Newsletter Crew October 17, 2020

Does anyone here use Ghost for their newsletter?

Wing @theknowhow

I currently publish my newsletter on Substack, but I’m curious about alternatives like self-hosting on Ghost.

For those who already do this, are you happy with the features? I read some user feedback that people can’t get decent newsletter analytics, which are essential to me.

My main issue with Substack is that I want more detailed analytics, more audience management features (e.g. segmentation, tags) and more integrations (e.g. referral tool).

Also, is there an existing list of which email platforms the biggest/most popular newsletters are using right now?

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    I started my newsletter a week ago and I have been using Ghost to host the content. For the distribution of the newsletter, I am concurrently trying sendfox and convertkit using their RSS feature. I think you could use something fancier using Integromat or the like to automate everything. I read this blogpost to get started: https://blog.stephsmith.io/setting-up-blog-with-ghost-and-digital-ocean-droplet/

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      Thanks for the link! I’ll look into it.

  2. 2

    What analytics are you looking for? I think the big strength of Ghost is the integrations so for a lot of things you can attach it to a specialist provider for the specific thing you want (e.g. with referrals I know their FirstPromoter integration is really good)

    Anecdotally I would say Ghost is improving 5x faster than Substack, so for stuff like newsletter analytics I don't think it's any better right now but would expect it to be much better much sooner, but that's just a guess of course

    1. 1

      Hmm, interesting! Thanks for the insight. For analytics, I’m looking to get some of the things I know are available through Mailchimp, e.g. predicted demographics and audience locations, and ways of identifying the most engaged readers (you can kind of do this manually in Substack, but surely there’s a better way).

      1. 1

        Cool! I know Ghost gives an audience location for each subscriber but I don't know if that's aggregatable right now, I haven't tried, though I suspect the aggregate figures will be available in Ghost itself pretty soon even without integration. I don't do any predicted demographics or reader engagement stuff myself so I don't know how you'd implement them but there may well be an integration for it, the Ghost forums are generally pretty wonderful so long as you go in with a friendly approach (vs people who storm in and are like "I want XYZ" and then get angry if they don't get the answer they're looking for!) https://forum.ghost.org/ . Best of luck with your newsletter, hope you find what you're looking for!

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          Good to know! I still find Ghost intriguing, but I’m reluctant to move until I’m super clear on the pros and cons. This is really helpful, though!

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            For sure! Have you looked at https://trypico.com/ ? Might be a better fit for you -- half the price of Subsctack and seemed way more focussed and knowledgable on analytics and tracking and targetting (I haven't used them, just had a call with them once and that was the impression I got). Good luck!

  3. 2

    I just moved from Ghost to Wordpress, but only because I run a site & newsletter- and ghost doesn’t allow the separation of those very easy. However, if you’re “just” doing a newsletter it isn’t bad at all.

    Howy, if your looking for analytics- ghost isn’t really a good option unlettered you’re a wizard at setting my MailGun tags. You can get the same analytics in Substack.

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      Was the Ghost instance your recently moved from self-hosted? If yes, what version did you have installed?

      TIA.

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        It was, I moved this week. I was running 3.35.

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      Good to know! I took a look at MailGun and it seems complicated/less than intuitive.

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        Actually, MailGun isn’t complicated at all. It super easy to implement- but the lack of in-depth analytics was a bummer.

        1. 1

          Ah, OK! At first glance it seems geared to a more technically sophisticated user.

  4. 1

    I use WordPress for mine .. at the monent it uses MailChimp for newsletter and offers a free one only but then plan is to switch to a paid newsletter in the future.

    I chose WordPress becase it's easier to work with for me and I could launch features like custom web stories , konami code
    easter egg, etc

  5. 1

    Hey Wing! I'd love to connect to chat more about it. Sent you a message through our web form on your website :)

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