Silvrback — Markdown Blogging, Simplified for Everyone

When WordPress gets too complex and you want something more personal than Medium, what are you going to use to blog? There’s Svbtle, but it’s invite-only, and most of the cool new Markdown blogging platforms are self-hosted apps, which is more trouble to manage than many want to take on.

Silvrback is a new project that’s trying to bring simple Markdown-powered blogging to everyone. It’s got a bit of Svbtle and Medium’s style and the simplicity of pure Markdown blogging, without having to worry about invites and uploads and servers.

Simple, With Your Own Branding

Setting up your own personalized Silvrback blog

Setting up your own personalized Silvrback blog

For writers who enjoy a clean writing space and a place to keep their ideas before fleshing them out into published articles, but don’t want to have to deal with a half-dozen different apps and server configurations and more, Dustin Curtis’ invite-only Svbtle is the idea blogging platform. It gives you all of that, along with promotion tools that help readers discover the best writing on the platform. And it even lets your blog have the faintest level of customization, with a unique highlight color and site icon, along with links to your social network profiles. Beyond that, though, every Svbtle site looks the same.

Then, there’s Medium, founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. It, too, gives you a simple, Markdown writing experience with a brief bio and links to your social profiles, but it puts everyone’s writing together and makes in incredibly difficult to let your own writing stand out. It might be a great place to publish a hit piece or two, but it’s not what we’ve come to think of as a personal blog.

In comes Silvrback. It’s got a lot of similar ideas to both Svbtle and Medium, with the former’s easy way to save article drafts and the same font (FF Tisa Web Pro) as the latter. You can pick your own site icon or upload your own logo, then choose a color, much like with Svbtle, and then can add links to your profiles on Twitter, Github, and a link to another site of your own. It’s the most basic customization, just enough to personalize your site a bit and make sure people know its yours without having to worry about font size and colors and spacing.

Writing in a clean experience that looks almost like your published blog.

Writing in a clean experience that looks almost like your published blog.

There’s a similar simplicity to writing in Silvrback. The writing interface looks almost precisely like the published blog articles in Silvrback, using the same font, color, and spacing. The only difference is that your writing will have Markdown formatting symbols — which, unfortunately, Silvrback doesn’t automatically preview in the writing interface. But, if you need to make sure your code and inserted images look ok, you can tap the Preview button on the bottom to see the article rendered live in Silvrback’s blog view. The rest of the time, you can just write without any distractions — you can even hide the few buttons that do show up by default. Best of all, everything you write is automatically saved locally in your browser as you’re writing and online on Silvrback’s servers, so you can rest assured that you’ll never lose what you’re writing.

Settings — and your blog's menu — are a tidy click away

Settings — and your blog’s menu — are a tidy click away

Now, most of us can’t just write everything we want in on sitting — sometimes ideas are best left to simmer for a while before you flesh them out into a full article. Or sometimes you’ll want to write some stuff in advance when you feel really inspired, and save it up to publish later. Silvrback makes this easy by keeping your drafts together and showing them first when you open your Articles view so you can easily jump in and get them finished. Then, if you want to change something on a published article, you can select Publications to edit anything you’ve written, reorder it, and add tags — something you oddly can’t add while writing.

Then, there’s a ever-present gear menu in your account view, and your site icon on the site view, both of which open a hidden menu that slides in from the right similar to Facebook’s menus on mobile. You’ll find options to tweak your blog’s settings, bio, and account from your account view, and readers will see links to your bio, full blog, RSS feed, and more from their respective menu. It’s a nice way to hide away complexity.

Your blog's about page has never looked this nice.

Your blog’s about page has never looked this nice.

Speaking of the bio, that’s one of the most unique parts of Silvrback. You can add your picture, a brief bio about yourself, then curate lists of your favorite links — articles you’re written, apps or albums you’ve released, places you’ve studied and worked, and more. It’s a neat idea that makes it a lot easier to make an About page than on most sites, where you’re left to think of things to write about yourself. This is one spot that lists make perfect sense.

Conclusion

One of the simplest ways to make a blog that looks this nice.

One of the simplest ways to make a blog that looks this nice.

Clean, Markdown powered blogging is mainly restricted to the likes of self-hosted CMSes like Kirby, or perhaps Scriptogram‘s Dropbox-powered blogging that’s definitely aimed at the more tech-savvy — or the hosted tools like Svbtle and Medium that have their own issues. Silvrback is a simple alternate to them all that’s easily one of the simplest ways to blog today. For just $6.99/month, it’s cheaper than most hosting accounts for self-hosted sites, without all the hassle they’ll bring. You can’t change much — but you’ll find it a lot easier to just write and get your thoughts published, without having to worry about anything. And that’s very nice.

It needs to add a way to both import content and export your blog if you choose to move away, but otherwise, everything’s covered. If you’ve been looking for a simple, markdown-powered way to blog, Silvrback is the service you should be checking out.


Summary

A simple, markdown-powered hosted blogging service that lets you create your own space online with the simplicity of blogging on Medium

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