I have published articles occasionally online. So far, I've tended to write about football - here's my most recent effort: brightonion.svbtle.com. They don't get read by many people but they seem to be appreciated by those who read them. I chose Svbtle to write because I liked the minimalist design and, as it was an ad hoc project, I didn't want to pay. Now Svbtle have started to charge for new users and existing users have to cough up for extra services. As an occasional writer I'm reluctant to commit to paying $6 every month.
As I enjoyed writing those articles I'm planning to write more regularly and possibly about other topics. But, initially at least, not I don't envisage writing regularly enough to pay a monthly fee.
I think that one of the blogging services that you recommend may suit me: Roon.io. It has a similar minimal look which I like, most of the services are free, and I can add a domain, which is something that appeals if all goes well. However, you also recommend other similar minimalist sites, and there are many more out there. Also, most of the research I've done online recommends using Wordpress as it is more versatile in the long run.
So, my questions are:
- Do you think that Roon.io is suitable for my current needs?
- Would you recommend a Wordpress site? Or would this be more suitable for a more regular blogger or if my output becomes more regular?
- Given my requirements, what would be the advantages of adding a domain to where I post my articles?
Thank you in advance,
Great questions! Let's run through the list.
"Do you think that Roon.io is suitable for my current needs?"
I know exactly what you mean about not necessarily wanting to pay for a site you're not updating regularly—my abandoned-site graveyard is probably larger than most.
For your circumstances, Roon.io would be a wonderful choice. There are a few things I like about it specifically.
- It's Markdown native, but also allows for Rich Text if that's what you're comfortable with.
- It's super clean, which I'm always a fan of.
- You can start your site/blog for free, and the content exporter is quite nice, so if you don't like the platform you can leave at any time.
Now this goes right into your third question. "Given my requirements, what would be the advantages of adding a domain to where I post my articles?"
Using Roon.io for free comes with a branded domain (something like brightonion.roon.com), but for $12/yr you can enable custom domains. Is that something you'd need? I'd say yes, and here's why.
- From a reader's perspective, there a strong sense of quality and permanence that comes with having a custom domain. For example, brightonion.com feels like a much stronger brand than brightonion.svbtle.com because it's the master of its domain, and isn't tied to the successes or whims of a platform.
- As you grow your site, you may want to start using a custom email address like firstname.lastname@example.org, which would require you to own the domain.
- With your own domain, you can pack up and move platforms without confusing your existing readers.
- Owning a domain really doesn't cost a whole lot. You're looking at claiming a brand for yourself and solely possessing it for pennies a day.
And with that, we'll go with the final question. "Would you recommend a Wordpress site? Or would this be more suitable for a more regular blogger or if my output becomes more regular?"
Wordpress is certainly the largest of the site platforms you could choose from, but it's really two platforms—both have major plusses and minuses.
Wordpress.com is the hosted version of Wordpress, meaning you don't have to worry about hosting space at all. And it's very user-friendly, with a clean CMS and simple design options that let you accomplish just about anything. But, and this is a big but, once you're looking to do anything outside of the base offering (which is free), you're looking at substantial premium charges.
The real flexibility comes when you have a Wordpress.org site, but that requires some work on your end. First, you'll have to have your own hosting space, which isn't difficult or overly expensive, but does require some additional work. Then, if you want to change things, it's all up to you. You'll have full control of your HTML and CSS (plus an unlimited supply of templates and add-ons you can download), but you're not going to get a drag and drop interface to tweak the little things. I don't want to dissuade you here though—my first few website endeavors were through Wordpress.org, and after a little learning and tinkering, I was plenty happy.
If you're unsure about Wordpress but want something more substantial than Roon.io, I'd also take a look at Squarespace and Ghost. The costs might be prohibitive if you're just looking at close-to-free casual writing, but both offer some nice features. Squarespace is probably the easiest to use of all the robust platforms on the market, and Ghost has some awesome features available if you have some dev skills in your toolkit.
Big thanks to Peter for letting us use this as a blog post. And if you have a question you'd like answered (no blog post promises), just send it over.