I know. I know. I can’t believe it’s happened. I’ve spent over thirty hours painstakingly migrating the site over to WordPress. Just a few months before this, I’d moved the site over to Statamic. This has been quite a painful journey, so let’s jump in.
Table of Contents
Moving Away From Jekyll
I started created sites in Jekyll back in 2012. At the time, I was doing nothing but WordPress sites for my freelance business. WordPress was a pain in the ass. There wasn’t an easy way to sync your database between local and production environments, my databases always seem to get corrupted (and I didn’t have much of a backup strategy), and last but certainly not least, writing PHP has never been my favorite thing to do.
2012 was the year I dived deep into Ruby. I co-built a CMS in Ruby on Rails and got a few jobs working on Rails apps. Anyway, the point is, I was done with WordPress and thought I’d never look back.
Building this site with Jekyll felt to be a no-brainer at the time. It was what I was most comfortable with, it’s incredibly easy to host, everything can be version controlled, and writing in Markdown is the default.
But then I had six years of an archive which amounted to over six hundred posts. Every time I would do development on the site, it would take over fifteen seconds to build. After doing some insane optimizations, I was able to get it down to eight seconds, but that was still way too slow. And don’t think I didn’t try every single suggestion I could find, but none of it was enough.
There were other problems too. No easy way for other people to write for the site, no easy way to create a membership and restrict certain content just for those members, and writing posts from mobile was an absolute nightmare.1 Unfortunately, some of these issues aren’t the fault of Jekyll, but a current limitation of static site generators.
Did It Really Take Thirty Hours?
Yes. Unfortunately. The RSS import feature didn’t work for me, and even if it did, I’m glad I didn’t go that route anyway. Jekyll only exports HTML and I wanted to move over the original Markdown. So I did what any other sane person in my position would’ve done: I migrated all 660 posts one-by-one.
With the help of Advanced Custom Fields, I was able to keep all the essential metadata that makes this site run. I’m also using the DF-Style Linked List plugin for my linkblog. There’s still a lot of stuff I need to fix to replicate the site from before, but I felt it was good enough for now. I purposely hadn’t written anything in a while because of the migration.
So there I was, using almost any spare moment to copy/paste until my fingers bled.2 Thirty hours later, I’d moved every blog post written on this site. I hope never to have to do it again. In fact, I don’t care how lousy WordPress may turn out to be in the future. I am not migrating this site again. Hold me to that!
What Does the Future Hold?
The biggest reason for the migration back to WordPress was to improve my writing experience. There’s some type of WordPress support in almost every single writing app. Ulysses, for example, makes it insanely easy to capture text from the iOS share menu. I started this very post from my iPhone, worked on it a little from my iPad, and am now writing on the Mac on my living room couch. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me.
The other big one was membership. I’ve been making this site for six years, and I think I’ve missed out on the opportunity to truly create a community around this site. I’ve published a lot of great content over the years, which has taken me a lot of time to make, and I’d like for this site to help me pay my bills even if just a little. I’d be so happy to create content for a living, but to do that, I need to start making the things I create work for me.
As you may have noticed, there is now a Bright Pixels podcast. It’s meant to replace The Radio Column, a show where I discussed my life and work. The only thing was, my life isn’t always all that interesting. Sure, there are times when I’m struggling with something, but there were other times when I had nothing to share, and hence no episode to release. It made the show extremely inconsistent.
I hope that by bringing it over, I have more to talk about. The show’s topics are now any topic I cover on this site. Also, (if you’ve listened already) it leaves me space to talk about what I’m going through too.
But this is only one of the things I’m doing to bring everything under the Bright Pixels umbrella. All content I create will be under the same name and posted through here, which I’m hoping will make this site the success I feel it should and can be.
Soon I’ll officially announce what membership for this site is all about and the cool perks to go with it. I hope you’ll support me.
Do I Recommend It?
I’m enjoying WordPress. I’m using a plugin to get the classic editor back, and I’m happily writing in Markdown.3 Flywheel is hosting the site which automatically backs everything up for me and makes it easy to restore from one of those backups.
Right now, I recommend WordPress. It’s a vibrant and mature ecosystem, and it has everything I need. But as I usually say about a lot of things, the right solution is the one that’s right for you. This just happened to be right for me.
- Sorry to those of you who love writing from your iPad with your static site. The process of writing and committing to Git from my iPad felt incredibly cumbersome for me. I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you though. ↩
- Ok, fine. I’m being melodramatic. ↩
- I plan on releasing a screencast on what my current writing setup looks like and how I got WordPress to play nice. ↩