Set up your domain name
NameCheap is my favorite registrar. I can’t remember how long I’ve been using them, but it’s a looooong time, and they have treated me very well. Support is very responsive, and the domain management console is great. You’ll need to use that to set up your DNS, later. Yeah, that’s an affiliate link, but I really do use them, and I really do love them. I wouldn’t use anybody else.
Set up your hosting
Create a $5/month DigitalOcean droplet (the smallest size should work great for most blogs). Why DigitalOcean? First, they have Ghost on Ubuntu pre-installed. Under “Select an Image -> Applications -> Ghost 0.3.2 on Ubuntu 12.04″.
Most importantly, they’re fast. Really, really fast. Their drives are all SSDs. Their awesome virtual machines protect you from interference by other users of the system — both hacking, and system hogging. The price is right, too. Lots of power for very little money.
And they have an affiliate program. If you get one other person per month to sign up for DigitalOcean, your hosting is free. (Disclaimer, that link is an affiliate link, but I would never link to them if I didn’t use them and love their service.)
Set up your mailer
Head on over to Mailgun.com and set up a free account. Yeah, totally free up to 10,000 emails/month. Awesome. After that it’s only $0.50 / 1000 for the next 500,000 emails. A bargain compared to dealing with the headache of making sure your email stays deliverable with a high-traffic system. Believe me, the man hour trade-off is worth the price.
Set up your DNS
This step is the grease on your lightning.
I recommend that you do this with CloudFlare. CloudFlare started out as a website security company that monitors and filters out malicious traffic to your website, but they worried that it would slow people down, so they invested a lot of time and effort figuring out how they could counteract that. The result is they created a killer caching CDN service that has improved my page load times by 60%, and it’s free. I can’t fathom why they offer so much goodness for free, but they do, and you’d be missing out if you passed them over.
This step is really going to be done at the same time as your mailer, because when you set up your hostname with Mailgun, they’re going to give you a bunch of DNS records to add. Add them in Cloudflare, click the big green button at the bottom, and you’re all set.
Go back to Namecheap (or your existing registrar) and enter the Nameservers that you get from CloudFlare.
Log into your server and edit the config
These steps are covered really well in DigitalOcean’s “How to Use the DigitalOcean Ghost Application”. Read that next.
You’ll need to configure your mailer. It should look something like this:
user: '[email protected]',
How to hack ghost
The source code is really clean and readable (and small!), and relies heavily on promises to manage data dependencies. If you want to contribute to core, you should grab the Ghost Vagrant distribution.
Buckle your seatbelt
Ghost on DigitalOcean with CloudFlare’s performance optimization may just be the fastest blogging setup ever. It’ll outperform most static file servers. You should see returns in lower bounce rates.
Ghost is brand new, which means there isn’t a lot out there for it, yet. Start hacking on themes and plugins. I’d love to see a simple plugin management system that uses npm, and automatic updates. Let’s make this the best blogging platform out there.