Moving a blog from Squarespace to Blot
Last week, I moved this blog out of Squarespace.
I love Squarespace. It has everything you need to build a beautiful, feature-rich website. You can manage your domain names from it, your newsletter, your analytics, your custom fonts, everything under the same roof and you don’t have to think about hosting, updating the CMS, managing your server, etc. It’s great and easy.
I have been using Squarespace for my personal website for years now, and for quite simple reasons: its customisation possibilities, the fact that it is an all-in-one solution, its famous reliability. At some point, I briefly moved to Svbtle, but eventually went back to Squarespace to be able to have other pages than the blog, and I missed my custom look.
Moving out of Squarespace is something I have been thinking about for a while. For the past few months, I have been looking at solutions like Ghost, Forestry, or Kirby.1 Why? Because month after month a few things remained frustrating with Squarespace.
First of all, the speed of my website was disappointing, despite The Jolly Teapot being merely more than plain text and links. Unfortunately, Squarespace is heavy machinery, and you cannot remove some of its unused parts.
Second, I had issues with one of the most important thing to me: writing. I use iA Writer most of the time to write blog posts, and I edit in Markdown (I don’t use WYSIWYG). Adding and editing Markdown content through the Squarespace website is far from ideal — you get to use a tiny monospace font on top of another window — and it is even worse on the app. You can tell that bloggers are not the customers Squarespace is looking for nowadays.
Third, it felt quite ridiculous to pay almost twenty euros per month for a blog on which I cannot get myself to publish at least three times a week. Same thing with the fancy features of Squarespace: I barely used any, but I was still paying for them.
Considering the other options mentioned above, I was not fully satisfied by them. They all seemed rather technical: managing a server, installing a CMS and having to maintain it up to date felt too complicated, too risky, while going through something like Git was a bit too nerdy, even for me.
That’s when I remembered Blot.
I mentioned Blot already on The Jolly Teapot. I had learned about it via the Dense Discovery newsletter. I gave it another, deeper look this time, and it was something like love at first (or second) sight.
Before listing what I love about it, I want to mention how well documented Blot is: it really is a joy to learn about its features, and you can tell the creator, David Merfield, cares a lot about its product and the users.
The main Squarespace problems — speed, editing, price — are solved by Blot. You can already tell how fast this website is now. No need to compare it to the previous version to notice the difference, just compare it to the other websites you have opened in your other tabs right now: pretty sure most of them are slower. Speed really is something deeply satisfying.2
Blot also costs less than four euros per month, so it is five times less expensive than Squarespace. I only had to give up a few features: Adobe Fonts, native analytics, domain management, and the native iOS app.
First, I do not really look at analytics,3 and I prefer to have zero tracking on my website anyway. Second, I moved my domains to Hover, and third, I switched to system fonts, following precious advice given to me on Twitter. Finally, the Squarespace iOS app was never great to begin with, and with Blot I can directly use my text editor of choice.
Indeed, publishing on Blot consists of adding a text file to your Dropbox. That’s it. Seriously, how cool is that? Type your post using Markdown with any app, save the .txt file to Dropbox, and voilà. Simple as that.
Overall, the most difficult part was exporting all posts from Squarespace and individually save them as text files. I could not figure out a way to automate this, so I ended up doing it manually, piece by piece, using the exported file and this online tool — which brought a few typographic problems, but nothing too dramatic — to convert the code to Markdown. It ended up taking me a few hours in total; too bad Squarespace does not have better export options.4
When it comes to the looks and design, I struggled my way through CSS and HTML. I also did a fair amount of research and spent a lot of time ironing out the little imperfections. I am now pretty pleased with the result. I think it looks best on a mobile screen, especially if you use dark mode (the website will match your OS dark/light setting). Today I am more than satisfied with how The Jolly Teapot looks: I am delighted. I think the MacOS / iOS version is slightly better just because it uses Avenir Next as the font, which to me is just better than the closest Windows fallback font I could find: Segoe UI.
Let me know on Twitter or via email if you see something wrong with the looks, or if you have a font or layout suggestion. In the meantime, you can subscribe to the RSS feed or update it if necessary (still not sure if the move broke the feed or not), and I will do my best to publish something new very soon, and hopefully more regularly. Thank you for reading.
The absence of Tumblr in that list really breaks my heart.↩︎
On the topic of speed, a highly recommended article, from Craig Mod: Fast Software, the Best Software.↩︎
I will eventually add some analytics, but for the moment, I will focus on the content.↩︎
Apparently, Blot will soon have an easy-to-use import tool to avoid such complicated steps, according to David Merfield himself.↩︎