Day 1 Blogging
February 18, 2015 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Help me set-up my first personal site in under 24 hours.

I've waffled around but I decided it's time to learn how to set-up my own personal site without relying on Wordpress, tumblr, or any other site. I plan to post reviews on games, books, and movies/TV shows. Yes, I know even if I get one visitor a year I still think it's worth it.

First off I registered my domain with Namecheap, signed up with Amazon S3 for hsoting, and now searching for a reliable blogging tool. I looked into Ghost but I'm running into a few issues with installation. I did search for solutions but eh I figured I might as well look for alternatives too.

Currently I run a blog hosted by WP but I disliked how cluttered the UI looked to me and I'm not that interested in relying on it again. My new site itself will be fairly small (90% text-only) but I want it to load quickly on different devices too. My tech knowledge is higher than average but I'm completely self-taught so any tutorials or guides would be great. Thanks.
posted by chrono_rabbit to Technology (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I got statamic up and running in an hour. It doesn't have a database backend, so relies on flat files for posts. This makes it about as fast as you can get.

It supports markdown so allows you to write your posts in plain text.

This slightly out-of-date article on workflow is what was the decking factor for me.

I like the idea of being able to write anywhere and only going live when I want to.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:12 AM on February 18, 2015

Since you're using AWS you should be able to get Ghost up and running by using a Community/Marketplace AMI.

I think it's this right here and it appears to be free other than EC2/EBS usage and if you just signed up with AWS you should be able to run it in a free tier-eligible micro instance.
posted by Gev at 8:54 AM on February 18, 2015

Honestly I think Amazon is the wrong hosting solution for you . I would reccommend a more traditional $10 a month kind of hosting service where you can have a working install of a CMS with one click. I use WebFaction, and they are great, but there are plenty of other hosts that are fine too.

I think Webfaction has a one button install for Ghost .
posted by COD at 9:09 AM on February 18, 2015

Response by poster: Gev: Yes, I tried the Marketplace AMI but getting a few errors with it despite reading the forums and guides. Then I did the manual install as I figured I should learn it too JIC.

COD: Thanks I'll check it out later as I'm on a free trial with Amazon so I'm not exactly tied to it now. I ended up with Amazon because it was reliable and recommended by others but I always felt like it had too many options for what is supposed to be a simple blog.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 9:22 AM on February 18, 2015

You might be interested in Octopress.
posted by neushoorn at 9:58 AM on February 18, 2015

GitHub pages is very easy and simple right now. Not self-hosted but zero UI bloat -- you manage everything through git.

The engine it uses is Jekyll and you could easily self-host that. There are now Jekyll-like static blog engines for other platforms, too.

But girhub pags is extremely low fuss.
posted by grobstein at 10:32 AM on February 18, 2015

I have talked about this before on AskMe: to get away from WordPress, I ended up going with BlogSpot and I am much happier.

Yes, you can use your own domain name. I have set that up with two of my sites (well, technically, I did not do that -- I had a tech support person do that). And it's free, so you don't need to worry about hosting costs.
posted by Michele in California at 12:12 PM on February 18, 2015

I like blogspot because it's so darn easy. And easy means I post more.
posted by cccorlew at 5:33 PM on February 18, 2015

Octopress (I'm a user) or other Jekyll based static site generation plus an S3 website is lightening fast. Generally unless you need anything dynamic I wouldn't bring ec2 into it at all and just put cloudfront in front of s3 and point you DNS at cloudfront. There are all kinds of tutorials out there for this kind of setup. However you'll probably need to be pretty comfortable with command line tools, etc. It also gets a bit slow to generate a site as the article count gets higher (most systems have to regenerate all pages in case content like "recent posts" is changing.)
posted by R343L at 3:19 AM on February 19, 2015

I use Pelican, which is a Python based static site generator similar to Octopress or Jeckyll. It's taking about 10 seconds to regenerate my 400+ page site on a 4+ year old Debian box, so I don't expect site generation times to be a serious issue anytime soon.
posted by COD at 5:35 AM on February 19, 2015

Response by poster: @blogspot: I had one a few years ago when they were first launched but the only problem is being uncertain if I want to tie my main gmail account to it (I'm sure Google already owns 95% of my soul already). That and I didn't like how comments relied on connecting everyone's email too.

Not to mention since it's a free service there's no guarantee it won't be closed in a few months or years down the road :(
posted by chrono_rabbit at 11:57 AM on February 19, 2015

I found Anchor CMS to be a pretty straightforward and simple PHP-based blog system. However, updates has been stalled for a little while.

I messed with Ghost and the requirement for SSH access and the need to restart the system to see template/layout updates seemed a bit cumbersome.

I've also messed with Perch, but I think it's better for things like portfolios than it is for blogs, although they do have a blog module.
posted by that girl at 12:45 PM on February 19, 2015

That and I didn't like how comments relied on connecting everyone's email too.

To me, this is a feature, not a bug. When I used WordPress, about 99.999% of all comments were spam. On BlogSpot, about 98% of all comments are honest-to-god comments. It has been a vastly superior experience. (These off-the-cuff guestimates are not backed by any actual number crunching -- just my gut impression of the experience.)

but the only problem is being uncertain if I want to tie my main gmail account to it (I'm sure Google already owns 95% of my soul already).

You can have as many free gmail accounts as you want. So they can own your soul under some other gmail account, while you choose to not admit to anyone on the planet (other than google) that gmailaccount2 is also you.

Google owns about 98.5% of my soul and, as I resolve some of the reasons I didn't want my name associated with some websites, I am slowly making it possible to update them via my main blogger account, so I don't have to log out and into gmail all freaking day, like a revolving door.

posted by Michele in California at 1:02 PM on February 19, 2015

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