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Blogging with Ghost

Happy New Year!


Not long after writing my review for 2015, I set out to find a new blogging system for this very site.

My list of necessary features is relatively short:

  • A web interface
  • A way to write drafts and publish them from the web interface
  • Writing in Markdown
  • Ability to import my existing posts
  • No PHP

The last point scratches the obvious(?) choice from the list of candidates (Wordpress). That left me with surprisingly few choices.

Runner ups include Github Pages, and that only if I declare their website as a web interface. Github Pages uses Jekyll under the hood. A valid point for GH Pages is their architecture. I wouldn’t need to be afraid of too many visitors or hackers. But it’s no nice solution (I wanted to write ‘sexy’ solution, but I guess that’s sexist?).
A viable alternative is Medium. Medium just looks awesome and is wonderful to use. Major blogs switch to Medium (SVN is on medium.com now). But somehow I value having my content on my own site/server. Perhaps I’ll change that opinion later on. I don’t know yet.


In the end I didn’t evaluate that many solutions. I took the hosted version of Ghost for a test drive to look at the interface and try out their features. I tried out the Markdown importer: Just upload a zip file of Markdown files with a certain naming scheme. Ghost makes sure that even the published-at time stamp stays correctly. That’s what I needed. I can download Ghost for free and use it without paying anything. And I can continue to own my content. There is a hosted (payed) version of Ghost for non-developers though. And while setting everything up, I password protect my Ghost installation. Now I can make sure everything works and looks fine before I switch to the new system. And the web UI looks really good. I am looking forward to using this.

Another plus for Ghost is the technology behind it. It runs on node.js (LTS) and that is good. 2016 will be a big year for functional programming (again. It all comes back I guess). And having more exposure to good JavaScript software makes it easier for me to get to know the good JavaScript way of doing things.

So this is a win-win situation.

I’ll let you know after I switched the software (although you’ll likely see the new layout and will notice…).

I am curious to weather the SumoMe plugins will work, but they probably will. It’s independent of the HTML I think.


Something I forgot to mention in my last post is my conversion rate to get new subscribers. I mentioned my 44.414 page views (about 40k uniques!). If you payed attention to the details, I wrote about 100 new subscribers. If my math is correct (it could be wrong) that’s a conversion rate of 0.22%. If correct that’s really bad. So one more thing to do in 2016 is optimize the page copy, my incentive (the RWD course) and find out more about my readership. I am a full-stack developer writing about Ruby/Rails topics and other things. But I don’t know for certain who you are and what you’d like to find/read here. If you’d like to tell me: please go ahead. You can write comments or emails or hit me @twitter.

If I can get to know my readership a bit better, I can offer a better incentive for subscribing and everybody wins. After all I want to help, educate and entertain my readers and offer good content. That works best if I know what they want. So please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Thanks for reading. Holger