My initial setup
I started from scratch. Obviously I had to have my site, so I bought a domain name (fuzzygel.com). I have owned that site for a couple of months until I decide what I want to do with that. After I determined I want to write a blog, I researched what is the best way to get it going. I have tried and checked out the followings
After my initial experience with them, I felt that most of them were too expensive or do not meet my needs. First, regardless of the cost, I want to have a blog site that is customized to reflect what I want to communicate with my blogs. I dislike having a generic blog platform like blogger.com or tumbler.com. Micro.blog and write.as are the next step from generic blog sites. They are easy to set up, but again I dislike the generic nature of the arrangement. Unless I miss it, they do not support using my domain. This applies to medium.com but I decide to keep using this platform (more on this later).
In short, I found the most versatile set up that suits my needs is to build my own site using WordPress.
setting up WordPress site.
Before starting the actual installation of WordPress, I keep hearing about it but I have little idea what is it all about. I did not even know that there was a distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. After my research, I understand that in order to have my customised design using my domain; I need to use WordPress.org. This is entirely free and is already in my web hosting package. If I use WordPress.com, I have to pay for it or use ads to support it. This is not what I want to do. I definitely do not want ads to distract my readers.
Once I have determined what I want to do, the actual process was relatively straightforward. The installation was just a matter of a few clicks of mouse and keystrokes. Then I link the Ulysses app to the site and start posting. I have the site up and running in 2 hours. It was not pretty, but it was functional.
The set up process has been rewarding in the sense that I learned a lot along the way.
why am I steering away from WordPress
WordPress is powerful. It is versatile with many options and support that I can get from the user community. I can enhance the plain vanilla blog site to include membership. I can even set up ecommerce to monetise if I really want to. There is almost no limit to what I can do with my site.
However, maintaining the site is hard work. There is a lot of updating of plug-ins. On average, I have to spend a few hours every month to maintain my site to make sure I secured it and not using out-of-date plug-ins. I do not mind doing that in the first couple of months. I learned something from it but doing this on a regular basis is not fun. Also, it may become a financial burden as I may have to pay for the premium version of the plug-ins. The other option is to pay for a fully managed WordPress service, but this is not something that I can afford.
Migrating to Ghost.org
I went back to review ghost.org again. I did more research on their forum and realise that it can be highly customisable as well. It also has a fixed monthly fee I know what I need to pay for, without the extra cost for plug-ins, etc. It includes all the traffic and storage, with newsletter and membership management as bonuses. I also like the community support, the transparency of the organisation and its open-sourced approach.
I have now switched my subdomain to point to my ghost.org site. So far, I am happy with the change. However, the customization of the ghost.org site is only the beginning. Again, it is not pretty, but functional at least. I shall do more work on this in the next couple of months.
why am I keeping Medium
There is a simple reason I continue to cross post to medium - it is free to publish and it has a big audience network there. Currently, I have stopped being a paid member of Medium purely from a cost perspective. I may resume my membership after I found it is a value for money to pay for unlimited read there.
As in most things in the online world, nothing is static. While using ghost is the best solution for me for now, it may change. To quote my favourite phase - “I started from ‘I do not know what I do not know’ to ‘I know what I do not know’”. I shall continue to keep abreast on the development of blogging trend and the hosting world.
Please share your views, comments and suggestions . Thank you