Patreon vs Ghost – A Comprehensive Comparison

David Utke •  Updated: November 8, 2023 •  Monetization

Patreon vs Ghost, there are a lot of differences between these two platforms and I’m going to break everything down as best I can. I’ve used Patreon in the past and I currently run my own private Ghost blog which I use as a Patreon alternative.

To get started, let me first break down what each platform is intended to be used for at what niche the serve for you the online creator/publisher.

Patreon is a free membership website for creators

Patreon is not a donation platform as many assume; it is instead a done-for-you membership website where they take care of all the technical details of running your subscription service. In the past, creating and running a private membership website was a total headache and quite technical, but not anymore.

Now, with a service like Patreon, any blogger, podcaster, YouTuber and so forth can easily setup a Patreon page where they can offer a paid subscription option to their audience. You can have multiple tiers of subscriptions and provide your audience with members only access to private content. Your Patreon page will be found at Patreon.com/username.

With Patreon you can upload private members only videos, audio, images, sell digital downloads like ebooks and livestream.

Ghost is a feature rich blogging platform with email marketing and paid subscriptons

Ghost is a blogging platform with email marketing and paid subscriptions built in. With Ghost, you can have blog posts that rank organically and get free search engine traffic, leverage affiliate marketing, run Google AdSense, and have private blog posts that only paid subscribers get access to.

In addition, memberships are built into the platform, so it’s your choice if you want to offer a free, paid or combination of the two subscriptions. Last, you can have private content only readable in an email client and you can email people who subscribe to your website whenever you want.

With Ghost, you’re not just creating a “page” like with Patreon, you’re building out a complete website with email marketing and paid subscriptions. However, the biggest drawback of Ghost is that your media uploads are limited to 100mb to 1 GB depending on the tier you sign up to.

If you want to offer private videos on your Ghost website you’ll either have to upload unlisted videos on YouTube or pay for video hosting at a service like Wistia. In short, Ghost is ideal for running a paid newsletter website and blog.

Ghost vs Patreon Breakdown

Patreon is the superior choice if you’re primarily a video creator as you can offer private video content and livestreams to your audience. Ghost is better if you want a branded website with public and private blog posts and an email newsletter as the way to offer subscriber only content.

GhostPatreon
Pricing & transaction fees$9/month starting, no transaction fees.8 or 12% of your revenue. No monthly fee.
ContentBlog posts with audio, video and images (media upload limited to 100mb-1GB). ✅Video, audio, livestreams and now sell digital products.
Design & BrandingA nice selections of themes for a full website. Simple, but effective sales page for a membership offer.
Blogging features✅ Yes, you can create blog posts that rank and get traffic. You also get content blocks with added features.❌ No, Patreon is not for blogging and content marketing.
Private, members only content✅ Yes, you can have blog posts and email content with members only content. ✅ Yes, your Patreon page will have subscriber only content.
Custom domain✅ Yes, use your own branded domain name.❌ No, your Patreon page is just that, a web page on Patreon.com.
Email marketing✅ Yes, grow an email list. Send new blog posts, offer exclusive offers and content.❌ No. You’ll need to pay for a 3rd party service.
Subscriber access Anyone with an email can subscribe to your website. You also get access to promotional tools, and people can comment on blog posts.Users have to have a Patreon account to become a paying subscriber. You can setup private chats for your Patrons.

Pricing and transaction fees

The most massive difference and the reason you may want to use Ghost over Patreon is that Ghost does not charge any transaction fees. This makes an enormous difference if you start successfully growing your membership website.

If you have 500 subscribers who are paying say $7 a month, you’re earning $3,500 a month. If you’re using Ghost you’re only paying $9 a month to host your website. If you’re on Patreon’s mid tier “Pro” plan you’re paying 8% transaction fees or $280 a month.

$280 a month vs $9 a month in this reasonable example alone makes Ghost that much more of a compelling option. But, let me break down the costs further:

Ghost fees

Ghost charges a flat monthly fee based on how many email subscribers you’re able to attract known as “members.” The starter plan allows for 500 subscribers and access to all the free themes. The “creator” plan allows for 1000 subscribers, access to a wider array of themes, Zapier integrations and 2 staff members (meaning two people can log into the site).

For most, the starter plan is quite good and very lucrative once you start getting paying subscribers because the monthly cost is so low and you don’t have to pay for any transaction fees.

Patreon fees

Patreon is free to signup and use. If you’re not making money you don’t need to worry about any costs to get started. However these transaction fees become excessive once you actually start having success.

Currently, there are two plans: Pro, and Premium. The Pro is their best plan for most as you can provide multiple tiers to your audience, and you get access to analytics, integrations, and promotional tools.

The premium plan is ideal if you know for sure you want to start offering merchandise to your audience as a reward for loyalty and having a dedicated partner manager would help you increase revenue.

Winner: Ghost

Once you do the math you will see how much money you can save using Ghost. Andrei Jikh (a YouTuber with 1 million+ subscribers) currently has 725 subscribers and he is making $5000 a month. On Ghost he would be paying $25 a month. But because he’s on Patreon he’s paying $400 a month in fees (at 8%).

Subscriber Content

With a Patreon page you can publish:

You can’t combine these media options into one piece of content and instead need to publish each item as a separate piece of content. Patreon has also now began offering the ability to upload video content with no limits as opposed to embeding an unlisted YouTube video.

If your a primarily a video creator, this is a huge selling point and makes Patreon a much better option over building out a Ghost website as you can simply upload private video content for your Patreon subscribers.

In addition, with a Patreon account you can offer merchandise on the Premium tier as a way to reward subscriber loyalty and you can sell digital products directly on Patreon.

Finally, you can livestream on Patreon which is another compelling selling point if it’s something you do regularly or if you want to make it part of a coaching offer on your Patreon page.

With a Ghost website you can publish:

With a Ghost website you can combine all multi-media into once piece of content. You also get an email newsletter built in to help keep in touch with your audience.

You can’t livestream however with a Ghost website and you’re limited to a measly 5mb of audio or video uploads on their starter plan and 100mb on their creator plan so you’ll have to use a 3rd party solution like Wistia for video content.

You can sell digital products through your Ghost website through 3rd party integrations like Gumroad, Snipcart or Ecwid.

Winner: Tie

If your a video creator, Patreon is the way to go. Upload private videos for your audience as well as private livestreams. Ghost you have to use YouTube and have unlisted videos or pay for a video hosting service like Wistia.

Ghost is better if you want to have your own branded email newsletter website with private blog posts with multi-media like images and GIFS and an email newsletter.

Patreon is better if you’re looking to build a community offer where you have private video content and exclusive chat rooms.

Design and branding

Design and branding is another big difference between these two platforms.

Patreon pages

Patreon pages have a great, simple design that converts. You can adjust the hero image at the top to something more custom and branded and then you can display your subscription options below.

Underneath the subscription options are the private, “Patreon member only” posts so users can get an idea of the content your creating as they can see the titles but not the content of the posts. Patreon also allows a 30 second preview of video content to help conversions.

Last, I really like how Patreon incorporates social proof by allowing you to show how many subscribers and “exclusive” posts you have.

The only issue I have is that all Patreon pages have a cookie cutter design with minimal customization. But for a sales page, it works and that’s why Patreon has this design in the first place.

Ghost design

Ghost.org allows you to build out a full fledge website with your own branding, themes, custom domain, pages, content, email list and private subscriber only content.

There are multiple themes to choose from as well depending on your plan:

The only criticism I have of Ghost is that you have few themes to choose from on their cheapest plan. But if you upgrade your plan to the “creator” plan, you can have the whole Ghost.org experience.

But upgrading only makes sense if there is a specific theme you want or you have a developer designing a custom theme. For most, the default free themes are adequate to get started.

Winner: Ghost

Ghost wins because you can build out a full website with blog posts, videos, pages, a custom design, custom URL, email list and offer paid subscriptions. You have more flexibility too because you can make your Ghost website totally private like a Patreon page, or public, or a mix of the two.

But Patreon does have a good sales page design for what it is. Patreon is a straight up sales page for a membership offer while Ghost is a designed as an email newsletter website.

Blogging features

There is a little comparison here because you can’t blog with a Patreon page. Patreon is designed for you to send traffic to it from another already established traffic source, like a popular YouTube channel or a podcast. You can create posts, however, that are publicly available or for a select subscriber tier.

Ghost.org by contrast you can blog, create content that ranks organically and attract new subscribers that way. You can also use a Ghost.org website like I do as my personal, branded Patreon alternative.

Patreon blogging

With Patreon you can create basic text posts with an attachment, text, tags to help organize posts, set who can see the post and set when the post goes live.

Patreon posts don’t rank and will only be viewable by anyone you send to your Patreon page. However, when you use Patreon most are not intending to blog with it. So it’s not a deal breaker if you already have a blog.

Ghost blogging

Ghost is a powerful, feature rich blogging platform where you can create search content that ranks organically. Below is my post on the Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam ranking on the first page of Google:

With creating content on a Ghost website again you can choose to create content that is private for subscribers only or content that is publicly available.

Generally speaking, you want to make content that is going after a specific keyword public, so you have a change of ranking and your blog posts that are about whatever you want (social commentary, hot button issues, something private you don’t want to share with the world) private as a way to entice subscribers.

As for the actual blogging experience it’s similar to WordPress:

You have blocks where you can add in text paragraphs, h2 or h3 headers, images, custom HTML, markdown language, a divider, audio and my favorite, “email only” content block:

This block hides content in your blog posts that is only readable by people who subscribe to your website. Giving you another unique selling point to get people to subscribe.

For example, when you’re creating a blog post that will be publicly available you can reward your subscribers by including email only content.

Winner: Ghost

Ghost again comes out on top simply by being more feature rich. With private content, publicly available blog posts that can rank, images, video, text, audio and exclusive email only content – you just have a lot more options with Ghost over Patreon.

Private members only content

Both platforms allow you to create private, members only content. Here is how they differ.

Patreon content

Patreon works by way of creating posts. Posts can be either text, image, video, audio, a poll, link, or a live stream. For all posts you can add a title and text too. However you can’t mix and match media in the same post.

With Patreon you can set if the posts you create are private for subscribers only or public. You can also set them to go live at a future date.

Live streaming

One feature that Patreon has that Ghost does not is the ability to offer a private livestream for your subscribers. Livestreams can be on YouTube, Vimeo or Crowdcast.

Video support

Like I mentioned previously, Patreon is ideal for video creators as you can now upload exclusive video content for your Patreon subscribers with no limits.

Sell digital products directly

Patreon allows you to sell digital downloads on your Patreon page. With Ghost it’s possible as well, you just have to use a 3rd party solution.

Chat rooms

A popular selling point for a Patreon page is “Discord access.” Discord is a forum style platform where your subscribers can interact. Patreon has it’s own Discord bot that manages subscribers so when someone stops being a Patreon subscriber they lose Discord access.

Because this is such a popular offer, Patreon has now launched their own chatroom feature for your subscribers. You can have up to four chatrooms.

Ghost.org content

Ghost.org websites work by way of creating blog posts that are media-rich. You can have images, video, audio and text in one blog post. You can also incorporate content blocks like the high converting “product box” to push an offer or the “email only” content block that is readable in an email client only.

However, you’re limited into how much media you can upload. Ghost is not ideal if you’re wanting to offer exclusive video content unless you’re fine with embedding unlisted YouTube videos.

Winner: Tie

Patreon has superior for integrating private livestreams and offering exclusive video content; Ghost wins because you can create personal, media-rich blog posts for your subscribers.

Both platforms have enough options to create valuable, private content. Ghost again is better as a branded email newsletter website with exclusive private content and Patreon is better as a private community platform with video content.

Custom domain

With Patreon, your page will be found at Patreon.com/username. Your Ghost website, by contrast will be found at username.myghostsite.org. With Ghost you can set a custom branded domain name for your website if you like at no additional cost beyond registering the domain name.

With Patreon this is not possible. However, the unique selling point of a Patreon page is that people know and understand what a Patreon page is and trust subscribing through it. Users know it’s a place you go to spend money and subscribe to a creator you like.

Winner: Tie

It really comes down to Patreon’s brand recognition and trust which helps people feel comfortable subscribing to a creator they like to building out your own brand.

Email marketing

Ghost.org has email marketing built into the platform; Patreon you have to purchase a 3rd party plan through an email marketing software provider. So there is nothing really to compare. Ghost offers email marketing and Patreon does not natively offer email marketing.

Patreon and Mailchimp

Patreon does offer a free Mailchimp integration. Mailchimp provides 500 subscribers on their free plan and limits you to 1000 email sends a month on the free plan. Beyond that you’re going to start needing to pay for Mailchimp.

Ghost.org email marketing

By contrast, the starter plan at Ghost.org allows you to have 500 subscribers and unlimited email sends. When you write a blog post, you can also decide if you want to publish it on your site and have it be emailed to everyone who is subscribed, or if you only want to publish on your site or email your list only.

On top of that, when someone subscribes to your Ghost powered website you can setup a dedicated “thank you” page where you can offer a coupon code, upsell, discord access or simply say “thanks for subscribing.”

Winner: Ghost

Not only does Ghost.org not charge a transaction fee so you keep more of your money, you get email marketing included in your plan. Granted, the email features are broadcast only, but you get a lot of nifty features to add into content you email out like:

Patreon does not have email marketing. But this is not an issue if you’re running your own website, using a proper email marketing software and selling to your audience using sales funnels. The appeal of Patreon is to have private videos and a community.

Subscribers

Finally both platforms allow you to have monthly or yearly paying subscribers. Both also allow you to offer promo codes to get new subscribers. Here are the differences:

Patreon

To subscribe to your Patreon, someone first needs to create a Patreon account. Then once logged into their account they are presented a feed for different Patreon accounts they are subscribed to.

Personally I don’t like this as it creates a two step process to get someone to subscribe and give you money because when they click on the “subscribe” button on one of your tiers they are presented with a “sign up for Patreon” account creation form.

Apart from this, it’s easy for your subscribers to manage their account and you can also create promo codes to get new subscribers which you can share on social media.

Multiple tiers

One thing Patreon does really well is to showcase multiple paid tiers on the homepage. You can also limited membership to each tier level to create scarcity and also incentivize your visitors to subscribe to a higher tier.

Ghost you can offer multiple tiers too, but on the basic plans Ghost only allows you to show two tiers to subscribe to.

Thank you page

With Patreon you can set a “thank you” page that new subscribers are direct to. On this page you can include access to a Telegram chat, Discord, coupon code or just say “thanks” for subscribing.

Ghost subscriptions

When a user visits your website powered by Ghost and clicks any “subscribe” button, a giant light box will pop up showing one or two subscription options. On higher tier plans, you can custom design every aspect of your Ghost website, but if you’re on the primary “starter” or “creator” plan, these are your design choices.

What I really like is that a user does not need to create a separate account for Ghost.org in order to become a subscriber. They simply enter their email, select the plan and then are taken to a payment gateway. A very simple, high converting process.

Thank you page

Like Patreon you can setup a “thank you” page for new subscribers where you can offer a wide variety of upsells or simply instructions for your new subscribers on what to expect.

Promo codes

Ghost does an excellent job of leveraging promotional offers for your tiers. With there promo offers, they are a custom link you can share on social media and your Ghost blog as a way to attract new subscribers.

Winner: Tie

Patreon I like more if you’re wanting to offer 5+ tiers for subscribers. I also like how you can limit how many subscribers at each tier are allowed.

Ghost is better because the sign up process is fast and easy. The platform also allows for a better use of promo codes. Both platforms provide adequate “thank you” page customization.

Ghost vs Patreon conclusion

So that’s it for my breakdown of Patreon vs. Ghost. Overall I love using Ghost. No transaction fees and you can create content that ranks organically where you can engage in affiliate marketing or run display ads on your website like Google AdSense, custom design, and a custom domain. You also get unlimited broadcast email marketing.

Patreon has brand recognition which is a big selling point and people understand that Patreon is a subscription offer. With superior live streaming integration and video content for your subscribers, if you are a video creator Patreon is the way to go.

I also find that Patreon does a better job of showcasing multiple tiers people can join as well as the limit to how many people can join a specific tier. However, Patreon does charge high transaction fees for their service.

It really comes down to wanting a branded email newsletter website with private blog posts vs a traditional sales page for a membership website with private videos and a community.

Ghost

Email newsletter, private members only content. All on your own branded website with no transaction fees.

ghost cms orb

David Utke

David Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 27k+ YouTube subscribers!

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