How to set up a blog
(I'll edit and add more detail to this post over time)
Get a custom domain. Use Cloudflare. Cloudflare has started offering domain registering services at no mark-up. Their domains are long-term cheaper than any of the popular services (GoDaddy, Name Cheap, Google Domains, etc.).
A common tactic you will see from registrars like GoDaddy is to give you the domain for a discount in year 1, but then 2-3x the actual price in year 2 and beyond.
For example, thisisatesdomain123.com will cost you $8.03/year on Cloudflare. On GoDaddy, the same domain will cost you $1 in your first year and then 17.99/year in year two and beyond.
If you already have a custom domain, you can easily transfer it to Cloudflare.
Decide which website builder you want to use. This post is written using Ghost(Pro). Ghost is a modern publisher specific for bloggers, content creators, newsletters, or people who'd like to monetize with subscriptions. It's very easy to use and they've got a lot of tutorials that make set up fast and easy.
For the sake of comparison:
Ghost is one step more difficult than Substack, a few steps easier than Webflow or Squarespace, and much easier than Wordpress.
Ghost does lack some flexibility in its hosted version. Right now, Ghost has much more flexibility than Substack and much less flexbility than Webflow, Squarespace, or Wordpress.
Ghost offers a limited number of themes right now in their marketplace, but I asked and their CEO told me they know this and are working to add more. Some other places such as the Ghost forum have a lot of indepedent people making and selling Ghost themes. For example, here is someone who made a Ghost theme that borrows the Substack UI 😉
So if flexibility if a goal, Ghost might not be the best fit at the moment, but I'd bet on them to add more themes long-term.
If you're just starting out and don't plan to charge, Ghost's hosted plan (~$30/month) can feel expensive. The way that I am able to think about this is two fold (1) this page is like my home on the internet. It is where I want someone googling my name to wind up and ghost allows me to easily play around with SEO and search engine meta data. (2) I'm hoping by paying something for this, it will convince me I need to write more here 😂
At a higher-level, I think writing is one of the best ways for non-engineers to showcase their abilities, so you can consider this my budding portfolio of work.
This thread on Twitter the other day had some good back and forth comparing website builders.
Happy writing!! 📝