Self-Hosting a Blog for Cheap and Lazy Devs

So you want to start a blog? And are cheap, lazy, and generally worthless? That makes two of us. At the end of this tutorial (10 minutes tops), you’ll have a functioning Ghost blog protected by HTTPS, courtesy of Caddy.

Note: this tutorial assumes that you own a domain, and that you have access to a VPS. I know, I know, VPSs aren't free, but you can get one for $2.50 per month at Vultr. So we'll let it slide. You'll also need to set up your Domain Registrar to point to your VPS provider. The gist is that you'll point your registrar to the nameservers of the VPS provider, and then you'll create an A record for your site.

Cool, let's start.

Step One: Install docker

First things first, we'll need to get docker and docker-compose set up. I'm using Ubuntu on Digital Ocean, but I'm sure you can find another easy setup guide with some Googling. Validate that docker was installed correctly with docker --version, and then we'll move on to docker-compose.
Install it with the following commands:

sudo curl -L "$(uname -s)-$(uname -m)" -o /usr/local/bin/docker-compose

sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/docker-compose

and validate by running docker-compose version.

Step Two: Set up your configs

Now that we've got Docker running, let's go ahead and set up our docker-compose.yml.
Mine looks like the following [1]

version: '3.3'
    image: ghost:${GHOST_IMAGE_TAG:-3.2.0-alpine}
    restart: always
      - "2368:2368"
      - "2368"
      database__client: mysql
      database__connection__host: db
      database__connection__user: root
      database__connection__password: MY_SECRET_PASSWORD
      database__connection__database: ghost
      - ~/data/ghost:/var/lib/ghost/content # makes sure the ghost data is persisted between reboots by mapping to local VPS filesystem

    image: mysql:5.7
    restart: always

Obviously you'll need to replace the domain and password fields with your own, but the rest should be good to go.

If you run docker-compose up, you should see the Docker images being pulled, and the Ghost blog being set up.

Next, we'll set up the Caddyfile, which will work as a reverse proxy to our ghost server. Mine looks like so: {
} {

Super simple. And the best thing about it is that you can add whatever domains you want in the future in this one consolidated place. It's much better than spreading your domain configs across 10 different NGINX config files. Not to mention the fact that you get HTTPS-strict out of the box.

Step Three: Run Caddy

Just caddy run in the same directory as your Caddyfile. It's that simple. Go ahead and validate that you can see your Ghost blog by navigating to

Now that we are seeing the site, we need to make sure that it continues to be served if your VPS reboots. To do so, we'll need to run Caddy in daemon mode like so:

mv Caddyfile /etc/caddy # move our Caddyfile to make it the default

systemctl start caddy # start up Caddy in deamon mode
systemctl enable caddy # enable Caddy to run on boot

And that's that.

[1] A big thank you to user CatButtes for pointing out that we need to mount the Ghost container to a volume in the local filesystem. The Ghost data won't persist without it, so I might have lost some blog posts without the pointer.

This is my first blog post, so if you find any glaring errors, give me a shout at Or if you want to shout about something.
Thanks for reading!

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