I've been super productive this month (March is my most productive month) and have implemented two new ways of putting out more and better content. I've refreshed my blog with a new platform and created a YouTube channel!
As you're reading this, you'll probably notice that my blog looks a bit different. That's because I've switched my blog over to run on Ghost! I started my blog years ago on Blogger and then moved it to WordPress after purchasing hosting. Using these platforms, though, it seemed difficult to customize the style and layout, add custom elements, and so on.
About a year ago I wanted to reject all that complexity and just focus on writing content, so I moved my blog to Notion. On Notion, you can't really change the styling of the page, that's not what it's designed for, but you can easily write in Notion's very simple interface, drag and drop images, and arrange things easily. Now that I feel a bit more committed to my blog, it seemed to be time to move it to a dedicated blogging platform for better features.
> Ghost lets me run my blog better while still rejecting complexity. It has everything I need, but nothing else.
What I like about Ghost:
- I own the entire system. There's no concern that changes by the services I use could cause extended downtime now. Of course, now it's up to me to keep it working, but Ghost seems very stable thus far.
- I can host my own instance for free (plus the cost of the hosting). This blog doesn't currently earn any money, so I want to avoid any extra costs to running it. Managed Ghost instances come with a fee, but there's no charge to install and run Ghost, which is open source, yourself.
- Easy to customize the theme. WordPress themes are customizable, but I never really figured out how. With Ghost I was modifying my theme within an hour, and the extra time was only because I had to uninstall/reinstall some packages on the server.
- The post editor uses markdown with a live inline preview and blocks of content, just like Notion. There's no sidebar and tiny text area like in WordPress, either, just a nice big white page where everything works like I'd expect. I can use markdown or manually add formatting by highlighting text and write with no distractions.
- Support for a block of custom HTML within a post. Ghost allows me to easily insert HTML into a post, but also to do so without editing the HTML for the entire post. Any place I need something special I can drop in some code super easily. This was technically possible with Notion, but required adding the HTML to a new page of its own and embedding it.
- Posts can be scheduled. When I was using Notion, since it's not designed as a publishing platform, I could not schedule a post to be released in the future, which meant that I often wrote or changed posts at the last minute and just as often forgot to post things when I meant to.
- URLs are clean and customizable. One downside of Notion was always that the URLs contained a long random identifier for the page.
What's new for you?
- You can subscribe to get new posts emailed to you. If you want to be sure that you don't miss anything, click the button in the lower right corner to be added to the email list.
- The style is now consistent with my website. For anyone finding one through the other this will provide a more unified experience, rather than feeling like two totally separate websites.
- Dark theme! The blog now defaults to matching the theme of your system, so if your computer or phone are in dark mode you'll see the blog in dark mode, and otherwise you'll see it in light mode. There's a button at the bottom of the page to manually select your theme if you desire.
- As I mentioned above, posts can be scheduled now, so release times should be a bit more consistent.
- The page loads much faster. Both the last two iterations of my blog, WordPress and Notion, have loaded quite slowly, but with Ghost everything loads up right away.
- Link previews on social media will actually reflect the post as you'd expect, rather than being a generic preview for the whole blog.
- You can browse by topic now!
What hasn't changed?
All the old content is here, and is still accessible at the same URLs, including blog.emmettbudd.com/new which will always take you to the latest post! I've also laid out the page similarly to the way it was on Notion, with featured posts at the top and older posts below, so it should feel familiar.
These changes also represent a commitment that I have to my blog. I enjoy writing and plan to continue to maintain this blog well in to the future, and the move to this new platform will help ensure that I am able to do that, by being reliable and professional while also being simple and easy to use without taking too much of my time, so that I can focus on writing!
The second piece of big news is that I've started a YouTube channel! This is something I've been considering for a while, especially since I prefer to consume video and audio content over written content, but it took a while for me to come around to actually creating a channel myself, because speaking aloud and appearing on screen is more forward than my introverted self is used to. Nevertheless, I have grown accustomed to the idea and found a microphone that makes me not hate the sound of my own voice.
What will be on the channel?
I decided this year to start taking my love for landscape photography more seriously, and as part of that journey I have created my new YouTube channel with a broad focus on landscape photography. Each month will start with a video in the field taking photos and a follow-up at my desk editing those photos. After that, I'll put out informational videos on photography, technology, and creative lifestyle, such as tips and reviews. New videos will be released at noon every Friday!
How's it going?
This is all in its early stages and obviously I'm still learning how to make good videos! I have purchased some basic equipment, though, which will help a lot, and also have watched many YouTube videos about creating YouTube videos.
The biggest pitfall to date has been purchasing a mic with very little wind rejection which didn't properly connect to my phone. There'll be a full review of the mic in a few weeks, but it's been replaced, so audio quality should be much better in the future. I also bought a gimbal, so videos should look nice and smooth the next time I go out hiking.
So far I am loving the process and have enjoyed adding YouTube to my list of hobbies. I'm excited (and perhaps a bit nervous) to put out new content on YouTube and grow my channel! My first video was released yesterday, so go check it out if you are interested!