggest challenge is to create a Ghost blog — especially for regular bloggers (bloggers that have no coding skills or server configuration knowledge) is to find a hosting. Prominent hosting services like Bluehost and HostGator don’t want to allocate their resources for Ghost (or maybe not yet) as Ghost has low market share. The hosting services we mentioned above are great options if you want to create a Ghost blog.
Two of the most crucial features you need to notice when choosing a Ghost hosting service are:
- Email delivery (Mailgun integration)
- Custom integrations
Mailgun integration is crucial. Without it, you won’t be able to send email newsletters to your members. While custom integrations allow you to extend the functionality of your blog or add new features.