New project, should I use Ghost Pro, Digital Ocean or Render?

Hi everyone,

I already have some experience with Ghost (prior to V3) and with Digital Ocean (I’m running a Discourse forum on it).

I’m building up a new project, it’s a transformation of an existing project of mine. I plan to have memberships and three tiers of content (non members, signed up members and paid members).

The new project will be a website/magazine, the current project was running on Squarespace and used to have around 25k unique visitors per month at it’s best. Visitors come from all over the world (so I think I’ll need a CDN), it’s related to photography so it’s content image heavy.

The previous business model didn’t included members and there was no ads. I plan to have members with this new project.

My question is, what to choose between:
1 Hosting on the Ghost Pro infrastructure
2 Hosting on Digital Ocean (same Droplet than the Discourse forum or another Droplet, note that I already have a Mailgun account set up for Discourse)
3 Hosting on Render
4 Hosting somewhere else?

I need full control on the theme (as I will hire a dev at some point to do some custom stuff), maybe a link between Ghost and Discourse using embedding, I’d like to use a CDN to serve the content to the users.

I’ll have around 2 to 5 staff users (in the long term)

Sincerely,
Samuel

The upside of choosing Ghost Pro is that they handle anything server-related for you, while leaving you in control of the theme of the whole website.

I’m running mlfromscratch.com, and it’s nice to be able to just focus on writing and developing more on the theme. If I had to manage the server upgrades, I would have to take focus away from writing, and in turn produce less content.

Just my 2 cents.

I’m aware of the benefits of letting Ghost Pro handle a lot of things. But I just want to make sure it’s not a problem on the long term, what if I turn this project into something much bigger in a year or two, will I have the same level of control over? What’s the biggest downside of using Ghost Pro, things you can’t customize server-side for example.

You can’t per-se customize things server-side, but Ghost is open-source, so you can always contribute. That’s probably the biggest limitation – but it’s a tradeoff.

You can always migrate your data and theme from Ghost Pro to your self hosted setup later.

The only downside is the data migration pain. I found it to be minimal to download, move, and update the links/images/embeds.

If you are about content, the Ghost Pro is great!

I’m about the tinkering, so I prefer to self-host. It’s been a couple weeks and I’m still in tinkering heavan with the members.