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I am planning on going on a long distance bike tour, and I want to have a good website to blog on, post photos, twitter tweets, and videos. Does anyone have any advice for whether I should build it myself, or pay someone else. Is it worth it or should I just keep a personal journal? I do feel like it would be cool to communicate online, but there are a lot of blogs online about that stuff and it seems pointless to add another.

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Have you tried the usual suspects? Like blogspot.com, livejournal.com, makeuseof.com/tag/5-blog-sites-wordpress-blogger –  Karlson Jan 22 '13 at 21:32
    
I was hoping to make something a little more custom, and perhaps have a go at designing something myself. Although I need to do some research on quality travel blogs. –  Andrew Welch Jan 22 '13 at 21:36
    
Then you might want to specify the criteria in a little more detail. –  Karlson Jan 22 '13 at 21:37
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Designing a theme for general purpose blogging software is not to hard if you have some experience with web development (without it, you're in for a ride). However, general purpose blogging software is hardly optimal for travel blogging, where you would likely want to include, for example, some maps and a dedicated photo gallery. –  Jacco Jan 22 '13 at 21:49
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As per our faq, soliciting discussion is not the right format for this site. Perhaps defining what you're after, rather than asking whether it's worth it, would be a better approach. Really only you can decide if it's worth it. Some like the challenge of building everything and tinkering for hours, others not so much. You may even get better answers in webapps.stackexchange.com ? –  Mark Mayo Jan 22 '13 at 22:52

5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

but there are a lot of blogs online about that stuff and it seems pointless to add another.

There are never enough blogs on any topic.

See http://the-pastry-box-project.net/chris-coyier/2013-january-2/.

What things to consider especially for travel blogs?

  • the backend (where you create your content and config your blog) should be accessible from mobile devices; if it's no fun / not easy, you'll probably don't post so much
  • if a problem occurs, you should be able to handle/fix it on tour (or contact someone who can do it for you)
  • backups should be done automatically (e.g. send a database dump daily to a separate mail account)
  • if you use internet cafés and/or untrusted networks, your password could be stolen; don't use an admin account to post/edit content; but have admin login available for emergencies (e.g. to delete compromised user accounts)
  • good suggestion by Andra: functionality to add new posts by email

Self-hosting vs. 3rd party service

Self-hosting

advantages

  • you get exactly what you want
  • it's your content, you have full control, you can backup it (some services allow this, too, but not all)
  • no policies, no censorship, no rules, no service terms
  • you can fix any problems yourself (and don't have to wait for the provider to do it)
  • you can create/use accounts with lesser privileges (security)

disadvantages

  • costs more time
  • costs money (hosting)
  • need to know that stuff (resp. dig into it)
  • you have to update the software yourself (security)
  • you need to fix any problems yourself ;)

3rd party service

advantages

  • no setup, no configuration, no updates
  • (usually) no costs

disadvantages

  • might not offer exactly what you need; customization possibilites are limited
  • you don't "own" your content; (often) no backup possibility
  • you have to respect their service terms
  • (often) ads
  • you can't do anything if it goes down
  • (often) you have only one account; if your password is stolen, your account is lost
  • risk of being deleted (for no reason), risk that the service might shut down forever
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"you have only one account; if your password is stolen, your account is lost" The issues with stolen passwords are the same, if not worse, for self hosting. –  Jacco Jan 23 '13 at 10:27
    
@Jacco: If you use an account without admin privileges, the thief can only post/edit/delete blog posts. Because you are hosting it yourself you also have the admin account, so you can change password/email for the compromised account. If you'd use a 3rd party service, you'd have to persuade the provider that you are the real owner, which would take time; depending on the service, it might not be possible at all. Combined with no built-in ability for backups this is a bad situation. –  unor Jan 23 '13 at 10:33
    
ah. You make two false assumptions here. 1) only 1 account per blog. This is not true for many services. 2) no build in backup, again not true for many services. –  Jacco Jan 23 '13 at 11:49
    
@Jacco: 2) at 3rd party disadvantages I wrote "(often) no backup possibility". 1) You are right, I'll add "(often)" to it, too. It's probably most of the time true for services which host an own installation per user (e.g. wordpress.com), but rare for services that provide a ready-to-go solution without much configuration possibilty (e.g. tumblr.com). –  unor Jan 23 '13 at 11:55

Allow me to recommend traveljournal.net. It is developed by me, while traveling the world and optimised for use on the road.

It has all the usual features: blog, photo albums, map (you can upload GPS-logs), secure document vault, etc. One of the things that really sets it apart from other options? no advertisements whatsoever and designed to work wherever you are, even when the internet connection is slower than sending a postcard.

It is continuously updated/developed by someone who actually travels around and uses the service himself. I eat my own dogfood, so to say : )

Update
The answer from unor talks about ownership of the content. With TravelJournal.net, the writers are and will always be the owner of all content they publish (provided they do not republish copyrighted materials offcourse).

Also, because many traveller manage their journals over insecure, often publicly shared networks (wifi, etc) every journal comes standard with SSL/TLS security build in. So, whenever you login or otherwise perform any sensitive action, your connection is secured with the same level of encrypted as web shops use (or at least, they should) to secure payment transactions.

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whats the benefit of traveljournal.net over standard wordpress + plugins? Can I import content I already wrote so far into traveljournal.net e.g. migrate to it? –  Andrew Welch Jan 25 '13 at 9:50
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It depends on what you are after. traveljournal.net is optimised for use while on the road. An enourmous amount of efforts has been put into making sure it 'just works' even on the most crappy internet connection you can imagine. The hosting and support is all done for you, so you don't have to worry about any of the technical aspects. I also try to continuously develop new or improve existing features, many times on request of people using the site. (I like your suggestion of wordpress import/export functionality). –  Jacco Jan 25 '13 at 10:25
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However, if you are looking for the latest sexy interface and beautifull design, you may find travejournal.net lacking (I'm not a designer and I don't have the budget to hire one). Wordpress has designs in every flavour and many plugins try out. Unfortunately, as a result wordpress is not 'light weight' by any means. The other thing, offcourse, is tha you'll have to take care of the hosting and technical stuff yourself. –  Jacco Jan 25 '13 at 10:29
    
thanks for the honesty. Will check out your site. Probably need something more custom though. –  Andrew Welch Jan 27 '13 at 4:13

I would go for an "email approach". Different blog platforms seem to support this feature, where you can provide the content for your blog by email. I am an avid user of Posterous. , but I was told that wordpress plugins exist that do the same.

The workflow is easy, you post a blog by posting it to post@posterous.com. Photo's, films and the like are added as attachment to the mail. You register by sending an initial mail. On the first email, your emailaddress is registered and you will get a respons explaining the following email.

Personally I dislike custom made blog platforms, for the simple reason that they often requires instant and good internet access, an asset not alway available while traveling. With an email approach you can blog while being offline, by just writing an email in an offline email client such as Outlook, mail, eudora, thunderbird, etc. The moment you have access, posting your content is just as simple as pressing "submit" or "send".

Especially in the case you need to buy internet time on an hourly base (internet cafe, paid wifi), you don't want to lose that time on writing blog content.

Weather or not it is worthwhile, definitely! You are right that there are many blogs around, but there is no such thing as "the" traveler, so the more blogs the merrier. I am saying this because I am getting a lot if not most inspiration and information form personal blogs.

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Jekyll, or similar.

This generates the website on your computer, which means you can write and edit everything offline, like in your tent anywhere, and then upload it when a connection is available. It also means you can write with a proper text editor, not some textbox in a webpage.

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There's a third-party solution out there that's specific to bike touring journals: Crazy Guy on a Bike is a solution for touring cyclists to post journals.

It's also a community of touring cyclists. There are forums and classified ads, and, most importantly, thousands of journals already hosted. You can host photos there, and embed videos and maps.

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