Why I chose Ghost
Previously, I outlined a few basic features that I was looking for in a blogging technology:
- Quick to write & publish a blog entry
- Maintenance free
- Fast & lightweight
- Inexpensive & self-hosted
And I believe Ghost is that blogging technology.
Quick to write & publish a blog entry
Ghost has a simple, distraction free editor available as part of the admin console which supports both basic formatting and Markdown, and a large number of "cards" for inserting various types of content.
This is basically something that's impossible when using a static-site generator, as all content is pre-built before being pushed to the website. You could probably rig up a workflow to create & edit content online somewhere, then when the content is saved it will automatically build and deploy the website...but that's a lot of effort that I'm not interested in doing.
That does mean I'm not running a static website. But if a non-static website is still fast & light & maintenance free, then how different is it?
The biggest advantage of a static website is its low-cost, as it can be hosted directly from a server's storage without requiring a webserver. If I can find an inexpensive solution for hosting a webserver then I'm good.
Even better, Ghost can be run headless - the webserver is only used to access the admin console, and various plugins are used to generate a static website. Win-win!
Ghost is simple, there's not a lot of knobs to turn or plugins to install (and update...so many updates!). This is quite refreshing, and having fewer options doesn't feel constricting - it's freeing.
Ghost, not being a static website, does require a database and that could introduce maintenance. Thankfully, Ghost supports a variety of databases, including SQLite. SQLite basically runs in memory and saves to a single file on the server. There's no indexes, resizing, DB servers or anything else to manage. When you need to move a website, just copy the directory and you're done! If you want to host a copy of the website on a local server for development, just copy the directory and you're done!
Fast & Lightweight
Ghost is not over-burdened with features that slow it down. It is fast, and when you choose lightweight themes for your website, it's even faster.
If you believe Ghost, it's 19x faster than Wordpress.
Inexpensive & self-hosted
The hosted version of Ghost (Ghost Pro) is pricey, $29/mo per website. Having someone else host your website and not worry about servers, scaling, availability, and such is really nice, but it's too expensive when you have multiple vanity websites just for fun.
And when someone else is hosting your website, it feels a little like your website is being held hostage.
There is an alternative though - Ghost is open-source, which means you can host your own version with a free copy of the software. Thus, if you already have a server available, or can find an inexpensive server, then you can use Ghost for as many vanity websites as you want without any additional costs!
What about Wordpress?
Yes, Wordpress can do all the same things - it has a static website plugin (caching), it has an editor in the admin console, you can host it yourself, etc. But honestly, after using both, Ghost does it all better, is faster, and does not overwhelm with options.