I have been blogging since 2007. I had my first blog at blogger.com, and soon enough went on to set up a WordPress blog on one of the free hosting services available at that time.
It was a breath of fresh air. WordPress had so much flexibility that Blogger lacked. Awesome themes made the experience even better because now my blog looked more professional.
Then Ghost came in and offered a much simpler dashboard and setup as compared to the bloated WordPress blogs. I moved to Ghost.
An okay-ish experience
Ghost’s was simple. But, I would say it was too simple. Missing features and an uneasy maintenance experience killed all the joy the minimalistic dashboard provided.
I remember having two blogs at one time; one powered by WordPress and the other by Ghost.
I had to fall back to WordPress for one of my blogs because Ghost didn’t meet my requirements at the time. Some of those requirements were:
- Easy maintenance
- Safe and secure backups
- Awesome pre-made themes
One could argue that Ghost (Pro) takes care of the first two points, but their pricing quickly goes out of reach for many starting bloggers.
Even as of today, Ghost (Pro) starts at $29/month for up to 100k page views if I choose to pay annually.
Sure, as a small bootstrapped company, you need to charge more than average, but when your pricing is that high, it’s hard for most people to get in.
Now, when you’re starting up, 100K page views per month might seem like a faraway target to hit. However, even if 2-3 articles from your blog make it to the top of popular communities like HackerNews or Reddit, you’ll cross that limit in under a week.
I remember getting around 22k views on an article in 2-3 days when it jumped to the top of HackerNews. Thankfully, I was not using Ghost (Pro) at that time.
My blogging platform
In mid-2018, I tried to fix Ghost’s pricing problem and WordPress’s bloatware with a simplified blogging platform of my own – Airtyper.
The idea was to create a platform which allowed writers to create production-grade blogs with minimal effort and pay only for the number of page views they get each month.
With this approach, bloggers who are just starting, can pay as low as $0.5/month if traffic to their site is little. No more breaking the bank trying to blog.
While I built quite a stable version of the platform, I abandoned it because the project was way too ambitious for one guy to handle.
When I closed down the platform, it could create a publication and publish posts into it with fast loading speed, SSL, SEO, everything baked in.
I invested around 6-8 months on this project and then finally gave up because it was getting out of hand. Features were taking too long to build because I was working on this project part-time.
I moved to a new blog hosting process.
The lure of static websites
The recent few years saw a rise of static website generators as more and more people moved to tools like Jekyll and Hugo to generate their blogs.
It’s a no-brainer — free hosting with super-fast CDNs, sweet deal.
I was sold.
I started with my personal website/blog made using Jekyll. The site loaded super fast, and there was no database to manage for my content.
Last year, I set up another blog called OkKotlin using Gatsby, based on the same static site philosophy.
The publishing flow is simple:
- Write in markdown
- Push to GitHub/Gitlab
- A hosting service like Netlify/Vercel automatically builds and serves the blog
I’ll bite, it was fun. At least, in the beginning. Then reality struck.
As I dumped more and more posts into my blog, content management became a hassle.
Also, manually writing/editing frontmatter (which is how you write article meta on a static site generator) is no fun.
The experience got worse with time. I started missing writing on a beautiful editor and publishing/managing using a CMS.
Although I could always resort to writing on a nice editor like that of Notion’s and then copy/paste the content in markdown format while publishing, I wanted a better publishing process.
Back to a platform hunt
Having lost touch with WordPress for so long, I still had a not so pleasant image of WordPress on my mind. To put it simply, for me, WordPress was like that bloated legacy software I never wanted to use again.
I was looking for a blogging solution where the only thing I needed to worry about was writing useful articles — not maintaining DB backups, or server uptime.
Ghost seemed like a good contender, but then again, I couldn’t justify the pricing anyhow. It’s way too steep for me.
I was ready to come back home – to WordPress.
With the new Gutenberg editor and super helpful support staff, I once again love writing and publishing on WordPress.
Compared to Ghost, WordPress offers more features for less money.
It feels like I have been lost for so long and finally managed to find my way back to my comfort zone.
Update: As of 21st May 2022, I've moved my blog to Ghost. While WordPress served my basic blogging needs, Ghost handles member-only articles better for my case.