If you read the blog through the web you may notice that, for the first time in about a decade, it looks different. If you get posts by email you hopefully don’t notice anything, but since it’s a whole new system… who knows.
A little over nine years ago, my good friend Todd and I released a new blogging platform called Sett. We worked on it for about three years, failed to make it commercially successful, and called it quits.
For almost seven more years I used it on my own blog. Every year or two I’d consider switching, look at the available options, and decide that it was worth just sticking with Sett.
Over the last year, and particularly over the last month, more and more Sett bugs have been cropping up. Most of them revolve around a package called Solr, which I ignorantly made critical to too many parts of Sett. Sometimes email notifications wouldn’t get sent, sometimes too many get sent. For the past three posts nothing has showed up on the front page, and I couldn’t easily figure out why not.
When confronted with the idea of spending more time tracking down the bug, I realized that my time was being poorly spent. People read this blog for the writing, not for the Sett features with which I’m enamored. If I was a reader and it wasn’t dead simple to get posts, I’d be annoyed. So I decided instead to spend the time to move to a different blogging platform.
I considered Substack, Ghost, and WordPress. Substack appealed to me because it was totally hands-off, but it was going to be hard to import my posts and I had too-little control. I also didn’t like that I didn’t have database-level access to my posts. Maybe that’s why some people didn’t want to switch to Sett.
I considered Ghost for a long time because I liked that it was focused only on blogging and had built in newsletter support, but it wouldn’t run natively on my server because it uses an older stable version of node, and it required me to send email through a specific provider.
WordPress won at the end of the day because it is stable, easily extensible with plugins, and still gives me a good amount of control. I also know the creator of it and he was really supportive when we were making Sett (while the creator of another blogging platform only got in touch once we failed…).
When I made the switch last night I was sadder than I thought I’d be. Sett had already failed, but at least I was still using it. Having that code all disappear into the ether felt different.
This whole process made me even prouder of what we built, though. Our execution was ok and our marketing was terrible, but Sett really was way ahead of its time. We had a bunch of features that are just now becoming popular or still haven’t been implemented by anyone else including native email / newsletter support, a built in mechanism to build your audience, live previews of themes, real time statistics by email, automatic image size optimization, integrated messaging, community forum integration, built-in monetization, automatic post buffering/scheduling, and a lot more.
Having all of that but still failing also just makes it much more obvious to me how important execution and marketing is, though. When we built Sett I think I had a “build it and they will come” attitude, but now I understand that ideas are cheap and execution is everything.
I’m not sure if it’s an effect of getting older, or if I just have too many systems to deal with these days, but I’m increasingly willing to not do everything myself. It feels good to know that the engineers at WordPress are working on all the stuff that I don’t really want to deal with anymore.
Photo is a sunset from a golf course in Vegas.
There will be another Superhuman event in August! If you’re interested you can email me. I’ll put more info up in a week or two.
Tea Time with Tynan is BACK! I’ll be live this Sunday at 10am PST. Please join me!