Carve Out Your Corner of the Internet

Much has been said about social platforms lately and how they may look in the near future. I’m generally not one to speculate but I absolutely am someone to think through potential issues and how to insulate against them. It could be weeks from now, years from now, or decades from now – history shows that no social network rules forever.

So what does that mean for you?

It’s Time to Carve Out Your Corner of the Internet

It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, a portfolio, or just a single page that shows where you can be found: create a website.

It doesn’t need to be a beautiful piece of art powered by thousands of lines of JavaScript and CSS built on the framework-of-the week: create a website.

What you write doesn’t have to be groundbreaking research that nobody has ever written about before: create a website.

How To Get Started

The first thing to do is to secure the domain name. No matter if you change where your site is hosted or how it’s built, the domain name will remain the same.

A .com domain name can be had for $10-$12 per year, depending on where you look. I’ve used Dynadot, Namecheap, and Google Domains in the past, but shop around to compare prices and features. Some offer hosting, first-time discounts, and more. Just ensure it’s an ICANN-accredited registrar and read some reviews.

Building Your Website

Here’s where you may be overwhelmed by the number of options you have. My suggestion is to decide what you want your website to be and keep the barrier to update it as low as possible. A single landing page of links to socials and projects probably doesn’t need a large, complicated framework. Building out a full-featured blog probably needs a bit more.

If you are looking to start your blogging habit, I’d suggest looking into a static site generator to handle the heavy lifting. My blog is currently built on Hugo and I’m a huge fan, but I’ve also used Jekyll in the past. There are a ton of options to choose from, so take a look around and try a few for yourself to see what you like.

My biggest suggestion is to choose a solution that lets you keep your actual content abstracted from the framework itself. Every post on this site is written entirely in Markdown, so if I find that maybe I’d like to move to a new framework, my content is portable.

Hosting Your Website

The great news is that you have a lot of options on how to host your website without spending a single cent. Netlify has a free tier with up to 100GB of bandwidth per month. Cloudflare is another very popular host. Depending on how you build your site, GitHub Pages may even be an option.

My site runs on Netlify today, which makes it super simple to get started. In many cases, you can point to your GitHub repository and they’ll handle building and hosting your site for you. There are plenty of supported frameworks and even if yours isn’t, take a look at the build configuration docs.

Some Parting Thoughts

These are just a few examples of how you can claim a space that you control. If there are only two things that you take away:

  1. Buy a domain. Even if your host offers a subdomain for free (ie. GitHub Pages), buy a domain and point it to your site
  2. OWN YOUR CONTENT. If you need to move to another platform, you don’t want to rely on tools that you don’t control to get your data

If you allow for a third piece of small advice, make your website a blog and get in the habit of writing. This is something I’ve struggled with doing consistently for a while now. I’ve deleted countless blogs thinking “Am I the only one that doesn’t know this? Nobody will read this!” If you struggle with those same thoughts, I implore you to push through as I do the same. If you do, let me know! I’d love to see what you write!