I’ve been procrastinating for too long on creating a blog, but like they say ‘New Year, New Me’. I’m going to tell you how easy it is to set up your own blog (like I have done) using jekyll, github pages, and a simple and beautiful editor called prose.io.
Now, if you are like me setting something up that requires too much effort or costs money becomes a very easy thing to put off, but when it’s this easy there is no excuse. So why jekyll, github pages, and prose? I’ll stick to four simple words that describe them collectively.
With these tools it’s incredibly fast to set up a blog all on your own (and I’ve been through multiple methods to find the easiest way for you). In fact, depending on the route you wish to take, it can literally take minutes to get everything set up to start blogging straight away.
Blogging with Prose.io, github, and jekyll is incredibly simple. By using github pages you don’t need to deal with servers or hosting, and jekyll automatically provides out of the box blogging features like categories, archives, all without needing a database.
What’s more is that by using prose.io as an editor, your blogging experience will be beautiful. Prose.io is an editor built specifically for blogging with Jekyll (although has other uses too) that provides a clean interface to write new posts, and edit your blogs themes and settings.
All the while, this entire process is completely free! You don’t need to pay for any of the services listed meaning you can sleep easy knowing your investment will have 100% returns. :)
The first step is get your blog set up on GH-pages
Now I actually followed a incredibly useful and detailed post from over at the programming historian to get everything set up to this point. I would suggest you do too if you want to know how everything actually works.
If you wanna skip all the detail, and can’t really be bothered (or are not interested) there is an even quicker and easier way to get your blog set up (and you don’t need to touch the command line). Barry Clark (VP of Engineering at Trello) created Jekyll Now just for this purpose, and brags you can get your blog set up in 30 seconds, which is pretty much true. With this method you just copy his code to your own github and you’re done. Great, right?
Alright! Now you’ve got a blog! It’s all set up and ready to go, using Jeykyll hosted on github pages. Now you are ready to go and you can start blogging if you wanna get straight to it. BUT WAIT theres more.
Now you need to make your blog look beautiful
Now we’re looking for the fastest simplest approach, and seeing as we’re using github pages to host our blog. They’ve already gone and selected a couple of themes for us that are directly compatible with github pages. They are listed here.
Basically if you want the least hassle and stress possible, the easiest thing to do is pick one of these for your blog theme. Then we simply go into the config file and add a new line for ‘theme’ with the name of your selected theme.
If you want to get even fancier and use a custom theme not supported by github there is a little bit of extra work to do, but you can learn more about that and see the range of different themes that are available to you over here or here (note that this includes free and paid themes). I’m using the ‘Kasper’ theme, FYI.
Hook it up to Prose.IO and start writing
Now this is probably the best part. Using Prose.io as an editor for blogging with Jekyll makes the experience 10x better than it would otherwise be (promise).
Simply go to the Prose website and authorise you github account. After that you’re able to use Prose to write, edit, and publish posts for your blog. With Prose you can also edit your config files, templates and anything else without needing to touch Github.
Because Prose was built with Jekyll in mind, it also has some handy tools that work specifically for Jekyll blogs, including the ability to publish and unpublish blog blogs (which otherwise you’d need to build functionality for yourself), and seperates meta data and content to make it clean and simple to write (and the editor is so pretty).
You’re pretty much ready to go now with something basic (like what you see here). Follow the steps from the Programming Historian or Jekyll Now, choose a theme, hook up Prose.io, and go. You’ve got no more excuses.
There are some extra things that are probably gonna be useful like adding google analytics, adding disqus for commenting, and adding a custom domain (a lot of themes have options for these included already). If you have any questions on getting any of those set up, feel free to leave a comment and I’d be happy to help.