How to Dump Medium or Substack for Ghost

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Control your content and build your own subscription model

I promised not to post on Medium again but I’m breaking my rule for one good reason. I want to provide guidance to frustrated Medium writers who want to take control of their work again and income again.

Before I go into a small rant about Medium (and the derivatives like Substack), I will give props where they are due. Medium has given a new set of emerging writers a platform to reach a new audience. Those writers were able to make a living off of their hard work and that’s awesome, but…

While it’s futile to try to figure out what happened…

Something has changed under the hood of Medium and many writers have complained that they’ve seen a collapse in their earnings. It is frustrating when you’ve built your income model around Medium to see the income stream wither.

While it’s futile to try to figure out what happened, the number one priority is how to safeguard your earnings. After all, we got bills to pay.

So, how do you do that? If you ask me, you have to have your own subscription system and use Medium/Substack as a marketing tool.

Enter Ghost.org.

Ghost the friendly CMS

Ghost is another one of those CMS’s floating around on the Interwebz. WordPress is the biggest and then we have Squarespace, Tumblr, and Ghost.

After reading about the pornocalypse…

What I like about Ghost is it’s built in membership and newsletter capabilities. You don’t get that in Tumblr and you have to pay for expensive plugins to do that in WordPress. With Ghost you can create ‘members only’ type of posts and charge a recurring subscription fee.

If you have a Medium publication or a large reader base, why get the leftover milk (Medium payouts) if you can have the milk AND the cow at the same time!

Plus, you get to control the content you want to share. After reading about the pornocalypse (NSFW link), it’s always best to host your content on your domain.

I believe that Medium is changing and it will not be a good thing for well established writers and publications.

You never know when Medium or Substack will decide to change what kind of content they want to host (like becoming Disney friendly) and boot you off with no warning. All your hard work would be gone in an instant.

Two Ways to Get Ghost

You can get in two ways, one by going to Ghost.org and buying a subscription plan. Starting at $9 per month you can start a simple blog. This option might not work for bloggers with large followings and a publication with many authors, but this is the easiest way to get started. Just bring your domain address and go from there.

The second way is the way I did it. It required a bit of elbow grease but wasn’t hard to do. Just think of it as fixing a clogged sink drain. You’ll have to open up the pipes and fix a few things but it isn’t hard once you did it.

I share a tutorial on how I installed Ghost on Amazon’s Lightsail here. The cost for running it on a small server is $3.50 a month + an additional cost for SSL and a static IP (billed yearly). My guess is that it comes out to be around $9 a month, which is what you get directly from Ghost BUT you won’t have any limitations.

Closing Thoughts

I believe that Medium is changing and it will not be a good thing for well established writers and publications. How do I know for certain? I not but I’ve been around the block in the tech world a few times. It always starts out as ‘let’s work together’ and then turns into a parasitic relationship where they look to be acquired (or IPO) off your hard work.

Granted, if you cut ties with Medium you’ll be that one person screaming into the Internet “look at me! read me!” so cutting ties with Medium completely is not a wise thing to do.

Instead, use all your Patreons, Kofi’s, OnlyFans, and Medium as a marketing tool to drive people to your subscription site and build your content there.

If you follow this guide and you become wildly successful off Medium (or Substrack) then shoot me a free subscription to your site as a thank you.

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