Why We Switched from WordPress + Patreon to Ghost and How It's Going

One month in, and the change is already a win.

Risa Dickens
Feb 14, 2023
4 min read
STEM Magic
Photo by Tandem X Visuals

We originally launched the Missing Witches podcast site on WordPress in 2018, and then in 2021 launched a Patreon. Both times, to be honest, we weren't expecting much. Both times we were surprised. Turns out a lot more people than we thought wanted to listen to our stories and conversations about real people - women and queer people - who are magic, and who expand our ideas about what's possible. It also turned out that meeting those people and forming a coven with them was truly the most fun ever.

So let it be said, we have loved and benefited from being able to make a site and build a community with WordPress and Patreon. But as we've grown we're realized there are some disadvantages to doing so. Patreon was taking 8% of our income for one thing, on top of transaction fees. And the wild world of WordPress plugins was getting me down. I am only medium technical, I've set up basic WordPress sites before, but as time went on I struggled to figure out how to make the best use of the popular SEO plugins, how to integrate a newsletter throughout the site, and with every new plugin, the WordPress admin got clunkier and more confusing, and slower than it already was.

Patreon was taking 8% of our income, on top of transaction fees.

I stumbled onto Ghost (while researching open source projects with female founders — shoutout to Ghost co-founder and CTO Hannah Wolfe!) long after its other founder wrote a piece about the future of journalism that went viral. He was a designer at WordPress who wrote of his love for WordPress as a Content Management System, but also of his longing for a fork of the software (a new version) that was completely dedicated to writers making a living. He wrote to Hannah about the idea, and she wrote back with a zipped file with the first draft, and off they went to build the future.

By the time we found it, Ghost was a successful, non-profit, open source technology org focused on the exact features I'd been looking for.

Things we've loved about Ghost so far:

  • The dashboard is clean, quick, and easy.
  • It's fun to write in, and easy to make posts look beautiful.
  • Newsletter and membership levels are built right in, and Ghost doesn't take a cut.
  • We opted for the hosted version so I didn't have to host it anymore, which freed up a lot of my creative brain space.
  • That also meant we were able to take advantage of Ghost's concierge service to migrate content from our old site to Ghost. In a series of funny and friendly emails with Jon from Ghost support, we got all our 150+ episodes of the podcast copied from WordPress onto Ghost at no extra charge, along with a bunch of non-judgemental answers to some very stupid questions on my part (there are no stupid questions!)
  • We got a theme we liked that was very affordable, and the person we bought it from has given us amazing customer support as well.
  • With a little help from a friend, I was able to figure out the bits of CSS needed to make the small style changes I wanted to make. And I was able to use Ghost's Code Injection option to implement those changes really easily.  
  • We were up and running in a matter of days, and our community seemed excited about the change.

We launched our Ghost site exactly one month ago. Enough people have joined that we've covered the cost of paying for the Ghost-hosted plan for a year.

We launched our new Ghost site exactly 1 month ago, and already enough people have already joined that the extra 8% we'll keep by having them here instead of on Patreon covers the cost of paying for the Ghost-hosted plan for a year. Some of those were folks switching over from Patreon, but about half of them are brand new members. Wildly brilliant folks we feel so lucky to get to meet and learn with. One month in, and the change is already a win.

Ghost isn't perfect of course, nothing ever is. I wish their forum was more active and welcoming for users at my level, though it seems great for more technical folks hosting their own Ghost install. I wish there were more theme options because themes are kind of like outfits for websites, and I enjoy fucking with fashion. But you can see that banks of sweet fits growing steadily over time.

On a most vibey level: I just really enjoy writing and laying out work in Ghost. I love how it looks, I love the info I get from the dashboard, and I like my interactions with the humans behind it all. The vibes are good vibes.

Recently we were given the opportunity to join the Ghost affiliate program, which I thought was kind of sweet since our subject matter is pretty different from a lot of what Ghost is being used for (so many tech bloggers! though there is a bit of everything of course.) But it also made a lot of sense. There are so many brilliant folks in our community sharing writing, videos, and podcasts, looking to conjure a future where they can make a living bringing that work to the world.

I think Ghost is the most powerful option for that future I've seen so far, and I've been telling everyone about it since we started to contemplate the move anyway, so sharing an affiliate link that might help us too just makes sense. So here she is! Feel free to reach out if you want to talk more about it all.

Disclosure: This post includes an affiliate link, meaning Missing Witches will receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation, at no cost to you. This helps to support the work we do ❤️

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