Moving from Write.as to Ghost.io

This is a quick writeup of why I chose Ghost over Write.as in the attempt to provide some utility to the blogger looking to find a low cost but functional setup to begin writing.

I made the decision this afternoon to migrate all 7 of my blog posts (wooh!) over to a new CMS host called Ghost. This is a quick writeup of why I chose Ghost over Write.as in the attempt to provide some utility to the blogger looking to find a low cost but functional setup to begin writing.

Write.as's initial appeal was its minimalism. Your first site will show just the headlines and the post content. There is nothing to distract. It's simple. It's easy. It made me want to write.

However, the writing interface on Write.as was too limited. There is no auto saving, at least when I used Write.as. There were multiple times when I accidentally closed the browser or flinched and clicked on a link. Every time, I lost what I wrote. The word count, as another limitation to its writing interface, was non-functional for the duration of my use with Write.as, opting for a count of zero no matter the number of words I threw at it. At least on Ghost.io, I can see that this very word is number 183 in the post. And at the end of this sentence I'll be at 201.

Dropping in photos has this clunky interface at the bottom that feels more like a workaround than the ideal. Embedded links or any form of additional functionality (like the commenting embed for remark.as) break when updating the post and must be manually re-pasted into the post.

Write.as has a set of Add-ons and Labs functionalities that should be standard features on the platform, especially when its compared to other CMS platforms. Post signatures and themes cost extra. Various editors are available as a Labs feature. Commenting is available via an embeddable piece of code that ties the blog post to an entry over on Remark.as. The comments themselves do not show up on the blog; they appear on Remark.as. This has been a pain, especially when the comment embed code reset every time I went to update a post.

Another issue was with its monetization functionality. It's through an external service called Coil that allows you to collect micropayments from readers who are part of Coil. It's a weird third party situation that reminded me a bit of Medium, but in this case, the third party was a relatively unknown service still in beta. Ghost.io, in contrast, has monetization front and center and they collect zero percent from the monetization.

SEO as well is not something that can be managed. You are tied to whatever is there by default.

Developer documentation is limited. I know Write.as is a small team, but the lack of dev updates on core CMS features like commenting and auto-save support is saddening. I think the last update on the on-page comment feature was more than a year ago (as of this post).

Overall, the whole interface on Write.as feels unpolished and clunky. I get where it's headed, but I don't want to take part in the journey when other platforms like Ghost.io are available.

I bought the 5 year plan because I like the Write.as mission and want to support that. I will continue to use Write.as for small, one-off ideas needing a quick site to jot down some posts. But for my main page that I would like to have good SEO, commenting, and potentially some monetization? That should be a more robust solution.

Their main project is Write Freely, which is an open source privacy-focused writing platform for free anonymous writing. If you are looking to use Write.as, I'd give Write Freely a look. You'll have to host it yourself much like Wordpress.