Noob with an idea, seeking input on whether Ghost is right for me

I would like to start a niche blog with the initial goal of joining an affiliate marketing program. I will be manually collecting data about products (i.e., data that is not made readily available by the manufacturers/ retailers) and sharing that data in blog posts. I will also store the data in a personal spreadsheet for later…

Once the blog has enough content/ traction, I want to add a highly customized search interface for paid members. The search interface will include custom filters and facets according to the data that I collect. This would allow members to quickly identify a list of products that fit their exact needs. UI/ UX will be a top priority.

One alternative to the custom search interface would be to build a “search wizard” that asks the user a series of questions about what they’re looking for, then displays results based on their answers.

In either case, the search results will include:

  • A list of all products matching the search criteria (including the ability to sort results)
  • Picture, brand, and name of the product
  • If applicable, a link to my blog post covering the product
  • If applicable, an affiliate link to the product page

I understand that Ghost caters primarily to publishing, which would be great for the blog aspect of the site. However, I’m guessing that the search utility will be easier to build/ implement on WordPress or somewhere else. I would rather avoid WordPress for all the reasons listed at Ghost: The simple, powerful WordPress alternative

So, what are my options?
I’ve seen that Algolia may offer Search solutions that work well with Ghost? Could I start with Ghost and eventually hire a dev to build an entire front-end + search application from scratch?

Essentially, I want to make sure that starting on Ghost won’t prohibit me from realizing my ultimate vision, which is providing a stellar product search experience in a space where that is lacking.

All input/ advice/ feedback is greatly appreciated! :pray:

Some additional info for context:

  • I’m a chemical engineer by day, so I do have some technical background. However;
  • I have no software engineering/ coding/ web development experience of any sort.
  • I’m willing to complete a web development boot camp to gain basic knowledge
  • I currently do not have an audience.
  • I’m not trying to build an actual ecommerce business. I just want to give people the data/ info they need and funnel customers to the retailers.
  • Feedback on the business model as a whole is also appreciated.

Hey @mobiustrips , welcome to Ghost!

A big difference between Ghost and Wordpress is that Wordpress has plugins and custom fields, so you can basically make a wordpress install be anything, in terms of the types of information stored. Ghost is much more commitedly a blogging/newsletter platform, and doesn’t have plugins or custom fields.

You can definitely integrate Algolia with Ghost and use faceting and filtering. I think the challenge here is where the data lives. What Ghost doesn’t have is custom fields. So there’s not a way to add a bunch of custom input fields (category, dimensions, etc) to each post in Ghost.

The data could live on Algolia – you’ve going to need a copy of it there anyway, so maybe you make Algolia your ‘source of truth’. You’d need to figure out how to get the data there. You could use the Algolia API to add extra data to Algolia’s database, but you will need a cloud function sitting somewhere that receives requests and uses your admin API key (a secret - not in the browser!) to update Algolia. (The Ghost integration uses Netlify.)

An expansion on that idea: In each blog post, add a data table (written in markdown - it’s pretty human editable, unlike HTML) right in the post, and then have the cloud function parse that data and send it over to Algolia as separate fields I think that would feel like the most Ghost native-like solution.

Anyway, there’s an idea for how you might do it in Ghost. :) You’d need some comfort with Node and Javascript. If you’re interested in making the custom code part a fun hobbyist project, you’d probably want to start with learning javascript. If you don’t have any coding background and decide you want to hire out the Netlify/Algolia part, I’ve built something similar. Feel free to send me a PM. :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for your reply @Cathy_Sarisky !

I feel like I’m reading a foreign language :sweat_smile: I’ve got a lot of basic terminology and concepts to learn, plus learning Javascript/ React. But for now, here is my basic understand of what you’re suggesting:

  1. Add a data table to each Ghost blog post
  2. Write something like a Google Cloud function that extracts that data and sends it to Algolia
  3. Build a search UI/ widget using Algolia
  4. Integrate the Algolia app/ widget into my Ghost website

Does this sound somewhat right?

Yes, but I would skip the React part. :)

Understood, thank you so much again :) I’m going to try to learn a bit of javascript on my own, but if I find myself needing to hire out out building the search tool, I will definitely reach out! Although this will probably be at least a year or two down the road from now :sweat_smile: For now I just need to start blogging :)