That’s not a misprint. There’s no “s” missing. The word is Ghost. It’s the newly released, open-source blogging platform that’s made quite a stir in the industry and will create an even bigger one now it’s available, free of charge, to anyone who wants it.
They went to Kickstarter for initial funding and instead of the £25,000 goal, they raised almost £200,000. Major contributors are Envato and Woo Themes: companies recognized by professional bloggers everywhere. Oh, and Microsoft is involved too.
The Ghost story
So should you be interested in Ghost or is it just another WordPress competitor that has little chance of gaining the critical mass necessary to contend with the industry leader?
Actually, it’s not being discussed as a WordPress competitor at all. Nor a CMS. Visit the launch website and you’re greeted by a simple headline that’s appeared in all the publicity: “Just A Blogging Platform.”
Delve a little deeper and you’ll find that the philosophy behind Ghost is straightforward online publishing. It’s about stripping away all the extra functionality that WordPress and other platforms provide and getting back to what blogging originally was, albeit a more stylish version.
Wired said, “Ghost aims to reboot blogging.” Mashable asked, “Is This Kickstarter Project the Future of Blogging?” ProBlogger called it “a simply, elegantly designed and useful interface.”
Some scary challenges
It’s great publicity, but what does it really mean to the majority of bloggers? Those people aren’t necessarily developers or coders but just want an efficient platform for getting their ideas — or their businesses — onto the Internet?
The claim of simplicity runs into a bit of a challenge right at the start. You have to write in Markdown, a language developed to translate text to HTML quickly and easily.
It certainly does that, and it’s far from the most difficult language to learn, but what’s wrong with hitting the “B” for bold button? Or selecting “Heading 1” from a drop-down menu?
Then there’s installation. Soon they’ll offer a hosted version (no mention of price) but at the moment you have to install it yourself. Many bloggers do exactly that with WordPress, so where’s the problem?
Actually, you can’t run it, as many WordPress users do, on shared hosting. It’s got to be a VPS. $4.99 a month? Forget it. $15.00 is more like it.
If you’re blogging on a commercial basis, maybe $15 a month is not the end of the world, but there are other, potentially more difficult challenges.
Business or pleasure?
If you blog for pleasure, for the joy of publishing your thoughts online, Ghost might be what you’re looking for. If you’re a freelance journalist or an author you might prefer the simplicity. After all, for many it is just about the words.
On the other hand, if you want to turn your passion or hobby into a business, or you already have a blog and you’re wondering whether to consider this alternative, at the very least you’ll want to wait a while.
As yet there’s a lack of themes, so you can’t customize the look or the user experience. Although Woo is involved, there’s no mention of their well-known e-commerce plugin coming to the platform. Indeed the idea of plugins goes against the whole ethos of Ghost.
Which, ultimately, makes it unworkable. A recent article by Steve Wellen of Domo talks about mobile business intelligence. It should be required reading for all businesspeople, because it focuses on the importance of user experience and gathering what information you can from people’s interactions and transactions.
Regardless of the size or nature of your commercial ambitions, you can’t even begin to implement those vital strategies without plugins, or the ability to add code that tracks visitors.
Some very smart people are behind Ghost. We suspect they’ll do some clever things with it. The problem is, at present we can’t see what the practical applications will be.