Finally! A new blogging service that can compete with WordPress! It’s called Ghost and was just released this year on October 14. So far, it has proven to be exactly what the founder, John O’Nolan, envisioned – a simple, clean, easy, no-nonsense publishing platform for bloggers and writers. Yet more than just content creators are using Ghost. Some of the recently released themes work beautifully as a clean portfolio website for photographers and other artists. But an easy-to-use platform isn’t the only perk: Ghost is an open source platform, meaning that it is completely free. And so are many of the themes and resources.
Why a New Platform?
For years, John O’Nolan grew more and more frustrated at the lack of complex blogging systems, so he wrote a blog post late in 2012 and found out that many others were complaining of the same problem. In the past, WordPress used to be the go-to blogging platform, but as our own Sufyan bin Uzayr points out in his article “I Love You WordPress! But…” , “the speed and swift operation that WP was once known for, is continuously being sacrificed at the altar of each new release”.
Nolan wanted to create a new software program that brought speed and ease of use back to publishing online, so he started a project for Ghost on Kickstarter and raised more than enough capital to get Ghost started. Hannah Wolfe came on board as development lead, and a solution to the worldwide blogging problem came to fruition.
What Comes with Ghost?
Amazingly, Ghost is the full package. It is a software program that is fully responsive, so you can use it on any device. It also offers a full hosting platform that comes with any extras you may need, such as plugins, themes, and other extras only available through Ghost.org.
The dashboard puts all of your blog information in one spot, and by all, I mean everything – from traffic to social media to news feeds and content performance. And you can drag and drop to rearrange your dashboard exactly the way you want it to look.
Just like Dreamweaver, Ghost puts your markup on the left and the preview on the right. Now this is enough to make me as a writer do a happy dance. Writing in Dreamweaver, uploading to WordPress, and clicking back and forth between code and preview views is much too time-consuming. Ghost eliminates several steps in the writing process!
Have I Caught Your Attention?
Now, that I have perked your interest at least somewhat, you may want to check out some of the awesome resources for Ghost below. If you are simply looking for a theme to grab and start publishing on, then browse through some of the theme resources below. For those looking to learn the ins and outs of Ghost, you may want to take a look at some of the tips and tutorials as well. This way, whether you are building a theme for Ghost or have a client interested in using Ghost, you’ll more quickly become an expert in this new, super publishing platform. No matter your use for Ghost, you will find a beautiful, simple, straight-up publisher that won’t disappoint.
The Marketplace page on the Ghost website is one of the best places to look for themes, both free and premium. Or click on the Submit tab to upload your own theme. You could also go to ThemeForest’s Ghost themes compilation, but you may want to stick with only those that have been rated for now. ThemeSpectre is one of two new websites dedicated exclusively to Ghost themes and contains a handful of very nice themes. Polygonix is the other new Ghost theme site, and all of their themes are responsive, multi-browser compatible, and come with lifetime updates.
The following list will give you an idea of some of the themes available. Ghost themes have hardly been on the market long enough to garner too many reviews, but the following themes are ones that look pretty sharp. And a few of them have even received some excellent reviews even in their early stages:
Ghostrayder – Free
Ghost Stories – Free
Vapor – Free
Swayze – Free
Ghostwriter – Free
Starting a Ghost Blog, Switching Themes, and Other Actions
Everything you need to know to set up a blog with Ghost can be found on The Ghost Guide. Learn how to install it, use it, configure email, switching themes, and translating all on the guide. Another excellent place to quickly learn about Ghost, and probably not as intimidating as the official guide, is on DigitalOcean in their article on managing content in Ghost or their article on switching themes and adjusting settings in Ghost.
If you own a Mac, you may want to check out HongKiat’s article on how to install Ghost on a Mac by Thoriq Firdaus. Jeff Matson also gives an excellent step-by-step rundown for installing Ghost on your computer. For Linux users, this article for installing Ghost by Dan Nanni may be helpful. Finally, this article on understanding stages of design on Ghost by Kezz Bracey on WebDesign.Tuts+ is a very thorough tutorial on setting up your Ghost theme.
Creating Your Own Ghost Theme
One excellent place to learn how to create your own Ghost theme is on the Ghost site in the guide. However, the Building a Ghost Theme from Scratch series on WebDesign.Tuts+ is quite excellent and one that I’d highly recommend. Harry Atkins also provides an easy-to-follow tutorial on creating a Ghost theme on WebDesignerDepot.
Zvonko Biskup of CodeForest writes about his experience in creating a Ghost theme from the WordPress Twenty Thirteen theme, and reveals that his only hiccup was with the overriding of partial templates.
Because Ghost is so new, lots is still being improved and added. However, if you want a simple CMS publishing system that looks polished and navigable and easy to use, then Ghost is certainly more than capable. If you have any extra tips or resources to add, please do so in the comments below, and let’s work together to keep Ghost alive!