Blogging in Plain Text with Standard Notes and Listed


Blogging should be simple. Write a post, publish it, and whoever’s interested in reading that post reads it.

As I mentioned in an edition of my newsletter, blogging became something of an arms race. One of the biggest weapons in that arms race is WordPress.

Not that there’s anything wrong with WordPress. It’s a powerful, flexible online published tool. That said, WordPress isn’t for everyone. Not every blogger needs a fraction of what WordPress has to offer. Instead, some bloggers (or bloggers-to-be) need a simple way of publishing posts.

That’s one of the reasons I switched to Write.as. If you use Standard Notes, you have a blogging tool at your fingertips. It’s called Listed, and it’s not only easy to use but it supports plain text and Markdown.

Let’s take a look at blogging with Listed.

Getting Going

If you don’t already have a Standard Notes account, sign up for one. It’s free, and you can use most of Listed’s features with a free account.

Next, head on over to listed.standardnotes.org. Click the black box with the label Generate Author Link. That’s the code for an extension in Standard Notes that enables blogging.

Copy that extension, then log into Standard Notes. Click the Extensions button at the bottom left of the window, and then click Import Extension.

Adding an extension to Standard Notes

Paste the code that you copied earlier into the field that displays, and then click Install. You’ll notice several new items under the Actions menu in the editor.

And just to be safe, save the code for the extension just in case you need it in the future.

Setting Up Your Blog

You’ve got the blog, now what? Time to set up that blog. In any note, click the Actions menu and select Settings. That opens your blog’s settings page in a new browser tab or window.

The settings page for a Listed blog

You can add this information on the page:

  • A Username, which becomes part of the URL for the blog — for example, https://listed.to/@scottnesbitt.
  • The name of your blog in the Display Name field.
  • A short blurb about you or the blog in the Bio field.
  • Your Twitter Username if you want to link to it from your blog.
  • The URL to an image that will display at the top of your blog in the Header image url field.

That’s more or less all you need to start blogging. There are options to enable a guest book and to allow readers to subscribe to your blog via email. If you have a paid Standard Notes account, you can also point a custom domain to your blog.

Here’s what a blog with a header image looks like:

A basic blog in Listed

Writing Your First Post

To do that, create a new note. Add a title, which becomes the title of your post, and then start typing. Format the post with Markdown.

When you’re done, click Actions and then click Publish to Blog.

A post in Listed

There’s nothing fancy about the post. It’s bare bones, but it is readable. At it’s core, that’s what blogging is about isn’t it?

Styling Your Blog

You can add a bit of visual panache to your blog using CSS. Short for Cascading Style Sheets, CSS is a way to add formatting to your blog. So how do you add a CSS file to your blog?

Start off by creating a note. Add this to the top of the note:

---
metatype: css
---

Then, below that add your CSS definitions. Here’s an example:

Using CSS with a blog in Listed

When you’ve crafted your CSS file, select Actions and then click Publish to Blog.

If you’re not familiar with CSS, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered with this simple CSS file. Just download, copy, and add it to Standard Notes. You’ll be good to go.

Final Thoughts

If you’re getting started with blogging, or just want to go back to basics, using Listed as your publishing platform is a good choice. It’s simple, quick, and effective. On top of that, it adds another dimension to Standard Notes. Another great reason to use the service, in my opinion.

(A note of thanks to Bryan Behrenshausen for reminding me of the existence of Listed, which inspired me to write this article. And check out Bryan’s public notebook, published with Listed.)