For the past few years, Micro.blog has hosted this blog. Every year, I revisit that decision to verify if it still is the best choice for me. I did that last year. And I did the year before. Every time, I have decided to stick to this wonderful platform. Unlike earlier, when I made such decisions by listing pros and cons, the last two times I made it based on my experience of using the other services over a year.
I have recently read a lot of people revisiting their choices of platforms and thought I should share about my experiments. I had shared my views once in 2022. This post is for the experiments since then.
Before that, here’s a quick note on how I give myself time to arrive at this decision. I have never changed my primary platform. I sign up for an annual plan with a service, set it on a custom sub-domain and use it for a full year. Sure, it’s a costly option. But as the subscription ends, I have no doubts about my decision. Neither do I have any urge to switch platforms every time I see it discussed. Anyway, onto my experiments.
In 2022, I was fascinated by what Ghost promised as a platform. It was well-reviewed, polished and highly recommended. It suited the long-form style of writing I wanted to do more of. It had a built-in newsletter. I wanted all of that. The question was, can it become my primary blogging platform. A year of continuous usage convinced me it wasn’t. Though I liked what it offered, it didn’t fit my style of writing. I am very informal in what I write. Sometimes, it is heartfelt life stories. Other times, it’s meaningless updates. More often, it’s the latter. Ghost isn’t a right fit for such posts.
For starters, it continues to need a title. And images. It wants me to play around with the metadata of the post. Before I can publish a post, all the bells and whistles distract me and I start to question if my words are worth all this polish. That’s not the feeling I want when I am about to click publish. It limits what I can do with the styling. Even the paid plan has a very limited selection of themes. Plus even with all these limitations, it is pricey. I do not earn from my blog – so $9 per month paid annually isn’t cheap.
Last year I picked up Write.as to experiment with. Unlike Ghost, its plans are simple – so I again signed up for an annual plan which unlocks all the paid features. Most importantly custom domain. I set it up as a place for my quick, unformed thoughts. It supports both short and long posts well. Plus it has got hands-down the best editor to write posts in. I could never write quick, short posts – it was that good.
But there are significant downsides that I cannot brush aside. Adding images to posts isn’t easy – need to go to a separate place to do that. The published posts look clean, but soulless. The options for styling are extremely limited. An ability to extend the capabilities is almost non-existent. The selection of good themes is negligible. The biggest problem of all is the publishing workflow, especially writing drafts, which is very frustrating. Drafts are posts published anonymously. But publishing them back to the main blog isn’t intuitive. The published dates get all messed up.
Also, I am not sure if the platform is in active development. Over the past year, I hardly saw anything change. I don’t want to spend time on a platform that’s ignored.
On both occasions, I cancelled my plan at the end of the subscription period and moved all the posts to Micro.blog. With redirects set automatically, it was as if the posts were always published here. I respect Manton for being always supportive and for actively discouraging lock-in by simplifying moving in to or out of Micro.blog.
Here’s what I had written last time while talking about why Micro.blog works for me.
[I]t suits well for both the micro and long-form posts. It has apps for all platforms that I primarily use Mac and Android. Quick notes are best made with the apps, especially so from smartphone. For posts that are long, titled,
UlyssesiA Writer works perfectly well for me. No other CMS can ever work as well as a native application.
The platform is built on Hugo. And I love Hugo. (…) Building extensions in your templates is so easy, and I have gotten comfortable with it. Manton has added just enough around Hugo to make it even more useful — the APIs, the apps, the social aspects, the open plug-in and theming systems and, the most valuable, its community.
Do I use all of them [smart features]? Of course, not. But the fact that one plan provides me so much over and above the basic blogging functionality is priceless for me.
None of this has changed even now. I also haven’t observed the stability issues that I see people complain about recently. May be I have just been lucky.
No surprise then, that Micro.blog continues to be my blogging platform of choice.