Simple Ways To Build Your Own Blog
Sunday, January 17, 2021
You can build your own from the ground up or check out some tools available to make the job easier.
Let me start this off with the fact that I love DEV. It has created a fantastic community of developers and has become a home for many people's original content. It enabled me to begin writing and seeing that others (my followers) cared to see it. It's also what drove me to create my own blog.
I view DEV, and others, as a sort of extension of the very active developer community on Twitter. The difference being, Twitter is not friendly to long-form thoughts. Of course, some people choose to create threads and threads of Tweets to create one conducive train of thoughts, however, I imagine most of these are better suited for a blog post.
Why Should You Build Your Own Blog?
Owning your space and content on this giant thing we call The Internet is extremely important in my opinion. I believe every professional should have a personal website these days, and if you write regularly I believe you should have your own blog as well. It doesn't have to be a different website from your portfolio site if you have one, however, I'm choosing to do so as a sort of future-proofing measure - should Coding Catchup become more than what it currently is.
So owning your content and space is one thing, however, I feel that writing somewhere that is entirely your own may make you consider what you're writing more. Andy Bellhas his own article on self-publishing that I highly encourage you to read, but here's an excerpt that hits it home for me:
"I've found that actually owning my content makes me consider the impact of my writing more. It's easy for it to feel disposable on Medium or Twitter, because they affectively treat it that way." - Andy Bell's The Power of Self Publishings
Lastly, with modern tools (👇🏻 keep reading for my recommendations) that are available to us these days, it's easier than ever.
How Should I Build My Own Blog?
I recently decided between 3 options in creating Coding Catchup. Those 3 were:
I'll break down each of them below, and then you can find out which I went with and why.
Hylia Starter Kit
Hylia was created by the aforementioned Andy Bell and it is a dead-simple way to create your own blog. It is self-described as "...a lightweight Eleventy starter kit to help you to create your own blog or personal website."
That is the perfect way to put it. It uses Eleventy, a static site generator to create the site and Netlify CMS to deliver the content to it. I absolutely adore Netlify, and their CMS is just as great as their deployment services.
Hylia comes with a built-in Light & Dark themes which listens to the user's preference by default. Once you get your site set up with just a few clicks and minutes, you can log into the CMS by visiting www.yourbloghere.com/admin. There you can do anything you want with the content of the site, as well as change some of the styles including colors, nav links, and more. It also focuses on accessibility which is something we all could be doing more of.
Andy writes great, clean code and Hylia is as snappy as can be. I enjoyed my time messing around with Hylia and couldn't recommend it enough. Build your blog with Hylia.
Stackbit has a bit more to offer than Hylia. While Hylia is built with getting you up and running ASAP using Eleventy and Netlify CMS, Stackbit is all about giving you options.
Those options include which Static Site Generator you'd like to use, which CMS you'd like to use, as well as several themes that are built-in and expanding.
Now is a good time for me to mention that Stackbit is currently in beta, however, that shouldn't stop you from checking it out. You can also add it to an existing project on Netlify if you'd like, but it's so easy to start something new that either way you'd be up and running in minutes.
You can choose these site generators:
With these on the way:
You can choose these CMS:
On the way:
Lastly, it currently uses GitHub for repositories and Netlify to build + deploy your site with support for the following coming soon:
Stackbit is quite a different offering from Hylia, but I highly encourage you to check them both out. Build your blog with Stackbit here.
Side Note: DEV seems to be working with Stackbit and encouraging you to make your own blog. If you go to Settings > Integrations you can see a way to generate your personal blog from your DEV posts.
Last but not least is Notion Blog. This is a great option if you love Notion and already write your blogs in it. As a disclaimer, I've not yet tried this option, but it seems interesting enough I thought I'd mention it.
Notion is "...an all-in-one workspace for note-taking, project management and task management." I'll be the 1st to admit that while I use Notion, I am certainly not using it to it's fullest potential. If you're interested in learning to use it better there are plenty of videos and blog posts on it.
Notion Blog, built by JJ Kasper, uses Next.js to generate the site, and Zeit to deploy it.
Despite my not having experience using this option I still thought it worth mentioning as it's a new option that could prove very fruitful for Notion power users. Build your blog with Notion Blog here.
What Did I Go With?
As mentioned above, I've not used Notion Blog but I have used the former two, Hylia and Stackbit. I initially used Hylia to start Coding Catchup a few months ago, however, I am now using Stackbit and couldn't be happier.
I wanted to use something different and a bit more fleshed out than Hylia. It is very much a starter kit and great to get your site up as quickly as possible so you can get writing as quickly as possible.
We'll see how and where Stackbit goes. It's got a much larger team than Hylia (11 devs vs 1) and looks like they have plans to make it grow as a platform.
No matter which you choose, hosting your own blog and self-publishing is a great thing you can do for yourself. With so many easy tools there's no reason not to. I'll continue to post on DEV as well for the foreseeable future as it's a fantastic community and is what got me started with blogging.
Be sure to visit Coding Catchup and let me know what you think! I'm always open to questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, or even just a friendly chat over on Twitter!