Why I use markdown syntax to write blog posts
Writing blog content has never come easy to me. I know exactly what I want to write but many times I cannot find the correct words and descriptions to make my post easy to read.
However, I found an intermediate solution that works fairly well for me (skip the intro to next section if you’d like). Before I get into that, a little background on my blogging history:
Over the years I tested out many platforms for writing general blog content so I could publish things I’ve learned so that others may benefit from it. These platforms include, but are not limited to:
- Discourse / forums
- Static site generators like Github + Jekyll, Hugo, Hexo
- Many various note tools (app.classeur.io, Onenote, Evernote, Scriviner, stackedit.io, dynalist.io, etc)
I have always had issues consolidating my thought process in some platforms but in others I have found much better success.
For instance, things that I find to work specifically for me:
Forums like reddit.com makes it extremely easy for me to write great blog content. It feels like I’m having a conversation with someone, because I am, and I know any content I push out there with will be immediately read and generally commented on
Starting a blank wordpress blog is a different story all together. It doesn’t feel like I’m writing to anyone, making it difficult to appreciate the writing process alltogether. This in turn leads to poor writing content. Or sometimes content that feels so mechanically written without a consistent “voice to it”, kind of like when you write a project report at work or in school
Something that has really stuck to me in terms of effective writing has been “markdown syntax”. Mostly because, when I first started writing content, I got really used to reddit.com formatting.
I assume you have heard of markdown syntax, but if not you can read up on it here at the official source: https://daringfireball.net/ . Basically, markdown syntax takes away all of the formatting in writing, using simple conventions like
**bold** for bold text as opposed to highlighting a word and pressing CTRL+B in microsoft word.
The biggest appeal to markdown format for me is that the conventions are the same in any editor / notetool that supports it. So I can train myself to write better content anywhere, simply by using markdown conventions
Why I use wordpress for blogging
I chose wordpress over other blog platforms like Medium or ghost because it has:
- more flexible and has many extensions
- significantly more useful at a platform overall (can be used for ecommerce using woocommerce, etc)
- content I own on my sitegrounds website, not through another platform like Medium
- easier to manage several wordpress blog sites down the road as opposed to other platforms
- the most used blogging platform out there, meaning it has a huge amount of development support
It doesn’t make sense to learn a platform that doesn’t scale well with my interests. I chose wordpress because wordpress has everything I need.
Problems with publishing content directly through wordpress itself
I’ve covered thus far why I use markdown syntax for writing, and wordpress for blogging.
Now for publishing
There’s a number of ways to publish content directly through wordpress itself. I will name all of them, and why in my opinion they are all poor solutions for writing blog content, and then my solution
- Publishing directly in admin panel
- Publishing in wordpress.com via jetpack plugin
1. Publishing in admin panel
Just compare wordpress’s admin panel to writing posts
The red box + arrow indicates what area you are actually interested in when writing. WordPress does an extremely poor job for making a “friendly distraction free writing environment” in its admin panel. Just compare the areas outside the red box. There’s just WAY too much stuff going on wordpress’s sidebars to even stay focused while writing directly here.
2. Publishing via wordpress.com
You can publish directly through wordpress.com itself, assuming you linked jetpack to your selfhosted website (more on that later)
This is what the publishing area looks like directly through wordpress.com
You might think this is a huge step in improvement (given there’s less clutter), but there’s still a big issue for me. No native markdown syntax
WordPress does have external support for markdown, using things like
However, both of these solutions are not optimal.
WP-markdown suffers in that you still have to use the backend admin panel in your wordpress site, which is still very distracting
Direct markdown support from wordpress itself through ✪ Admin Panel → Settings → Writing → Enable markdown, does not even work with newer wordpress editors such as 4.7.4 (the one I’m currently using)
In either case, these are both either unreliable or poor solutions to writing blog content overall
The solution: App.classeur.io
There’s a great online writing tool that I’ve used for the past year, called app.classeur.io
A gif of what my draft looks like as I am writing this out would explain it better
- The left side is where I write my blog post in markdown format.
- The right side is the live preview
I linked my notes here, so you can see what my drafts look like
There’s a few core advantages in writing things in app.classeur.io
- You can use HTML to edit out notes you don’t want to use when publishing
<!-- Comment out -->
- You can live preview your images and gifs to get a feel of what your blog post will look like
- Distraction free writing. Literally everything on your screen is dedicated to writing
- You can edit your view modes so you don’t see live preview, or add a table of contents using headers
- You can publish directly from app.classeur.io right into wordpress, without going to your wordpress site
There’s other tools similar to app.classeur.io for publishing content from your own markdown text editor to a wordpress post.
There’s an app called Ulysseus https://ulyssesapp.com/blog/2016/09/publish-to-wordpress/
It does the same thing as app.classeur.io, however, it is only for apple MacOS and iphone users.
App.classeur.io is crossplatform as it is not a desktop tool, but an online tool that works with LinuxOS, windows, apple, android, etc
How to integrate App.classeur.io into WordPress using Jetpack
This means, I cannot have app.classeur.io directly “talk” to my wordpress site on sitegrounds
You would have to do two things:
- Have a wordpress.com account setup**
- Install jetpack on your wordpress site in sitegrounds
To get a better idea of the big picture, I drew a diagram:
1. Make a wordpress.com account
First thing you want to do is make a wordpress.com account.
Follow the prompts through to create your account. WordPress forces you to make a website through its own hosting domain. When you get to step 4, just enter any random bits of information here, it doesn’t matter, your not going to be using this.
Select “Free plan” on step 5
On step 6 choose an actual username you want to associate yourself with, as well as your email address + password. I would highly suggest using the same email address you associate with your wordpress host
2. Setup jetpack plugin
Install and Activate it
Connect it with wordpress.com
Sign in and approve of it
3. Link app.classeur.io
Go to settings in topright corner
Click here to link blog posts:
Link the “Wordpress” blog
Write your blog name and URL, hit link
You should see this dialog prompt
Login into your admin panel after when it prompts you
You can see if its linked now on app.classeur.io
4. Writing blog content
Start writing out your post. When the drafts finished, go to MENU → PUBLISH
Add any metadata you want to it. Categorize it, tag it, add a title, etc.
If you have issues posting just leave everything default, tinker around with settings, etc
Alternatively, you can always modify the post after the fact directly in your admin panel