Experience of creating a blog

Hello. I have really appreciated this website when trying to set up a personal blog, in order to choose ethical alternatives to many default solutions. Here’s a few things I have found:

  • Platform: I really like the Ghost platform, although it has some aspects better suited to IT-literate people (like customising the theme). I like that it’s a non-profit company running it, an ethos we should see more often. While Wordpress is still open-source, the company behind it (Automattic) behaves in non-ethical ways, trying to suppress competition.
  • Hosting: I had to choose between managed hosting (a company does the hosting for me), which means I couldn’t choose an ethical data center, or self-hosting, which is cheaper and which means I could in theory choose a service with 100% renewable power, for instance. In practice it’s not that simple as Ghost needs a virtual server (VPS) and there are limited options, so the bets I could was choosing one of the datacenters from DigitalOcean that runs on 100% renewable
  • Analytics: This costs more than I expected, so one very good solution (besides complicated self-hosting) is GoatCounter, which is free for personal use, with a suggested monthly contribution. Very good at respecting privacy too.

Contributing here in case it can help others!

Oh and the folks at Plausible have compiled a bigger list of analytics alternatives which is how I found GoatCounter.

Nice post.

I’m one of the co-founders of a sustainable and ethical hosting company and was pretty interested to read your thoughts, especially about Ghost vs Automattic (WordPress).

We run a lot of sites using WordPress and maybe haven’t looked deeply enough into the practices of Automattic. Our clients want WP and it’s a good publishing system, versatile and extensible, whether you need to do the simplest things or want to dive into code. I do really like Ghost too though.

Regarding hosting though, I think there are actually quite a few companies out there who offer managed or semi-managed sustainable hosting. We use the Telia data centre in Helsinki which is one of the best in the world from an energy use standpoint, 100% renewable powered, with generated heat being reused by local homes and businesses.

It seems to be a lot easier to find ‘green’ data centres in Europe than anywhere else in the world at the moment, but there are some good ones in North America too. I’m curious which datacentre you chose to launch your DO VPS is in?

As for analytics… the most ethical from a data privacy standpoint is always to self host, but it can be complex and analytics platforms do seem to just eat up massive amounts of resources, especially Matomo!

We offer Matomo analytics hosted on our own sustainable servers with all of our hosting plans, and we really weren’t expecting it to be as resource demanding as it has turned out to be.

GoatCounter is a new one to me, and I’m going to go and take a look :slight_smile:

Hi John,
For analytics, Matomo is quite big indeed! For lightweight analytics (what I prefer and what I suspect a lot of personal bloggers need), I also found Plausible (beta self-host with Docker) and Fathom (Self-host with Lite version only).
For hosting, sorry, I should have specific that I was looking into Ghost hosting, as it requires Node.js it usually means a VPS and affordable VPS hosting is more rare, and managed Ghost hosting too (they all use DigitalOcean as far as I can see). Yes there are many ethical WP managed hosting. To choose the DO datacenter, I used this thread and picked the London one.

Matomo is great, but it’s definitely overkill to set up a self hosted instance for a personal blog. We run it on it’s own server with a lot of resources and give all our clients accounts for their sites and it works well for us. Otherwise, Plausible is nice.

Managed Ghost hosting is pretty tricky to find, sustainable or otherwise and people do seem to charge a premium for it.

We run managed VPS’s and would be happy to install Node.js if someone asked us to, but we don’t have a lot of experience with Ghost so would only offer a managed Ghost service with caveats, but maybe it’s something we should be looking into!

Equinix are pretty good with the sustainability of their data centres and definitely doing more than some of the other major data centre providers. That seems like a pretty solid choice to me. :slight_smile: