“a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
How true that quote is. I had been toying with the idea of moving the Bistro to Substack for a few months. It wasn’t a “must do” but frankly, I have spent more time maintaining the underlying system than actually writing.
It had lived on a self-hosted Ghost environment, and I was never really happy with the theme I purchased for it. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t engaging. I know just enough HTML and CSS to be dangerous, and frankly I got tired of a lot of tinkering and not getting something I liked.
What I have done to date…
I created the Product Bistro Substack. That was super easy. I had an account because I subscribe to several newsletters. It took literally moments to get online.
I did have it use the RSS feed to pull posts from the old system. Alas, it seemed to only grab the 15 or so posts that I had drafted on Ghost, so there were like 40 more that didn’t come across. Boo.
The failure to slurp all the posts over was a blessing in surprise. I created The Product Bistro circa 2016 when I was trying to do some consulting between jobs, giving the go solo a chance, and I wrote some very deep dives into pricing, marketing, segmentation to highlight some of my chops - and entice clients to hire me. They came across as preachy, stiff, and unreadable. This is the perfect time to jettison them, and to streamline the posts. But I still had some 30 odd posts to bring across.
Alas, that was simple. I could open the old post in the editor, copy the entire text, and paste it into a new post. Move over the description, and add a headline picture, and voilá, the post was in Substack. Just needed to fix links, and it was ready to go. Hell, even the embedded images were moved to the Substack CDN. Cool.
I have done some tweaking of the format. I chose the “Magazine” look to the page. Way better than just a feed of articles. Also, I made the highlights purple. Purple is my favorite color. Sue me.
I added depth to the “Welcome” message, sent to people who subscribe.
I paid the money to have the newsletter linked to my domain. Seemed steep, but they do some redirection magic on the back end, and it just takes a CNAME entry in the domain, and whoosh, the traffic is redirected. I am not sure what trickery they do on the back end, but it works. (To be honest, it is a mechanism that requires practically 0 knowledge or skill of the person setting it up, so that is a good thing.)
I connected my personal Twitter account to the back end. My first post will go live next Tuesday, so I will see if it automagically posts to Twitter too.
What I didn’t do
I didn’t set up payments. Because I am NOT going to charge for this. Ever. Promise.
I also didn’t set up any tracking bits. It has a whole slew of options, Facebook and Twitter tracking pixels (those are the fucking devil) and no Google ad tracking, or google/facebook verification. All that stuff can fuck right off.
And that’s about it.
I am going to get somewhat disciplined about authoring content. In 2016 and 2017, I was pretty consistent in posting, but once I began working again, I sort of faded. I have plenty of ideas of things to post.
We are going through an exercise to move to SAFe Agile, and a pretty significant route to market change, and breaking down some silos of power in our organization. These are going to all provide fertile ground for posts.
If you haven’t yet, I would recommend you scroll back and see some of the prior posts to get a feel for the editorial tone here.
Buckle up Baby Jesus, it’s gonna get bumpy