Looking for a good, remotely hosted, blog platform


(Daniel Hollands) #1

For the past couple of years I’ve been writing posts for my Maker blog: What I’m Doing to Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse!.

This started life as a way of tracking my progress with the projects in the The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse book, but has since grown in scope to include posts about all the maker projects I’ve been working on, such as my woodworking, general electronics, and IoT stuff.

I’ve been using a self-hosted Ghost instance for the blog since it started, moving from a Digital Ocean box to a Heroku-based one about a year ago, and it’s been fine for the most part - but the part of me which used to enjoy doing the devops side of things is slowly dying, being replaced by someone that is more interested in the content I’m writing, than worrying about if the server is going to fall over at some point, or if I’m going to be able to install the latest version of the software (spoiler warning, I can’t).

So with this in mind, I’m looking to migrate the blog to a hosted solution, but I don’t know which one to move to.

My initial thought was to use hosted Ghost, but at $29 a month, they can jog on.

Another idea is to move to Medium. This has the benefit of having an inbuilt community, meaning I might get more exposure for the stuff I’m writing - but the sort of stuff I am writing seems very self-reflective, and probably isn’t actually all that interesting to anyone else - plus from what I’ve been reading, the writing seems to be on the wall for Medium.

There are other options such as wordpress.com, which makes me wince a little, but it might solve the problem, I don’t know.

So with all that being said, can anyone recommend any other platforms which might be a good place for my little, self-reflective, maker blog to live on?

Thanks.


(Nick Goodall) #2

Hello! I hope you’re well :slight_smile:

Since Medium raised VC, they’ve been making fewer customer/user-oriented decisions, e.g., discontinuing custom domains. It’s great for the inbuilt community as you say, but imho it should be a supplement to something you own.

Jekyll…? I use a markdown editor for writing anyhow, so copy-paste + git push* and away you go. More config to start with though. Free hosting, too…

Squarespace is also a good’un. £13/mo… but beautifully designed.

* Don’t @ me. Brevity > completeness.


(Daniel Hollands) #3

Long time, no boogie - yes, I’m doing well, and yourself?

I did look at Jekyll when I first started the blog, but I decided I wanted an easy path to writing - one which involved logging into an admin panel and hitting New post, not one that required me to clone down a repo and run a bunch of commands to publish stuff. This is why I went for Ghost.

I’m also starting to understand the limits of markdown with what I’m trying to achieve with the post content. Don’t get me wrong, I love markdown, but I think what I’m looking for is something like markdown+ - such as what’s on offer by Dropbox Paper or Tettra - they let you write using the markdown syntax (# for headers, _ for italics, etc…) but also give you a lot more control over the placement of images, etc…

Not that I want a huge amount of control over images, but it would be nice to have a gallery of images, or one that spans the entire width of the page, or one that’s left aligned next to the content - all without having to faff about remembering the correct html.

Medium solves this problem (at least so far as the images are concerned), as does the new version of Ghost, but then we’re back to square one, trying to figure out how to update the software.

I’ve heard squarespace mentioned within the context of whole sites before, but I’m thinking it might be overkill for a simple blog - but it’s worth a shot, if I’m able to get started for free.

I’ve also taken another look at wordpress.com - there seems to be a lot of improvements to it in recent years (at least so far as the frontend is concerned, I’m sure the source code is still atrocious - but that’s the benefit of being remotely hosted, it’s none of my concern.


(Stuart Langridge) #4

I wouldn’t use Medium, unless you like your readers getting “you’ve read three articles this month, now sign up” popups. Wordpress.com is pretty good – you don’t get anywhere near as much control over the appearance and workings of the site as you do with your own installation, but this is a maker blog, not a technical one, so that shouldn’t be a problem, so there are a bunch of themes. You could also use Jekyll and publish it to Github Pages, or any static thing of your choice and publish it to Gitlab pages.


(Alex Russell) #5

I hear the author of a Medium post can choose whether or not that banner thing happens. Dunno how correct it is.


(Stuart Langridge) #6

Huh, really? If true, I assume that it defaults to “on” and there’s some obscure settings switch somewhere to turn it off, since I can’t for the life of me think of anyone who would, when asked the question, say “yeah I really want that!” Apart from investors who’ve fountained cash into the Medium Money Pit and now want it back, obviously.


(Alex Russell) #7

Yeah I definitely agree with the why-would-people-say-yes-to-it thing. I know nothing about publishing on Medium so I figured there’d be a good reason I don’t know about. Can’t remember where I saw it now - it was a discussion a bit like this where someone told a person not to go to Medium as it’s annoying and that person said “it’s okay, individual publishers can turn it off, which I will”.


(Jon) #8

I use WordPress in a Docker container (happy to share the Dockerfile) sitting on a cloud VPS. If you have a bit of initial patience installing Docker and MySQL, it feels like a fairly secure solution. In the unlikely event I get hacked, I can destroy the container and make a new one (and then just comb the database for malicious changes).

Presently I do upgrades semi-automatically (CI rebuilds the image, pushes to registry) and then manually (pull and restart on host). I’ll upgrade this to CD at some point.


(Daniel Hollands) #9

I’ve just had a look at my account, and if this does exist, I can’t find it.


(Marc Cooper) #10

Remember that you can write html in markdown.

I use Jekyll and would probably move to GitLab pages for a new static site given they have the whole CI/CD thing built in. (They support loads of other static site generators: https://about.gitlab.com/features/pages/)


(Nick Goodall) #11

Excellent! Yes, few years away. Moved back to the area working at Faraday Wharf.

I feel you. Ghost is overpriced, but then individual bloggers aren’t their concern. There’s always the place it all started, Blogger. :wink:

I’m still in the “not bothered by a touch of devops” group so Jekyll works for me… Surprised there isn’t something obvious already.