Get Started With Ghost - in 30 minutes or less

Introduction

Released in October 2013, and financed by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Ghost is a relatively new blogging platform. It is a very bright and lucrative alternative to WordPress. It is stunningly fast and an absolute joy to work with. It is quite different from WordPress and you must give it a shot if:

  • Speed and performance are important to you
  • You care about a well designed interface
  • Your content needs to work well for social and search
  • You prefer to save hosting cost

You may be better off with WordPress when:

  • You want a full business website, not a blog or publication
  • Advanced functionality like e-commerce, is needed
  • You want to build your own custom features with plugins

By the way, this site is using Ghost too (self-hosted) :-)

In this article, you will learn how to quickly setup Ghost on your Mac, Windows, or Linux. So, let's begin!

Installation

Ensure that you have Node.js installed before proceeding further. Once you have Node.js installed on your OS, you will need to download and unzip the Ghost Setup files from here or from the developers page). Then, fire a terminal or a command prompt and navigate to the directory where you extracted the ghost-xx.xx folder and run:

npm install --production  

This will take a few minutes. Once done, run:

npm start  

And... you are good to go! If you face any issues, see the detailed instructions for Mac, Windows or Linux. Now, if you browse to http://127.0.0.1:2368/ you should be able to see a screen like this:

Ghost Installed

Create User Accounts

Your blog is already installed and working. Time to set it up! Let’s create your user account now. Open a browser and navigate to http://127.0.0.1:2368/ghost. It will launch a quick wizard:

Step 1

Create your account by hitting the button. Fill in your information and invite your team next if you have one.

Step 2

Invite your team of authors:
Step 3

Ghost Basics

This screen will delight you. The layout is pretty fluid and well defined. Section 1 is a warning that you can ignore for now. Section 2 (let’s call it Actions Pane) is for your overall blog settings, whereas section 3 (Content Pane) lists all your posts. Section 4 (Preview Pane) is the preview of the blog post. Right off the bat, you can imagine how swiftly you can switch between different posts and make adjustments.
Step 4

Edit post button - top right in Preview Pane (#5 in image above) will allow you to edit the post using Markdown syntax. Learn markdown in less than 10 minutes, and I can almost certainly bet that you will save hours in the long run, especially if you like writing. To give you an idea, take a look at the following image and imagine how easy it is, in contrast to HTML.
Markdown Visualization

WordPress Users: Don't dis the UI as non-functional because of its simplicity. Unlike WordPress, the UI is extremely simple and functional so that writing becomes joy again!

Update General Details

In the Actions pane, select General. Provide a suitable title, logo and a blog cover. It is a good idea to keep the blog cover between 1400 and 2500 pixel wide. There is no way in the UI to upload a favicon.ico file, so you must place the favicon.ico file in the folder /themes/casper/assets/ and update the default.hbs file from:

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="{{asset "favicon.ico"}}">  

To:

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="{{asset "/favicon.ico"}}">  

Now, refresh the page and you should be able to view your new favicon.ico in browser's title bar. If you face any issues, ensure that you Shift+Refresh the page so that you get fresh content instead of browser cache.

Creating New Post or Page

In the Action Pane, click on New Post. This will create a draft of a new post and it won't be published unless you explicitly do so. Ctrl + S (Windows) or ⌘ + S (in OSX) lets you save your content while you are writing. You can start writing using the Markdown syntax as mentioned earlier. Once your post is ready, click on the Settings icon on Top Right. You will get a settings pane that allows you to set multiple options regarding the post like:

Settings

You can set the featured image for the post, post URL, publishing date, tags (pre-created using the Tags menu option in Action pane) & metadata here. You can also turn the post into a static page or featured post. A static page doesn't appear in Post feed. Pages like About, Contact, Price Chart, etc. are good candidates to be marked as static pages.

Once you have applied all settings to the post, publish your post using the button on the top right.

Publish

Set Navigation (Menu)

Creating a Menu can't get simpler than this. Take a look at the image below. It is so simple that I don't even feel writing about it :)

Navigation

Creating Tags

It is a good idea to create Tags before writing posts so that you can simply use the Tags while writing your posts. Use Tags menu in the Action Pane to create meaningful Tags. They will further assist your visitors in navigating around the site for related content.

Summary

You have learnt how easily you can setup a Ghost blog on your local machine and start writing. Writing an article in Ghost is so simple that you have to experience it to really enjoy the simplicity. It has an equally awesome experience on a mobile device.

Subscribe now to stay tuned about latest articles on Ghost and many other technologies. Also, if you have any hosting or design requirement, check out our services or contact us at contact@attosol.com.


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Rahul Soni

⌘⌘ Entrepreneur. Author. Geek. ⌘⌘

Kolkata, India

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