I Spent More Time Maintaining My Blog Than Writing in It

Here's why I switched from Wordpress to Substack

This month marks one year of Endangered Blog. 

Running this blog for the past year had taught me a lot. The blog helped me learn a lot of new things, meet a lot of like-minded people, and also helped me earn the love of 200+ subscribers (and 6000+ unique visitors last year). 

Here are the top posts that helped Endangered Blog reach a wider audience, 

Amidst all the good things, I also faced a lot of technical difficulty in running the blog. In the middle of finding the solution and fixing minor issues, my focus was far off from the actual goal, which is to bring amazing stories to the readers. 

Here are a few difficulties I faced while running Endangered Blog: 

Hosted Wordpress Platform

Wordpress powers a major chunk of all the websites on the world wide web. I’ve always been a WordPress user and when I started Endangered Blog, I rented a hosting space and installed hosted Wordpress as my CMS. With Wordpress being an amazing blog management platform, it required a lot of maintenance and manual work to run it without hiccups. 

This involves updating Wordpress versions, theme updates, installing and managing plugins, fixing broken themes, updating the PHP version, etc. Even though I am capable of doing all these tasks, it made it really hard for me to focus on writing more. 

Also, recently my hosting account was hacked (so was my computer) and infected a lot of Wordpress files. The hosting provider sent me an email asking me to fix it. If not, I was told that my hosting account would be suspended. So, I had to restore files from a backup, remove infected files, send emails to the security team of the hosting providers, etc. 

Also, my hosting cost doubled during this period of time. 

 Moral of the story: I spent a lot of time and money to maintain my website. I could’ve used the time to work on a few more interesting stories.  

The Multiple-tool problem

I had the following tools to manage Endangered Blog: 

  • MailChimp to send emails to my subscribers, 

  • Wordpress to manage the blog, 

  • A plugin to connect Wordpress and Mailchimp to automate emails

  • Yoast plugin for SEO 

  • A Third-party plugin to capture subscribers through a top-bar

  • Google Analytics for tracking my web traffic

All these together got the job done. But, I often had to switch between tools and I felt that it was not an optimal solution. 

 Moral of the story: If you’re an indie blogger and want to focus on writing while managing your own blog infrastructure, it is not easy.   

Things I tried but Failed

I considered a lot of things before zeroing down on to Substack. 

Method 1

I considered hosting an HTML blog as a Github page.  

It involved some work but allowed me to cook up a blog site and host it on Github. It was simple and also supported adding a custom domain. But, soon I realized that this method is effective for static websites like personal websites, portfolios that you don’t update often. For something like a blog, you’ll have to upload files manually or through an FTP or Git client like GitKraken. 

 Pro: It is completely free. 		  Cons: Need basic developement skills  

Method 2

I tried adding a CMS to a Hugo static site generator

Hugo is a static site generator that allows you to build the fastest websites. The content is usually written in Markdown and has to be uploaded onto the folder and it will reflect on the website. You can host the files on Github and use Netlify to deploy the website. Netlify also supports custom domain and has a generous free plan. But, even after several times, I couldn’t seem to get it right. :D

I also tried CMS frameworks for Hugo like Forestry and Netlify CMS, but I felt that I am building a tech stack that is much more complex than Wordpress. So, I dropped it somewhere in the middle. 

 Pro: Completely free and helps you build sites that loads really fast  Con: Complex and need basic development skills to set up 

My requirements for Endangered Blog

My requirements are quite simple: 

  • A clean and neat CMS platform to write and publish blogposts

  • A straightforward way to send email to subscribers

  • Track article statistics

  • Integrate social media and Google Analytics

  • Custom Domain for the URL endangeredblog.com

Is Substack the right solution?

I recently stumbled upon Substack and I really liked it. They offer a simple, straightforward solution to write articles, add subscribers and deliver email newsletters to subscribers. 

You can send these newsletters for free. But, Substack also allows you to put your articles behind a paywall and charge your subscribers a subscription fee. And, they deduct 10% of your subscribers’ fee (excludes Stripe fees).

After a complete analysis, I feel that Substack seems to fulfill all my requirements except for the custom domain. So, I redirected the URL endangeredblog.com to point to endangered.substack.com. I hope they bring support for a custom domain in the near future. 

As I am stepping in the second year of Endangered Blog, I’m really excited to read more and write more. And, I would like your continued support. Please share Endangered blog with your friends and if you haven’t subscribed, please subscribe to receive amazing stories to your inbox.