Blogger feels like a sinking ship. It's very telling to me when I see developers refusing to eat their own dog food. Why isn't the Official Google Blog hosted on Blogger? What kind of message do you think that's sending out to the rest of us? It's probably only a matter of time before Google sunsets Blogger like they do with all their other social platforms. (So long, Google+.)
I could be wrong. But I'm too old and too tired to put any more effort into Blogger. I used to be willing to put the time and work into hacking the code to fulfill my vision. But now I'm starting to ask myself, 'Do you have time to waste on this?' Let's be clear, I have a vision for what I want my website to do and I KNOW with some clever hacking I could forge that vision through Blogger. But I also know that it's going to take a lot of time and effort to get there. And frankly, to me it's not worth the time anymore.
Time and Money: The Two Currencies
Life has two currencies: money and time. I used to be able to afford the time it takes to code Blogger to get what I want from it. Those days are GONE. My time is now limited. I'm no longer willing to slave over hot code for a week only to get an inch closer to my vision. The longer I work on building this foundation is the longer it's going to take before I can actually CREATE the content I want to feature on it. I can't do both.
What I'm saying is, rather than spend any more time working on Blogger I've chosen to spend my money on a product that already has all the website features I'm looking for. That product is Squarespace.
It's easier if I just list the main features that attracted me:
Full Mobile and AMP Support.
First class post editing experience.
Fully integrated multimedia support. ex: Audio, Video, Images
Tag AND CATEGORY support!!
Dozens of SEO optimizations built-in.
A mobile app that REGULARLY RECEIVES UPDATES.
I retain ownership of my content.
A site search that actually works and is always up-to-date with your latest content.
And while some of this stuff like galleries and event pages I could add to Blogger with code and third-party apps, it's so much easier when all that stuff is built-in. The site as it is right now is a patchwork of 3rd-party scripts and services and I'm over it.
Take my gallery for example. I use a software called jAlbum. Firstly it's hosted on a separate subdomain. It's not part of the blog software so that's already a disconnect right there. Which means if I add anything I have to blog about it. Squarespace would just surface it to my homepage automatically. Then you have the process of building the gallery pages. I have to use a desktop application to build all the static pages then copy those pages to the subdomain. This is not a quick and easy process!
And by the way, my version of jAlbum is out of date! I'm using version 11.5 but the latest one as I write this is 16.2. And trust me, I've been aware of it. I get an email about a new version like every other month. I got tired of updating. Don't get me wrong, I would definitely recommend jAlbum to people who have time to manage its upkeep but I want out of this life. I just want a CMS that has all of this stuff built in. With no updates for me to perform. I'm tired of the upkeep. I just want to produce CONTENT.
There's more! Embedding a video in Blogger is a pain in the ass if you want to use a non-YouTube source. Category support is something I've missed since my LiveJournal days. I've submitted requests for it in the past with Blogger but as you can see nothing ever came of it. Blogger's post editor is straight trash. They add to it with new feature releases but it's never gotten an overhaul. And it NEEDS it. So many problems.
And for a time I didn't care about all those problems. I was willing to work within the limitations of Blogger. I guess I just got tired of it. Just because I can code doesn't mean I should. It just doesn't make sense to me anymore. I'm putting all this time into coding but it's taking too long for me to get the results I want. And perhaps some of the things I want are beyond the scope of Blogger?
One more thing I want to point out is how even the simple things are a pain in the ass with blogger. Let's say I want to include an image in a blog post. And let's say I want that image to show up as a thumbnail on the post list. Well the image can't be from my personal Flickr or it won't show up as a thumbnail. It only does that for images hosted on Google services. But the post editor doesn't have an image upload option. Which means I have to open Picasa in a separate window, upload the picture, copy the link, tab back to Blogger, then paste the link. Why does this require a patchwork of services? Why can't Blogger just accept my Flickr photos or offer to host my photos directly?
Adding a photo to your blog post should not be this difficult!
Why Not Self-Hosted Wordpress?
Yeah, no. People are always suggesting self-hosted Wordpress to me but that's a lateral move. If maintaining Blogger is a part-time gig then maintaining Wordpress is a full-time six-days-a-week career!
Wordpress isn't even ready out of the box. It's just a basic blog with basic features. A lot of what you want is missing. So then you start looking for plug-ins. There's over 56,300 plugins listed on the official Wordpress directory. Are you fucking kidding me? A search for "SEO" nets me 3,514 results! Who the hell has time to test them all? Even testing out five means I'm once again wasting time on setup instead of producing content. And don't get me started on themes. There must be close to a million Wordpress themes out there on the Internet.
For the sake of argument, let's say I got my self-hosted Wordpress site working the way I want it. (Like, a year after I started, LOL!) And I'm finally free to produce content. What happens when Wordpress releases a critical update? I have to stop everything to apply it . But wait, I've changed the code so much with all these Goddamn plugins I can't even apply the update normally! So now I have to figure this out and troubleshoot how to apply it without breaking my plugins. And while that is happening my blog starts looking stale to Google because I've had to stop updating to fix it. And the same thing happens when my plug-ins have to be updated or the theme gets an update. It's a never ending process. This is the type of thing I'm trying to get AWAY from! If anything self-hosted Wordpress would be an even bigger burden to maintain than Blogger.
Right now I'm in the middle of setting up my Squarespace site. It's only been two weeks but things are already shaping up nicely. I've already gotten more done in the past two weeks of setting up my Squarespace than I have coding Blogger these past few years. Most of the work involves just updating old entries to take advantage of Squarespace's modern features. And while I could just import my posts as they are, I'm taking the time to quality check each one. I've been adding more media, fixing broken links and even adding more text when needed. Yes it's a lot to go through but Squarespace makes it easier to manage than traditional post editors. The way the content of a post divides everything into blocks is a touch of genius! This same task would be a nightmare on Blogger.
I hope I don't sound bitter. Blogger was definitely a step-up from Livejournal when I moved here so many years ago. I meant every nice thing I ever said about this platform when I used to evangelize it. I've tried my best to give back to the community. But look around. I've stopped posting. And it's not because I have nothing to say I just don't like using the product anymore. I still make stuff. I've been active on Youtube, Instagram and Twitter. But when it comes to Blogger I guess the honeymoon for me is over.
So yeah. Right now I'm in the process of moving everything to Squarespace. I'm really pumped and I just can't wait for you guys to see the new site! And more than anything I can't wait to get back into content creation. It's been a long time coming.
For those of you still keeping tabs on this blog, I thank you for your patience. It will be rewarded.
(Original title was "Blogger is Dead" but that felt too harsh.)
New York photographer, party mammal, and Internet troll for hire. Alain-Christian is an OG who’s been blogging for over 20 years dating back to the early days of AOL. He loves sharing his offbeat opinions on pop culture, bestowing his tech knowledge, and making arts.