In December 2019 I moved BirchTree over to Ghost (and away from WordPress), and a big part of my reasoning was:
While there was nothing really killer, [WordPress] was simply starting to feel like a giant train I was barely holding on the tracks. I don’t want this site to be very complicated, and while the end result was pretty simple, the scaffolding was always visible to me and it bothered me.
And why was Ghost my landing spot?
Everything about this company gives me good vibes, and when I installed Ghost and started noodling around with it, those vibes only intensified. The tool was simple, but powerful. The UI was beautiful and fast. It had a nice writing interface, but it also worked perfectly with Ulysses, my writing app of choice. Lots could be configured in the UI, but I could ssh up to the server and change the source code myself.
I’m writing this because after I wrote this article, several other people (some I know personally, others who are total strangers) switched to Ghost as well, and some have stuck with it, but others have left. We often see blog posts for “why I left X” but we almost never see ones that talk about why they continue to be happy using something for the long haul.
Why I Still Love Blogging with Ghost
Like I said in my original post, WordPress and other platforms always made me feel like they wanted me to use them to do so much more than blogging. “Hey, want to install Jetpack!” “Hey, there are 16,000 plugins you might like, and 4 of them have updates you should install now!” “Do you want to turn on payments? How about activating some CRM functionality?”
I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but let me put it another way.
Notion is a slick app that does task management, customer databases, personal wikis, collaborative writing, personal notes, and much more. So why the hell do I use Things for my task management instead of Notion? Things does so much less! The answer is obvious, but sometimes a solution that does a million things is not what you want. Yeah, technically I could set up one board in Notion and only ever use that, but it’s still not going to be as focused for me as Things/OmniFocus/Todoist/etc.
For me, Ghost is the Things 3 of blogging platforms. It’s beautiful, fast, reliable, and opinionated. It absolutely will not work for everyone, and even though I don’t particularly like it, WordPress will still work for more people because it does more and is more ubiquitous.
I’m 10 Years In, I Know What This Site Is
This past October marked 10 years of writing under the BirchTree name, and that’s a remarkable milestone in my head. I still love this site, and consider it one of the most important projects I’ve worked on in my life. I’ve dabbled in all sorts of things on this site over the years, and at this point I really know what I want this to be: a place for me to write about whatever I want (still mostly tech), using the software I love (Ulysses), and without any other bullshit. One man’s bullshit is another man’s essential features, but for me, Ghost does away with all the stuff I don’t need and excels at what I do need.