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BekahHW for OpenSauced

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

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.


Feature Ghost ( Substack Mailchimp
Nature Open-source Proprietary Proprietary
Initial Cost starts at $9/mo for up to 500 readers Free to start; fees for transactions Free to start up to 500; tiered pricing based on features and subscriber count
Customization High (control over design and features) Limited (template-based with some customization options) Moderate (customizable templates and branding)
Monetization Options Direct subscriptions, paid newsletters, one-time payments Paid newsletters E-commerce, landing pages for products/services, direct mail
Analytics Comprehensive built-in analytics Basic analytics for subscribers and engagement Advanced analytics with audience insights, campaign performance
Email Sending Limits Depends on hosting provider Unlimited within platform constraints Based on plan, with overage fees for higher tiers
Ease of Use Requires initial setup and hosting management Very easy to start and use; no technical knowledge needed User-friendly interface with drag-and-drop builders
Community Engagement Built-in comments, can integrate with other tools for community features Comments on posts for subscribers Marketing automation to increase engagement
Integrations Wide range of integrations with third-party services Limited integrations Extensive integration options with apps and services

Open Source

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

🌠 45.2k
👀 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.

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