Other advice I also give: write short posts and write unfinished posts. If you wanted to write perfect 10/10 content again and again, you should write a book instead. A blog is about low friction to write. People are interested in your thoughts, get them out there.
Personally, minor decorations doesn’t impede my writing by much. What kills productivity, is endless editing while writing the first draft.
So I mostly just have a blog about creating the static site generator used to generate the blog...
Signed up to dev.to in 2017 as a new years resolution to write a blogpost every week. Just started to write.
Now, I've written over 200 blogposts on my main blog, over 100 for other blogs, and make my main income from paid writing gigs.
Going to try this in 2021. Thanks for the idea.
Why not start right now? There is nothing magical in January the first. Next 5 minutes is perfect time for a new blog post, for example.
But good luck!
Sigh, I guess I should get back to my GitHub repo and fulfill my destiny.
0 - https://github.com/petarov/nenu
Luckily for me the learning experience has been worth it regardless if not a single person reads anything I post.
How can something like blogging, something that thousands of boring food and travel bloggers do, be real work or even of value for anyone?
Coding, that's real work, that's what people pay good money for!
So why not create your custom blog before you start writing.
Every day I think more and more I should do the same.
But being a dev, I always had the feeling coding is the way.
I'm not saying I still believe that stuff, but I did when I was a young coder right out of university and I guess that's one of the reasons why people build their own blog setup.
"How can something like blogging, something that thousands of boring food and travel bloggers do, be real work or even of value for anyone?"
You gotta read something other than tech docs and forums.
Started with a home-built system in bash, moved to hosted Movable Type, then switched to Blosxom, and I've been running Blosxom in static mode since 2007.
To be honest I think part of the problem is people are stuck thinking that pages have to be in the blog format. If it's just a webpage then it's normal to just update it like a wiki and you don't get the worry of whether it's ready to publish.
For me, blogging means "just get it out there" and express your ideas clearly, relate your experiences, as you have them.
And you can get plugins to make that Wordpress blog auto-post to whatever the hell people use nowadays. Own your own data, be immune to having it all vanish when something happens to your account on Hot Social Site, or to the entire site.
I write less on my site(1) than I used to, twitter/mastodon has eaten a lot of that energy, but it is still where I go for anything lengthy, and it is still where I post my big comics projects.
That doesn't mean that static site generators aren't better though, and I'm sure we'll see more and more high volume blogs that are built in SSGs soon.
However, I was using wordpress for ~5 years and it was rotting under my feet. It served really slow. I also feel much more secure not having my content in a somewhat difficult to decipher xml file. I feel like if you don't have your content in a relatively straightforward form like plaintext or markdown or html, you're gonna lose it eventually.
I was considering going raw html, but Jekyll ultimately does have some convenient features while still keeping my content accessible to me forever in markdown.
It is also very convenient to serve from a github.io.
I spent too much time designing the site and wrote only 2-3 posts and never touched it.
This year again i started taking this pandemic as an opportunity. Over the last two years, I collected all the things I liked which my new site should have and hour should look. I have made post about it here.
Later decided too stop all this and use a static site generator and make content and not worry about designs that was a bit hard thing to do for me. But reality is how many posts am I gonna write. I chose Gatsby for its speed. So went through all the Gatsby themes and picked one and started. As everybody, I made a post about "how I made this site"
I like colors, I am not good at picking them, but I like them and at the moment all the design I do is change the background color of my site.
I am following footsteps of other web developers like "Flavio Copes", person writes 1 Post a day. I know I cannot be that consistent, so initially I started like one post a keep then it became month.
Basically what I am doing in my site is moving contents which I have saved in notepads, word documents and Posts all my learning into my site at the moment.
The approach I am following currently is working for me.
I have seen many people from hn their blog doesn't have more than 4 posts and one or two posts they written were excellent, I wished many times, it would have been good if they continued to make more content.
What I'd like to do is pare down the static website generator I have so it's more dumb and fast. Make it more close to plain HTML. One problem is that I do a full build every time I deploy, and that means that the website is taking longer and longer to deploy as I add to it. But I'm too busy doing things and writing articles about what I do to also work on the tooling!
Optimizing to make your server setup simpler, it turns out, is the wrong optimization!
Once you wrap your head around it, this is what Hugo feels like! Maybe it’s because I don’t work with different static site generators often but it was a bit tough to get right at first
Of all the things to build instead of find an existing solution for I think static site generator tooling is a great fit, good luck and have fun :)
But yeah, the Hugo site is written in Org, and refactored with Treefactor which I wrote in elisp...
For the longest time I always wanted my blog to have a database and everything because then I had to work with the DB tools in the new language and everything (C# -> Python -> JS -> Rust) and write migration tools in the new language and everything.
Wordpress would be better / easier if the end goal was blogging, but for me the end goal is to have a side project that is built and maintained the way I want :)
Both blogs are amazing and you should consider visiting them if you're interested in performance stuff.
Remember, writing != publishing. Just write for yourself.
But moving my blog to some better platform is time spent on moving it, rather than working on my blog.
I could be better spending that time to write post.
Or even to tweak around with the CSS.
Time spent moving tools is just never going to pay-off the initial down-payment.
Jekyll v3 sucks, but not enough.
its a blog, not a complex website, I don't need things I like.
Artisanally hand-crafted HTML + CSS + JS. Hosted on Netlify. A+++ would recommend. My content works locally just by double-clicking a .html file. I can publish or edit live content by pushing to my private Git repro. Super easy.
Static site generators suck balls and are 10x more trouble than they're worth. I always know exactly what I want my blog posts to look like. Static generators can make it extremely difficult to generate the precise output html I know I want. It's radically simpler to just add some extra padding if it is more aesthetically pleasing for that specific content.
If you'd like to judge for yourself: https://www.forrestthewoods.com/
I suspect the answer is “almost never” and “less than an hour”.
My experience is that time spent repeating yourself is astronomically less than time spent doing work to avoid repeating yourself.
Fair point, lots of people never actually go past ten or more blog posts. Still, even a simple build tool in bash works better.
Maybe. One of the (many) problems with static generators is that it's really really really hard to get it to generate the code you want. It's easy to get it 95% of the way there. But that last 5%? It's brutal, and sometimes impossible.
A tool automatically does 95% and can be manually finished is very different from a tool that must do everything 100%.
A good rule of thumb would be "use wordpress until you hit 50 posts". At that point decide what makes sense for your content. And at this point you should know what you want, so any choice you make is likely to stick.
I don't recommend handcrafted HTML for most people. But I do think more folks should at least consider it. For my content it both gives more control AND saves me time. Even if I have to do a little grunt work every once in a blue moon.
cat header.html page1.html footer.html > build/page1.html
I could even still use PHP or any language to generate some components and just cat the output with the others into one file. That would help people who prefer to write in markdown. Just run it through a markdown->HTML converter and output it to a file with header and footer included.
Thanks. 'cat' will be my static site generator.
(My coauthor and I write about running product/engineering teams and enterprise SaaS... we actually have indulged in the productivity woodshedding and use a static site generator with CI/CD, but it took less time to set up than it takes to write an average 1000 word post. https://staysaasy.com/)
Working with Craft is a lot more pleasant, but I spent so much time working on things that Wordpress has many plugins for. I also spent a lot of time fighting with Redactor, the WYSIWYG editor that often messes up the "WYG" part. I still have to clear the cache manually using the command line. I'm used to this workflow, but I'm not sure I could teach another editor to use it.
Thinking about it again, I should probably have just done something simple like gh-pages.
Because it’s very boring! Basically just a souped-up markdown renderer that uses GitHub’s API for some draft functionality. I’ve spent maybe four hours building it in total. I’ve spent much longer writing individual posts.
Just Express.js + some native template strings for HTML and a Markdown library. Writes the static HTML to disc when the server starts up.
Now, I'm apparently the weird dude that blogs in HTML.
I literally write my blogs in sublime text, update via SFTP to a single Apache BSD server.
It's easier and faster than medium or write.as and I don't have to worry about anyone between me and my (very few) readers. It costs a few dollars per year.
If only there was a way to flatten these into a 1-d list and sort them by X.... then maybe... one can sufficiently setup, up front, for any possible optimizations [prematurely! of course]
--Me, looking at my list of.....1 draft, unpublished blog post.
There’s a lot of people who build static site generators and never even write a post.
In fact, I felt so "at home at xkcd" that I kept hovering my mouse over the images for a second punchline. :D
I had a Livejournal for my private stuff back then.
But most of my friends had one and they were all over the country so this was the only way to keep up.
Focus on the content; the tooling will come and go.
I like to believe I’m the business translator who walks amongst design, engineering, product team. However, some of my proud achievements are that of igniting writing revolutions for engineering teams, designers, and executives in a few companies. I’m super lucky to have helped awesome people moved up their career trajectory multi-fold in short bursts with these means. The prove is the small set of people who would come running if I asked for any help — in drought, flood, rain, shine, or famine.
I used to be that person who would have perfect designed/developed themes before writing the content. I started with BlogSpot with a custom-comment system, then to Movable Type, and beta tested WordPress even before it was able to do multiple pages. In the early days, my blog used to attract millions of visitors enough to sustain a good lifestyle while I bootstrapped my Startups.
These days, I have downgraded to writing in mostly-plain-text with a dash of MarkDown for me to parse and publish. My current setup is a bunch of text files that I can understand manually without the need for any external tools. I then use Jekyll to parse it when needed. I use a few sets of plugins to parse the Markdown without the need for me to add front-matters. My needs do not require complex SEO and stuff, so it works for me.
I am in the process of even simplifying it by moving to Pandoc as my primary tool to swish-army my writing contents.
Besides all the good reasoning for writing in my work-life, ever since the Pandemic, I have an ardent yearning to write my personal story and journey. I want to be able to tell stories to my kids and beyond. Mine may not be as dramatic and romantic but I have my fair share of a broken family, starvation, begging relatives, earning for my own education since grade-5, etc. I'm afraid my stories will die with me if I don't write it down. I have been super protective of quite a lot of my stories that besides my wife, none knows the intricacies.
I would like to be able to remember all and write them down without worrying about the tools. Some of the highlights includes my life-long regret that I could have saved my best/childhood friend who died too young.
There are episodes, such as during our teens where we were whisked away at a military camp in the deep North-Eastern corner of India to repair a set of MS-DOS boot-error computers, with the military gunners protecting us while we pee on a hillock, and returning home by hitching a ride in a military ambulance with a pregnant woman in tow.
If you have visited those webcam-thingy sites during the early 2000s and if you know it was powered by Flashcom, in a rare chance, you might have been using my program. I was told it was for "magicians" but I realized later that they made too much money to be magicians. The client wanted me to come to the US but he "will sneak me in via Florida on a boat". Never took that up.
“Do you want to cross the border to Canada for a beer?“ asked the taxi driver. My IBM laptop failed right in the middle of my first ever international presentation in Detroit, luckily after showing off one of the most advanced Flash powered program used by large furniture companies to showcase users to virtually place furniture in rooms before buying it. I took a taxi to visit museums, the zoo but didn't go to Canada to find out his real intention and ran about half a mile in the freezing night to the Hyatt Hotel. I believe I saved myself being a victim of someone bad.
I like to write a whole lot and the only way to do it is to focus on the content and any tools that come along be able to manipulate it. My move to a more plain-text life is proving a good choice for me.
The real question is: what tools are people who write truly excellent blogs using?
Rakhim himself is using Hugo.
Gwern organises their blog on a long-content basis using online services but a custom software and design mix, static site.
John Baez's Azimuth blog runs on Wordpress. https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com The wiki is on Instiki: https://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/HomePage
Steve Keen posts to Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ProfSteveKeen
Tim Bray's "Ongoing" is "Generated from XML source code using Perl, Expat, Emacs, Mysql, Ruby, Java, and ImageMagick. Industrial-strength technology, baby." https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/
Joey Hess blogs on ikiwiki (wwhich he wrote himself). https://joeyh.name/blog/ https://joeyh.name/code/ikiwiki/
EFF runs Drupal 7 https://www.eff.org/document/end-trust-0
Most Interesting People post to some Wordpress, organisational, social media, or other blogging tool. It's what's easy or available.
My own experience across 20+ years of online posting is a mix of trying to suit my needs and find a good conversation. Currently, HN is one of my principle outlets: the crowd's pretty good, tends to call my bullshit, dang keeps the noise floor down, and Algolia search lets me find my shit. It's not a blog, but it fills some needs and interests.
The problem with "choose the easy path" is that eventually you find yourself outgrowing your needs, at least if you're doing anything half interesting. Or having hosts pulled out from under you. With about 800 posts to a subreddit, lack of real ownership, quite obviously incompatible site directions, shitty conversation-generative capabilities, and a real risk of losing any access to posts beyond a 1,000 count limit.
Self-hosting on a static site doesn't fit all my preferences, but it should be fairly future-proofed, extensible, portable, and convertible.