Postach.io Review: Can This Tool Replace The CMS For Your Website Or Blog?
Last Time I discussed why it was time to leave my former web host — opting to host my websites and blogs on Evernote, facilitated by postach.io
I concluded with some thoughts for those considering a move to postach.io to replace their website host.
This post will help in making the determination to or NOT to host your website with postach.io by working though the usability and basic features available to users.
This is what I'd like to cover:
- Setting up your first blog — getting started
- Customizations — Domain and Design
- Free vs Premium
- Final thoughts
Let's Do It!
Postach.io Review: Setting Up Your First Blog — Getting Started
Listen. I don't need to recreate the wheel. There are other reviews that step through the process of setting up a new account. Here's a great reference from CMS Critic to walk you through the initial setup details and plan pricing.
Your First Blog Post
Getting started is as easy as signing up and connecting a notebook for your website.
That's all it takes. At that point, you add a "publish" tag to a note and you have a live blog post.
It could not be easier.
I have a couple recommendations for connecting your blog to your notebook:
- I recommend setting up two notebooks. One is for your LIVE content and the other for development or a place to collect your thoughts. Sure, you can organize via smart searches and tags, or simply scroll through your list of notes, but if you use the folder as a catchall for topics you wish to write about, particularly if you have other folders for other projects, you can quickly find yourself with too many notes making it difficult to find specific pages, posts, and resources.
- Think through pages that you want to have on your site. You can begin setting those up before you publish them. This will give you more visibility of the structure of the site you are creating.
- Set up a "page" that isn't going to remain published called something like "image storage." I'll give more instruction on this later on, but you can use this page (publishing and un-publishing as needed) as a file storage solution to reference images you might need in ways that can provide some extra flexibility to your content layout.
- Create a note in your website folder that is a reference for customization and code you may need to reference for your website. You could even include some of your formatting standards so you have a place to go to remember how you lay your posts out.
Publishing your First Page
Adding a page added an additional menu item with a link rather than posting a standard blog post. Add a "Page" tag in addition to a "Published" tag and you are set. Postach.io does the rest. What is a blog without an "About Me" and a "Contact" page? It's super easy to set these up. However, if you want a contact form, you're going to need to be more creative — more on that later.
If you don't labor over selecting your theme, you can be up and running within 10 minutes with nothing out of pocket.
I do not know of an easier way to get started.
If you are interested in blogging, use Evernote, and either don't want to deal with or don't know how to set up a new website AND you don't want to invest a lot into getting something up and running, I don't know if there is a better option for you — PARTICULARLY if you are looking to test the waters.
Postach.io Review: Customizations — Domain and Design
Things get a bit more complicated. The recommendation to try out postach.io swings violently from ABSOLUTELY to ... well... let's talk.
- You really should make a determination about your Free and Premium options before thinking too much about customizations. You might need to move on to the next section and come back to this one...
- Do you have any knowledge in web technologies — OR AT LEAST are you willing to learn?
- What do you want your website to do for you?
1. Free VS Premium
Again, you'll want to jump down to the next section for thoughts on this, but it will save you time and frustration when it comes to customizations for you to make your decision before looking to customize. It'll save you on frustration and ensures you know what you are up against:
- either very minimal opportunity for customization
- a great deal BUT you need to know how to make the changes happen.
2. Do You (or a willing someone you know) Know Web Stuff?
If customization is what you are after, and particularly if you've determined the Premium subscription is the one for you, you do have options for customization that aren't terribly technical, but do do much more, you'll need to have the ability to get into HTML, CSS, and willingness to dabble in Jinja (the language in which themes are written). I don't know Jinja, but I know enough PHP, HTML, and CSS that I can get around pretty well, and maybe that's you (or again, someone you might know).
The good news is that IF you expect you'll mostly just need to set up the main content of your website then post your blog posts, you won't have to do a ton of ongoing customizations, but there are some extra tricks as you create blog posts that add some nice touches but do require a bit of code. For example: postach.io does provide an option to either open external links in a new tab or in the same window where you are browsing, but what if you want more control than that? The good news is that you can type HTML links and specify to have the link open in a new window using the following format:
<a target="_blank" href="your URL">The link</a>
Now you can choose how you want links to function. I do leave the button to have external links open in a new window set to on, but I also will ad the code where it is needed so I can gain some extra functionality.
Another example is with images and image alignment.
Let's say I want to add a little icon here and have text wrap around it.
I have a little snowman (as I type, we're in our house while a winter storm is blowing just a day before Christmas, so... although it may be hot and sunny where you are, this is currently my life.
The above is the ONLY option I have. The image aligns left/center/right and my text must be below on a new line... BUT...
With a bit of code, I can set this up to have the image float left and have the text wrap around. Look! I can also set some controls to specify the size of the image.
I will have future posts on some of the customization I'm doing, but I'll explain this customization here.
FIRST, it's helpful to set up style sheets to give you a centralized place for your customizations. I have a CSS class set up so I just specify that an image needs to have that set of instructions set to it when I add it to my posts and pages.
Second, you'll need to find the URL (web address) of a live image that you can add to your post or page. I mentioned earlier the need for an image storage page that you can turn on and off. For any image where I want to add some formatting, I post it to that page, publish it, load it up, and copy the url.
Third, you need to have your code snippet ready to go.
For the above, I used this:
<img class="wraptext" style="width:80px;" src="https://cdn-images.postach.io/43a2beb8-e03e-40d1-901c-71ca3cf7bf65/3f686a6b-2d78-c6e1-8b44-57e194c4122d/beeb2bab-0ae8-17f8-31cc-db64231686f4.jpg" />
The class is a reference to my CSS that specifies that the image should be aligned to the left and allow my text to wrap around. I set a style attribute to specify the image width (which you do not need unless you want to change the size of the image display). Finally, I posted the url of the image. After the closing of the code, I simply type and the text floats around the image.
If you have not paid for the premium option to allow you to connect a style sheet, you can do most of what I described above, but your code would just look like this:
<img style="float:left;" src="url of your image" />
There you go.
I understand I just threw a TON at you. If you are familiar with web development, this is pretty simple, but if not, this may have just made up your mind — RUN from
Don't run yet!
I have worked with so many businesses looking to improve their web presence who come to me hoping in the promises of a simple website from some online site builder boasting how no coding is required.
It is NEVER as easy as it promises.
You need to understand that going into any new project. The moment you want your site to function differently from the default, you're going to have to figure out workarounds and adjustments, and these often do require some research and implementation.
I don't think you should give up on postach.io because you need to learn a few extra steps to wrap your text.
If this is what is making you concerned, hang on and give it a try first. Reach out and follow my posts if you need some help.
If you are someone who demands a custom look and feel for your website, not only will you need to look at the premium option for your account, but you'll also need to understand that someone will have to code your site design for you, and that is much more complex than wrapping text.
I'll say it one more time, I'll post tips based on how I customized your site. With some willingness, you might be able to do it on your own, but it might be better to hire someone to set it all up and get yourself moving with content creation in Evernote. Just know what you are up against.
3. What Do You Want Your Website To Do For You?
This is the question I would start with when asked if postach.io is the right move for hosting a website.
Postach.io is meant to be a blogging platform. If that's what you want, it's a great place to start. If you are looking for extra web features, you'll find the features of other web services providers are much more extensive.
- Looking for ECommerce? I'd look elsewhere, although I'm looking at what can be done here.
- If you want a contact form, you'll need to utilize a third-party service such as JotForm or a CRM with embeddable forms (I recommend Keap)
- Funnels / downloads - again... you can do this with a CRM that supports embeddable forms, but it might be a bit of work.
- Slideshows and other fancy web features - that'll all be up to your developer / you.
The good news is that some features are included out of the box including:
- Google Analytics
- Post comments with Discuss
- Social links
I would NOT choose postach.io for more than a simple blog platform if:
- You do not have/are not a resource with web development experience
- You require integrations to other applications, particularly where embed features are not available
- You are hoping for more than a standard site with occasional adjustments and regular blog posts (contact and other forms can still be in place)
Otherwise, I think it is a solid option, particularly with a paid subscription, and for $5 a month, unless you REALLY don't care if anyone ever looks at your site, I'd pay for a premium subscription to get the support you need AND open up customization options, even if you aren't wanting to make a lot of changes beyond adding a custom domain.
Customization is nearly non-existent with the free version. Paid subscriptions open everything up and, with some know-how, you can do a TON of customizations. It's some work and it is NOT drag-and-drop.
Postach.io Review: Free VS Premium
I'll keep this short and sweet.
I think postach.io provides fantastic value and anyone wanting to benefit from using their services should consider the paid subscription. It's worthwhile and supports continued operation.
For ANYTHING MORE than the basics, pay for premium.
If you want a custom domain, do it — and you should grab a custom domain. It's cheap and gives you a clean brand.
Again, you'll pay much more than that to unlock the features you would want with any other web hosting/building service.
You can see the difference between free and premium sites.
Some Premium site examples:
- This site - the one on your screen
- My site (all of my sites are variations on existing themes, but it's not terribly easy to notice)
The free version cannot be beat for anyone using Evernote already who wants a simple blog. For anything wanting to take their blog or site more seriously, the premium plan (starting at $5 a month for up to five sites) cannot be beat.
Postach.io Review: Final thoughts
Postach.io is an awesome service. I want it to stick around and I'm very happy with what it does for me and my websites. It is affordable, fast, and flexible (if you know what you are doing). THAT is where the *Caveats come in to play. You need to know what you are doing to get set up. Once you are there, you might be in blogging bliss with your Evernote account.