Starting a blog - platform recommendations?

Hi all,

I’ve decided it’s about time I started writing down some of my testing thoughts again. (I :heart: making audio/video content, but sometimes people just prefer to see it written down.)

It’s a few years since I’ve had a blog, and I’ve had mixed experiences with various platforms:

  • Blogger seems rather passé these days
  • Wordpress: see above, but at least it has dynamic-looking themes to disguise the clunky back-end
  • Ghost: The last platform that I used, I had good experiences although they seem to be pivoting more towards a newsletter/membership/subscription platform
  • Medium: I’ve created an account there, but the site seems like a bit of a hodge-podge and they have a weird history of censorship and paywalls

Ideally I’m looking for a platform that allows me to self-host or point to my own domain, but that’s not essential (I can always do my own URL rewrites).

I’m leaning slightly towards Ghost at the moment, but I’m just wondering what platforms others are using that I might have overlooked. Thanks!

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I’m using Blogger now, since I’m too busy/lazy at the moment to migrate to another blogging platform.

I was pondering on the idea of hosting my own blog and using a static site generator (something fast like Gatsby) and just writing my posts in markdown, maybe one day I’ll get around to actually do it! :sweat_smile:

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I absolutely love Proseful.

So simple, straightforward and great value for money. It’s a pleasure to actually write and publish.

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Blogger is pretty solid for lazy people.
My impression of Medium is that it’s just another advertising revenue site and that “freshness” and treasure-hunting endorphin rush thing that the internet lacks lately, is completely missing on Medium because it is over-curated.
Definitely go out there with a small player if you want to not find yourself getting curated, I’m just too lazy to move away from Blogger because it is free, and once I pay, I feel there is a binding relationship/attachment

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I’m using wordpress since 1 year, the first year some things are given for free (domain) and even 50% discount for hosting but the second year more payment.
I find it simple and easy to use with all features that I need, but not that fancy design.

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What I don’t like about Medium is that they ask people to pay after reading a few articles per month, I realize that everyone needs to make some bread, but it don’t like the manner in which it is done. They do have an option for authors to monetize their writing, using Stripe - which is not available in my country.

They also had an option to import content from other blogging platforms, I used that for a while but it stopped working and I gave up on Medium since then. I still read posts from it occasionally if someone I’m following has a new post, but that’s about it.

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At the moment I have a WordPress site hosted by a service provider.

Pros

  • in the beginning I used the default editor for writing my blog posts. After a while I switched to the code editor for writing HTML.
  • there are no advertisements on my website.
  • my WordPress theme is accessible. Also WordPress offers some options like alternative text and CSS editing.
  • a lot of plug ins are available.
  • my service provider provides automatic backups.

Cons

  • I have a monthly fee for hosting the website and a yearly fee for domain registration.
  • standard security in WordPress is medium, so you need some security tweaking.
  • plug ins need to be carefully selected. I use a minimal set.
  • web site and plug ins need regular updates.
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WordPress, hosted it myself. Yeah it costs some $$, but I want to be in control of my own shit, so I won’t use Medium ever.

Also, I’ve made my analytics privacy friendly by using Plausible. Won’t use Google stuff on my website either!

For my Travel stories website I had used Vue.js and writing the posts in markdown, but the deployment process was a pain and the lack of easily previewing the content is also not nice.
So I do recommend going for something that is easy to use from the content-creation side of things.
The Vue.js website loads crazy fast, but yeah…not worth it.

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Thanks for your thoughts everybody! It’s helped me to work out what’s important for me right now, and pick a platform which possibly best suits that. (And if not, I can always change it!)

I’ve gone with @simon_tomes’s suggestion of Proseful, primarily because:

  • It’s clean and focused - just write and publish, it reminds me of how Ghost used to be.
  • There are just enough extra features (creating static pages / header navigation) to support what I want to do; not much else getting in the way.
  • There are options for injecting custom code into the header / footer, which should support future ambitions (it supports analytics from multiple providers, not just Google).
  • It’s very easy to point at a custom subdomain; just need to wait 24-48hrs for DNS to propogate before I share the link :slight_smile:
  • The pricing model is good - it was free to trial, a low monthly cost to unlock extra features, and if I’m using it a lot then I can save more by paying annually.

The main thing I have learned from this process is, it doesn’t matter what platform I choose, as long as it encourages me to write and share. :open_book:

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:100:this.

Well done on picking a service that works for you, @neil . I look forward to reading your posts whenever they are ready for the world to enjoy.

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Hi, Neil!
I just checked Proseful features and pricing.
And turns out that for 7$ per month you get the same amount of features that you can get for free with hosting your blog at Github pages.
It is possible to choose static site generators like Jekyll or Hugo.
As a result, you can get some like a clean blog with analytics, Disqus comments, and others.

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Whichever platform you use, please think about back-ups. Either be upfront with yourself that you might lose everything, or every so often export your stuff from the platform and put it somewhere you’ll find it later.

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I love Ghost personally, the main thing is making sure you self-host on your own domain with automated backups.

No point giving all the SEO benefits to sites like Medium and risk having your content pulled at any point.

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Coming back to this thread, will renew my blog hosting after 1 year using wordpress. Is it worth it to try the premium plan instead of personal one ? anyone tried ?

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Have you thought about wix or square space

@emna_ayadi this is just my opinion, but I don’t see much of an added benefit:


If you want to make full use of the customizable nature of WordPress you might want to consider a self-host installation, you’d get full freedom but it would require a bit more effort in setting up - but nothing too demanding. You can get a virtual server at DigitalOcean or Linode for $5 a month, with decent amount of RAM and CPU as well.

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