There’s plenty of ways to blog today, but one has caught the imagination of bloggers and developers more than any this year: Ghost. And today, it’s finally ready for everyone to try out.
We tried out Ghost when it was first released to Kickstarter backers a few weeks back, and found it to be a brilliantly simple way to blog in Markdown — that is, once you get it installed. That last point is far simpler today, thanks to the efforts of Ghost’s partners including our whole Envato team.
Here’s the tools you need to get a new Ghost-powered blog today:
Wait: what is Ghost?
Late last year, developer John O’Nolan got frustrated with WordPress and decided it wasn’t the simple blogging platform he’d wanted. So, he set out to build a new blogging platform that was designed around the tools writers need.
That effort resulted in Ghost, the brand-new open-source blog platform you can now try out on your own. Built on Node.js and SQLite, Ghost doesn’t require Apache and MySQL like WordPress, but it is more involved to install and can’t run on standard shared hosting. That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult to use, though, since Ghost will have a hosted version that’s as easy to use as WordPress.com.
John O’Nolan wrote about why he wanted Ghost and his plans for the platform on Envato’s Tuts+ Hub today, so you should go check that article out for a quick into into Ghost and what’s coming next. And, you should check out our Ghost Review to see what it offers today, since the version you’ll be trying out is essentially the same as the one we reviewed. Then, it’s time to get your blog running.
Getting Ghost Running
It’s far easier to get Ghost installed today than it was when we first reviewed it, thanks to the Tuts+ team and a number of hosting providers. If you already have you own VPS or want to just install it on your computer to try it out, go check out the Tuts+ guide to installing Ghost:
If you don’t already have a VPS, though, or don’t want to go to the trouble of installing it by hand, there’s a number of hosting services that have auto Ghost installers ready for you to get a site up in seconds. Over at the Ghost Team’s Blog, you’ll find a list of the services with Ghost installers ready to use, including Digital Ocean, Rackspace, and more. If you use one of those services, it’ll only take seconds to get a new Ghost blog up and running.
And if you’re ready to hack and tweak Ghost on your own, be sure to check the Ghost GitHub repository.
Making Ghost Your Own
A basic, clean blog is nice, but you’ll likely want your Ghost blog to be a bit more personalized than it’ll be right out of the box. And you’re in luck. Ghost already has a theme marketplace with a number of themes you can buy or download for free today. Then, the Tuts+ team has an introduction to designing Ghost themes ready for you to check out, if you’re feeling inspired to craft a new theme from scratch.
For the designers and developers among us, there’s something even better. ThemeForest has launched a Most Wanted contest for Ghost themes, with $5,000 to giveaway to the first 20 Ghost themes submitted. Head over to that link to check out the contest, and if you make a new Ghost theme, be sure to submit yours too!
Ghost isn’t finished just yet. Right now, it’s really just a basic way to make blog with Markdown. But it’s going to be a lot more going forward, with its beautiful dashboard and more. Plus, there’s going to be a hosted version of Ghost that’ll be even easier to use than the pre-made server images today, so if all of this looks like too much trouble, just wait — there’s a lot more coming.
But what’s there today is pretty exciting, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing what people do with Ghost right now. If you’ve switched your blog to Ghost, be sure to share the link to it in the comments below, as we’d love to see it!