The site platform

This site is a static site built using Hugo, the popular static site generator built using the Go programming language.

I want my site to be as dumb as possible, which means less points of failure. A static site satisfies this requirement, and provides many nice advantages as well.

The reason I chose Hugo are:

  • generates plain HTML files, which make it faster than having to process every request server-side
  • a static site is more flexible in terms of deployment and hosting
  • it’s really fast, my local live reloading is instant and I don’t have to wait 10 seconds to recompile (not every platform can do this on my 2010 Macbook Pro my 2018 MacBook Air is faster but I still welcome speed)
  • I like Go
  • it’s simple

The theme

I originally used the Ghostwriter theme, slightly optimized and tweaked to serve my needs. I changed it so much over time that it’s now unrecognizable, but it was a great way to start.

Where do I host the site

I use Netlify. Here I describe how I automatically deploy my posts and schedule them.

Don’t exclusively write on Medium or on other platforms. Find out why you should focus on your own platform.

The posts

I write the posts using Markdown in Bear - awesome app. Markdown is a great format because it’s very portable - I could move to any other static site generator in a minute if I want, since using Markdown there’s no lock-in, but I’m very happy with Hugo.

What do I do to promote the posts

I post them on Twitter and add them in the email newsletter which I send every week. That’s basically it. I used to post articles on Hacker News or Reddit, but it mostly did nothing all the times I tried, so I stopped doing it. I’d still recommend doing it when starting out.

Posts are automatically picked up by Google. Find out my SEO tips.

My workflow for posting an article

When I write a blog post, I set the published date in the future.

I have a bad memory, so I write down everything. I have a list of scheduled posts in the Apple Notes app and I try to keep more than two weeks of content in front of me, so I don’t have anxiety about not knowing what I am going to publish or write about. This is key: there is nothing that can get in the way of daily publishing.

Schedule

I push all my content to a private GitHub repository, which is synchronized to Netlify thanks to their Git integration.

Every time I push to GitHub, Netlify deploys an updated copy of the site.

I just run an IFTTT webhook every morning at 08:00 CET to automatically trigger a new deploy on Netlify, which will publish the blog post of the day (I date every post at 7:00 AM, just to be sure).

I might be sleeping or walking the dog at 8 AM, yet the post is published.

It’s nice to have this piece of the infrastructure out of my mind. I just know a post is going to be published.

It’s also going to be posted on Twitter automatically, thanks to another IFTTT applet which is linked to my RSS feed.

Tweet new posts

Post images

I make sure all the post images are optimized using ImageOptim, to avoid useless bandwidth usage and a faster page speed.

Sometimes I use an app to generate a banner image for the post, which is also used in the Twitter card.

I used to create an ASCII-text image, using TAAG.

I sometimes draw images using the iPad and an Apple Pencil. I use the Sketches app, it’s great. I am not gifted at all for drawing, I just like doing something kind of funny. It’s my own blog, so I can publish crappy artwork if I like.

2019 update: I rarely make banner images now

The newsletter

I have one main newsletter. I send an email every week, with the list of the posts I wrote during the week, plus any new resource I create.

I used ConvertKit in the past. It’s great tool to start. Now I use a self-hosted solution.

Find out why you should create an email list.

Twitter

Twitter is a great platform for me. I have more than 9000 followers, which is not huge, but it’s not a small number.

Even though I joined Twitter in 2007, I never really used it effectively. I only started a few months ago to get any kind of interaction with the people out there 🙃

I have a script that runs on Glitch and it’s triggered 2 times a day by IFTTT. I explain it here. Basically I have a list of posts on Airtable that I posted in the past and I want to repurpose on Twitter.

It’s sad to write a post, share it once and never post it again, but doing it manually it’s 1) tedious 2) not something I can do consistently 3) had to track which posts I shared already.

It’s a job perfect for a machine, that posts them while I am sleeping, 2 times every day.

Books

I wrote 8 free ebooks. I use GitBook to write them, the original self-hosted GitBook project available here, not the thing that you find on gitbook.com.

As for my blog posts, I write the drafts using Bear and when I think they are ready I export to a folder and I create an index. That’s basically it. I made a template for the books which I reuse, and I’m pretty happy about it.

That’s it!

I might update this post in the future, right now this is all I use and do to run this blog.