My stomach lurched, one final time, as I stared at the draft Kickstarter Campaign on the screen before me. I scrolled up and down the project description vigorously, checking that everything was there. Pictures, check. Rewards, check. FAQs, done. Six months of preparation came down to this moment. Six months of trepidation stored up to be released with one final click of the mouse.
It was April 29th, 2013.
It feels like both a few moments and a lifetime ago when Ghost first announced itself publicly to the world. The amount that we’ve accomplished in the last 12 months is nothing short of staggering, and yet there is so much more that remains to be done. But on this, our first anniversary, I’d like to take a moment to share some of our journey with you — as well as some of our plans for what’s coming next.
We know, now, that we have created something which people want. Beyond that, we know that we have created something which genuinely has a positive impact on the world. Open Source, Not for Profit, Distributed… Ghost has the startup diversity trifecta locked up. It doesn’t make things easier — one might go as far as to say that it makes everything significantly harder — but it gives us something very powerful to believe in and work towards. The value of that cannot be understated.
The Story So Far
Since Ghost launched to the public 6 months ago, we’ve seen 160,000 people sign up for an account on Ghost.org, who generate well over 1million page views per month and have cumulatively downloaded Ghost 272,000 times.
The Ghost core GitHub repository has had 2,150 code commits from 125 contributing developers all over the world. It has been starred 10,250 times — making it the 38th most popular project of all time on GitHub. Just behind LESS, and ahead of Ember.js. (Want to get involved?)
Since our Ghost(Pro) service launched just 4 months ago, we’ve grown to a paying user base of 2,300 customers generating slightly over $175,000 in annual recurring revenue — growing at roughly 30% month on month. That last stat is arguably the most important, as it secures the long term future of Ghost.
We are now a full-time team of 5 and, as a non-profit, we aren’t able to take Venture Capital as would be the norm for a tech startup (though many have contacted us to try, all the same). In order for Ghost to continue to evolve and develop, we’re relying on growing slowly and organically. Much like the first iteration of Ghost was made possible by our users via Kickstarter — the future of Ghost is made possible by our users on Ghost(Pro).
A very small number of paying users are making free, open source publishing possible for millions of people all over the world for the foreseeable future. That’s pretty incredible.
What’s Coming Next
In the original Kickstarter video, I laid out my idea for what a new and exciting blogging platform could look like. The ideas which I described could be considered the vision and goals for version 1.0 of Ghost. Now six months since public release, we are about half way there. Ghost is currently at version 0.4 (fast approaching 0.5) and our progress is relentless. Here are just some of the things you can expect to see us working on and releasing for the rest of the year:
- A brand new, polished API which massively opens up the potential for developers to build on top of Ghost.
- A significantly faster and slicker admin interface with much better mobile support.
- Multiple-user support in Ghost (finally!)
- One-click upgrades, to make it even easier to always stay up to date. (Unless you use Ghost(Pro), in which case you're already upgraded automatically).
- Apps support, to allow 3rd party products, extensions and integrations to be built on top of Ghost.
- Better imports, to make migrating from other platforms easier.
- Localisation, to support running Ghost in different languages.
- The long-awaited Ghost Dashboard, bringing your blog’s data to life in a centralised, useful admin home screen.
We’re also working on massive improvements to Ghost.org all the time. Very soon you’ll be seeing a fresh, slick Ghost(Pro) dashboard, significantly improved and expanded user documentation, and small but important improvements in user experience all over the site.
The Start of Year 2
There is little doubt in my mind that the second year is going to be even tougher than the first. We have set the expectations high, and we have asked our users to trust us. It is our responsibility, now, not just to build features and fix bugs — but to create an experience so immersive and direct that it enables the user to think and create in a way not previously possible.
Every tool in the history of time has impacted upon that which it was used to create, and it is the development of tools which separates us as humans from every other species. When looked at from that perspective, Ghost has the potential to be far more than just a blogging platform.
We have an incredible privilege, position and opportunity to influence the future of how ideas and stories are created and shared all over the world. Not just status updates or cat photos, but real, lasting, important content. Content which is owned by you, rather than any single company or social network. Ideas which are worth debating. Stories which are distributed and democratised by the masses.
Much like the internet itself: This is for everyone.