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What's the Right Newsletter Platform for You? Open Source Spotlight on Ghost

· 4 min read
Bekah Hawrot Weigel
Developer Experience Lead

Today is day 20 of my 29 Days of Open Source Alternatives series, where I'll be exploring open source alternatives to proprietary software in the categories of Game Development and Multimedia, Development Tools and Platforms, Productivity and Collaboration Tools, and more. If you'd like to see the list of the open source alternatives I'll be covering this month, head over to my 29 Days of Open Source Alts Page. This post is in the Content Management and Publishing category.

I've recently been on the hunt for a newsletter provider for a new project I'm working on, and I know my teammate @nickytonline has been thinking about it too. Before starting at OpenSauced, I wasn't familiar with Ghost, but now I've sent out 21 issues you could say that I know my way around. (The next issue drops the first Monday of March, so if you want to check out what I learned from 29 Days of OSS Alternatives, you can sign up here.)

Ghost is a powerful app for professional publishers to create, share, and grow a business around their content. It comes with modern tools to build a website, publish content, send newsletters & offer paid subscriptions to members.


  • Minimalist Design: Ghost's user interface is clean and uncluttered, which makes it easier to get started.

  • Markdown Support: Ghost uses markdown for writing, which means you can format your posts quickly and easily without touching a single line of code.

  • Customization Options: With Ghost, you can tailor your blog to match your style. Whether you're after a specific look or functionality, the platform's library of themes and plugins lets you create a blog that's uniquely yours.

  • Built-in Membership and Subscriptions: Want to monetize your content? Ghost has you covered with its integrated membership and subscription features, allowing you to offer exclusive content to your subscribers.


FeatureGhost (
Initial Coststarts at $9/mo for up to 500 readersFree to start; fees for transactionsFree to start up to 500; tiered pricing based on features and subscriber count
CustomizationHigh (control over design and features)Limited (template-based with some customization options)Moderate (customizable templates and branding)
Monetization OptionsDirect subscriptions, paid newsletters, one-time paymentsPaid newslettersE-commerce, landing pages for products/services, direct mail
AnalyticsComprehensive built-in analyticsBasic analytics for subscribers and engagementAdvanced analytics with audience insights, campaign performance
Email Sending LimitsDepends on hosting providerUnlimited within platform constraintsBased on plan, with overage fees for higher tiers
Ease of UseRequires initial setup and hosting managementVery easy to start and use; no technical knowledge neededUser-friendly interface with drag-and-drop builders
Community EngagementBuilt-in comments, can integrate with other tools for community featuresComments on posts for subscribersMarketing automation to increase engagement
IntegrationsWide range of integrations with third-party servicesLimited integrationsExtensive integration options with apps and services

Open Source

Ghost's open source support is clear from their metrics:

  • Stars: 45.2k
  • Watching: 1k
  • Forks: 10.1k Contributors: 592 Commits: ~38k

Not only is there a high activity rate, but there's also a high PR velocity.

Ghost's open source dashboard on OpenSauced


Ghost has a consistent contributor base over the last three months, with over 30 contributors each month.

Contributor Dashboard

See the full dashboard here

Last Thoughts

There are a lot of things you need to consider when choosing a newsletter provider. There are tradeoffs for each of these providers. But if you're looking for development transparency, Ghost is a good choice with a heathy open source community community and consistent contributors.