Hosting a Ghost blog configured with Mailgun, Disqus, and Syntax Highlighting on DigitalOcean

July 16, 2016(4 minute read)

This guide goes over setting up a Ghost blog on DigitalOcean. It's not free like heroku, but at least their cheapest plan is only $5 per month.

Running locally (optional)

If you have intentions of contributing to Ghost, you can fork the repo and check that out.

git clone
cd Ghost

For developing you can use master, but there's also a stable branch which is good for running in production.

git checkout stable

Make sure you have the correct node version installed. I had success with v4.2.0 using nvm

nvm install v4.2.0

Make sure you have a few of the prerequisite libraries installed.

npm install -g grunt-cli
npm install -g bower
npm install -g ember-cli
npm install -g sqlite3

Then build the dependencies

npm install

Assuming things went smoothly, you should be able to build the project

grunt init

Then try running the server

npm start

Setting up the remote server

Head on over to and create your droplet in the One-click apps tab image At this point you should be able to visit your blog by pasting the visiting the ip address in your browser.


At this point, you should be able to ssh into your droplet

ssh root@<ip-address-of-your-droplet>

Create a user for yourself and disable root ssh access by following this guide

Adding your domain

In the Droplets section you should see the droplet you just created. You can click on More and Add a Domain. From there you should be able to type your domain and link it to your droplet.

Once you add your domain record, it will take you to page that shows you your ns records. You'll have to take those and add them to your domain registrar. For me, I added them to godaddy. image You'll probably have to wait a few hours for things to propagate. If you run into issues read this.

NOTE: I had to remove the trailing . when adding to the nameserver section in godaddy

Configuring nginx

Now it's time to change the nginx configuration to match the domain name. SSH into your droplet edit /etc/nginx/sites-available/ghost. Change the current server_name from to your domain name. image

Edit your Ghost configuration file

Now we need to add your domain to ghost's config. Edit /var/www/ghost/config.js and change the production url to your domain. image Now restart your server with sudo service ghost restart

For more information on managing your ghost droplet, visit this guide

Setting up Mailgun

Head over to and register for an account. It's free for 10,000 emails per month. Once you sign up, add a custom domain and it should bring you to a page that looks like this image Start adding these values to your domain settings (same place where you grabbed ns records) in DigitalOcean. If you have issues with this, here's a helpful blog post.

Now you're going to have to grab the username and password that domain created for you and add them to your ghost config.

For more information see this guide

Setting up comments with Disqus

To integrate Disqus, register for an account if you don't already have one. You basically need to grab the universal code, modify it, and drop it in post.hbs

See this guide for more information

Setting up syntax highlighting with Prism.js

If you're blogging about code, you definitely need syntax highlighting. There's a library called Prism.js which is really easy to setup.

  1. Go the download page and select a theme and which languages you'd like highlight support for.
  2. Download the .js and .css files.
  3. Copy prism.js to /var/www/ghost/content/themes/casper/assets/js
  4. Copy prism.css to /var/www/ghost/content/themes/casper/assets/css
  5. Add link to prism.css in the file /var/www/ghost/content/themes/casper/default.hbs below the {{! Styles'n'Scripts }} comment
  6. Add link to prism.js in the same file below the {{! The main JavaScript file for Casper }} comment
{{! Styles'n'Scripts }}
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{asset "css/prism.css"}}" />

{{! The main JavaScript file for Casper }}
<script type="text/javascript" src="{{asset "js/prism.js"}}"></script>

Hopefully now you have a brand spanking new Ghost blog! Now write about good things and share with the world!

Feel free to leave any feedback or ask any questions down below. I'd be more than happy to help!