Adventures in putting up yet another website to host my content...
I didn’t want another site, especially NOT another WordPress one. The longer I spend online however, the more I start to see that needing another one is becoming inevitable.
There's lots of blogging alternatives to WordPress, but one that's intrigued me for awhile is Ghost.
Ghost — is a static blogging platform that you can either pay for hosting with or host yourself for nearly free.
From the demo I tried, the material I read and the reviews I checked, it seems like the magical elixir of blogging.
It touts itself as being for super bloggers or enterprise business needs. Do I really need that much power?
First I researched the themes and read some of the documentation. I wanted to make sure even as paid hosting option, that upgrading or changing themes wouldn’t be too much of an issue.
I also kept in mind, that just because there are more themes to a provider, doesn't mean that switching themes "just goes well." If you've ever dealt with WordPress, you know what I mean.
But at roughly 30$ a month for site I probably wouldn’t be monetizing anytime soon — is it really worth at that price tag?
Ghost is slick.
Their Ghost 2.0 editor is self-proclaimed to be as if Slack and Medium had an illegitimate love child. You can write in markdown and it automatically previews you for you in the editor. I could post what I write there and modify the content for other sites that also accept markdown easily.
But the editor also works nearly exactly the same as how Medium's does now for those who don't want to bother with markdown.
There aren't a bajillion plugins ready to break at random. I could fix things easily with Ghost and not rely on a third party site behavior. Modifying the theme is simple in some ways and requires more technical knowledge in others.
Let's admit though, nearly $30 a month to have a site that I probably won't be monetizing anytime soon? It's steep.
Before I let go, I at least had to investigate by signing up for their free trial. They don’t charge the card at all even at the end of the trial. When you cancel your free trial, your card information is deleted as well.
- I played.
- I liked it.
- A lot.
Everything just worked. But you don’t get your own domain for that price. A custom top-level domain is not included.
You can collect email addresses, but you don’t get to send emails to a mailing list. Their documentation states that might be something they'll add in future releases.
Modifying the theme was simple in some ways and more technical in others.
Having worked with Github, I could easily grasp the concept. Having a technical background when it comes to some programming concepts, I was able to figure out how to make the minor-ish changes I wanted.
Because of the way you do that, I had control over those changes being made. If it broke – it's all my fault and not some unknown issue caused by the person or company who made the theme.
Initially, I put it aside because $30 a month isn't going to be worth it for me.
Then I tried Bluehost.
I came into this fresh. I’ve never used Bluehost before and I’m not an affiliate. Everyone raves about it (and in the past I became unhappy with Hostgator).
I did the math.
It was going to be obviously cheaper to sign up for their initial packaging, even if after three years, the price would go back to normal and nearly double.
On a yearly basis, the average would still be cheaper than going with Ghost. Plus I get a top level domain included.
So I bought a simple domain and began setting things up.
During the onboarding process, WordPress was launched without asking. I moaned.
I tried to not see it as an omen.
Stuck in WordPress purgatory.
Fast forward three or four days and I found myself stuck squarely back in WordPress purgatory and my blood pressure raised.
I thought it would be different. Every time I start a new site, I tell myself, "It will be different."
But it wasn't. I spent those few days picking, fixing and tweaking themes. And of course, none of it still flowed or functioned quite right.
It was taking away precious time to actually write, not to mention other life obligations that needed tending too.
The final straw was that the WordPress default settings found in the Dashboard forced me to make my email address publicly available – with no known option to turn it off– in order to go from “admin” to “authorname” on my posts.
I was shocked. (Visualize my "glare of death".)
In the past, you could just switch from "admin" to "authorname" showing up on your posts without issue. This means your name would show up in the byline section of your post and not the word "admin."
Unacceptable! And as I just mentioned – I could not find a way to turn it off. The only thing I could do was substitute another email address in place of it.
However, I was not ready to manage another email box just because WordPress insist that I spend time doing that too.
There’s only certain times I allowed myself to be strong armed.
This was not one of them.
This caused me to spend another two evenings with Bluehost support because surely this could be rectified yes?
They were super nice, but I wanted to install a different website maker– anything other than WordPress. Their platform wasn't allowing me to do that in their one-click manager and a ticket was logged.
I resolved that if I couldn't get another website maker to work, then there’s no point in having it.
Eventually, we got Concrete 5 to install. Things were a bit more technical with that particular builder. I was able to figure it out, but noticed many of the settings that "just worked" in WordPress would have to be manually configured with Concrete 5.
I would be spending just as much time tweaking it as I was WordPress, but for different reasons.
This was not going to work for me.
I don’t want to fight with my software programs.
It’s one of the few things in life I have control over. If a software is causing me that much stress, it’s got to go!
Fast forward: I ended up cancelling all my stuff with Bluehost and getting a full refund.
I really don't like WordPress.
I don’t like WordPress.
I want to login and write.
- I don’t want to write and then have to reformat it all for another location.
- I don’t want to jump through hoops to make things work like they did before a mysterious update from WordPress or a plugin broke things.
- I don’t want to lose sleep over speed, themes, or God-forbid those wretched spam comments. (No matter which setting or plugin I've tried in the past, I've never found a free one that actually stops those suckers. They're like hundreds of little paper cuts...)
By the time I felt my blood pressure significantly raised over dealing with WordPress, yet again — I decided to throw a stake in the ground: No more WordPress.
WordPress: our relationship is definitely over. I won’t be coming back, even when you try seducing me with quick, easy solutions. You're never what you seem, never quite what you claim and you always seem to take more of my time than I want.
Being with you, even just for a few days, made me salivate over Ghost, regardless of its hosting price. I don’t want to self-host it.
I deserve to have my content be hosted at a place that values my work, works without blinking, saves me time, and doesn’t play games with my emotions.
I’m worth it.
I’m finding if I invest in myself and my future, the dividends usually pay off in other areas of my life. Maybe if I spend the money on Ghost, my efforts will pay off in bigger ways than I can see right now.
Ghost is wooing me right now — in all the right ways, AND is meeting (and sometimes exceeding) my expectations.
And that’s just flat out sexy.
About a week after I wrote this, I did eventually end up going with Ghost. I did purchase a top level domain through a different provider.