Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

On content creation and personal web

Build yourself a website!

Ana Rodriquez published a blog post titled You don’t have to be a “content creator” to have a website last Thursday. It’s a great piece and I wholeheartedly agree with the main message.

Having a personal website that is not controlled by commercial platforms that is accessible via your own domain is such a powerful position to be in. Even if at the beginning the content on that site is just your name and contact information and links to other platforms.

It’s powerful because you control it and you can expand it. You can link to your own website and not have to worry about Facebook or X or LinkedIn or Medium putting your stuff behind a login or paywall. With one domain, you can change where things link to without having to let everyone know things have moved around.

I love the ending note:

Give yourself permission to exist and be seen regardless of whether you have a blog, side projects or “content” - whatever it means.

Content creation in personal web

But there’s also the other part which is the label of “content creator”.

This is clearly the result of living in a capitalist society. In recent years, people have felt the pressure to monetise their hobbies, so there’s a constant state of hustle. We all need money to exist in our society.

I do love that we’re having this discussion about reducing the need to make everything and every hobby a money making machine.

In her reply to Ana’s blog post, Silvia writes:

A photo, a post, a video, a podcast. These are among the things that are now called ’content‘ on social media. You create content and present it to your followers the right way, at the right time. Have you tried monetise it? Well, wouldn’t it be great to be paid to do what you love? It became common thinking that turning your hobbies into profit is a great idea.

In the personal web bubble that I hang out in, I’ve been hearing a lot of dissidence against the label of “content” or “content creation” as people often see it as part of the aforementioned hustle culture.

I have started to use it less and less these days but I also struggle to come up with another label that would fit someone like me who might be writing blog posts, write newsletters, give talks in conferences and meetups, visit podcasts or teach programming. All those various forms of content that I create. I don’t quite consider myself an artist because most of the stuff is not art even when it’s on the spectrum of creativity.

Avoid the blank page syndrome

Building a very barebones website is a great way to beat the blank page syndrome. When you have something that exists and is published, making tiny improvements and additions become easier. Over time, these things accumulate and at some point you realize you have a great website that you’re excited to share with others.

I’ve been building this current iteration of my website for almost 6 years now. It’s never complete or perfect or quite right but I can write blog posts and publish them there. And whenever the inspiration hits, I can do small fixes and new feature additions.

For example, most recently I improved my print styling. Before that I added search, Webmentions, microformat support and blog stats page. Before that, I improved my tooling to allow more levels of headings in my blog. And most popular posts. And custom cookie consent for Youtube embeds (that are still broken for RSS, oopsie). And added dark mode. At one point I made Mastodon commenting possible for selected posts.

These sound like a lot when shared in one paragraph but they have happened over 8 months. It’s always easier improving something that exists than trying to implement all of these from the start.

You can do it too. I believe in you!