Picking the right blogging platform

"Saturday Night Live doesn't go out because it's ready. It goes out because it's 11:30."

I recently listened to a fantastic episode of one of my current favourite podcasts – The Growth Show by Mike Volpe, CMO of Hubspot. The episode that got my creative juices flowing was where Mike chatted with Seth Godin – the God of marketing, and an inspiration of mine for years. In the episode, Mike asked Seth how we manages to produce so much content on a daily basis. Seth suggested that you should set yourself a schedule (e.g. write every day for a month) and see how it goes.

I felt inspired. "Write more. Write more!" I said to myself.

But very quickly I ran into a perhaps silly roadblock – what if I start writing now and realise 3 months down the line that I'm writing in the wrong place? Shouldn't I make sure I'm writing in the right place before I embark on this journey?

Should I really invest all this time writing on a platform that I don't own?

I suppose I had better decide on the right blogging platform.

Medium

I already have a Medium blog (can you call it a blog?) – it currently has two posts. Two posts, but two of my best pieces of writing nonetheless – an illustrated essay on why we redesigned GoSquared, and an extensive piece contemplating why Apple would make a watch.

Medium is probably the most thoughtfully designed destination to write content on the web. It has perhaps the closest thing to a perfect text editor I've ever used – I prefer writing on Medium to using any native text editor I have on my Mac. The care they put in to both the writing and reading experience is astonishing – have you noticed the underlines?

Medium is reassuring to the reader – I know whenever someone tweets a link to a piece with a Medium URL it's going to be easy to read, it's highly likely to be well written and considered, and I know I won't be met with a horrible popup modal asking for my email address the moment the page has loaded.

My biggest issue with Medium, though, is it's not mine. I love reading articles on Medium, but whenever I come to telling friends or colleagues about a piece I read last week I almost always end up explaining it as "a great piece I read on Medium" rather than "a great piece by The Writer Of Said Piece". That's a concern for me – I don't particularly want my own voice and my name to sink into obscurity while I put my time and effort into writing articles that build the name and brand of what is essentially a large magazine that doesn't pay me to do so.

Tumblr

I've had a Tumblr blog for as long as I can remember. I've never really known how to classify Tumblr – is it really a blogging platform? Is it more of a longer-form Twitter? Is it better for simply sharing GIFs?

I've never particularly enjoyed the writing experience on Tumblr, and I've never felt confident that I truly own my content on Tumblr – it feels half way between Twitter and Wordpress, with a few of the downsides of each. For a long time now, my Tumblr blog has essentially become a secondary list of all my Instagram photos. I think it's going to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Wordpress

Is there anything Wordpress can't do?

I want to write, and I occasionally wish to share my sketches, designs and photos. But primarily, I want a beautiful and simple place for people to come and read my words. Just as importantly, I want a beautiful and simple place to write those words.

I don't believe more features always has to equal more complexity, but in the case of Wordpress it certainly seems the platform has passed a point-of-no-return. In their recent acquisition of WooThemes, they're making a push into ecommerce – moving beyond mere blogging.

I don't wish to come across as a Wordpress-hater. Learning to use Wordpress pretty much taught me everything I know about web development beyond basic HTML and CSS. Heck, I even learnt a little PHP thanks to Wordpress. The GoSquared Blog runs on Wordpress and has done since its inception back in 2007 (when it had the incredibly easy to mis-spell name of Liquidicity). I love the power of Wordpress, and I love its versatility, but when compared to the alternatives out there, it's just not hitting the sweet spot for me to use it for my personal blog.

Ghost

I've known of Ghost since its inception, and it's always struck me as the blogging platform with the right compromise between simplicity and power. Primarily, I love that I can set up a Ghost blog without needing to touch a line of code, yet still have a web presence that I "own".

In my opinion, the main drawback of Ghost over Medium is it lacks the built-in automatic promotion – whenever you post on Medium it's automatically pushed out to the entire community of Medium users who you're already connected with on Twitter. I'm making a bet that gradually building up an archive of written work under my own name (the term "personal brand" sounds devastatingly douche-y to me, but I guess that's what it is) will pay off in the long run far more than putting it all on Medium.

And the winner is...

It looks like I'm on Ghost right now. Ghost feels right to me. Let's see how it goes.

P.S. While I'm not writing on my brand new Ghost blog, you can find me on Twitter and on the GoSquared Blog.

James Gill

CEO and co-founder of GoSquared.

London, UK