Writing on the Web – from WordPress to Ghost

I love WordPress, particularly the self-hosted version. I’ve been using it since 2006 to power this blog and have built over 50 websites since I first started creating websites for a living in 2008. This endeavor eventually led me to co-found a successful pioneering digital marketing agency in Jakarta, serving clients like General Motors and Google.

After moving to the US six summers ago, I stopped publishing web content for several reasons:

  1. Adjusting to a new country was challenging. Despite having traveled to 30 countries, I had never lived outside Indonesia. The learning curve was steep.
  2. I wasn’t accustomed to the challenges I faced in my first few months, or even years, after moving. I felt lost and confused.
  3. During those unfamiliar times, I struggled to find something to write about, even though relocating should have provided plenty of stories to tell.

As a result, I stopped updating this blog. I also managed to live without Twitter (I deleted my account in 2017). I maintained my Instagram and Facebook accounts but rarely posted updates. When I did, I experimented with different types of content. On Instagram, for instance, I mostly posted videos of myself playing guitar and covering my favorite songs.

Following a severe illness a year ago, I resumed posting. I’m glad I did, but this time I wrote entirely in English. I used to mix languages in my posts, but in the last few years before moving, I primarily wrote in Indonesian to target Indonesian readers.

Long story short, I decided to start a self-employment business as a side hustle, focusing on WordPress development. I named it San Jose Web Development and have completed two projects so far, redesigning websites using self-hosted WordPress. This meant dealing with plugins, themes, CMS installation, databases, and everything else involved in such projects.

This experience reminded me of my time as a full-time WordPress developer, including the frustrations of encountering and resolving errors. It’s part of the job, and I get paid to do it. I don’t mind; I love my job, especially WordPress website development.

But as I became active again in creating web content, I considered starting another music project. So I did. Here’s the reason why.

I thought about using WordPress again but remembered the hassle of working with self-hosted websites. I didn’t want this project to feel like work, at least not initially. I wanted to enjoy the creative process of writing, editing, and publishing web content. So, I tried Substack. After a few days, I found a deal-breaker: the URL structure. I disliked that Substack users couldn’t have clean URLs. Then, I stumbled upon a tech publication with neat URLs and discovered they were using Ghost.

I had been aware of the self-hosted version of Ghost for a while, thanks to a web developer colleague in Jakarta. I wasn’t interested at the time because I was focused on WordPress. However, I tried the hosted version of Ghost and fell in love with it.

I love this statement found on Ghost’s homepage! 😍

Ghost’s hosting solution is advantageous because I don’t have to worry about maintaining the platform. This liberation allowed me to focus on key tasks: strong and detailed planning, strategic content formulation, creative writing, post-production video for podcasts (the project’s main feature), and music community outreach and engagement. I can’t afford to hire help yet, so I have to manage everything alone until the project can sustain itself. By not dealing with platform management, I avoid technical difficulties that often become distractions.

This experience was unexpected, but I’m glad I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try a new platform. The old blogging spirit of getting inspired, writing, and publishing is back, reminiscent of the early days when I used WordPress mainly as a blogging engine. This rejuvenation is refreshing, and its positive impact on my productivity cannot be overlooked.

Author: Robin

Jack of all trades living in SF Bay Area, California. SE Asian. Currently building music media.

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