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Starting a blog has never been this difficult (ruky.me)
28 points by rukshn on Dec 18, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 63 comments

There are so many alternatives to Wordpress. And so many of them focus on being a blog and not a CMS. I think Wordpress is not bad at all to start a blog with, but if you want something simpler, have a look at some options. For example, I'm involved with Serendipity, which is around as old as Wordpress but not a CMS. And btw, writing your own blog engine is something every web developer should do (mine is called ursprung).

What I agree with: Medium and Blogger are bad options, and static site generators really are too complicated for many potential bloggers.

Shameless plug for my thing which reimplements the Wordpress API over static websites to solve this very problem.


The "Get started!" button at the bottom does not work for me :) The idea sounds awesome, but I'm not sure that I get it. Static blog generated by a dynamic backend?

Fixed that. Sorry! It was intended to lead to the signup page here: https://app.perspect.com/signup

Since I reimplemented the Wordpress API, the WP iOS and Android apps, for example, think they're talking to a regular ol' Wordpress installation. But the resulting site is statically generated and delivered using Cloudfront.

Op here what I’m saying is for average user, they can’t worry about writing their own blog engine.

They should be able to just blog

You are right of course. I was speaking of the average developer only there.

Regular users should be well served with many of the results of that labour though. And even if it's https://www.youdontneedwp.com/ ;)

For just starting a blog a wordpress.com instance is also pretty great. And there are still great blogs at blogger, https://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/ for example.

I think Blogger is still the best and most flexible platform.

Pros of blogger: 1) Extremely free speech and very little moderation (as long as it's legal)

2) Allows adult content

3) Can have ads for free

4) Unlimited photos (for images under 2000px, but even those over that are resized and don't count to storage quota)

5)You can do a lot with posts, pages, themes and editing HTML (can make complex web sites with a lot of sections and styling)

I've had a Blogger blog for 13 years and a gazillion posts and images and dump everything of interest on there and it's great. I do hope it lasts.

Wordpress.com has a better editor and better themes, but lacks editing html and deep customization, umlimited uploads, free ads and so on so it's not really an alternative for someone like me.

Problem is that it's Google. They might announce tomorrow that they're shutting the service down and that's that.

Blogger's heyday as a locus of blog culture is long over and it's just accumulating corpses. I wouldn't be surprised if Google pulls the plug inside four years.

> 4) Unlimited photos

Someone once asked HN the cheapest way to store lots of media online, and another HNer recommended hotlinking Blogger for images. They pointed out some major manga site hotlinks every single one of their comics and doesn't host a single image them self.

> However, even if I feel blogging is about to have a come back, a place for bloggers to blog is limited more than ever.

You've got to be joking. Starting a blog has never been easier. You can use Wordpress, sure, but there are many other options like Ghost, Quora, SquareSpace (and other website creators like WebFlow), and even some more niche ones like Posthaven.

A tonne of options doesn't necessarily make it 'easier'.


Sure, but this point is not the same as the author's. The author was saying how every option is bad, when they didn't even look at all of the options. There are clearly some very good options, as I pointed out. That one might have paralysis in choosing one of them is incidental to the main point that, yes, there are better options than Wordpress.

Aren't those all more of the same though?

My take away from the post was that what is missing is a user-friendly (noob friendly) static site generator.

These are all user-friendly static site generators, basically. They connect a user interface to the backend which is basically a CMS.

I'm confused! If a service connects to a database on the backend then it isn't a SSG?

Huh? I never said anything about being or not being a SSG.

> These are all user-friendly static site generators, basically.

I meant in terms of whether a backend constitutes a SSG or not. What's your point, I didn't understand it?

Sorry probably crossed wires. Thought you were saying that the examples (eg Ghost) were all SSGs?

I meant that they could create static (or static-like) sites in terms of what a reader would expect, ie changes propagate through a CDN, they have a CMS they can use to edit pages, etc. So it's not that the author wants a SSG necessarily, they just want something easy to use that creates websites, which is basically what Ghost and others do.

Thanks and understood. Agreed that having a CDN makes Ghost etc much more SSG like.

I sounds to me like he wants [micro.blog](https://www.micro.blog) which is what I use for my site [micro.json.blog](https://micro.json.blog). It's Hugo under the hood, but with a human-focus for the interface that allows you to ignore Hugo if you want and some nice social-like features.

* Edited typo in link

I think you may mean https://micro.blog/ ?

Fixed the typo. Thanks!

OP isn't recognizing the growth of new blog platforms which end up defeating their thesis.

These smaller free(mium) platforms are a defining part of the scene during Medium's slow fall from grace and why it's easier than ever to write.

- https://dev.to/

- https://write.as/

- https://substack.com/ <-- making surprisingly large waves as some high profile writers migrated to it from publications

- And more

It's a surprisingly interesting time in the blogging scene.

I'm surprised(?) that the article doesn't mention Ghost [https://ghost.org/].

Might be because it's ludicrously expensive ($30/mo for the cheapest possible plan), unlike WP, Mediun, or Blogger, which are all free.

There are hundreds of paid site hosts, and none of those are good options if you just want to start a blog, rather than a business.

The hosting is expensive, but it's free to self-host.

I'm running my own Ghost instance on an AWS Lightsail host. Ghost is available as a pre-built template for Lightsail and it costs $5/mo for a Lightsail instance.

Yes but the article lists all of the reasons that the alternatives you listed are also bad for bloggers.

If you are hoping to own a piece of the internet you can thrown Ghost on a cheap VPS for $5/month or you can pay someone else to host it for you for $30/month.

You can also take a 'free' option that makes money off your data and audience.

Not disputing that Ghost is expensive (although it is open source so you can self host) but why are paid options not good if you want to blog? You do know that the hosting firm has to spend money to support the service and that paying probably gives you a lot more control over your site?

Op here, yes I wanted to mention ghost it was there back of my mind but forgot to add it when I started writing :/

It's insanely expensive (almost $30/mo) with poor customer support (I once asked a simple question about how export worked and got a sarcastic and condescending response from the founder).

"Free" is a big part of the problem.

It does not cost a lot to run a blog (in terms of computer resources) but it does cost something. A something which isn't necessarily very much, but could grow to be a lot if you get a lot of traffic and which readers would prefer that you will keep paying forever so the content doesn't vanish.

The advertising model has succeeded in some ways so far but has all the problems we see everyday.

For the low end there are things like neocities.org that provide free hosting and are supporter financed (and not via advertising).

Then there are also things like github pages, netlify pages, etc. that also provide free site hosting.

If you know what you're doing with a common LAMP setup that wordpress requires, you can totally host wordpress on a $2.50 per month virtual machine.

If it gets a huge volume of traffic, set up nginx as a caching proxy in front of it. On the same VM.

The WordPress criticisms are weak. It's still a good recommendation.

It is ironic that the web industry rejects WordPress as "a blog tool not suited for websites" and the blogger industry rejects it as "a cms tool not suited for blogs".

I'm not sure it was ever as easy as in the heydey of Blogger and Windows Live Writer. Like... ten years ago... that was a wicked setup.

"I feel blogging is making a comeback, why? Because people are starting to realize that they can carve their own brand and be content creators, rather than just sharing your thoughts among few Facebook friends."

This was always the understanding pre-FaceF*ck and pre-Social Media.

The easiest blog setup is to use: Publii as the CMS and Netlify as the Host. It doesn't get any easier than that.

While it’s true starting a blog can be difficult for those with little technical know-how, once you get past that, you’ll run into the challenge that is building up your following and brand.

Any successful bloggers want to chime in on how to overcome this?

I also hate Wordpress.com's new default writing interface, and they've deliberately made switching to the "Classic" editor by default difficult if not impossible.

There's a plugin you can install that brings the classic editor back.

IIRC you can only install plugins on self-hosted WP, the parent comment was about how much of a pain it is to switch to the classic editor on a blog hosted on wordpress.com.

Back in the day I'd ftp up new html pages I hand cranked in notepad onto my webserver, that feels far more difficult that having a free account on wordpress.com, or following one of a billion tutorials of how to install wordpress on a linode/lightsail/digitalocean server.

The complaint about wordpress seems to be "I don't like the default themes'.

I wish github pages could be hosted with native commenting system instead of finding yet another solution to host comments.

You could use GitHub issues for posts and comments, fetched using the GitHub API. I did a proof of concept of this a long time ago [0]. Not sure if it still works.

[0] https://github.com/mateogianolio/issuance

Somewhat related, perhaps... Utterances (https://utteranc.es/), “A lightweight comments widget built on GitHub issues. Use GitHub issues for blog comments, wiki pages and more!”

Nooo I don’t want GitHub pages to get new features, it’s perfectly tiny right now

I've been using write.as for several months now and it's worked great as a blog-only platform. They have a self hosted option called writefreely as well.

I think some folks feel a blog needs a ton of branding and fancy javascript widgets everywhere to be a "blog" when all you need is a block of easily read text.

As a technology competent person, I agree that there has to be a better solution for self-hosted blog to really put it in the hands of the average person. It feels like we are 90% of the way there, but there could be a "single-click" install of some site generator and web server.

I found a typo: "Statistic site generators" should be "Static site generators".

I was wondering if this was intentional somehow.

Btw, can anyone link to some good Statistics focused blogs? I would like to find out more of those that I can follow

https://blot.im is a nice alternative. I played with it last spring and loved the immediacy of making an edit locally (in iAwriter) and seeing those changes made on the live blog within seconds.

No, it isn't. Was much harder in stone age, remember?

Buying shared hosting isn't that hard.

Disclaimer: https://mro.name/ShaarliGo#install--update

Weebly is quite easy to use. And free if you only want a blog.

No mention of Write.as. I'm sad. It's such a good platform!

I'm a paid user, and I like the emphasis on the lightweight sites, but it's been years and it still misses some basic features like ... and index page.

I think substack is the answer, no?


In this comment I want to provide three basic thoughts, that I think are having the potential to be helpful for Rukshan in his blogging endeavour.

The first one is about due diligence and the two times we have to make a first impression.

In the last section headline Rukshan has made a typo. He wrote "statistics" when he obviously meant to say "static." Now, typos happen, but they don't help with that first impression. A blog is a written thing, which means the art an craft of writing is essential to it.

The second time we make a first impression is when we open our mouth. Translated to the blog this means, the first impression the reader gets of the quality of the writing.

Obvious carelessness like typos in headlines are not helpful.

In the mentioned section headline there seems to be a typographic glitch as well, since "site" is not set in bold, unlike the other two words there.

If you state that it has become more difficult to start a blog, well, then even more so would it suit you well to get the basic polishing right.

The second thought I want to provide is a comment about the overall perspective on blogging presented here. When I read the headline, I thought: this must be about writing, about gaining traction in linkage, about building readership. Since it is on HN, maybe even about how to build a business around a blog. Instead it is about the one thing that doesn't count at all: what kind of blogging engine you are going to use.

Now, nearly every new blog has this reflection, I guess because the new blogger just went to the process of choosing a blog engine, decided on a theme and all that. But it's hardly important. Why do I say so?

Because, let's see, what is the work in a blog?

If I write 1k of blog posts and submit 25 of them to HN, have 100 of them on reddit and design my own theme. Compared to that workload, installing the engine and theme amounts to virtually nothing.

What I am trying to say is this: ultimately it is more helpful to see a blog as something else then just a piece of software.

This brings me to the third thought I want to offer.

I understand that a certain blogging engine prompts you for a stupid slogan. So Rushkan goes like "Rushkan's brain on the internet", which prompts me to ponder what he means with that. Is this meant to say, he sees his blog as a sort of external brain online? Or does it mean that he shared thoughts about the internet? Not hard to guess, but not clear either.

Then he has the double mention of his name there: "Rushkan's blog" above "Rushkan's brain."

So, a bit of polish there would be good as well. Now, I personally think that it was a wrong path, that a certain bloggin engine took us on, with requiring titles for every entry and having that slogan prominently there. But it is what it is, how could a good slogan be written?

It should be written as such, that the right people want to immediately read it because it rings a bell.

Think about how the mother of all tech blogs did it so well: "News for nerds. Stuff that matters."


No, a real human being trying to be helpful.

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