Why Ghost over Jekyll?

Dan Guilak // Sep 28th, 2015

This is my umpteenth attempt at launching a personal site with the hope that I'll actually write more. This time around, I've reduced the number of steps it takes for me to go from ideation to publication to optimize my chances of successful writing.

The previous version of this site was written in Jekyll, a well-known static site generator that integrates nicely with the free GitHub Pages. My Jekyll blog-post process (successfully completed a whopping one time) looked like this1:

  1. Begin sketching some ideas out on Evernote, a Moleskine notebook, or a napkin.
  2. Find my way to a computer (inspiration almost never hits when you're actually ready for it, I've found)
  3. Realize I don't have my blog repo cloned on my work computer.
  4. Clone my blog repo on my work computer.
  5. Remember the Jekyll command for creating a new post.
  6. Realize I don't have Jekyll installed.
  7. Setup RVM again.
  8. Install Jekyll.
  9. Jekyll's broken for some reason.
  10. Fix Jekyll.
  11. Start a new post.
  12. Download a Markdown client to see what I'm writing in real-time.
  13. Write.
  14. Test locally.
  15. Commit and push.
  16. Wait around ten minutes for changes to propagate up to GitHub Pages.

This new version is running on Ghost, a fuller-featured blog publishing platform that provides a dashboard and web editor. My blog post process looks like this:

  1. Begin sketching some ideas out on Evernote, a Moleskine notebook, some napkin, or in the Ghost dashboard on my phone.
  2. Write, edit, write, edit.
  3. Click "Publish".

There are fewer steps from ideation to publication — fewer opportunities to tell myself that I can "set this up later" or "I've done enough for today."

However, I am now paying (a measly $5/month2) for hosting since I can no longer host for free on GitHub Pages. I'm hoping the financial investment will provide more impetus for me to write!

  1. Okay, okay, I'm hyperbolizing a little bit. But each of these things has happened to me at different times I decided I would write a new blog post, I promise.

  2. I set up a DigitalOcean droplet (invite link if you're feeling charitable!) and followed these instructions to get Ghost up and running in about ten minutes.)