- Linell Bonnette
In November of 2022, I wrote the following post:
I enjoy writing. I like to “joke” that I think best in long form stream of consciousness writing. The only catch is that I’m not a particularly great writer and I don’t have a ton of things that I feel are really worth writing about. It’s not very often that I’m sufficiently inspired by a topic to spend enough time on it to feel like it’s polished enough to make the effort to publish.
I’ve used different flavors of static websites since around 2012. One of their major advantages is that they make it super easy to publish content — it’s just markdown, right? Well… for me it ended up being an issue of the static site just getting stale. I wouldn’t have anything to publish for six months and suddenly my deploy command no longer works, you know? The thought of having to muck around with configuration just to publish a two paragraph long post made it hard to overcome the inertia of actually writing on my site. I decided to go a wildly different direction. Instead of any cool theme or neatly customizable site, I’m going to experiment with just a bunch of Notion notes.
Notion in general looks pretty great, so no complaints there really. I can customize the pages enough that I’m able to get my ideas across and it’s so easy. I can update things from my phone, easily attach a billion different forms of content, and in general easily muck around. I’m planning on greatly lowering my bar for “should this go there” and treating this like my own personal little slice of the Internet.
I hope you love it!
I ended up using Notion for managing my website for about nine months and truly: it's pretty great! It has been everything that I thought it could be and I really can't sing enough praises for the whole setup. I'm honestly not sure that the website you're reading this on, powered by Next.js, is actually the right move for me. Here are my reasons for ditching a Notion backed site in favor of this site:
- I experienced a self-inflicted Notion outage that was honestly kind of devestating. I clicked through a few UI options that made it surprisingly easy to lock myself out of my account. For somewhere in the realm of a week, I was completely unable to access my notes at all, including the notes backing my website. Notion customer support was able to help me resolve the situation, but it drew my attention to the fact that I wasn't really in control of either my notes or website. Oof.
- Due to the above experience, I've started using Obsidian for my notetaking because, worst case scenario, all of my files are still just markdown files. If I'm not using Notion day to day for everything else, it loses some of the appeal in general.
- The SEO experience of Notion wasn't great for me. I don't rigorously track my website's SEO performance or anything, but the super scientific test of "when I google my name, where does my website rank" wasn't encouraging at all. It feel from being consistently among the first result or two to being 'below the fold.' The point of this site is more or a digital resume and online notebook than anything else, but it still feels valuable for Google to let folks know that it exists.
- I wanted more control of what's actually happening. My Notion site was setup using a Cloudflare worker that redirected pages and, while it seemed simple enough, I did just copy/paste the setup. This site is definitely overkill for my needs, but it's one that I do understand pretty well and I know that I can do just about anything I want to with it instead of being limited to what Notion allows.
None of that is in any way a dig at Notion: the product is truly great, I just think it isn't quite right for me at the moment. My vague plans going forward are to use this site as my "put together" site and that it will hold my resume and any polished content. I think that I'm going to investigate using Obsidian Publish to enable me to create a
notes. subdomain that will then host all of that sort of content.