Ben McCormick

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This blog has always been a place to learn through writing regularly, and learn through coding occasionally. As a result I’ve tried to focus on building it in technologies that are interesting to me but allow me to be productive and focus on writing. You can see the source for the blog on Github in all it’s glory and disgrace, but I’ll give a brief overview of the tech used here. Note that this site has always been built for my needs, and not as an example project, so I would not recommend it as a starting point for others.

Libraries

Gatsby

Gatsby is the primary framework for the blog. It lets me make it as fast as serving static HTML while still having client side routing, hot reloading during development, and the lovely React development model.

React

Is building a blog with React overkill? Sure probably, but with Gatsby it lets me create a wicked fast site with cool extra features like recommended posts and multiple types of posts while still having a very productive development model. If you think this is crazy, don’t do it. But it has worked great for me 😊.

Even More JS Libraries

React Router, Webpack, GraphQL, Date-Fns, lodash

Services

Github ($0 a year)

I host my code on github. It’s mostly just a backup service for me at this point, but it will be useful if I ever have anyone collaborate with me on the design or content.

Github Pages ($0 a year)

Because my site is completely static, I can host it on Github Pages for free. It’s a lovely service, and I haven’t had a single problem with them in ~5 years hosting my site there.

Travis CI ($0 a year)

Travis CI will do builds of open source projects for free. Since its open source, my blog qualifies and I use them for my builds. I know a lot of Gatsby folks are switching to Netlify these days, and Netlify has made the things I’m doing with Github + Travis + Cloudflare easy. But since I’ve already got a system working, I haven’t had incentive to switch

Cloudflare ($0 a year)

I use Cloudflare for caching and to provide an https option while using Github pages. It’s another convenient service where my site fits into the free tier.

Adobe Fonts ($25 a year)

I use Adobe Fonts (formerly Typekit) to provide the webfonts (Mr Eaves and Minion) for this blog. I don’t love the dynamics of hosted font services like this, but they’re the most affordable way to have nice looking typography on the web.

Bluehost ($xxx a year)

My domain names are registered with Bluehost. To be honest, this is a relic of history that I just haven’t gotten around to correcting. They’re not great as either a hosting service or as a registrar, and the only thing keeping me there is inertia.

Google Analytics ($0 a year)

I track user visits with Google Analytics. This is actually used in the site code to generate my lists of popular posts.

Buttondown ($0 a year, will be $30 if I get some more subscribers)

I use Buttondown as the email provider for my email newsletter. I just started using it in December 2018, but it has been really wonderful so far.

Monetization

Carbon Ads (Currently pays ~$350 a year)

The ads that I show on the site are all through Carbon. I use them because they work by targeting a specific niche (developers and designers) and partnering with sites in that industry, rather than tracking people across the internet to determine their interests and showing them a wide variety of ads.

Amazon Referral Links (Currently pays ~$100 a year)

When I do book reviews or reference other products, I usually include an affiliate link. I use them because of the UX and selection of their affiliate links, moreso than any particular loyalty to the company.

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