I think I'll be able to make the switch to Ghost. After a week filled with a lot of frustration and some incredible assistance from Sarah and Justin at Ghost, I've successfully imported most of my Squarespace content, including the photos.
A pyrrhic victory at this point. There's just no easy, fast way to get the images to show up in the old posts. I started on Wordpress years ago and then moved to Squarespace. That wasn't fun. Different platforms, different coding philosophies, lots of different coders.
Squarespace is solid, but even this non-techie realized that it is better suited as a platform for e-commerce or a storefront. It's blogging/publishing functionality is a distant second.
Unfortunately, Squarespace is a little like the Hotel California. Tough to check out. It's not malicious. They're a closed environment, that's one of its selling points. They make it very easy to get up and running fast and not break things. That adds in a lot of extra coding that you don't need at a place like Ghost.
I couldn't jump straight to Ghost. Instead, I exported to Wordpress.com. I ran into a snag there, so I tried the Wordpress.org option through Bluehost. (I wouldn't recommend Bluehost. Very friendly tech support, but Bluehost seemed bloated and sluggish.)
From Wordpress.org I exported my site in a JSON file for Ghost. That's when the imagery hurdles appeared. I imported a zipped file of my Wordpress media library. I'm not really sure if the images were already in the JSON file.
The Ghost import function is clean, but there's just no way for it to handle competing code from Squarespace and Wordpress, different domains, image URLs polluted by platform migrations, etc.
I started tinkering with the JSON file in a text editor, but I reckoned I was headed for disaster with undocumented tweaks. I do not understand how software companies manage their code and upgrades. Actually, I think it's impossible. I'd hate to look under the hood of Photoshop or Lightroom.
Long story a little shorter - I went into one post with photos to see if I could eventually get a photo to show up in the right place. There was finally a hallelujah moment. It would not have been possible without the patient help from Sarah and Justin.
I haven't programmed in HTML since the Mesozoic Era. I realized back then that I would never be good at it. There were aspects of it that I really enjoyed. Good code seems like good writing. Be concise, be clear. Shoot for an economy of words. There was a simplicity I liked, too. If you open something, you have to close something. It reminded me of something my poor engineering father tried to help me with in algebra.
Sitting here in the COVID era, I wish I had taken a greater liking to coding and tech. It seems like a great skill to have during a pandemic. Coders, in your spare time, learn something like gardening or carpentry. When society unravels, those coding jobs may not last.
One more note on clean coding. The Ghost coding is elegant compared to Squarespace and Wordpress. I'm not busting on those platforms - apples and oranges. But getting the photos to show in Ghost meant deleting a ton of unnecessary code.
Now for the bad news. Going through all of those posts is going to be labor intensive. I may never get to them all. From what I understand having blank images will hurt my site rankings and how search engines view my site. I'm not too concerned about that.
I hope my tinkering hasn't led to a flood of notifications from the site if you're subscribing by email or RSS. I'll look into that. I do not want the site to generate barrages of notifications.
(I'm surprised there isn't more Ghost Migration for Absolute Dummies info out there. There is a ton of how to info online, but it's geared towards people with a much higher baseline familiarity with coding than I have. MUCH higher.)