I restarted this website with a few pages and set up a newsletter, and I would like to share my recipe: How to set up a blog.
You can post your writing on social media sites. Those sites have huge audiences, most of the people you want to reach are already there, you just sign in and start writing, and it is “free”. But you give up all your rights at the moment of posting. You give up your content and your audience from the beginning. You have no control over page URLs, which makes it hard to transfer your content out of the platform. Your posts may be censored and your account can be banned. You cannot know which of your posts will appear in your followers’ feeds. You do not decide how your pages look. You cannot remove ads, or change colors or fonts. When a platform dies, all your hard work disappears. You do not own your blog.
A slightly better option is to use one of the blogging platforms: Medium, Svbtle, Tumblr, WordPress, etc. You have control over your page content. You can set up a custom domain and have some control over page URLs. But you are tied to a platform and its software — it’s painful to transfer your content out. You still don’t own your website.
What does it mean to own your website? You need to fully control three things:
- Your domain
- Your content (copyrights, URLs, styles, markup, etc)
- The communication channels to your readers (email, comments, etc)
So if you’re serious about blogging, should you make everything from scratch? Fortunately, you don’t have to create the universe to make your own website.
Recipe for a website
I suggest you start with GitHub Pages.
It gives you full control and convenience, and it is future-proof: when you want to move your site to your servers, just copy your files to a new place; no lock-ins.
With GitHub Pages you can set any URL for every page. You can use your custom domain.
GitHub Pages doesn’t use databases. Nothing to configure. Your content is a bunch of plain text files and HTML templates. It is much easier to backup text files than databases and you can edit your pages offline in any text editor.
You can start blogging in a minute. There’s nothing to install, and you don’t need to mess around with HTML or CSS. If you don’t have an account at GitHub, all you need is your email address and few more minutes.
- Start by forking my Jekyll Minimalist website boilerplate.
- Write your first post and publish it.
- Share the link with your friends. (This is where social media sites can be useful.)