Help Me Find a Good Blogging Platform

If anyone can help me in my spirit quest for a good blogging platform, readers of this forum can.

I’m looking for a good blogging platform so I can move off of Squarespace. I have two reasons for wanting to move:

  1. I don’t need a webpage, which is what I now have in SP along with an embedded blog.
  2. Squarespace is very difficult to post to using my iPad Pro, which is what I use for 90%+ of my work, especially now that I have the Magic Keyboard.

I’ve looked but I’m just not finding what I need. Here are my criteria:

  • Easy to post articles to the blog using the iPad
  • Can import my blog posts currently on SP (after I have exported them from SP)
  • Provides the ability to easily export one’s content
  • Does not require syncing files through Dropbox, e.g, like Blot
  • Does not limit the reader to a certain number of articles without a membership, e.g., like Medium does
  • Can handle collections/categories, keywords/tags for organizing posts for searches
  • Has the ability to accept “subscribe” from the blog so readers can receive updates
  • Can handle images along with text
  • Has an “excerpt” feature so that a short excerpt is given with a “click here to read more” so that more blog posts show up on the main page with less scrolling
  • Has a preview function before publishing
  • Has the ability to grab or create a link to individual blog articles
  • Adapts to the device being used to read the blog
  • Is free of advertising
  • Is a hosted service
  • Has themes that can be modified
  • Is easier to use than WordPress.com

I’m willing to pay a reasonable price for the service.

Any suggestions? Your advice will be appreciated!

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Would a git set up work instead? Blot can do this instead of Dropbox. I use Working Copy on iOS and Fork on the Mac to add some GUI to this. I actually rarely open Working Copy, and just use the app’s handy shortcuts to essentially hit “publish.”

This might be a sticking point for Blot regardless of Dropbox vs. Git. Blot’s theming is either shallow or deep—shallow means choosing a theme and adjusting a few high-level things, like primary and alternate colours. Deep means diving into the CSS and HTML of your pages. You can then do anything, but… it requires knowing CSS and HTML.

I sure hope humility is good for one’s soul because I’m about to be really humble. :slight_smile: I don’t know what you mean by the above. What is a git setup? What can Blot do instead of Dropbox? I don’t want to trouble you or take up too much of your time. Additionally, I have no experience with CSS or HTML (other than exporting Markdown to that format) and as valuable as it might be for me to learn; my job, family and the book I’m working on leave no time to learn.

I did watch a video on Blot and it looked promising but I don’t want to put my text in Dropbox to post articles. I have everything in iCloud and I use iA Writer for writing my posts.

Any insights you can give will be appreciated—but please don’t spend unnecessary time as I don’t want to be a bother.

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No worries. Git is perhaps most well-known for being useful for collaborating on code. For our purposes in this discussion, though, it is a simply method of pushing and pulling text to and from a repository.

You can run a Blot blog off of Git. The Git server is hosted by Blot. There are a couple of technical things required to set it up—mostly you just need to enter your Blot blog’s git address, username, and password into Working Copy—but once it’s done you can write in iA Writer folders, tap a shortcut, and your post will be published.

It can be more complicated if you want it to be, but I don’t think I’m misrepresenting anything by saying that that’s all you really need to know.

MacStories runs on Git via Working Copy. The writeup about it goes into a bit more detail than you’d need—particularly because they use git to collaborate on writing, too—but skimming it might give you more info: https://www.macstories.net/ios/my-markdown-writing-and-collaboration-workflow-powered-by-working-copy-3-6-icloud-drive-and-github/

As for HTML/CSS, I wouldn’t encourage you to learn just to be able to have more control over Blot. The best test for this is probably to try creating a blog over there, choose a theme, and go into the admin panel to see if you’re happy with the customization options there. If it isn’t, you have your answer re: Blot!

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That sounds promising, thanks! I’ll go through the article and see if I can figure this out. Much, much appreciated!

I find Wordpress.com to be rather easy to use (though tbh I’ve never used it with an iPad). I have a couple of blogs, including a Twitter-like miocroblog using the free P2 theme. I just wrote a bit about it in this post.

EDIT: fixed some link errors!

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I am really not the best person to comment on this. However, it may give you another option to consider.

I am using Ghost with DigitalOcean as my hosting provider. It’s fantastic. It is my first website ever so I cannot comment any further.

Check it out if interested: https://ghost.org/

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Hello @bowline

The link you posted requires a login - https://wordpress.com/theme/p2/blomehog.home.blog
Perhaps provide a direct link.

Try this:

It’s good for microblogging, and for Twitter-like commenting as well (if you permit it).

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Another option: Micro.blog

Open web, great and growing community, plenty of flexibility, easy to post to from various clients, the web, Drafts, iAWriter, etc.

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I like this theme, just updated to it. Thanks @bowline
:grinning:

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I’m a happy user of micro.blog and Blot using Git.

I would recommend micro.blog as your first port-of-call.

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I write my blog posts (Wordpress.com / Wordpress.org) in Markdown in Byword.

It has an export / post feature to the blog.

IF there’s a problem exporting, there is also a copy html feature which you then log into your blog and paste into a new post.

Byword also allows one to preview the html version from the markdown.

I too am in the process of switching from Squarespace. I am moving to Ghost. It has all the features that you want as far as I can tell. But there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Customizing Ghost’s blog appearance will require coding knowledge. That said, I find the Casper theme pretty awesome so I didn’t feel the need to customize it.

  • Moving from Squarespace to Ghost is not easy. Since Squarespace only exports in XML format that is compatible with Wordpress, you will have to use terminal and code to move the blog. I was able to do it without any knowledge of coding, so it can be done. But it won’t be easy.

Also, you will have to manually upload all the images again. If there is an automatic method, I couldn’t find one.

  • If you want features like comment section, side bar, search, and more, you will have to edit your theme which again requires coding knowledge.

I am still in the process of moving, and from what I have learned, Ghost is not for users without any coding background if they want to customize the theme.

Ghost also costs more if you opt for the Pro plan ($29/month - billed annually – $36/month billed monthly). You can create your own hosting on DigitalOcean and start at $5/month. But that adds another level of complexities that I wasn’t ready to deal with. I am a writer and wanted a hosted and managed platform so I went with the pro plan.

Despite these drawbacks, I decided on Ghost and am willing to invest time because Ghost has benefits too:

  • It is super-fast. (My Squarespace blog consistently scored between 4-10 in Google page speed tests - blog on Ghost scores above 90) - This is the biggest reason for the switch.

  • The default theme is really good and I like that I didn’t have to customize it much.

  • The backend CMS is clean and makes it really easy to publish and manage posts.

  • Built-in members platform.

  • Integrates with iA Writer and Ulysses for direct publishing.

  • Integrates with dozens of services (My fav is Zapier integration for automation)

  • Once you get it set-up. You don’t have to do anything for maintaining it.

As far as I understand, Ghost is not for everyone. If you just want a casual blog, the technical requirement might be too much for you. But if you can live with the themes (there is a theme marketplace with awesome theme) and don’t need to customize it, I can recommend it.

Granted I cannot give a long-term review as I have just started. Hope this helps in either choosing or rejecting Ghost platform for your blog.

I see Working Copy is for iOS only - their writers never use Macs, only IOS devices?

Is there an equivalent to Working Copy for MacOS?

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Well, there’s git itself and some GUI for it.

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That’s not entirely true. Articles are written there and edited there, but afterwards loaded into WordPress and published.

Personally I’m a fan of WordPress and micro.blog - I use both and find they work well for me.

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Based on your views, the default hosted Wordpress isn’t to bad. It supports keywords and tags. However, is not free of advertising if you use the free version (you can pay). Of course, self hosting adds some additional items to address.

Ghost is good as others have mentioned - though note that it doesn’t support categories AND tags. They use categories (though some themes may support tags - the default Casper one doesn’t).

In terms of Git, Github do a GUI git client if you wanted to go down that route. Years ago I used Atalassian’s/Bitbucket GUI client when I was storing my thesis in the git.

My current blogging tool is Hugo, but I don’t think it meets your criteria as it isn’t hosted (I provide that) and I can’t use the iPad to generate the site. Hugo is a static site generator, so all of it’s files are standard HTML - there isn’t a database, so you can host it pretty much anywhere (again, even on a git service like Github). I write my posts on the iPad, and then will use a Raspberry Pi or desktop to generate the site for upload. Benefit of static sites is that they are usually quicker - in fairness, I haven’t benchmarked against a Ghost install, but it seems fast enough for me.

There’s Jekyll and Octopress as an example of some other static site generators.

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I use Sourcetree as it has a native Mac interface - not some Electron junk. Sourcetree is free and developed by Atlassian.

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There’s also Sublime Merge from the Makers of sublime text. It can be free to use. (The app is fully unlocked but occasionally has a popup requesting you to support the app)