I’ve been following the progress of Ghost, a new Kickstarter-funded blogging platform, for a while. It just recently went live for self-hosted blogs, which I briefly considered signing up to. I really want to try out and encourage new blogging formats, rather than the same-old, same-old, but having been through the pain of self-hosted, I decided I’d wait for the hosted solution instead.
This week, the brilliant Ghost folks gave me beta access to the hosted platform, so I immediately checked it out. There are three things to note straight away:
- The admin encourages writing. Plain, simple, with no widgety distractions. You have to learn markdown, which is easy enough. At the moment, I keep referencing the introductory post that comes with the new blog, presumably I will get to know the code as I write. Either way, it saves getting distracted by playing around too much with the formatting, when you’re limited to simplicity.
- All the customisation is in the theme. The settings for each blog are pretty simple – name, custom domain and custom theme. At first this felt like a distinct lack of control but further investigation seems to show there’s actually a lot more. We’ve only briefly looked at themes, but it appears that you can tweak any little thing in the theme and simply upload the new file – just like on a self-hosted blog. Assuming that is correct, it’s far more customisation than WordPress allows you, although it’s presumably quite a bit more work than just adding a widget here and there.
- No pages. There’s a lot more still to come. At the moment, the admin has options to view your existing posts or add a new one. That’s about it. There’s a huge list of upcoming features, and as a brand new platform, Ghost is about as basic as it gets. That could be offputting to some, especially those used to the variety provided by WordPress or similar. I think it’s exciting. Going back to basics, just like point 1, allows for focus on the content rather than the layout.
Having said that, my current site is a bit of a sprawling mess, and that’s why I’ve only installed Ghost as a subdomain. I have pages within pages on mrschristine.com, Film Watch indexes, a mass of Life List updates, and all sorts of other bits and pieces. Until I decide what to do with them, or until Ghost answer the question for me, I’ll just use ghost.mrschristine.com for the good blogging fun, and the regular mrschristine.com for everything else. It might be confusing for a while, but hey, everyone gets their links from Twitter nowadays anyway, don’t they??