How I built this blog

February 2, 2020·Meta

TL;DR I never bothered to make a blog before because it was too much of a pain in the ass, but thanks to modern tools I was able to leverage existing habits (Trello) with minimal work in a way that future-proof and maintainable (Gatsby).

I've always wanted to have a blog but I never really got around to it. I was caught between two competing desires:

  1. I didn’t want to bother designing and coding a blog when I could just use a platform like Medium.
  2. I wanted my blog to be something personal and informal, especially if I was going to be motivated to write, and blogging platforms just didn’t feel personal enough.

So I never built it. But now things are different.

Gatsby. So hot right now.

The promise of Gatsby is being able to use React to generate a performant, static website, using virtually anything as a data source so long as it has an API. And because it's a static website you can host it anywhere (server-less).

This kind of architecture brought on a new concept called the "headless CMS" where a website's content back end and its design front end are totally separated, meaning either one can be easily changed independently of the other.

Now with the ability to quickly design and code my blog's front end with my most favorite and familiar tools, the only thing left to do was to decide where to store my blog's content.

One of my first thoughts was Airtable because I also used Gatsby with Airtable in my most recent project Cocolist. But in the end, I decided to go with Trello.

Trello, have I told you lately that I love you?

I already use Trello to manage my entire life. I have Trello boards not just for managing client work but for managing my free time as well: side projects, hobbies, reading lists, exercise, travel, etc. I’ve even used it for keeping track of personal relationships before. It’s journaling on steroids.

Eventually I noticed myself starting to use the comments section of Trello cards more and more to put stream-of-conscious thoughts. From here, it was only a small leap of the imagination to realize I can use Trello to write down thoughts that can be published as articles.

So as a proof of concept, I spun up a new Trello board called "Blog" with a column called "Posts" for published posts. The card description I decided would be become the post content which I can already write in Markdown. The card's due date is the post date. The cover image is the post image. Labels are tags. And so on.

But the real beauty of using Trello to write is that now I can totally separate the writing process from the publishing process because I can write anywhere, anytime: my laptop at home, my phone in a taxi, or my iPad sitting on a bench in the park (what I’m doing right now). I can put my head in the writing zone whenever the urge strikes me, versus only writing inside my code editor on my laptop.

I’m . I’m a coder and designer living in vibrant Saigon, Vietnam. I work on some of my own and I’m available for hire. Sometimes I .