Ghost on DigitalOcean - 3 Easy Steps

We love Ghost! Oh, not the scary ones... but the one, that has become an awesome alternative to WordPress. If you are not up to speed on Ghost yet, you can get started in less than 30 minutes. It shouldn't come as a surprise that a lot of leading magazines, blogs, and journalists are using Ghost and the number is steadily increasing.

This article will guide you through the steps that you need to perform in order to get a Ghost blog in DigitalOcean as quickly as possible. Let's talk about the benefits first. If you are in a hurry, you can jump a few paragraphs and check the Step 1..3 below.

Benefits of DigitalOcean

Even though there are alternatives available for hosting a Ghost Blog/Website, DigitalOcean outshines the other choices in various aspects.

  • You can get started at just $5 a month per Droplet.
  • They provide 1 TB transfer limit and 20GB SSD disk. This configuration is good for most blogs in early stages. You can always upgrade if you need to. The thumb rule is to start small and upgrade as per your requirements.
  • One-Click App Install is as simple as it can get.
  • Since you get access to root and filesystem, you can customize it to your heart's content. Great for beginners as well as developers.
  • You can have multiple websites in the same droplet. Beat that!
  • They provide automatic backup at just 20% cost of your droplet. So, at an additional $1 per month (for $5 droplet), your entire server image is backed up automatically.
  • Data centers are available across multiple continents.
  • Extremely user-friendly interface.
  • Documented extensively and extremely simple to start with.

Caveats

There are a few things that you should keep in mind before going for self-hosting, especially if you want peace of mind.

  • Like any web server or platform, the server needs maintenance. You will be required to maintain your servers yourself. If self-hosting intimidates you... try Ghost for free at Ghost.org and have the maximum peace of mind at a cost. The minimum price is $19 per month for a single blog!
  • You must take your backups yourself or choose the automated backup options provided by DigitalOcean.
  • You will have to manage upgrades of the Ghost platform. It is a good idea to upgrade Ghost platform periodically because jumps from .1 to .3 is usually not recommended and you would be required to upgrade .1 to .2 and then to .3. It is not hard, but additional work regardless.
  • If you are not a developer or web administrator, the commands might make you uncomfortable. If that's the case, don't worry let us know and we can help you out in setting up your server and maintain it for you. We can even design themes for you as per your requirements.
  • Things like setting up an SSL certificate requires additional work and hosting multiple blogs in the same server can be tricky. Recommended only for people who are comfortable with servers and Node.js.

Ready for Setup?

Step 1: Create your DigitalOcean account

  • Claim your FREE $10 Credit by clicking here.
  • Ensure that Free Credit Active message is visible: Claim Free Credit
  • Confirm your Email Address when prompted.
  • After confirming your email address, you will be asked for your credit card information. Provide that, and don't worry, you won't be charged now. That is because you already have a store credit of $10 when you signed up. Ensure that the screen shows it explicitly: Free Credit for Digital Ocean
  • Your account is ready! DigitalOcean Account Ready

Step 2: Create a Droplet for your website

A Droplet (cool, huh?) is a terminology used by DigitalOcean for its Virtual Private Servers (VPS). The awesome part is that it takes less than 1 minute to spin up!

  • Hit the blue button that says Create a new Droplet.
  • You can either choose a Distribution and follow the steps, OR you can click One-click apps and select Ghost 0.xx.xx on xx.xx:

One Click Apps

  • Choose the size as per your requirements. Carefully choose one. Notice that every droplet is hosted on SSD and has a minimum of 1 TB transfer. I personally find it very reasonable and competitive. Choose a Size

  • Choose a region closer to you: Choose a Region

  • Select additional options if needed (hover your mouse in the page to learn more about cost and functionality): Additional Options

  • Add your SSH Keys: This is a very important step from a security standpoint and it is a good idea to create your SSH Keys right away. If you don't do it, you will be sent an email with a password. SSH is more secure and comes handy when you have to automate stuff eventually. Hence, it is better that you take a little pain now. Learn how to use SSH Keys with Digital Ocean here. Add SSH Key

  • For the sake of this demo, I will skip it and finalize the droplet by hitting the big green Create Droplet button. Finalize

  • You will receive a couple of Emails that talk about setting up a Ghost Droplet and your root credentials along with the server IP.

Step 3: Configure the Droplet

Your server is up and running, and you are almost ready to setup your website/blog on Ghost.

  • Drop down the More menu option and click Access Console: Access Console
  • This will pop open another browser window that tries to emulate a Terminal. Note that it is not as functional and doesn't allow copy/paste so you will have to type your credentials in (that you received in your mailbox) and change your password once you log on.
  • After logging in, it will show you the following screen and you can find the URL on top (3rd line) where your Ghost blog is accessible: Console
  • Visit the URL and follow the steps to setup your Ghost blog. You can also read Get Started with Ghost - in 30 minutes or less for a quick Ghost Basics tutorial.
  • Map your domain name (ex. www.yoursite.com) to the IP mentioned and your website will be accessible using your preferred domain name.
  • In case you need to host multiple blogs on the same droplet, there will be a few more changes required to the configuration file for Nginx. But I will keep that for some other day :-)
  • You are all set! Your website is now ready and published for the world to see.

Summary

Having a self-hosted blog is not as difficult as most people think. I hope this article helps you in setting up your own website, blog, portfolio, magazine, etc. Making a brand is important for everyone these days and with prices dropping to these lows, there is no reason why you shouldn't have your own website. Happy writing and commenting... and feedbacking (if that was a word, it would mean > we would love to hear your feedback)!

Subscribe now to stay tuned for our latest articles on Ghost and many other technologies. Also, if you have any hosting or design requirements, 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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