Offering free trials to your members is a great way to grow your paid audience, by giving them the chance to try out your premium content for free before committing to a subscription.

There are three ways to offer free trials natively in Ghost, depending on what you are hoping to achieve.

#1 - Free trials on paid tiers

It’s possible to add a free trial to any premium tier in Ghost, which enables the free trial for all new signups on that tier. This method is ideal if you want to offer a free trial for all new paid subscribers.

When signing up for a free trial on a paid tier, members are required to enter their credit card details, so that the card can be charged at the end of their trial. If they choose to cancel before the free trial ends, their card will not be charged.

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Read more about managing tiers in Ghost.

#2 - Free trials as special offers

The offers feature in Ghost can also be used to create a free trial, which can be shared with a specific group of people via a custom offer link.

This method is ideal if you want to encourage new signups and grow revenue using a marketing campaign targeting a specific set of people, rather than offering a free trial for all new signups.

Free trials created using an offer prompts members to enter their card details at the time of signup, and the member is charged at the end of their free trial period. If they choose to cancel before their free trial is over, their card will not be charged.

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Read more about managing offers in Ghost.

Managing free trial messaging

When offering carded free trials that automatically charge members at the end of the trial period, it is best practice to set up custom messaging reminding members when their trial is due to end.

You can quickly set this up in your Stripe account, by turning the Manage free trial messaging customer emails on.

Free trials and MRR

Members on a free trial will not count towards your Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) visible within the Dashboard of Ghost Admin, until they have successfully made a payment at the end of the trial period.


#3 - Uncarded free trials

It's possible to use complimentary plans to offer free trials without requiring members to add their credit card details. This method is useful when you want to offer specific people a free trial without requiring a credit card, while leaving the option open for them to upgrade to a paid subscription anytime.

Complimentary plans can be configured for a custom time period of 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year or forever β€” granting paid access to members for the specified time.

Members who are on complimentary plans can upgrade their plan to a paid subscription at any time using Portal. If they don't upgrade their plan, their paid access will end after the duration of the complimentary plan has ended.

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Further reading

How to grow a creator business with free trial signups
Find out how to approach a free trial acquisition model for your independent publishing business, including how to implement a free trial.