Essay: Blogging on Squarespace. A report from the first month.

I’d heard the ads (they have been a regular sponsor of Filmspotting and other podcasts I listen to) and was feeling constrained by the design features of blogspot so at the end of 2014 I took the plunge and switched from blogspot to Squarespace.  Here’s how it’s been.

Blogger is an excellent blogging platform.  It’s free, it’s intuitive, it gets the blogging job done.  The main thing I didn’t like was the inability to manipulate the layout.  Photos remain the same size, text can only go above and below etc.  Also, I wanted my own domain name.  (Which actually, I think you can do with blogger, it just costs money and takes a little work.)

Here’s what I like about Squarespace. 

Their customer service is fabulous.  If you can’t find what you want in their help site, you can open a ticket and someone will respond.  I’ve opened many a ticket and the responses come within a few hours and are nearly always excellent, even if they are telling me something I don’t want to know.  If every company had the level of customer service Squarespace does, the world would be a much happier place.

The design features are impressive.  They have multiple templates and each template can be customized.  In my initial research, I was concerned that my blog would end up looking way too iBlog.  I’m not a fan of the minimalist Mac aesthetic.  But it was very easy to manipulate the design templates and recast the stark white background in a soothing orange.

I can push content to separate pages.  I’ve been feeling lately that my blog is too varied in content and that perhaps if I just had a blog featuring, say, Three Sentence Movie Reviews, I would attract more regular readers.  I didn’t really want to break everything up and transfer some posts but not others.  Squarespace had the solution.  I can tag posts as “categories” and it will publish those category posts as part of the regular blog, but also publish them on a page I’ve created and dedicated just to that content. No longer will the book people have to wade through all the pictures of buildings to find the book posts.  Same for the movies reviews.  Same for the Channing Tatum Film Festival.

It’s really inexpensive. For less than $90.00 I got a custom domain and a year of web hosting.  For the amount of time I spend blogging that is a sweet deal.

So here’s the downside.  Blogging in Squarespace is very much a beta experience. 

Transferring from blogger.  I imported 2200 posts, which, one of the customer service representatives to me was far more than she or anyone working had ever heard transferred.  There was some trouble transferring that took about a week to resolve.  In the end what worked was switching browsers (it didn’t work in Chrome and did work in Explorer).  But when the posts did come, the tags did not fully arrive.  I can see them, but they do not show up in a tag cloud.  I’ve been told this is a known issue and I wish I would have known about this issue before I transferred.  It would have given me pause.  Supposedly it will be fixed.

Basic blogging features are not available.  For instance, you cannot add anything to the page with the blog.  A blog page just gets to keep on being a blog page, there’s no way to add a search bar or a list of archived posts.  I’ve added these on the About page, but I find it very annoying to have to go to a separate page just to search the blog.

In addition, the archives feature does not give you a list of posts published in the month.  It instead takes you to the last post of the month so you can scroll back through the month.  As a person with 20-30 posts each month, I need to see the names of the post in each month.  There is no fix for this right now.  Acutally, the suggested fix was to go back and tag every post with the month and the year and I said “NO WAY” to that.  The posts are already published by date.  There should be a way to feed the titles of the posts into a true archive feature.

You can only load one photo at a time.  Loading photos now involves a lot of deep breathing on my part.  Load one photo.  Breathe a few times.  Load another photo.  Breathe again.  Some posts have 20 or so pictures and this is a substantial increase in time commitment.  I would like to select all 20 photos, hit an upload button and then work on something else while they upload.

I can’t set features like single spacing, or defaulting to middle justified.  Both are driving me crazy.  Sometimes we don’t want a double space.  I can make it single space by hitting <shift>+<enter> but I just want to single space naturally.  And mostly I middle justify. I don’t want to have to set that with every text block.

Here’s how I blog.  Once per week I upload all my pictures to the blog, set up my posts, and save them as drafts.  Then I can go back at my leisure and write and edit the posts.  In Squarespace I am unable to set the published dates.  I can schedule future posts, but I cannot schedule past dates.  When I’m ready to post, I have to save and publish, then go back to settings and change the date.  This is a massive pain and I would prefer to set my dates as I set up my posts.

Squarespace gives you a choice of bold or italic.  You cannot choose bold AND italic.  And why not?  There’s just some times you need both.

Finally, when someone comments and the comments are emailed to me, the email tells me the name of the post the person is commenting about.  This is good.  However, I would prefer that the name of the post listed in the comment email also be linked to that post.  This is because I often answer questions asked by my commenters, and it’s easier to just click on a link rather than searching for the post.

So it’s been a rough transition.  I’m not totally happy yet.  I’m giving it a year to see if their blogging features improve, but if they don’t I may search around for a different home next fall and do another transfer at the end of the year.  I hope not though.  I’d like to stay here.

3 thoughts on “Essay: Blogging on Squarespace. A report from the first month.”

  1. As a reader who pretty much only reads on my phone… This is an experience I had with your blog. I was watching Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time, ever. As I have said before, I acknowledge that I live under a rock and am way behind on movies. But, I wondered what your thoughts had been on it. Because I also recalled you watched it like twice in the theaters, so it would get more than three sentences. Unfortunately, they only go back 20 movies. Sad face, I was that far behind. And I couldn’t find the search bar because I don’t think I ever went to the about page. The long and short? I went back to the blogger site for the archive…

  2. Yeah, I can’t claim to be a big fan. I don’t like that I can’t edit or delete comments, and that logging in via social media made my name disappear. And then I couldn’t log back out. I had to quit the internet and then log back on to "log out" of squarespace. You description of how things work on your end of things makes me like it even less! But, for your sake, I hope you grow to like it. Otherwise, you may need to hire an assistant to help you make another transfer!

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