A couple of months ago, I set up this blog with Ghost. I found the fully hosted version a bit expensive because I was just exploring. I was in the mood for more exploration and decided to fully host Ghost myself.
Furthermore, I rented a space at Digital Ocean and harnessed my set-up with a CDN from Cloudflare. Most probably not the shortest and easiest route, so time for a quick summary.
Ghost publishing platform
How do I now feel about Ghost after using it for a couple of months? Am I still ravingly happy, or have there been some bumps and scratches along the way? Actually I am really content, Ghost is living up to the promise. I publish new content, shifted theme direction of the topics, renamed the domain, upgraded to version 4 and all with all it works as I hoped it would. My content is well indexed in Google, I have proper search on my site, and I am still very happy with the design.
What I also really like is the modular and open set up of Ghost. I integrated Google Analytics and will add Disqus at some point as well. As mentioned, setting op Site Search was easy as well. Of course, this was all done in the English language, and I am not sure if Ghost has multilingual capabilities.
Ghost is much more than a blog. Ghost is a publishing platform that lets you build a community of subscribers. I only added the newsletter functionality recently, and now I started building the community. I have to be honest, I still need to start sending out the first newsletter. Furthermore, I am not sure if I will use Ghost or MailChimp for sending emails. Once I have decided and done that, I will update here.
It took me some time to get accustomed to Version 4 from Ghost. With this version they launched the membership part and I struggled a bit. Later it turned out that it requires email on the server to be configured, and that was not clear to me. Now that I have configured the email sending service MailGun the community part started working as expected, and I can get creative and see how to fully use the community features.
Self-hosting or hosted?
The self-hosting is more cumbersome if you are time constrained or rather more focussed on creating than maintaining. Self-hosting is definitely affordable, I only pay Digital Ocean for hosting, but I put a number of hours into upgrades and connections like Mailgun.
I would not self-host, pay for service and I would go with Ghost or with a service that offers hosting. You can for instance check out Midnight, they offer such a service.
Can you recommend using Ghost for publishing?
I have been in digital publishing for a long time, and I am a Digital Producer myself, and yes, after some months of working with the publishing platform Ghost, I am happy to recommend Ghost. Fun to use, powerful and versatile.
And choose a hosted version if you are serious with your publishing. I also compared Ghost to WordPress.