Hey there! Thinking about moving over to Ghost? Or trying to decide which platform to use to generate revenue from your creative work?
If you’re wondering what the differences are between Ghost and Patreon for creators running a membership business, we put together this no-nonsense overview.
Keep all the revenue you make with Ghost
On Patreon, you’re running a membership business on their platform, along with everyone else. You can’t control any of the experience for yourself as a creator, or for your audience. No custom website, domain name or control over the design. Plus, you’ll need to pay a minimum of 5% plus processing fees every time a transaction is made — every time your fans pledge to support your work.
Using Ghost, the fee structure is simplified into a single monthly cost based on the scale of your publication and there are zero transaction fees. No matter how large your audience or how many features you use – you keep all the revenue you make.
- Access all content
- Weekly newsletter
- Members-only comments
- Access all content
- Weekly newsletter
- Members-only comments
- Support indie publishing
Full control of your business
Patreon have a platform which allows creatives to ask their fans to pledge towards their work without much technical input.
If you’re looking for a simple way to generate additional income, giving your audience a quick method to support your work financially, it’s probably fine. But if you’re planning on building a serious membership business and a unique brand, you can probably do better. Patreon is a closed platform, which means you can’t move your business elsewhere if your requirements change.
Ghost is an open and independent platform for creators, like you, without limitations on how you run your business, or what you do with your customer data — you always have full control of your content and subscriptions.
So what else does Ghost do better?
Ghost is explicitly focused on doing one thing really well: Publishing. So you can focus your time on the most important things, creating unique content and building a direct relationship with your audience to generate sustainable recurring revenue.
Creating content in Ghost is familiar and clutter free, and it supports dynamic 'Cards' to allow you to drop in images, embeds (like video or audio), galleries, bookmark cards and more.
Creators switch to Ghost because it provides a better writing experience, and stick around because they gain more control over their brand.
The native members features within Ghost allow you to transform anonymous views into registered members, and it's possible to have both free and paid-only member tiers.
Everything you need to get started is built-in: member management, native payments with recurring subscriptions and email newsletters. All without any additional fees!
Build your brand + control your content
While Patreon is a closed platform that you have little control over, Ghost is open source and extremely flexible. A Ghost publication can be completely customised to suit the needs of most publishers and creators.
Whether you’re a writer, a video creator or a podcaster — professional creatives of all kinds use Ghost because it allows you to create a totally independent membership business.
Open source means you always own your content, subscriber lists and even the code. If Ghost the company disappears, you can continue to run your membership business in perpetuity.
"Have been building paid membership newsletters with Ghost for two months now and ridiculously happy with the experience. It's the combination of amazing design with endless customisability if you want to have your own style. The writing interface is just SO nice — it feels like stepping inside a high-end minimalist house, you just want to live up to the beauty of it."Uri Bram, The BrowserSwitched from Substack to Ghost
On Patreon you’re locked into a single design with some basic settings and no ability to create your own website, so your content looks the same as everyone elses.
With Ghost: You choose your domain, pick your own design and add your own branding. Each Ghost site is unique, and reflects the personality of its creator. Some examples:
Growing an audience
The most important aspect of any publication is understanding and growing a core readership base. Getting traffic to an independent website can be challenging, of course. But the rewards are that you physically own the content and you’re benefitting your own brand and business.
With Patreon, you’re much more limited to publishing content within their network. Using Ghost, you can choose if you’d like to share your creative work as public, behind a sign in or for paying members only, or a combination of all three.
When you’ve got new content to share, it’s possible to send it as an email newsletter to a segment of your audience in a couple of clicks.
Beyond that, Ghost comes with everything you need to build your site and distribute content. All of the SEO work is taken care of with built-in XML sitemaps, Google AMP pages, canonical tags, optimised URLs, support for Twitter cards and clean semantic markup. All of this is done for you automatically, with no plugins needed. Leaving you more time to focus on creating!
"I launched my membership site in under 3 hours without having to find a plugin or deal with a platform that would have been overkill for what I needed. I was amazed that within hours of launching the site I was already getting members signing up!"Alex Older, Shutter Club
Doing more than the basics
At its core, Ghost is a robust JSON API with a flexible architecture that any developer can use to extend, modify and customise your Ghost site in any number of ways.
All new Ghost sites are installed with a beautiful default theme that you can get started with right away, but it’s worth having a look at the marketplace of free and premium themes, and our extensive directory of integrations. There’s so much that’s possible.
If you’re already using Patreon and thinking about switching to Ghost, or maybe you want to create a custom branded website with Ghost and automatically import your Patrons to give them extra perks and access to additional member-only content, we have a simple integration you can use. Find out more about how to import your Patrons to a Ghost install.
One last thing you should know
Ghost is an independent non-profit organisation. We build publishing tools for modern journalism & publishing because we believe freedom of speech is important. Our software is released under a free open source license, our business model is completely transparent, and our legal structure means that 100% of the money we make is reinvested into making Ghost better.
We’re building a socially responsible, sustainable business which empowers people to share important stories and ideas. We’re in this for the long haul.
"I've been a blog minimalist from the start, and finding a truly open source platform which reflects that minimalism and focus is incredibly refreshing."Jeff Atwood, Coding HorrorSwitched from TypePad to Ghost
You’re now armed with knowledge! Hopefully this guide was useful to give you a general overview of Patreon compared to Ghost.
Still researching? Head back to the alternatives page.