Looking back on this blog

In this post, I will look back on how this blog has changed since I first published it in early 2017. These changes, mostly described in the website design perspective, have resulted both from me gaining a better understanding of what I want to do with this blog and also from plain practical experience. At the end of the post, I will also discuss future plans for this blog. Note that this is a personal blog with a modest audience and, at this time, no commercial aspirations. Consequently, any design approaches mentioned here are likely counterintuitive on commercial blogs.

History

My first blog was a WordPress.com blog on video game reviews, which I wrote as part of my gaming marathon project (more about this on a future post). I then created another website on WordPress.org and wrote about technology trends, food, and various other subjects. After some time of keeping two sites, I closed the gaming blog. I was now focusing on the new website, and felt the need to post often and share the posts to strangers on social media. This continued for a while until I eventually realised that I didn’t have a real plan or, after starting my studies, even the time to write actively.

Besides, my perspective had changed. It was now about me. I would graduate in less than three years and wanted to establish an online presence in the professional sense. I had my LinkedIn profile but also wanted to tell a little bit more about myself. Before ditching anonymity, I found that I disliked the content I had written so far and deleted nearly all the posts. I migrated the blog to a new domain, and started to simplify the blog’s design. It was no longer a “website” but only a simple blog about stuff going on in my life. Eventually, I had the courage to migrate the blog to a domain that had my real name in it.

Fluff

When I was getting started with WordPress, I loved spending hours fiddling with its features. This hobby left me with skills that I was able to put into use in working life. Indeed, I ended up working as a part-time web designer during my studies and even built a website for a local company. However, I failed to use discretion on my own blog about which features to use. Thus, in the first phase of changes, I removed all the stuff that were there mainly for the appearance’s sake. These included contact forms, social media plugins, and various other features that a few people were likely ever going to use.

While writing this post I also remembered that I used to have ads on my blog. I briefly tried both Amazon’s affiliate marketing program (now Amazon Associates) and Google AdWords (now Google Ads). The first couple of posts on my blog were articles about technology trends (not available anymore since they were written in Finnish), which offered good opportunities to place relevant ads. However, I eventually turned the blog into more of a personal diary and took out the ads. This did not make much of a difference financially and also relieved me of the discomfort of sharing posts with ads.

Pictures

One thing that I have always disliked about blogging is dealing with pictures. I love writing, but I hate dealing with pictures! Naturally, the next change was to remove pictures included in the blog posts and instead linking to my Instagram profile. Thus, I avoided the process of choosing pictures, editing pictures, optimising pictures for the web, uploading pictures on the site, and finally, nicely arranging pictures on the post. I transitioned the blog from a blue theme to a white one, and less pictures made the remaining ones look more powerful as they stood out from the plain background.

Removing the pictures lowered the mental threshold to post and also made the site faster. However, each blog post still had one picture left – the header picture. After posting a couple of blog posts with a generic stock photo, I came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t sleep with stock photos on my blog. Eventually, I removed the header pictures from all posts. I also removed the Instagram plugin to further speed up the site. At the time of writing this, the site has only three pictures: two pictures of me plus the beautiful picture taken in Tagaytay, Philippines.

Future

And what’s in store for the future? I want to start writing more seriously again. I want to write about productivity, technology trends, and discuss my views on them. I have considered starting to write in Finnish, since the English blogosphere is saturated with content about these subjects while the Finnish blogosphere is not. Although in this case, I would no longer write mainly for myself as a creative outlet and for keeping up my English. One option would be to have a bilingual blog. Anyways, these are the considerations. In the meanwhile, my goal for 2021 is to simply write more actively.