Gatsby, GraphQL and Netlify changed the blogging game for me
It has never been easier or more exciting for me to run blogs and websites. I have limited experience with WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, etc. It seems like those are the go to tools for people who want to run blogs or portfolio websites. I’ve always gotten the impression that they tend to be slower than custom built websites when the developer knows what they are doing. They seem to cater to the amateur who doesn’t know much about web development, who can’t build a website using HTML, CSS, and JS on their own. So they hack together a site in a weekend and pay decently high monthly hosting fees and whatever other upsells the companies offer.
I wanted to build a blog, but really didn’t want to use those services
There needs to be a better way for an experienced web developer to get up a site quickly, efficiently, and make it easy to post new articles to the blog.
I found all of that with Gatsby
They have great starter projects to choose from. Click here for Gatsby V2 starters
Find the starter project with the features you want and if you don’t want to write all the CSS from scratch, find one with roughly the UX / UI you are looking for in your site. You can customize all of the prewritten CSS and they are React projects so you can build custom React components. GraphQL makes the site feel dynamic since you can write custom queries that execute at build time and generate all of your static content but the queries can be as complex as you want so they can offer things like pagination, filtering, and sorting. Those things normally aren’t associated with static sites. What’s more is that because it’s static and hosted on a CDN, there is no backend to slow us down. The sites are blazing fast, loading in 1s-3s depending on your content. You’ll be faster than 80% of the sites out there if you do it right.
Next I recommend deploying with Netlify. They offer a GitHub integration to deploy your site to the CDN when you push to a designated branch. It’s easy to get your DNS server to point to Netlify and they hook you up with an HTTPS cert. Other options are deploying to AWS, which is easy with Gatsby.
With my setup, I write my blog posts in a markdown file, just like you write README.md files. This makes writing fast and efficient. So I can focus on writing and the content and make sure I’m writing 10-15 blog posts a week for my various sites.
I do everything about 2-5x faster in this setup vs a WordPress setup and I work in an IDE instead of a WordPress Admin UI. Thank you Gatsby, GraphQL, and Netlify for changing the game and giving professionals the tools to build and deploy blogs and websites quickly.
So clone a starter project, push the starter project to your GitHub, sign up for Netlify, and give Netlify read access to that GitHub repo. Boom! Your site is deployed. Next steps are setup DNS to point your domain to Netlify, get a free HTTPS cert, and write your first blog post in markdown format. It’s never been easier to setup and maintain a fast static CDN based blog.