From MailerLite to Ghost
Having left StoryOrigin behind, I finally make the move from MailerLite to Ghost's integrated newsletter feature.
It's been almost three years since I started using MailerLite. I moved from MailChimp back when the EU's GDPR laws were shredding people's lists, and MailChimp botched it further with their clunky implementation. But, for the most part, I enjoyed what MailerLite offered, particularly its automation abilities. I've sent 150 campaigns to date, split across automatic blog updates as well as my newsletter.
That changes from today.
Ever since I migrated to Ghost, I've wanted to consolidate the apps and services I use, not only for my convenience but also to give my subscribers a more consistent experience. For example, I write my blog's articles in Ulysses and push them directly to Ghost; it's a workflow I've come to appreciate.
However, writing my newsletters is onerous since I have to rely on MailerLite to draft, format and send each edition. That's okay (well, the writing and formatting part is clunky), but it's not as convenient as my aforementioned workflow for writing a blog post.
MailerLite was a necessity when I was StoryOrigin. MailerLite's API plugged into StoryOrigin, allowing me to validate the number of subscribers I had (thereby enticing authors to swap with me). In addition, it added new subscribers to my list through other's authors' campaigns. Since I decided to stop using StoryOrigin, that's one less thing tying me to the platform.
Another issue is the disconnect between my members in Ghost and my subscribers in MailerLite. I have two datasets to manage, and it's created a mental divide in how I perceive each group.
Ghost solves most of these problem thanks to its membership and newsletter feature. Ghost stores members within its database and can optionally send out emails to members directly from the UI — or at least that's how it appears. For me, it means one place to manage memberships, subscribers and how I communicate to them. I no longer have to think about my readers as two separate groups. Everyone can access Scriptorium as members and optionally choose if they want to receive newsletters.
Behind the scenes, Ghost's newsletter feature relies on bulk mail provider, Mailgun to do the actual sending. Mailgun is a service that provides developers with the ability to add mass mail to their apps and services. It's not unique but compares quite favourably to similar services such as Sendgrid and Amazon's SES — at least as far as I can tell. Using Mailgun means I have to start paying to send comms now, but the associated costs are far cheaper than MailerLite and MailChimp once you reach their thresholds.
Enabling Ghost's newsletter feature requires three steps: create an account with Mailgun, configure your website's DNS according to Mailgun's requirements, then add your Mailgun API Key to Ghost. The longest part of the process is waiting for the changes to your domain's DNS settings to propagate across the internet.
Regardless of the mechanisms at play, from a blogger's standpoint, the process is seamless. I can now write newsletters in Ulysses, push them to Ghost, and with a few clicks and some clever conditional text, I can configure the post to be sent directly to my members. You can understand how appealing this is to me as a one-person indie-publishing shop.
Incidentally, this post is fittingly the first to go out to my members as an email, so fingers crossed, and it works as promised!