There are a lot of managed hosting options for Ghost out there, but if you are looking to save some money, there are alternative options like self-hosting Ghost. With these cost savings though, you need to install and manage Ghost CMS yourself.

Check out the official Ghost recommendations to find out more about the stack in case of self-hosting.

Pros and Cons of Self Hosting

First of all, as Ghost is open source, even if you decide to self host, you get the same as the managed version. The difference in the decision will come down to other aspects such as technical skills, time & effort and of course money.

The biggest advantage when hosting Ghost by your own is having full control, without limits (for members or traffic), you just have to make sure your server can handle the incoming traffic to your site.

Basically, you can scale back and forth depending on the traffic you’re getting, thus saving money. There are a lot of useful resources out there about self-hosting which will help with this process.

One of the cons however is the effort and time you need to invest, to install and maintain Ghost and the server, especially if you are not a technical person. If something goes wrong, you’ll need to spend time or money to fix it (you can find more and more tutorials and info online, so it's getting better). You can also ask for help on the forum, there is a great, active community.

If you’re a techinical person or want to save money but spend more time on setup and maintenance, self-hosting your Ghost CMS is the way to go, no questions about it.

One of the best options for self-hosting is DigitalOcean.

Get $100 in credit!

Install Ghost on DigitalOcean

DigitalOcean provides a marketplace app install option, which makes it very easy even for non-technical users to start.

Assuming you have a domain and created a DigitalOcean account, you can start by clicking the Create Ghost Droplet button in the marketplace app.

Usually the $5 base plan is sufficient to run Ghost without issues. If you’re planning to run a site with high traffic or one with lots of members, then you may want to choose an option with more resources. Digitalocean Provides a lot of options and you can upgrade even later on.

DigitalOcean Pricing

After the Ghost One-Click Droplet is created, you’ll need to log into the Ghost Droplet to complete the server setup. Open a terminal and connect to the Droplet using your IP address.

ssh root@use_your_droplet_ip

After log in, the Droplet will automatically make sure it’s running the most recent version of Ghost, and will prompt you to press ENTER to finalize the setup. When finished, you’ll see a prompt for a few details:

  1. Your domain (an A record is needed)
  2. Your email address (for SSL)

Now, you can set up your domain and DNS, for this create an A-Record from your domain, pointing at your server’s IP address, then press Enter in terminal when you’re ready. Some more promts will follow to finish configuring Ghost.

When this is done, make sure to configure the admin user at https://yourwebsite.com/ghost or http://use_your_droplet_ip/ghost.

This is important because until you configure the admin user, anyone who discovers the site can configure the administrative user, take control of the Ghost site.

Once the installation and setup is fully complete, you can access the new Ghost site by visiting the website address or Droplet IP address in your browser.

For more details about the whole process check out the official Ghost & DigitalOcean guides.

Consclusions

As you can see, it is relatively easy and painless to set up Ghost CMS on Digital Ocean. It can save you some money, $5 per month droplet plan can handle the needs for most basic websites, and can easily be scaled as your site grows in traffic.

Also, you can get $100 credit, if you sign up via the link below:

Get $100 in credit!