How to Install Ghost Blogging Platform on Digital Ocean (5$/month) ✍️

Ghost Blogging Sep 12, 2020

Ghost

For those who don't know, Ghost is one of the most growing blogging platform out there. Since its initial release in 2013, It has gained popularity because of its simple and beautiful UI that focuses on writing.

For new comers Ghost might pause some challenges on getting started. We have got two choices if we want to use Ghost. One is by signing up under their paid plans (see photo below).

Ghost_Pricing_Plans
Ghost Pricing Plans

One big advantage of using Ghost on their own platform is that you wouldn't have to worry about installing the software yourself. On the other hand the pricing plans might be a bit expensive for some people.

Hence the writing of this blog post, how do you get cheap or affordable Ghost hosting. I am sure there are other hosting options for Ghost but today we are going to focus on Digital Ocean. We have used Digital Ocean ourselves and it's what powers Monalidor Blog

Getting Started

The first step in setting up our Ghost blog will be getting a domain. You can skip this step if you already have a domain name. But if you don't we recommend you try out Name Cheap or Name.com, we have used both of these registrars and we were satisfied with their services. Not to mention Name Cheap and Name.com pricing are pretty competitive compared to other providers.

To check if the domain name of your preference exist, use the text box below:

Find a domain

Once you have your domain name please follow the steps below to begin installing Ghost on an affordable Digital Ocean plan

Step 1: Sign up for Digital Ocean Account

If you don't have an account already, sign up for a Digital Ocean Account (If you use this link you will get 100$ in credit). If you already have an account just sign in.

Step 2: Install Ghost Droplet

On your newly created Digital Ocean Account, you'll see a left navigation menu. Click Marketplace which is a menu item under Discover. You'll then be directed to a '1-click Application' window which has a search box. Search for 'Ghost', when you start typing... Ghost should come up as one of the suggestions, click that.

A new page will open that allows you to "Create Ghost Droplet". Click the button that says "Create Ghost Droplet". This is a Digital Ocean 'one-click' that will create Ghost droplet for you.

Ghost Droplet
Ghost Droplet

Step 3: Configure your Ghost Droplet

Once you have created your ghost droplet, you'll be led to a page where you have to configure that ghost installation. This is the place where you will pick your pricing plan, size, server location, etc. It really depends on your budget here, but since we have chosen to host our Ghost blog on our own, it's good to assume that we don't want to pay Ghost Pricing. I recommend we pick one of their least expensive plans that goes for 5 US Dollars per month. You might want to click the left arrow to be able to see all the prices, by default Digital Ocean might not show the cheaper prices.

After picking our pricing plan, there are a few other configuration we have to select. Most of the other configuration for your blog are optional. Leave the rest as they are unless you know exactly what you want. Pick a data center region close to where you think most of your readers will be.

Digital Ocean Data Center Regions
Digital Ocean Data Center Regions

Create a root password for your droplet. Note down your password, Digital Ocean won't email you the password. Alternatively, you can pick a SSH keys option.

Digital Ocean Droplet Authentication
Digital Ocean Droplet Authentication

Pick a name for your droplet, confirm if all options are just as you want them to be, you might need to add tags for your droplet or name/select a project to assign your droplet to. We want to keep our budget at $5 a month so no need to enable backups. Finally create Droplet.

Finalize and Create Droplet
Finalize and Create Droplet

Step 4: Connect Domain with Ghost Droplet

Once you have created your droplet, under Resources tab you will see your droplet. In your droplet you'll see an IP address.

Droplet IP Address
Droplet IP Address

Hover over the IP address to copy it, then paste it on a new tab and make sure you see this:

Droplet Quick-start Page
Droplet Quick-start Page

If you don't see the above page that means your Ghost droplet might not have been set correctly.

If you see that page, you can go ahead and connect Ghost droplet with your domain which you already got in the Getting Started step above.

Back to your droplet name under Resources tab, you will see three dots to the very right, click them and select 'add a domain' option.

Droplet Add Domain
Droplet Add Domain

In the page that follows, enter your domain name e.g monalidor.com and click the 'Add Domain' button.

Adding a Domain
Adding a Domain

Upon adding the domain name, you should see the DNS records just as below:

Digital Ocean DNS Records
Digital Ocean DNS Records

After seeing those DNS records on Digital Ocean, now you'll need to visit your domain registrar and change a few settings there. A domain registrar can be Name.com, Name Cheap, or whichever service you used. Go to to the DNS settings of your domain and change the A record to point to the IP address of your Ghost droplet. For example our domain name is Monalidor.com, we go to A-record and point it to the IP address of the Ghost droplet (The IP address can be seen on your Digital Ocean droplet).

On our side we use Cloudflare, the interface might be a bit different on your domain registrar. We need to add record, The type is A record, In the name field we need to add this symbol '@', the @ symbol points to the domain name which for us is Monalidor.com and in the IPv4 address field or sometimes referred to as content is where I will update by putting the IP address of the droplet which is 164.90.151.13

In general that is how you add the records but mind you that different registrars might have slightly different names or convention on how to add them.

See the photo below...the first screenshot is before adding the record, the second after the A record has been update. Click Save to update your new record.

The A Record from Cloudflare
The A Record from Cloudflare

Once that's done, try opening your domain name in the browser, you should be able to see the same page you saw when you used the IP address. This normally updates in no more than 30 minutes or even faster than that BUT sometimes the propagation of DNS records might take a few hours (or even up to 48hrs) depending on the registrar, so don't worry if you don't see the page immediately. Just make sure you see the following page before proceeding.

Quick-start Page from Domain
Quick-start Page from Domain

Step 5: Install Ghost Software on Digital Ocean

Now this is the final step where we install the software itself (Ghost blogging platform) on Digital Ocean. Go back to your droplet in your Digital Ocean account (On the left navigation menu under Manage you will see Droplets). Upon opening your droplets you will see your droplet name the word 'More' to the very right of the page. Under More, click 'Access Console' as you see below:

Digital Ocean Access Console
Digital Ocean Access Console

When you click access console, a console window will open that will prompt you to enter your login (username) and password.

Digital Ocean Console
Digital Ocean Console

Username (Login)  is always going to be root and password is the password you created in step 3 when configuring your droplet. If you're not familiar with the command line this is what you're going to do...type root in the login (username) then press ENTER on your keyboard, then type the password (The password won't be showing while you're typing), press ENTER after typing the password. At that point you'll have to wait a few seconds while Ghost CLI (Command Line Interface) is installing. Then press ENTER one more time when prompted to do so just like you see below:

Ghost CLI

After Ghost has been downloaded and installed, you will be prompted to enter your domain name or blog URL. In my example just as you see below my domain name is 'monalidor.com'. Press ENTER after typing your domain.

Ghost Command Line Interface (CLI) - Enter Blog URL

Then you will be prompted to enter your email address, input your email address and Press ENTER again.

Congratulations! 👏You've successfully installed Ghost!

Ghost Successfully Installed

Did I say Congratulations 🎉?!

Now you can go and visit your blog (mine is monalidor.com), just put your blog domain name in the address bar of your browser. You should be able to see the default Ghost template, this is the Casper template that comes by default with all Ghost installations.

🔔Please note, for those using Cloudflare you might need to change your SSL settings from Flexible to Full if you keep on getting routing or redirects problems.

If you wanna do everything by yourself and complete setting up your blog you can just log in to your Ghost blog by putting yourdomain/ghost  in my case it will be monalidor.com/ghost.

Otherwise please follow me to the following post where I will show you how to get started blogging with Ghost, logging into your blog, changing your theme, customizing your blog appearance and even adding Google Analytics. Fun, right?

Doubt kills more dreams than failure will ever will

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