Don't Make a Blog, Make a Brain Dump
Not enough people have personal blogs. This is a point brought up by many of those passionate about the "golden age" in the timeline of the modern internet. A time when websites were more like a small collection of winding side-streets and flea markets. Today, it's all shopping malls, hostile pedestrians, and corporate buildings. People have their one or two "outlets" that make it easier for them to meet-up with friends and family. There's no need for these people to have their "own thing". Someone else has already built it for them. They're become fully adjusted to their internet slums.
Okay, sorry about the terrible metaphors. But you get my point. Convenience breeds laziness. Laziness breeds mediocrity.
What's a "Brain Dump"?
A brain dump is a better way to look at sharing your own experiences or thoughts on the web. The term "blog" has a lot of baggage connected to it, so newcomers are quickly scared away by the concept. Or even worse - they decide to only share themselves on locked-in, walled gardens[^1].
Another problem arises when you finally do convince someone to start "blogging" online; self-doubt.
- "What could I possibly have to share?"
- "What if everyone hates what I post?"
- "What if my content sucks?"
Just dump it. Who cares. It's the internet after all, so who are you trying to impress? The point is that your sharing your own experiences that are unique to you as an individual. Posting something that you think is pointless or mundane might be extremely helpful or, at the very least, entertaining for someone else.
Write up what you did over the weekend, a new recipe you tried out, review a movie/book or video game you enjoyed, list step-by-step instructions on how you installed a new appliance in your house - anything! Just write and be part of what made the internet fun, exciting and personal again.
But let me reiterate: stay away from walled gardens! Control your own space on the internet. Be the master of your own brain dump! Say "screw you" to app algorithms and trending bullshit. Just be you.
Convinced? Awesome. Now let's get into setting things up. I'll break these down into two separate categories: one for those with limited web/software experience, and one for those wanting a little more control.
No Code Solutions
Before I get into my suggested options in this "no-code" category, I would like to mention why WordPress is not listed here. Personally, I think WordPress gets in the way of users wanting to "just blog". There once was an era where blogging was WP's main focus, but that is now a time long forgotten. It tries to do too much. The back-end is a cluttered mess. Initial learning curves for security, plugins and themes is far too great for newbies. Gutenberg - dear God.
That's not even mentioning hosting costs, installation, backups, etc. My personal take - just steer clear. This option is better suited in the second category for those with more web experience.
With that out of the way, let's see my top selections for "no-code":
Blot has been around for quite a while. You simply post to a third-party service like Dropbox, Google Drive or a
git repo and Blot takes care of the rest.
- $4/month (includes custom domain use, hosting & support)
- Easy sign up
- Multiple themes to choose from
Bear Blog is an excellent platform that focuses on content and not much else.
- Free ($25/year for extras)
- Easy sign up
Mataroa follows in the same vein as Bear Blog, a simple blogging platform focused on writing.
- Free (with optional $9/year for premium features)
- No ads, no tracking
- Open source
Write.as is another good option for those looking to just get words down and shared on the internet.
- Free with optional paid tiers (custom domains, themes etc.)
- Option to self host via Write Freely
Build Your Own
If you're deep into this section of the post, I think it's safe to assume your technical level is fairly decent. So, I won't be into great detail with the options below:
This very website you're reading is built and run off of SourceHut Pages. I highly recommend the service.
- $3+/month (depending on what you choose to pay)
- Customizable build settings
- Support open source software!
Sidenote: If you're interested in setting up a SSG (such as Jekyll or Hugo) through SourceHut, feel free to fork this very website as a starting point. I also wrote up how to publish/build a Jekyll site on SourceHut in a separate post if you wish to see all the nitty-gritty details.
As I mentioned above, I find this platform can be a little overkill for a simple "blog" (or in this case, a brain dump). I'm aware that many devs might already be familiar with WP, so it makes sense to include it here.
- Free options (custom domains, premium features will require some form of paid hosting)
- Room for growth with extensive plugins / themes
- Huge amount of documentation and resources
Static HTML and a Web Host
Why not, right? Using a service like NearlyFreeSpeech or spinning up a cheap VPS with DigitalOcean and then dropping static HTML files on your server is pretty straightforward. You don't need any fancy scripts or syncing tools - an FTP client and a text editor is more than enough!
- $2-5/month (depending on service provider)
- "Drag-and-drop" workflow
- Easily portable to other hosting services in the future
Since GitHub is used by almost every developer across the globe, it makes sense to mention their free website hosting option via GitHub Pages. I personally don't advise newcomers to use this platform, but you're free to do as you like!
- Fairly limited (no static site plugin support)
There are many services in both categories above that I did not include. That's okay. I didn't exclude them because I dislike them but instead focused on what I believe to be the easiest solutions for both camps (techies and non-techies).
At the end of the day - who cares what you choose. Just choose something. Stop looking at it as "blogging" or trying to "capture an audience". Dump your brain's thoughts out into the internet, on your own piece of the internet, and help make the world wide web as fun as it used to be!
[^1]: Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, etc. These should be completely avoided for the sake of both your health and your internet freedom.