Bloggers October 14, 2020

What's an easy/affordable way to setup a personal website with CMS?

mehmood168

I want to create my personal website with blog. I found Webflow and WordPress as the most popular options. The CMS option of Webflow is $192/year which I don't want to spend currently.

Is there any other way to achieve that?

Here are the example sites that I want to replicate.

https://www.brandonzhang.com/
https://jamesclear.com/
https://www.nateliason.com/

  1. 5

    Ghost is worth a look. They do a hosted package, you can self host too.

    Another option is to use Gloat by @dr to do the set up for you which ends up being cheaper than the Ghost hosted option - https://www.indiehackers.com/product/gloat

    1. 1

      Thanks I'll check it out.

    2. 1

      seconded/third/fourthed, Ghost is great

  2. 4

    Publii and Netlify free tier. Publii is like a CMS, except it's offline and your blog is statically rendered which means super fast. Netlify free tier is usually quite enough for personal sites. You only need to buy a domain.

    1. 1

      Hi, tardy to this party...

      But I am assuming Publii does not host your site? That's why you would need Netlify?

      I am not a coder or developer. Is this a real option for us everyday mortals? (-:

      Thanks!

      1. 1

        Yes, Publii is kind of like MS Office, except it's for creating sites and blogs and all. So you need a place to put the ready-made documents.

        I'm suggesting that because that's what my wife uses. She has absolutely no idea about any of the servers and stuff and she makes fun-facts-crafts.com.

        Admittedly I did the Netlify setup for her but it's fairly minimal, involves mostly just clicking and it's documented, lol here: https://getpublii.com/docs/server-configuration.html. I've told her to pick Netlify because I didn't wanna host her site on my servers because I break them all the time. Netlify, after the initial setup, just works. You press the "Sync my website" and it deploys, wherever you've picked.

        You can use other things than Netlify too. E.g. rent a regular hosting, deploy "via ftp" which comes down to entering your login data in a box. There's a user forum with relatively friendly people.

        Anyway I'm not affiliated but if you try Publii, decide to use it and get stuck with deploying the site for the first time, feel free to reach out, I'll help you if I can.

        Although I thought someone from Publii team is here, not sure about that.

        1. 1

          Thanks for all this info!

          How reliable is Publii? I will look into it, but for right now I need a simple solution (time-strapped).

          1. 1

            Publii itself is quite reliable. And it's also pretty fast to start with it.
            Download it, run it. Create your first post (with a WYSIWYG editor, no coding at all). Add a picture or two and all that, click preview. If you like it, deploy.

            How reliable is your chosen host? That depends on what you pick. For my wife I've picked Netlify, as they're not likely to vanish over night. You can also host on like GitLab or GitHub Pages, on AWS or elsewhere.

            Now, after that, you might want to do some tweaking - like which top-level menus you have, tags and such, but it's all relatively well explained in the docs, but nothing more then you wouldn't have to do if you e.g. bought a hosting at wordpress.com.

            I say schedule yourself 30 minutes to download and try it. If you like the results, you know it's going to be worth investing a bit more time into customizing it to your liking, if not, just ditch it right away.

            1. 1

              Will do! Thanks for the thoughtful reply. 😊

    2. 1

      Thanks, I'm going with Gatsby & Netlify and looking for a CMS to complete the setup, I'll check out Publii, never heard of it before.

  3. 3

    WordPress is the best CMS choice in my opinion. Checkout https://wpengine.com/ as a hosting option

    1. 1

      Also a huge WP fan, coming from someone that used Jekyll/Hugo for years. Weighing in that EasyWP has been great for me, and much cheaper than wpengine.

  4. 2

    I build my blog with Gridsome. I deploy it to Netlify. I set up Netlify CMS for writing.
    They are completely free. I only spend on the domain name

    1. 2

      Thanks, looks like a decent option.

  5. 2

    I really enjoy Statamic and for V3 they made a "Solo"-plan that's free.

    1. 1

      Thanks, I'm going with Gatsby & Netlify and looking for a CMS to complete the setup.

    2. 1

      This comment was deleted a month ago.

  6. 2

    You can self host a https://ghost.org/ instance on the free tier of heroku. It's free and works like a charm. I followed this article: https://medium.com/@zingzai/create-a-free-jamstack-blog-using-ghost-heroku-and-netlify-7727d82ae56b

    In the article it goes the extra mile and deploys a Gatsby static site to Netlify. I wouldn't do that for starters, the performance on heroku is good enough.

    Hope it helps

    1. 1

      Heroku free tier has slow cold starts though, right? Do you live with that, or in practice, do you pay the $7 to avoid that?

      1. 1

        In the beginning, yes. Do you know what's the time period for the slow cold start? You could always set up a lambda to curl your blog URL and keep it up alive.

        Link for reference: https://devcenter.heroku.com/articles/free-dyno-hours

    2. 1

      Thanks, I'm going with Gatsby & Netlify and looking for a CMS to complete the setup, but I'll go through your link and see if that's a better option.

      1. 1

        I also did back but ended up moving to heroku because it's way easier to customize the blog without bothering to write code. What theme will you be using? You gave me a bit of FOMO for this option now, haha

        1. 1

          haha I actually found a theme named 'Fresh' on Stackbit. I'm in love with Stackbit as it makes everything so simple to setup.
          All you have to do is choose a theme and start modifying and then connect your Github account.

          https://app.stackbit.com/edit/5f8992e2ce00e300157840e5/theme

  7. 2

    If you're comfortable editing in markdown and using git to add and commit changes, then a static site generator like Hugo or Jekyll is a great way to go for personal websites. You can host on GitHub Pages or GitLab Pages for free, so the only cost is the domain registration and renewal, or you can host on other static site hosting solutions like Netlify or Forestry.

    1. 1

      I am already on my way to do that, thanks for sharing. I'll update once it's ready.

  8. 2

    It depends on how much you know to code. If you're completely new to coding then Wordpress is a good choice.
    If you know a little coding then you have a lot of other options.

    1. 1

      Thanks, I'm going with Gatsby & Netlify and looking for a CMS to complete the setup.

    1. 1

      I've heard some phenomenal things about Webflow as a front-end builder. How has the CMS-side worked out for you?

      1. 1

        It has worked wonderfully for my use-case. There is a learning curve as with other tools, and it may not be the most affordable, but it functions really well IMO. A good video, albeit two years ago has a good look into the CMS of Webflow
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQTYIgh4hPI&t=1987s

  9. 1

    You can use the Wappanalyzer chrome extension to see the tech behind almost any website: https://www.wappalyzer.com/download/

    These sites use: Squarespace, Webflow, and Wordpress.

    I've been using Wordpress hosted on EasyWP, which is <$2.50 a month, and I've loved it.

    I've tried using static site generators before, and found that their only benefit is free hosting on Github pages, and maybe a learning experience. Composing in markdown sounds cool, until you want to include multimedia, or place two pictures side by side. Deploying via git sounds cool, but in practice making a commit for every single change is very high friction. Waiting for the deploy is glacial compared to instant publish with WP. WP/Ghost also have built in SEO, or easily installable SEO optimization with plugins. I don't believe static site generators have much to offer in this area. (edit: I'm wrong about this - there is a Jekyll plugin for SEO)

    If you value your time at anything reasonable, you'll easily make back the $2/mo with time you save with a hosted CMS.

    1. 1

      Thanks for a detailed answer.
      For now, I've setup a website using Stackbit and connected Gatsby, Netlify, Github.

      But I find your option reasonable so I'll explore it more.

  10. 1

    There's a lot of options now. As a dev I use a headless CMS, Strapi+NextJs on Heroku which gives me perfect performance, security, and control at $7month.

    However, with clients and just to get marketing sites up and running, Wordpress + one of the modern builder themes (Divi) works really well. Just keep the plugins few and use a host with a CDN/ server caching option. Wordpress+Divi is easy to use for most web use cases for non-developers. You can find cheap (slow) hosting Godaddy/Hostgator to high-speed like a Kinsta or WPEngine. I used AWS Lightsail as well, but am much happier paying for Kinsta. For $20/month starting you get way more power and real support built on top of GCP, without server issues.

    The sample sites are super simple, so a Wix, Weebly, or Shopify basic plan might work too.

    1. 1

      Thanks for a detailed answer, I'll surely look into these options.
      For now, I've setup a website using Stackbit and connected Gatsby, Netlify, Github. Need to add a CMS now.

      1. 2

        If you're already using Gatsby it isn't difficult to use a headless CMS like Strapi with it. Strapi.io has a very usable Admin interface, and flexible content modeler, it's Nodejs based, and very solid.
        Strapi + Gatsby tutorials: https://strapi.io/tutorials
        Strapi + Netlify and Gatsby:
        https://www.netlify.com/blog/2020/06/24/use-a-custom-strapi-back-end-to-build-a-jamstack-app/
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oc_ITwxiG-Y

  11. 1

    The cheapest solution I found is to use AWS Lightsail to run WordPress. Can use other CMS too. I think the total per month is like $5-10 which you pay monthly, not up front :)

    1. 1

      Thanks. I'll look into this option as well.

    2. 1

      I've been using EasyWP, which has been great for $2.50 a month :)

      edit - maybe I misunderstood. You only pay $5-10 per year, monthly?

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