Moving from Wordpress to Ghost

This is a decision I have lost sleep over due to my reluctance to accept the fact that just because something is cheaper, does not mean it's a better deal!

In a previous post, I talked about how I am happy and unhappy with Wordpress depending on how it behaves when I'm trying to make a new blog post. I'll post the reasons I had from that post below but I think ultimately I had some more realizations over the last week that made me not happy overall with the setup I have.

Good things

  • Good writing experience
  • Automatic updates, continuously updated and maintained
  • Tons of themes available
  • Widely used on the internet
  • Uses minimal resources and works for my use case
  • Server rendered with no maintenance needed from me.
  • I can email it new blog posts, this is one of my favorite features.

Bad things

  • Requires some maintenance that I’d like to not perform
  • Requires a server even if I have minimal traffic
  • Can be slow once in awhile due to a few of the core services running on the same machine, i.e. the database and PHP server.
  • Writing experience feels forced and awkward some times if I’m trying to add more in-depth content, like embeds or videos. Photo layouts are weird.

On the good things, I take some of them back: Good writing experience? Writing on Wordpress was a good experience in the past. But with the updates over time and adding on various plugins, I kept running into issues. Just yesterday, I was trying to add images and in the middle of uploading the images, the whole editor crashed. I wasn't uploading large images or too many, each image was about 3-4 MB and I was uploading 4 images. Another issue I ran into was the database disconnecting while I am writing which caused my drafts to become out of sync.

Tons of themes available means I'm spending more time changing themes than writing 👎.

On the two about being minimal on resources and no maintenance, this turns out to be only good if you're not really using the blog. Meaning, if I get into a situation where I have even some traffic and I'm trying to write a post, the PHP server and MySQL database start to run out of memory. I was hoping this would not be an issue by using various caching tools, from Cloudflare to wordpress plugins but that just resulted in more issues than not.

The only positive that I'm going to miss is being able to write emails to the blog. Every once in awhile, I have a thought or photo I want to share immediately to my blog and having email access to do that makes it so easy, it's a no-brainer. So, that will be one I will definitely miss.

Why Ghost?

I tried ghost about 5-6 years ago, I have been following their work since their first beta came out. The writing experience is so simple and crisp. The network effect might be nice to have, although I don't write about a focused topic so it might be relevant to me. The ecosystem seems to have matured enough that it'll stick around for a bit.

All my writing since 2018 on Wordpress amounted to a total of 841 megabytes. Only about 744 kilobytes of that was the JSON and everything else was images and files.

Cloud-hosted versus self-hosting

This is the biggest change for me, even before making this move today, I had considered putting a Ghost instance on a DigitalOcean box and running with it. It would've been about $7 or $8 to run that monthly. Then I considered the fact that if I opted for the paid version from Ghost, where I do zero maintenance work, it would be $11 per month ($9 if paid annually). And I thought over this, is it worth for me to spend anywhere from 1 hour to 10 hours a month trying to maintain my blog? A single hour is already too much, let alone multiple hours, every–single–month! If I can pay what is equivalent of a lunch meal or sandwich per month to have a blog running, without worrying about downtime, updates, buggy plugins, out of memory issues, or many other things that came up over the years, why shouldn't I do it? There isn't much to debate there.