Pico Payments vs Ghost

An independent Pico Payments alternative with built-in email newsletters and 0% transaction fees

Hello! Looking to create a free newsletter and paid subscriptions? Or thinking about moving from Pico Payments to Ghost? You’ve come to the right place!

You might be wondering what the differences are between using Ghost and Pico to power a modern membership business with subscription payments, so we put together this overview.

Pico Payments
Pricing and transaction feesFrom $9/mo
Ghost takes 0% fees
You keep all your revenue
2–5% of your revenue + plan $5+/mo
For every $50k revenue
Pico takes $1,000 – $2,500+ per year
Open source✅ Yes❌ No
Free members✅ Yes❌ No, paid plans only
Email newsletters✅ Yes, included❌ No, separate app from +$10/mo
Secure content protection✅ Yes❌ Only if used with WordPress, otherwise can be easily bypassed without paying
Memberships for external websites❌ Only works with Ghost✅ Yes, use with any CMS
Open Subscription Platforms ✅ Yes✅ Yes

Migrating from Pico to Ghost is easy

All content, members, subscriptions and payments can be seamlessly migrated from Pico Payments to Ghost without any disruption to your customers.
Learn more about the Concierge service.

Keep all of the revenue you make with Ghost

Pico is a membership tool that can be used to add a memberships overlay to a website using JavaScript, or a WordPress plugin. Using Pico, they keep from 2–5% of all the revenue you make, on top of a base fee, hosting costs for your website, and additional costs for a separate email newsletter service.

Comparatively, Members in Ghost is native to the platform, which provides a stable and reliable solution for running a professional publishing business.

Ghost is full-featured with everything in one place, and simple pricing with zero transaction fees. No matter how large your audience – all the revenue you make is yours to keep.

/ month
For people who want the maximum available
  • check-circle-1Access all content
  • check-circle-1Weekly newsletter
  • check-circle-1Members-only comments
Subscribe Now
20% Annual Discount
/ year
For people who want the maximum available
  • check-circle-1Access all content
  • check-circle-1Weekly newsletter
  • check-circle-1Members-only comments
  • check-circle-1Support indie publishing
  • check-circle-1Advertising-free!
Subscribe Now

How much could you earn?

Whether you prefer a large audience at a low price point or a small dedicated following at a premium fee, you control the economics.

See how much you could earn with a subscription commerce publication:

$ / month
your annual recurring revenue

How does this work?

Unlike other membership systems which typically take 10-30% of your revenue, Ghost takes no fee at all and instead connects directly to your own Stripe account, so you receive the money - not us. You own the software and you own the billing account, so there's no middleman between you and your customers. Stripe takes a ~2.9% processing fee, and all other revenue is yours to keep.

Building a subscription business is challenging in lots of ways. Our focus is on making the billing side as easy as possible - so you can keep your focus on your customers.

Focus on what you do best

Ghost has been built as a simple and beautiful platform for publishers like you. It’s explicitly focused on doing one thing really well: Publishing. What does this mean for you? No more wading through menus, complex options and extra apps to set up.


Creating content in Ghost is familiar and clutter free, and it supports dynamic 'Cards' to allow you to drop in images, embeds, galleries, bookmark cards and much more.

Think of it like having Slack integrations right inside your editor. Publishers switch to Ghost because it provides a better writing experience.

Sign up UI

The native members features within Ghost allow you to transform anonymous views into registered members. Ghost has member management, native payments, subscriptions and email newsletters built-in.

Everything you need to get started is ready to use, without any additional downloads or fees!

Alex Older

"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

Secure content gating with Ghost

Using Pico on your website involves installing some JavaScript or installing a plugin if you’re using WordPress. With Ghost, Your premium content is fully protected with server side content gating and cannot be accessed in any way without an account. Even if JavaScript is disabled!

Getting up and running with a membership site using Ghost is faster and less complicated, since everything is in one place.

Ghost is easier to setup than WordPress

Because Ghost offers an official hosted service, you can have a new membership site that allows you to publish fully gated content in a few clicks. Create your site, select a theme and enable members to start publishing.

Fully customisable

Ghost is fully open to being themed and modified to suit your needs and your style. You’re never locked into a single set of functionality or features for your site. So whether you’re starting from scratch or running one of the world’s leading online publications, Ghost can be adapted to suit your needs.

Each Ghost site is unique and reflects the personality of its creator. Some examples:

The Browser theme
The Browser logo
Ali Abdaal theme
Ali Abdaal logo
Joel Gascoigne theme
Joel Gascoigne logo
Tobias Van Schneider theme
Tobias Van Schneider logo

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, but the rewards are that you own the content and you’re benefitting your own brand and domain.

With Pico + other platforms like WordPress, you’ll need to install additional plugins to handle things like SEO and social. Ghost has the best support for search engine optimisation and social sharing features of any blogging platform in the world. You don’t need any extra plugins or extensions, and you don’t need to write any extra code. It just works.

Ghost SEO and Social

There are built-in XML sitemaps, Google AMP pages, canonical tags, optimised URLs, microformats, Facebook Open Graph tags, support for Twitter cards and clean semantic markup. All of this is done for you automatically, with no plugins needed.

Uri Bram

"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 Browser
Switched from Substack to Ghost

Doing more than the basics

At its core, Ghost is a fully baked RESTful JSON API with a flexible architecture, which means it can be extended, modified and customised for your needs in an unlimited number of ways. It’s worth having a look at Ghost’s core concepts, detailed tutorials, extensive directory of integrations as well as beautiful themes to get you started. There’s so much that’s possible.

Ghost integrations

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.

Jeff Atwood

"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 Horror
Switched from TypePad to Ghost

You’re now armed with knowledge! Hopefully this guide was useful to give you a general overview of Pico Payments compared to Ghost.

We can help you migrate to Ghost from Pico Payments, for free! Save time and let the Ghost team do all the work on your behalf; no coding, no configuration, no worries. This migration is included when you make an annual payment on the Ghost(Pro) Creator, Team, or Business plans. Learn more about the Concierge service.

Still researching? Head back to the alternatives page.