After 7 years, I’m back on WordPress. Lot of things have changed in 7 years. For starters, the prices have significantly gone down for hosting your server. Also, the UX of the WP mobile app is now so much better. The new blocks based text editor is very interesting.
One of the primary reasons for me to switch back to WP from Jekyll is to be able to compose blog posts even from my phone.
Lately, my workflow for blogging has been something like the following:
Compose an initial draft in the Notes.app
Once the draft is 80-90% done, convert it to Markdown and iterate over the draft until I find the content satisfactory
Push to GitHub to publish the post
As you can see, steps 2 and 3 require me to be on the computer. Those steps can’t really be done from my phone in a simple way. As a result, I’ve seen myself slacking away from finalizing posts more often.
This switch back to WP should make it more easier for me to post more often. I already notice the difference, since, I’m composing this post on my phone. Now, I can focus on writing more.
A blog is a great place to post interesting, insightful and fun things. Or even boring things. It doesn’t really matter as long as you like doing it. I really enjoy reading my friends’ blogs. It has a different feel to it as opposed to reading a generalized feed on a social network. Typically, I tend to sift through the updates in my feed. I don’t really pay much attention to the items in my feed. That is not really a great experience. This wouldn’t be the case if everyone had their own personal blog.
The biggest thing that social networks fail to capture is the essence of a person. Even if, say, Facebook, allowed its users to customize their profiles completely, it’d still fail to display a person’s uniqueness, since, they all reside on the same domain.
Several factors such as a domain name, page layout, typography, design etc contribute to portraying the uniqueness of an individual. It’d be amazing if there was a social network that allowed its users to customize their domain names, page layout and design. That would enable the users to show off their unique tastes and creativity. It’d be way more interesting to checkout the “profiles” of your friends then.
Currently, WordPress does something like that. As part of their paid subscription, WordPress allows its users to customize their domain name, blog themes etc. But, the problem with WordPress is that it doesn’t really do a good job of providing a decent personalized blog feed. The “My Likes” tab for a logged-in user just doesn’t cut it.
Medium has solved the personalized blog feed problem. But, it doesn’t completely allow its users to customize their blogs. It lets you pick from few blog post layouts, but, that’s not enough. In an ideal world, every blogging platform would support feeds from every other blogging platform. This removes the dependency on a particular blogging platform. Currently, no active social network or a blogging platform does that.
I think the following are absolutely necessary for complete user satisfaction:
Subscribe and read subscribed feed from other platforms
Discover blogs based on a user’s interests
This calls for an Open Standard and would be the ideal direction to head in, if the blogging platforms or the social networks really care about their users. All of this is in an ideal world. For now, in the real world, I strongly suggest every one to start their own personal blog if they don’t already have one, on whichever platform they want.
One might immediately come up with the following questions:
Who will read my blog?
When I first started blogging, I did it for myself. I didn’t expect anyone to actually care about what I write. I just wanted to write about things I thought were interesting or funny and went ahead and wrote about them. I’ve been blogging since the past 9 years now and I get a decent amount of traffic on a monthly basis. Here’s a screenshot from my Google Analytics dashboard.
This includes my family, friends, people who use and appreciate (or not) my projects etc. So, don’t worry about who will read your blog. Just start writing and people with similar tastes will find, follow and read your blog.
What do I blog about?
Your blog could be anything. It really depends on you. Personally, I like writing about random things. I have a few posts queued up in my drafts directory, which are highly technical and computer science-y. I write about the projectsthatI’veworkedon, tools I use, things that I find interesting, ideas and opinions. You could even use your blog as a portfolio to showcase and promote your work.
Where do I start?
There are lots of good blogging applications such as WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Medium etc. Each have their own pros and cons. I’ll leave it up to you to pick the one that fits your needs. I useJekyll for my blog and host it on GitHub Pages. I think the simplest one to get started with, is Tumblr. It’s easy to configure and easy to pick a theme from the huge library of themes available. It also allows you to customize your domain name for free.
If you think I’ve successfully managed to convince you to start a blog, then let me know via Twitter @thisprofileismt. I’d love to read about what you’ve written.
This year, I’ve decided to make a few changes to my blog and following are the changes –
SSL enabled site-wide
As you might’ve already noticed, my blog is now served over SSL. I’ve enabled SSL site wide here (mt.cx) & on my mohni.sh domain. You can too, if you’re using GitHub to host your blog. The whole setup is very simple, quick and free.