Moving on from Squarespace to Ghost and plans for 2024

hose of you who know the blog well will have noticed a change on the blog's layout since earlier this week. I decided to move the hosting from Squarespace to Ghost and start a rethink about what I want to do with the blog going forward.

The move

The blog was created back in January 2015 directly on Squarespace. I liked how Squarespace looked back then and the flexibility it offered without the need for in depth CMS knowledge as wordpress would have required. It was fast and pretty much well optimised for SEO as well. Its integration with Twitter was excellent too before Musk killed the APIs. But that was then.

Over the years Squarespace focused its platform more and more into an ecommerce kind of provider where you happened to be able to host a blog as well if you really wanted. The CMS editor became clunkier - and slower - to use to the point that I started drafting all my posts on OneNote and then simply copy and pasting them into Squarespace. 

Then at some point last year, yet another redesign was the proverbial nail in the coffin. The backend became really hard to navigate unless you really were using your website for ecommerce. As the subscription prices crept up, enough was enough.

In the summer of 2023 I gave a cursory look to Ghost, and mataroa. Mataroa was a bit too minimalistic and constrained what I could do in the future to an extent I was not comfortable with. As for the other two, neither Ghost nor are blogging platforms first and foremost. Ghost is a newsletter platform that supports blogging and is more focused in text snippets than full blown blogposts. But both do the job nicely. I ended up going with Ghost as that's where a number of substackers have moved to and it seems to have enough of an infrastructure to keep me happy for a while.

Migrating data out of Squarespace is…suboptimal to say the least. They allow you to export your data in a wordpress format and that's about it. So, importing it into Ghost would either require me to play around with json files and pull my hair out or to cave in and use their concierge service.

Ghost's concierge service is excellent. They were able to import all my stuff without trouble and before the hard deadline of January 25th since that was when my Squarespace subscription was due to expire. The concierge service, however, is neither free nor cheap. To have access to it one must subscribe the Creator annual plan which costs $300. Not cheap, but effectively I see it as a one off cost before downgrading to the starter plan next year which will bring that cost down to 1/3. So the transition effectively costed me a total of 180 dollars, a fair price to avoid headaches when I'm hard pressed for time. And if push comes to shove I can always take what I have now and self-host my Ghost installation somewhere else.

 I am not sure the current layout will stay longterm, but I shall have some time over the spring to give it a proper makeover.


Plans for 2024

I had originally planned 2024 as a transition year and was preparing myself not to write any new papers beyond those that were already in the pipeline. Then in October I had lunch with a friend and he convinced me to co-author a mammoth undertaking of a book. Out the window went all my best laid out plans to have a year to focus on thinking and sketching instead of typing. This project will probably suck all my writing energy this year if I had to guess it.

I do have another idea brewing, one that also explains why I went with Ghost instead of a newsletter. Yes, I know, it is so 2020, right? I have not committed myself to do it but at least now I have the infrastructure to actually do it if and when I decide to. What I like about having a newsletter is the commitment to writing *something* regularly. I miss that.

In the meanwhile, onwards and upwards.