Thinking about Ghost as a website platform
I have really been enjoying my thought process and the reward of writing in this journal more. It has made me think a lot more about posting more to my own website. But every time I think of something that I may want to post, I hold back. I don’t want to be narcissistic, I don’t want to be too loud, I don’t want to share every thought. But one of the things that also holds me back is that there is a lot of friction in publishing something there.
Right now, the website is hosted on Github Pages. It’s run with Jekyll. To write posts, I either need to open up a terminal to a hosting of the repository or I go to Forestry, an app that reads from the repository and provides a GUI for publishing posts and uploading images. Lately, I’ve been using the Forestry GUI a lot more. It’s a third party, so it’s not a great experience. But it’s certainly better for uploading photos, which I kind of want to do more of. I have the Jekyll site coded with my own theme, my own RSS feed structure, etc. I have a newsletter signup on the home page, which goes to my Buttondown email subscription. I haven’t posted on the site in a year (or sent an email newsletter in slightly longer).
What do I not like about the current setup? Well, originally I wanted to host everything in the open, as a repository, but it’s never been useful in practice. I guess that’s kind of a hindrance now? But I could just make the repo private.
Tagging I don’t like that tags are hard to make - I can’t run Jekyll plugins, so I have to make every tag page by hand - every time I use a new tag.
Github I’m cooling on Github recently - I kind of want to diversify things.
It would be really nice to have some nuance of access so that I could post some personal/family things online to share, without having to make things super public. I could experiment with a
noindex marking on a set of pages in the Jekyll site (with a family newsletter), but that feels dangerous?
Design I’m never quite happy with the design of the site. I get full control of it, so I tweak it quite a lot. But I’m especially unhappy with the photo display at the moment. I have been hesitant to upload photos because of the display.
Communication/Contact I struggle with posting things because I am having trouble connecting the email list with the stuff I want to write. They feel disconnected and mis-matched.
What would an ideal flow/setup be for me? It would be great if I could have a site where I can post easily - like, ideally sharing to it the same way I write in this journal. This would encourage me to do so. That had great photography support but also writing support. That would allow me to have accounts of some type, that I could organize such that I would organize content around those groups (some posts for different groups, with gated access). I would love to have some email functionality since I want to encourage that in other people. I would want to group posts under tags at will - like I am trying to organize my notes in here. I want to be able to go back to things and look at connections like that - or let other people browse the connections.
And so it was with these thoughts that I went back and made an account again on Ghost. It’s $120/yr - not that big of a deal for me to have this headache handled. It would handle the styling and contact/communication. It doesn’t have a native app, but I feel like the web UI is clean enough to use on its own. I think it could actually handle the access control stuff I want. Here’s what I’m thinking: I make a membership plan, one that’s obscenely high. And I can gift that subscription to my family/friends. So when I post and gate it only to ‘paid’ subscribers, it goes to family. And I can still have posts gated to, like, members/fans whatever With Ghost I also get the option to only email some of the posts, which is nice. And I can email certain posts to different subscriber types.
This option is nice because it has native apps for writing and posting photos, but lacks the access control and tagging system around content. It’s also much nicer for interaction/commenting, but it requires others to have an account on the service - which I don’t feel like many people I know/want will do. I like that it’s simple and run by a person I like, but I think this falls down on some of the things I want in a switch. Same price as Ghost, basically.
Wordpress has a mobile app, which would be nice. But I feel like I would be back in the Jekyll situation again - having to piece together a complete experience with different plugins and such to achieve the gating and newsletter and all those other goals I want.Josh Beckman
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