Many of the things i learned in the recent 10-15 years about various technologies and tools have been made possible through digging through first personal blogs of nerds, later specialized websites that offered tutorials and of course, stack-overflow. But not just technical stuff, a big chunk of my knowledge was attained by visiting websites in the internet, from recipes, how to repair certain things, how to book a flight, etc. So from a very early perspective, i wanted to contribute back. To write some content, that someone else also benefits from. So decided: It‘s time to start a personal blog.
After screwing around with way too much technology-stacks, blogging-platforms, open-source Software, virtual private servers and shady shared-hosting i finally found a way i want to blog and maintain my personal website.
I really wish i would not have poured so much time into all these different things but instead focused on my initial blog, which had about the same technological setup as the blog you‘re reading this on: Jekyll + GitHub Pages.
So i set up around ten+ websites with different stacks, but managed to write only about the same amount of articles.
But why did i take a detour of more than two years?
First of all, i was rather curious. This whole blogging thing was new to me so i wanted to experience as many aspects as i could.
The second reason is the tinkerer in me. I just love to build up software.
The third reason is: other bloggers each promote their platform of choice. I was sucked into many recommendations and tried many of them. This takes time and effort.
The fourth reason is procrastination. Writing is hard, writing takes time. Writing requires practice. Initial writing efforts are always sub-par quality. By focusing on the tools rather than the content i could evade creating the content with the seemingly legitimate reasoning „well, i need the software up and running before i can start, right?“
However, if i had not taken this extra workload i would have done better in my initial goal: giving something back. It took me almost two years to realize: damn dude! You‘re so busy with the medium that’s transporting your message, you forgot about the content! So i set up around ten+ websites with different stacks, but managed to write only about the same amount of articles. I can hardly imagine the progress i would have made as a writer and the amount of content i could have created if only i had stuck with my initial blog and just kept on writing.
Why did i think the software matters so much?
I start blogging the way i approach many things i know absolutely nothing about: i open up Startpage and type the magical words: How to … (insert almost anything).
I wildly open-up the first twenty search results into new tabs and just dive in. After a lot of reading, i had a rough understanding off the amount of existing platforms (at least the platforms the authors of the articles i read knew about) and how to set them up. All these articles reached more or less the same premise:
Choosing the right blogging-software is highly important as it not just has an impact of how you blog (and therefor how often) but also on how your blog will look like, wether users can comment, etc. So choose wisely.
Choose wisely. Do you know what happens inside the brain of a developer when you tell her*him to choose wisely?
He will start a big analysis of all available options and tries to further boil down the core differences, positive and negative aspects of the options, as well as their expected maintenance cost. However he will not do so, if someone else had already done the work. So i fired up Startpage and enter one of the other magical sentences in my search-engine-ninja toolbox:
Comparison of best blogging software 2019
Return. Open many tabs. Read. Stop.
Those articles where interesting but had two mayor problems:
- They recommended different software. This is annoying. Why is Site A recommending WordPress over Ghost, while Site B clearly recommends Ghost over Kirby? This resulted, in different thought-process like: Well, Site B looks more technical, so they recommend Ghost. I‘m a tech-guy as well, shouldn’t i stick with their recommendation? But what about WordPress? Also, Tech Site C recommends Jekyll over Wordpress! But …
- They recommend nothing. „Please choose what ever fits your needs best.“ Well, how should i know my needs as a blogger? I just planned on starting. Do i need comments? Do i need tag-clouds?
So i did what the common developers does next: i created MVPs using all these recommendations. This took me around two years, during which i of course discovered even more „awesome blogging software“.
My big personal learning
When i started about blogging, i wanted my blog to be all about the content. It should be minimalistic, it should feature maybe the possibility to distinguish stuff about my work as a developer from other, more personal stuff. Maybe categories. Or tags. That’s why i started with Jekyll. I didn’t want to fiddle around with databases, i wanted my site be technically as simple as possible. Jekyll is a wonderful and powerful tool for exactly this use-case.
Then things went wrong.
One of the last sites i created: QWERdenker.net is a all-or- nothing wordpress blog with a shit-load of features, animations, commenting eye-candy, toolbars, slide-in menus, cover-up footers, etc.
It looks beautiful, indeed. However the maintenance time (read: cost) and updating all those plugins (read: license cost) drove me nuts.
Now i had to spend additional time and money on the tool should initially enable me to just write some content. Pretty sarcastic.
When i finished QWERdenker i was proud. However i had also a second thought: this is the most blown-up version of your blog, that you ever created. It‘s cool, but where is the content?
And this was the enlightening moment in which i realized i‘d gone down the wrong path.
Please learn from my mistakes and try to stick with your initial platform of choice for a longer period of time to focus on training your skill as a writer - rather than just fiddling around with the surface. Go deep, not shallow.
Best wishes, Flowinho