When it comes to blogging, there is no bigger name than WordPress, it has dominated the industry for years, but it isn’t the only option. Other platforms like Ghost have continued to challenge WordPress, and have made amazing improvements over time.
Yet, despite these improvements, none have come close to WordPress and it is still continuing to expand its influence. But that hasn’t discouraged new platforms from popping up.
Let’s take a look at how WordPress compares to Ghost and see if it lives up to the hype.
WordPress vs Ghost: Overview
Before we begin looking at the Ghost and WordPress CMS platforms, let’s take a minute to go over what these platforms are at their core. While they can accomplish similar results, they tend to go about it in a completely different way.
WordPress is an open-source CMS that delivers a nearly limitless number of customization options. With this platform, you can build any kind of website from blogs to online stores. And you can even combine them.
It’s able to achieve this flexibility thanks to a huge library of plugins and themes. Plugins act as small software packages that allow users to add features to their site. Whereas themes dictate the overall design and appearance.
Neither of these requires any coding knowledge to use, but it can help enhance the experience. And best of all, as a piece of open-source software, it is completely free to use. The only cost is your web hosting services.
Note: There are actually two kinds of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is the self-hosted WordPress that has widespread popularity. We will be focusing on the self-hosted version of WordPress.
Ghost is a free open-source blogging platform that has continued to focus development on blogging and publishing. While this has limited it to a certain extent, it has also allowed the platform to excel in the blogging space.
Most notably, the system is great for writing content for both public and private (paywall) usage and has even integrated email marketing into the platform. It offers a host of metrics and analytical data from the get-go.
Similar to most modern-day website building platforms, Ghost doesn’t require any coding and it is also a major limiting factor. It only provides options to add code into the header and footer areas. While ideal for beginners, it is limiting for experts.
So What’s the Difference?
Both of these platforms are free open-source platforms, but the main difference is the direction they took. WordPress started out as a blogging platform and expanded into just about everything.
On the flipside, Ghost started as a blogging platform and continues to be just for blogging. This has led the platform to be much more limited when it comes to customization and functionality but has added more tools for blogging in the default install.
Ease of Use
WordPress Accessibility: Winner
WordPress is the most popular CMS platform on the internet that has a market share of over 40%. Or to say it another way, forty percent of the internet chooses to use WordPress to create content. Why is this important?
To gain this type of dominance in such a crowded environment can only be attained if the platform is accessible, and WordPress absolutely is. The interface is simple and most things are exactly where you would expect them to be.
And the Gutenberg editor makes creating posts and pages a cinch. While there may be an initial learning curve due to the sheer number of options at your fingertips, nothing is actually difficult. It just comes down to understanding where everything is located.
Ghost is focused solely on blogging and publishing content. It’s front and center which makes the interface very accessible for first-time users. On top of this, everything is color-coded to further help you navigate.
Most notably, the posts and pages section is accessible without clicking on anything. That’s right, you can view your whole archive immediately after logging in. This isn’t surprising since that is the focus of the platform.
The Ghost editor operates similarly to WordPress, and to be honest it’s almost identical but doesn’t have as many features. And as we will see in a bit, it’s much harder, or impossible to add some of those features.
Both of these platforms stack up pretty well against each other in this category. While Ghost may appear easier to use the first time you try it, it’s really due to having fewer features. Whereas WordPress is quite simple, it has at least double the number of options available.
And if we were to touch upon adding features into Ghost vs WordPress, WordPress would win. In fact, it wouldn’t even be close.
As most web developers are aware, building a fully functioning website isn’t enough anymore. Instead, that website needs to look good to capture a visitor’s attention before they even begin looking at content.
Let’s see how WordPress and Ghost compare when it comes to design.
WordPress Design: Winner
When it comes to design, there really isn’t anything that can compare with WordPress. By default, users have access to approximately 4,000 free themes in just the WordPress directory alone. There are plenty of more scattered around the internet.
Not to mention thousands of premium themes.
Every theme is fully customizable, and this isn’t just limited to the settings. You can freely edit a theme with code and add custom CSS to get the design just right. Thus, it works great for beginners and vets.
However, what really makes WordPress shine is its plugin library. You can install plugins that add new ways to create content or design pages. This includes full page-builders like Elementor to simple features like galleries or testimonials.
Ghost is far more limited than most platforms because it focuses on blogging. But to some, this might be a strength. This platform also utilizes themes, but only has about 100 free themes to choose from.
Now, this is more than enough for most people, but you are far more likely to use a premium theme in Ghost because there is a lack of customization. Remember how you can only add code to the header or footer, well, that really stifles design options.
It is worth pointing out that, you can build your own theme in Ghost using the Handlebars language. However, this is even difficult for veterans because the language is not common.
The options exist for further customization, but they are out of reach for beginners.
Ultimately, WordPress dominates Ghost, and just about every other platform, when it comes to design. There’s no way to compete with a huge library of themes and plugins that complement each other so well.
And this is another area where accessibility should come into play. Customizing things in WordPress is pretty simple, whereas, doing anything but the default options in Ghost can be the stuff of nightmares.
Building a website is a business decision for most, so it’s only natural to care about the monetization options available on the platform. Each platform has a unique set of tools, but without a doubt, there is a clear winner when looking at WordPress and Ghost.
WordPress Monetization: Winner
WordPress allows users to monetize their website in virtually any way. You can run ads, display affiliate links, create a membership site, create an online store, accept donations, or anything else you can possibly think of.
It’s all thanks to its plugin selection.
In particular, its eCommerce options are superior to just about anything on the market. This is all thanks to the WooCommerce plugin that dominates the WordPress eCommerce space. And by extension, dominates eCommerce in general.
You can build a fully-functional shop in no time at all and most importantly, without spending an extra penny. That’s right, it’s completely free to set up a store regardless of its size. WordPress just does it all.
Ghost doesn’t have as robust of a selection when it comes to monetization. It lacks the ability to build a storefront, but that’s because it has a focus on blogging.
The good news is that every form of monetization you would expect a blog to use is possible in Ghost.
Most notably is that the ability to create a membership site is built directly into Ghost. You can lock content behind a paywall and leave it exclusively for members. Besides this, you can run ads and affiliate links like any other website.
The only way to build a shop in Ghost is to purchase the Shopify integration. Don’t get me wrong, Shopify is great, but it costs money to set up, and the transaction fees are noticeably higher than WooCommerce.
WordPress is the clear winner in this category, but that’s because it can do anything, whereas, Ghost just focuses on blogging. Either platform will be able to earn money, but with WordPress, everything is a little bit easier.
There are multiple options to consider, and the huge library of plugins makes it easier to find a tool to help you get started. Most importantly, you can easily build a blog and an online shop on the same site.
That’s a tall order in Ghost.
Normally, I would be comparing prices in this section, but since both of these are free open-source platforms, that would just be a stalemate.
Instead, let’s take a look at the true cost of building a website with these platforms: web hosting services.
WordPress Hosting: Winner
WordPress is the most popular CMS on the market, as such, it’s the first priority of nearly every web hosting company. To put it simply, nearly every web host has servers set up that can run WordPress, and some even have specialized servers to maximize its performance.
It works well in both a private and shared hosting environment. Due to its popularity, WordPress hosting will cost less than a cup of coffee for a month of service. It’s a competitive market and it really shows.
It’s also worth mentioning that many web hosting companies have dedicated tutorials for WordPress and sometimes even offer support for customers. Again, in most cases, web hosts rely on WordPress for sales, thus, their services are built around it.
Finding a web host that supports Ghost is like finding a needle in a haystack. Alright, maybe it’s a bit easier than that. But even the biggest web hosts won’t always have options for Ghost, and there’s a pretty good reason for that.
It’s really complicated. In fact, if we go back to the accessibility section for a second, this will stop beginners in their tracks as starting out is challenging. You would need to customize your server using Node.js and NodeSource.
If you’re not sure what those are, then self-hosting Ghost isn’t for you. Instead, you may need to go with the more expensive option and use a service like Ghost Pro.
But as a specialized hosting service for Ghost, it will cost roughly three times as much as traditional hosting.
To put it simply, it’s much easier and cheaper to find WordPress hosting in comparison to Ghost. And in most cases, the support teams that web hosts provide are going to have more knowledge in WordPress due to its popularity.
In general, you will get better performance with WordPress because the web hosting environment is designed around it.
Final Results: WordPress vs Ghost
Without a doubt, WordPress is the winner. It has an advantage due to its popularity and customization. In fact, you could say the internet revolves around WordPress at this point because everything from integrations to web hosting is built for it.
What really gives WordPress the edge over Ghost is that it doesn’t just focus on blogging. This opens up so many more doors that a pure blogging platform could never compete with. And that’s exactly what happened in this comparison.
Which platform do you prefer, WordPress or Ghost?