When I decided to create this blog, I had several options; creating a free blog on one of the many communities; or creating something that I could really call my own. Obviously, the tinkerer in me chose the latter option.
My last site was in the Geocities/Netscape era and I’ve never owned anything like a domain name or set up a webserver. I have a lot to learn, which is half of the fun!
I want to share some of the decisions I made for this blog in the hope that it gets others to create one as well.
Getting a domain name
First, I registered a domain name. It’s easy, inexpensive and it really gave me a sense of satisfaction, knowing that I claimed a bit of internet that I could use on my own.
Buying a domain name is straightforward. Go to a registrar, fill in any name that you like and try again and again, until you find a domain name you still like and isn’t taken.
Listening to a lot of tech podcasts, I heard Hover recommended on a weekly basis, which made them an easy pick. So far, it’s been a great experience.
Choosing a blogging platform
Choosing a blogging platform was more difficult.
I wanted something easy and that I would write in a lot. Most of my notes and thoughts are written in Markdown, so the platform should be able parse that to blog posts.
Like many people, I like beautiful things, but I’m not knowledgeable enough on HTML5 and CSS to create my own pages. Having beautiful themes to choose from would be a huge boon.
And lastly, my blog should be fast and reliable. Fast is easily covered these days, but reliable is quite a bit harder. Just like I know little about building webpages, I know little about databases as well. That’s why I wanted to avoid configuring and maintaining one.
In the end, I chose something that let me write my blog in Markdown and I considered fast and reliable. Jekyll is a static site generator, that allows you to create posts in Markdown and generate an entire website from it, that only needs to be uploaded to any server. Tada! Fast and reliable!
Setting up a webserver
Finally, I had to get a webserver to actually host my blog.
Instead of setting up a server somewhere physical, I decided to try my hand at configuring a virtual server from scratch. Since I was only interested in hosting static pages, starting with a blank slate and setting up a simple webserver was an interesting challenge.
After hearing good stories about DigitalOcean, I signed up with $10 of credits, which, with my current configuration, should last me two months. Plenty of time to test it out and see how it works.
For the server, I started with an empty Ubuntu 14.04 server and installed Nginx. The entire process was easy, because Digital Ocean provides a ton of tutorials, for nearly any configuration you might want to consider.
After all of this, I uploaded my generated blog to the server, pointed binaryadventures.com to it and the site was live.
The blog isn’t beautiful yet, but I’ll get to that in time. Jekyll is quite hacky and I like tinkering and hacking my way around. And having my results show up for the public will hopefully be a huge boon to actually finishing things more often. I’ve already changed my theme to Solar by Matt Harzewski, which makes it look a lot better.
In the future I’ll add the other things that I want for the blog. Things like site analytics, an even better theme and maybe some differentiation between categories.
See you around !