Question

Do you have a blog—and if so, what CMS do you use?

Would love to check out everyone's blogs and hear the backstories behind them, how you built them, what you wish could be better, and how you stay inspired to keep publishing.

Mentioned
#WordPress #Ghost #Blogging
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dr's avatar
@dr
a year ago

I'm a big fan of Ghost and have a few blogs running on it. I'm also building some tech and themes for the Ghost ecosystem.

It's the best CMS I've used, is really easy to set up on Ghost Pro or install on a VPS (eg DigitalOcean) and has an exciting future with its memberships and newsletter features.

10 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @dr )
a year ago

That's great to hear—what makes Ghost so great for your needs?

The new membership and newsletter features look very nice, like Medium meets Substack. Curious, does Ghost send the emails for you, or do you connect it to something like SES, or...?

2 points
dr's avatar
@dr (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Compared to other platforms, Ghost is like Medium for writing but with a splattering of Wordpress' themes and backend (Ghost's is a lot simpler). You can of course edit the code and host it yourself, which is a big benefit for some people over Medium.

It's definitely in a spot that reaches over a range of products, like Medium, Substack and Wordpress. An interesting positioning.

Emails (newsletters and login/signup transactional emails) are sent by Ghost through your own Mailgun account. You just add your API key.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @dr )
a year ago

Ah neat, thanks for the email details!

1 point
tmvst's avatar
a year ago

We use Gatsby and write posts in markdown. The main benefit is the site speed, as in the end, it's a static site. The only caveat is the markdown. I like using it but for other founders, it's not a great experience. I plan to integrate a headless CMS like Contentful to improve that.

Oh, and the blog is https://lunadio.com if you want to take a look :)

8 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @tmvst )
a year ago

Markdown seems worth the trouble to learn and use, since it simplifies things vs. rich text editing over the long term ... but it can be difficult to convince people too start using it!

Gatsby looks incredibly powerful but also more complex than the average CMS to set up. Did you pick it mainly to get a static site?

1 point
tmvst's avatar
@tmvst (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Gatsby is not a CMS; I guess I would call it a framework. We don't even have a CMS hooked up to it, all posts are just plain .md files. It that way, it's very easy to set up – write an article wherever, export .md file, move it to the repository, add images, commit & push, done.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @tmvst )
a year ago

Also, love the artwork on your blog—reminiscent of early Dropbox designs. Do you do the art in-house?

1 point
tmvst's avatar
@tmvst (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Thank you! Yes, I volunteered to draw them for every article. They're not that easy to come up with as I initially thought 😅

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @tmvst )
a year ago

Oh that’s even better! You’re doing a great job so far! What are you using to draw them?

1 point
tmvst's avatar
@tmvst (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Thank you, I'm happy to hear that you like them! I'm using my girlfriend's Wacom tablet and the SketchBook app (free). Are you interested in drawing?

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @tmvst )
a year ago

Haha not exactly—I’m terrible at drawing, though do enjoy apps like Paper by 53 that make my sketches a bit less terrible (and that app has been used to great effect by Stratechery among others).

1 point
tmvst's avatar
@tmvst (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Ah yes, when I had an iPad Mini a few years ago, I used Paper by 53 to draw! I even had their stylus. It wasn't that great.

I'm considering getting the new regular iPad with the Apple pencil, but I don't know if I would use it enough to justify the cost.

Don't worry about being bad at drawing, I think I am too. We can call it "the advantage of a distinct style" 😃

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @tmvst )
a year ago

Yeah their stylus was way too squishy.

I’m the exact same—deeply tempted by newer iPads plus the Pencil.

1 point
MMarahatta's avatar
@MMarahatta (replying to @tmvst )
a year ago

I actually found Logi pen much better than Apple pencil and it's cheap as well :D

1 point
venturetwins's avatar
a year ago

We publish a weekly newsletter as well as blog posts - started on Medium for the blog, and Mailchimp for the newsletter. We switched over to Substack for the newsletter, as it's much easier to manage the archive and we get new readers from the platform's discovery engine. We also publish blog posts on Substack sometimes as well. Have moved away a bit from Medium, as the fact that many publications have moved off makes it tough to get the same audience.

7 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @venturetwins )
a year ago

Ah neat! Have you missed any features from Medium + Mailchimp after moving to Substack?

1 point
venturetwins's avatar
@venturetwins (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Mailchimp definitely had more flexibility in the design versus Substack. This was something we were worried about at first - but we polled our subscribers and they prefer the cleaner look anyway!

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @venturetwins )
a year ago

Nice, sometimes the simplest option is the best!

1 point
brnt's avatar
a year ago

We're using Webflow for our corporate blog at Human Lambdas.

I wanted a hosted solution that would let me set the whole thing up without bothering our engineers. I looked into Wordpress and Ghost's hosted services but they were too expensive for what we needed. And since we are already using Webflow for our landing page, it was an easy choice.

Designed a very simple template in Figma and ported it to Webflow. It took a couple days because I am not an expert and it took some learning :)

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @brnt )
a year ago

I should give that a try—Webflow looks like a ton of fun to use. How's the CMS side of things? Do you end up needing to visually edit posts in the standard page designer, or does it have a full CMS to manage copy and schedule articles and such like WordPress?

Ghost self-hosted is also tempting but their hosted plans' pricing doesn't fit personal blogs very well.

1 point
ezramechaber's avatar
@ezramechaber (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Fwiw, we have a self-hosting solution for Ghost up on Glitch - free, though I suspect our paid plan makes it run a little smoother. If you give it a try, let us know where the hiccups are.

6 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ezramechaber )
a year ago

Oh wow ok that I do need to try. I’ve been intending to try glitch as well, so that’ll get two birds with one stone. Thanks for the suggestion!

1 point
ezramechaber's avatar
@ezramechaber (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Feedback very much appreciated on how your experience goes and if anything particular gets in your way.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ezramechaber )
a year ago

Absolutely, will let you know!

1 point
brnt's avatar
@brnt (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Not an expert in CMS but it seems pretty basic. No ability to schedule posts either. Still, full flexibility on the layout layer, as you'd expect. The content is kept in a different UI outside the page designer, which makes it easier to manage.

You also get some little SEO related features out of the box, which apparently Wordpress doesn't – need plugins for that.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @brnt )
a year ago

Gottcha, yeah I'd imagine you'd have far more customization options on the page layout side, fewer on the content management side. And the funny thing is so many simpler or in-house CMS don't support scheduling either.

1 point
giohobbins's avatar
a year ago

We use Wordpress (getmatcha.com/blog) for ours but the majority of our customers (small ecommerce businesses) use Shopify's built in blogging tools.

We've heard again and again that the Shopify CMS is pretty bad so we've actually begun to build our own ecommerce blog creation tool that we'll eventually launch to our customer base.

Any ecomm bloggers on Capiche? Would love to learn about your experiences.

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @giohobbins )
a year ago

That's a really cool niche, content marketing for eCommerce. What led you to build that?

Are Shopify add-ons advanced enough where you could build a custom blog CMS inside of Shopify?

1 point
giohobbins's avatar
@giohobbins (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

We think the blog is the under-leveraged marketing asset in ecommerce and we've seen the top brands use it to build massive, sustainable owned audiences (instead of having to rely on Amazon, FB, and Google).

We actually just launched our free tier on Product Hunt. To help small ecomm businesses during the pandemic, we’re giving away the Matcha platform free. Put your ecommerce blog to work: Optimize, analyze, and populate your Shopify blog.

Check us out and join the conversation! https://www.producthunt.com/posts/matcha-free

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @giohobbins )
a year ago

Awesome I just gave you an upvote there!

1 point
AlinCatalin's avatar
a year ago

I've been looking for a CRM solution for my new app - Sane - and I'm leaning towards Ghost.

It's open source with a great developer ecosystem. It's also super easy to setup with the Ghost infrastructure (Pro version) or you can just set it up yourself (DigitalOcean etc.).

Beside that - Ghost also offers build in membership & subscription, great third party integrations or custom themes you can use and update as you like.

5 points
gentoftech's avatar
a year ago

Ghost Self Hosted Is my preference. Clean, simple, and easy to use. I host on digital ocean, my most recent blog took about 30min and $6/month.

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @gentoftech )
a year ago

That's awesome it was so easy to set up. I use that exact pricing plan for my personal blog on Digital Ocean.

1 point
ezramechaber's avatar
a year ago

My personal site, https://ezramechaber.com runs on Eleventy on top of Glitch - the starter I built off-of is here.

My site has a blog which isn't surfaced since I don't write very often, but it runs on the Eleventy static site generator.

5 points
VVincendon's avatar
a year ago

After lots of thinking and comparing alternatives - New Google Sites for my personal blog (https://valentin.vincendon.com/essays).
I can code, but Google Sites is easy to use, has a clean design, and removes the pitfall of endless design optimisation.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @VVincendon )
a year ago

Sometimes the easy option is the best choice! And I wouldn't have guessed your site was powered by Google Sites at first glance; looks really nice.

What's your process for publishing new blog posts on Google Sites? Do you essentially have to create a new page each time?

2 points
VVincendon's avatar
@VVincendon (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Thanks!
Yes, I create a new page everytime, which takes a second. The url is persistent and can be customised, also in seconds. There are some drawbacks to Google Sites vs. coding something from scratch (my business landing page I coded from scratch because I customisation is too important), but vs. other blogging solutions, I can't find much. JS scripts are restricted, which can be annoying for 3rd party integrations, especially around analytics, but again you still have GA.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @VVincendon )
a year ago

That's pretty cool—makes sense it would work with Google Analytics. Can you save pages as templates to spin up new blog posts quickly?

Neat to hear you've made it work.

2 points
VVincendon's avatar
@VVincendon (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

No, can't save templates as such (that would be extra useful, but more Intranet application than blogs in my opinion), BUT you can create a "template" page, hide it from public navigation, and create new posts by duplicating that master page.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @VVincendon )
a year ago

Perfect, that's close enough! I was thinking templates would be more helpful with Google sites versus a normal CMS since it doesn't have any other content management tools so you essentially have to create a new page per post.

2 points
litocoen's avatar
a year ago

We use two different CMS's. We use Strapi for the main website (https://cryptotesters.com/) which is a crypto product comparison platform. Strapi is super flexible and you can build anything with it.

For the blog (https://cryptotesters.com/blog) we use Ghost. But we're going to switch everything to Strapi. Weren't too happy with Ghost.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @litocoen )
a year ago

Strapi's new to me. Very impressive how many tutorials they have. What's your team's favorite thing about it? And what did you not like about Ghost? I found Ghost super fascinating when they were first on Kickstarter, with their anticipated everything-in-one dashboard and analytics and more. It's interesting how it's morphed into a bit more of a customizable Medium plus now subscription tools.

1 point
meattle's avatar
a year ago

We use Wordpress for our blog @ Shareaholic (https://shareaholic.com/blog). The extensibility via plugins is a life saver.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @meattle )
a year ago

What are your favorite WordPress plugins?

1 point
meattle's avatar
@meattle (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

It so depends on the purpose. There are so many.

The following list is biased, as both are maintained by us:

Others on the list would be Akismet, WP-Optimize, The SEO Framework, ShortPixel.

An example of flexibility in action -- we were just about to launch our first paid product where we needed to have some way of accepting credit card payments. Instead of delaying getting the product to market, we paid for and installed a Stripe plugin (cost $75?) for WordPress and stood up a checkout page - https://www.shareaholic.com/blog/native-ads-checkout/

Doesn't look pretty, but did the job. This page alone accounted for over $100k in accepted Stripe payments.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @meattle )
a year ago

Yup, the ability to build shopping carts and forms/surveys and almost anything else you want is easily the best thing about WordPress.

1 point
adammckerlie's avatar
a year ago

Our corporate blog (https://www.gadventures.com/blog/) is custom-built using Django. This was done so we could have a deep integration with the rest of our content.

My personal blog (https://procrastinatingdev.com) is built on Wordpress. It's so easy to set up and use that it's almost a no-brainer.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @adammckerlie )
a year ago

Ah nice, Zapier's blog was a custom-built Django app too, for the same reason.

Love your personal blog domain name! Looks like a pretty new blog. Did you recently start over and set this up?

1 point
tmatthewj's avatar
a year ago

We use self hosted Wordpress for our startup blog (https://blog.typito.com). We got a theme recommended by a designer and built the blog on top of it. Wordpress CMS is not very easy to navigate, but I guess we've got used to it now :-). What can be improved: I think the theme / design that we use leave a lot to be desired. We will also want to evaluate whether the page loads are good (heard it helps with SEO) - hope to do it soon.
Other than Wordpress, we have written a few posts on Medium (https://medium.com/typito) but haven't done it for a while now.

On the personal front, I used to write on Tumblr (https://tmatthewj.tumblr.com) but recently tried porting some of my posts to Substack (https://revery.substack.com). What's exciting about Substackm I think, is the email newsletter + blog combo purpose being served in one shot. I love the experience so far but not sure if it can be used for a company blog. Anyone here who uses Substack for their company newsletter + blog?

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @tmatthewj )
a year ago

You've used a bit of everything!

WordPress is a jack of all trades, which makes it powerful but also confusing at first. Medium ... honestly now feels like a better way to re-promote content to their community than as a primary place to publish, especially now that they don't support custom domains on new blogs.

Tumblr was so nice at a certain point; loved their different post styles, especially the quote and conversation-style posts. Felt unique. Seems incredible they're owned by Automattic now.

Substack is fascinating since it's a CMS+email system, with the option of monetization but no fees if you don't. How are its writing and publishing tools versus WordPress and Medium?

1 point
invinciblesaad's avatar
a year ago

Cloudways website was built in Laravel but we are using WordPress as a Blog CMS. It's easy to optimize for search and most of our marketing team is very well versed on WordPress. My whole marketing team has a computer science background :D

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @invinciblesaad )
a year ago

WordPress is like the Microsoft Word of blogging—everyone knows how to use it even if it's not the coolest new thing!

2 points
MMarahatta's avatar
a year ago

Strapi is my personal favourite now and also have used ghost and wordpress in the past.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @MMarahatta )
a year ago

Neat, I'd learned about it from @litocoen recently. What do you like most about Strapi, and what got you to move away from Ghost + WordPress?

1 point
MMarahatta's avatar
@MMarahatta (replying to @maguay )
a year ago

Ghost and Wordpress serves the purpose of just publishing and managing the publishing hurdles whereas Strapi lets you build a customizable API of your content and distribute it anywhere around the platform. Strapi can be used anywhere and to do almost every content delivery stuffs.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @MMarahatta )
a year ago

Ahhhh very cool, that would make it much more flexible to build your blog into your product.

1 point
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