How This Blog Is Built

This blog is hosted for free using GitHub Pages, Hugo, and the free tier of CloudCannon CMS. Everything was built and configured in the browser. Here are some instructions for how to set up something similar.

Creating a Hugo site on GitHub

First, create an account (if necessary) and then a new repository on GitHub, initially with an empty file.

Then, create a new Codespace on GitHub based on this repository. We’ll use this as a virtual machine to run the Hugo command line tool and get the basic site set up. A Codespace is like a Visual Studio Code editor in the browser with a builtin terminal that runs on a small virtual machine. You need only the most basic VM for these purposes, and we’ll not need it for long.

The instructions for creating a new Hugo site should apply, and Hugo ought to be already installed in the Codespaces environment. So open a new terminal inside the Codespaces editor (if not open already) and it should already be in the folder for your repository. Then run:

$ hugo new site --force .

This will create a new site. Next install a theme. I used the Anatole one. Note: Using git “submodules” might not work reliably with CloudCannon, so it is likely better to install a theme using Hugo modules. For Anatole this was done with:

$ hugo mod init<username>/<repository>
$ hugo mod get

Next edit hugo.toml to add the theme, per the instructions for the theme:

    path = ""
    disable = false

theme = "anatole"

Create a first post:

$ hugo new content posts/

Create a .gitignore file at the root of the repository to avoid committing the built file to Git:


Then commit and push the changes. You can now shut down the Codespace.

Setting up GitHub Pages hosting

This guide contains the basic instructions. Essentially, you will set up Pages hosting for your repository, and use a workflow in GitHub Actions to trigger a Hugo build each time there is a change to the repository.

You can trigger the build manually under GitHub’s Actions screens to create the site. The GitHub Pages documentation and guidance on the Settings screens provide further information.

Setting up CloudCannon as a CMS

You can now create new content and deploy your site entirely in GitHub using its web interface or the editor (which is like Codespaces just without the attached terminal and virtual machine), or offline with a git client. Each time you commit and push a change, the Actions workflow should rebuild your site and deploy it within a minute or two.

However, you can go one better using CloudCannon as a CMS. There is a free personal tier if you only need a single user, and paid tiers with more power. CloudCannon natively supports Hugo and understands its structure and features.

The basic approach is:

  • Log into CloudCannon, perhaps using GitHub as a login provider
  • Connect CloudCannon to GitHub under Settings -> Org Settings
  • Create a new Site in CloudCannon that is linked to the repository you used earlier. CloudCannon will guide you through picking a repository and branch and link things up. Afterwards you can find this in Site Settings -> Source Syncing.
  • CloudCannon will locally build a test version of your site by running its own version of Hugo, and deploy it to a test URL for you. This is not the same as GitHub Pages, which has its own build triggers. It is possible to use CloudCannon as your deployment and hosting solution, too, but my preference is to keep this inside GitHub Pages and Actions and only use CloudCannon for editing and preview.
  • You can now find and edit your first post in the CloudCannon CMS, or add new content. When saved, it will push data to GitHub, which will trigger your build there (as well as the preview build in CloudCannon itself), updating your deployed site.