Over the years I used many tools for writing and publishing web content. Later I discovered that I was more dealing with maintaining my CMS and configuring numerous options in the software I used to write with. The best combination over the years was - so far - Scrivener paired with Wordpress. Both heavy and big tools in their specific genre but I finally realized that all the work with both distracted me from the main element: Writing.

Ulysses in Action

This sounds strange as Scrivener is a massive help for each writer who wants to get his novels done. Wordpress is the biggest and most-extendable CMS not just by coincidence, but I finally discovered I had to settle down and review my demand from a new point of view. As a father of four wonderful girls, writing a novel isn't on my bucket list at the moment - it was in 2007, but today everything is different. So Scrivener is a little bit oversized for my main writing work at the moment: Blogging.

While there is no direct link from Scrivener to Wordpress, I finally came to the conclusion that my workflow was just not the best: Preparing a single text in Scrivener (a simple editor would have been enough) and copying-and-pasting everything into Wordpress wasn't the ideal way anymore. Besides, maintaining, patching and customizing my Wordpress-instance was too much: The focus of just opening the backend and to write a blog entry was lost. Wordpress is a great and mighty player in the halls of all CMS, but I was on the search for an alternative for quite some time now.

Ghost Website

Over the last year I discovered Ulysses and finally turned away from Scrivener - for now. A slight and simple user interface, complete markdown support and: The chance of connecting to your Wordpress- or Medium-blog was built in. Instead of paying for each major upgrade as Scrivener offers it, Ulysses is billed monthly or anually. A model that can be discussed but as I like the idea behind Ulysses and the regular updates I consider it more than reasonable to support the creators of the app on this way. As working in the Apple-environment completely, I also liked it that Ulysses is available on macOS AND iOS so you may use your iPad or your iPhone to complete some pieces of text on-the-go.

Besides, I was still searching for a lightweight alternative to Wordpress and heard "Ghost" quite often. This one is being described as "The #1 open source headless Node.js CMS". I liked the look and everything related to Ghost but was a little scared about the payment plans ($29 / month for a little blog - phew!). Fortunately I discovered the way of setting up your own Ghost-instance (I love Open Source!) and finally got the CMS running.

Ghost's Header

I prefer text over graphics and design. Over all the years I learnt that my strength is not based on visual aspects: The more I bought and adopted various templates, the more I got rid of them after dealing with their visuals for hours. Ghost had a strange effect on me from the first view on - the actual standard-design Casper just hit my eyes: Sleek, lightweight, great-looking, modern - rarely before I felt a theme I've bought that much tightened to my personal taste. The feeling of having to deal with visual design a lot before focusing on the text - the contents - was gone. A view of the backend underlined this opinion: Less plugins but definitely less overhead than Wordpress made my to instantly love Ghost.

Although there are plenty of great design on EnvatoMarket where I used to buy Wordpress-themes as well, Casper was basically all I needed to get my new blog running. Running without having the need to implement a new, special design. Running with directly focusing on the content. Of course manual changes on this template are possible - just download the theme, unzip it, alter it, zip it again and finally upload it as a clone of original "Casper": That's it!

As if this all wasn't enough I also had the chance to connect my freshly deployed Ghost-blog with Ulysses: With the current version 16, Ulysses does not only support the direct publishing to Wordpress or Medium but to Ghost as well: A killer-feature if you ask me as it finally completes my workflow with Ulysses as starting grid and Ghost as the common goal.

Ulysses - Accounts

To achieve this, just head to the settings in Ulysses and then to the "Accounts"-tab. Add a new one:

Ulysses - New Account

Choose "Ghost" and enter your credentials to your hosted Ghost-blog or your own instance (depending on your personal choice of deployment). That's it!

Ghost connected to Ulysses

Now you may export your work written within Ulysses directly to Ghost - life can be so easy... !

Publish from Ulysses to Ghost

As it concerns me, I am quite happy to have both tools - Ulysses and Ghost - connected to each other. I still like Wordpress of course but in my specific use case, maintaining Wordpress has turned to be more demanding that neccessary. All the plugins, the updates etc. just eat to much time to focus on the important thing for me: The contents. Still Wordpress is a big player (probably the biggest) when it comes to CMS for the masses but I'll do my personal break here to further dig into Ghost.

After all, everything depends on your personal needs and expectations. As it concerns Ghost, I still have to see how I can backup everything like I did with UpdraftPlus on Wordpress. How I may re-use previously uploaded graphics with new articles instead of uploading them all over again. How I may publish new articles to the well-known social media by Zapier for example.

There is still some work to do to get more used to and familiar with Ghost. But the first steps are made, the administrative overhead has been decreased and I am looking forward to see what this combination will finally result in. My actual Blogging Workforce now consists of an on-premise app and a web service that backs my blog.

What is your best practice-scenario when it comes to your blogging activity? Feel free to let me know!