How to Publish Physics Notes in a Blog

The first questions that needs to be answered is:

Which software should I use?

There are dozens of different alternatives that are, in principle, capable of doing the job. In addition, every year new blogging softwares are launched.

Let's talk about some of these options:

Wordpress

Wordpress is a free “content management system” that can be either self-hosted or is offered as free and premium out-of-the-box solution. There is a reason that 26.4% of all Websites exist on the internet use Wordpress. It's incredibly easy to use, infinitely customizable and free. Unsurprisingly most famous physics blogs, like Not Even Wrong by Peter Woit, Sean Carroll's Blog and Matt Strassler's Of Particular Significance use Wordpress.

 stars  from 2 votes

Ghost and Squarespace

A beautiful and simple alternative to Wordpress is Ghost. However, it's not free and starts at 19 \$ per month. A similar but equally expensive alternative is Squarespace. An excellent math blog that is powered by Squarespace is http://www.math3ma.com/.

 stars  from 2 votes

Tumblr

Tumblr isn't suitable for serious physics notes, because it doesn't support mathematical formulas and is rather intended for funny image blogging.

 stars  from 2 votes

Grav and Jekyll

There are several smaller alternatives that could become serious alternatives in the future, like Grav or Jekyll. Currently it's not clear if these will still be actively developed in a few years and this is a serious risk, especially for beginners. Moreover, they are harder to use and customize, because the community around them is quite small.

 stars  from 1 votes
Item Value Details
Wordpress5.005.00 stars  2 votes
Ghost and Squarespace3.503.50 stars  2 votes
Grav and Jekyll3.003.00 stars  1 votes
Drupal and Joomla2.502.50 stars  2 votes
Blogger2.002.00 stars  2 votes
Medium2.002.00 stars  1 votes
Tumblr1.001.00 stars  2 votes


Drupal and Joomla

Drupal, Joomla are actually quite similar to Wordpress, but the community is smaller and the software somewhat clumsier and harder to use.

 stars  from 2 votes

Blogger

Blogger - which is quite ugly and outdated. However, a famous physics blog powered by blogger is Backreaction by Sabine Hossenfelder.

 stars  from 2 votes

Medium

Medium - which is beautiful and simple, but doesn't support mathematical writing and therefore isn't suitable for serious physics notes. However, it is a viable option for lighter laymen-style physics blogging, as proofed by Ethan Siegel's Start with a Bang.

 stars  from 1 votes
So to summarize:

While there are many viable options, the best blogging software to publish physics notes is Wordpress. It's free, easy to use and supports LaTeX formulas.

Now, after picking a software from this list, the second question that needs to be answered is

Should I install the software myself on a server, or use an out-of-the-box solution?

For some of the options listed above, it's not possible to self-host the software. For example, Medium, Blogger, Squarespace and Ghost are only available as out-of-the-box solutions.

For the other options you have actually the choice. Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Jekyll and Grav all can be downloaded and installed on your own server.

There is no definite answer to the question if you should use self-host the software or if an out-of-the-box solution is better. It depends on how much money you want to spend and your technical knowledge.

Self-Hosted

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Unlimited Flexibility

Cons

  • Requires some technical knowledge
  • Needs more time to set-up and maintain

Out-of-the-Box

Pros

  • No technical knowledge needed
  • Easier to set-up and maintain

Cons

  • Expensive, if you want no ads etc.
  • Limited flexibility
  • Harder to secure data

Free Out-Of-The-Box Solutions

Wordpress and some other blogging platforms like Blogger offer free out-of-the-box solutions. However, these are severely limited in their flexibility regarding modifications and are supported by ads. Nevertheless, to get started a free Wordpress blog is certainly not a bad choice.

Get a free Wordpress Blog

Premium Out-Of-The-Box Solutions

The company behind Wordpress also offers premium out-of-the-box hosting of Wordpress. Currently their plans start at 4 \$ per month. This is certainly a great option for anyone who doesn't want to dive into technical stuff and just get a blog up in a few minutes to start writing.

There are lots of other premium out-of-the-box hoster, not only for Wordpress but also for other content Management systems like Joomla or Drupal. The market is constantly changing so no general recommendation can be made here. However, always good advice is that the cheapest option isn't the smartest option. Usually, very cheap hosters vanish after a year or so and then all your writing will be lost forever. It makes sense to pay a dollar more per month and invest in an out-of-the-box solution of a well-known hoster that will also exist in a few years from now.

One thing that is extremely important is to check what kind of backups are provided and if it is possible to download all your data, i.e. all your writing, from the hoster. This way, you can create offline backups and prevent that your hard work gets deleted.

Get a premium Wordpress Blog

Self Hosted Shared Solutions

For anyone with some technical knowledge it is a good idea to get some “shared” webspace at a normal hosting company and then install Wordpress or the software of your choice yourself. Shared means that you share the sever with several other users. These, of course, can't access you data etc. The only thing you share are the computational resources, like CPU and the bandwidth.

This option is usually much cheaper than all out-of-the-box solutions. However, the biggest advantage is that if you host your physics notes yourself, you have everything under control. This means, you can customize your site however you want and you can download and secure your writing whenever, however you want.

Again, it makes sense here to not choose the cheapest options. Instead companies that already exist for several years are much more likely to exist in the future and will not accidentally delete your stuff.

Get shared Webspace

Self Hosted Private Solutions

The best option, of you already have some technical knowledge or are willing to learn it is to get a virtual private server. This is similar to the shared hosting option, but you don't have to share the computational resources with anyone.

Nowadays, getting a virtual private server is incredibly cheap (it start at 2.5 \$- 5 \$). Moreover, the performance is infinitely better than at a shared hoster, which basically means that your site loads much faster. And, of course, you really have everything under control that happens on your sever and you can install any modification that you like.

The catch, however, is that you have to set up a server completely yourself. There exist lots of great tutorials that lead you step-by-step through the whole process and setting up a server is actually not hard. In addition, you can use you server as a private mail server or as a private cloud sever (i.a. as an alternative to Dropbox etc.)

Highly recommended virtual private server (VPS) providers are Vultr and Linode.

Get a VPS at Vultr Get a VPS at Linode