- The site platform
- The theme
- Where do I host the site
- The posts
- My workflow for posting an article
- Post images
- The newsletter
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)
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. I used to run on Firebase Hosting, but I moved to Netlify during an outage of Firebase and I never looked back - it’s made exclusively for static sites, and it’s really awesome. I wrote a blog post about Netlify, check it out. I also wrote a post where I describe how I automatically deploy my posts and schedule them.
I write the posts using Markdown, which make it 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. Sometimes if I think a post can be a good one, I post it on Hacker News or Reddit, but it mostly does nothing.
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.
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.
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.
More recently I started adding images I draw 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.
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.
It runs on ConvertKit, highly recommended to create and grow a mailing list.
Find out why you should create an email list.
Twitter is a great platform for me. I have more than 2000 followers, although I don’t really know how that works and I think lots of those never see what I post.
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 🙃
It’s pretty cool. I also follow some hashtags where newbies hang out, and I try to help sometimes with their questions.
I also have a cool 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.
I might update this post in the future, right now this is all I use and do to run this blog.