Blogging in Plain Text with Bear

by: Scott Nesbitt | 19 April 2022

When WordPress took over a big chunk of the online world, blogging became a bit more complex than it needed to be. It definitely became more complex than some people needed it to be.

Writing blog posts took something of a back seat to dealing with themes, plugins, SEO, and various other arcana. The so-called pro blogging boom of the last decade and a half, fueled in large part by WordPress, resulted in hulking blogs laden with graphics and multimedia and ads and pop-ups and alla that stuff.

That approach is overkill for the blogger who’s not trying to take the web by storm. It’s overkill for the blogger who only wants to share thoughts and ideas with a smaller audience.

Instead of adding to the ever-increasing bulk of the web, why not take a lean, minimal approach instead? By that I mean blogging without weighing down a reader’s browser or popping up ads or reminders or anything else annoying. Blogging in a bare bones way, in which what you’re writing matters more than how your blog looks.

You can do that quickly and easily with Bear. Like Mataroa (which I looked at in 2021), Bear is a blogging platform that’s spare, that’s minimal. Which is definitely not a bad thing.

With Bear, you get up and running quickly. You focus on words and ideas. You’re publishing as if using, to quote Leo Babauta, a marker and a publicly-posted piece of cardboard. Bear gets rid of the frills and adornments. It enables you to write and publish with little or no friction.

Does that sound interesting? If it does, keep reading to learn more.

Getting Started

Bear is hosted software, so you need to sign up for an account. That account is free, but you can get a paid one ($5 a month or $50 a year). With paid account, you get features like newsletter subscriptions and the satisfaction of helping Bear’s creator keep the lights on.

To sign up, all you need to do is enter an email address or a password and you’re ready to get going.

Setting Up Your Blog

Once you’ve signed up, you’re taken to the Dashboard page. It’s on this page where you add basic information about your blog:

Here’s an example:

Dashboard page in Bear

How Bear Structures Your Site

When your site gets published, Bear creates a landing page. That page will contain links to your blog posts and whatever other pages you create. Here’s an example:

Landing page of a blog published with Bear

Bear adds these pages to your site automatically:

Adding links to other page in Bear

I’ll talk about adding more pages in a moment.

Writing Your First Post

To do that, click on Posts and then click New post to jump to the blog editor.

Getting ready to write a new post in Bear

Bear’s editor isn’t going to win any design awards. It’s not ugly, just kind of old school — a set of fields rather than a more modern, minimal looking blank editing canvas as you’d find in, say,

To get started, give the post a Title. Then, type the body of your post. You can add formatting to that post using Markdown.

Here’s an example of post that’s in progress:

Writing a post in Bear

When you’re done, click Publish (at the bottom of the editor page). Or, you can click Save as draft to continue working on the post later.

Here’s what a published post looks like:

A post published with Bear

Other Information You Can Add to a Blog Post

What I outlined above is the bare minimum required for a blog post. You can also add this information about the post:

Adding Pages

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that Bear creates links to three pages on your blog automatically. But you can add other pages to your blog, too.

To do that, create a post. Add a title and some content, then click Is page (at the bottom of the editor). When you click Publish, Bear creates the page and adds it to your blog’s navigation bar.

Other Useful Features

Bear also has a few other features that you might find useful. As I mentioned earlier, Bear supports Markdown — including images and tables. Images need to be hosted somewhere else on the web — you need to point to any images you want to use via Markdown’s image syntax:

![Text to describe the image](https://some.where/MyNiftyImage.png)

Bear also automatically generates an RSS feed for your blog. You can choose to exclude posts from your feed (and from Bear’s blog discovery page) by deselecting the Show in feed option in the post editor.

Out of the box, a blog published with Bear is plain but serviceable. You can change the look of your blog by clicking Styling and then either:

Custom styling added to a blog published with Bear

Here’s an example of a blog styled with the Tufte CSS stylesheet:

Custom styling added to a blog published with Bear

Final Thoughts

Like Mataroa, Bear brings minimalism back to blogging. It packs no frills, and yet you can use Bear for serious blogging. Or just occasional blogging. It’s up to you.

With Bear, you can quickly set up your blog and get publishing without worrying about ephemera like themes or plugins. You write. You publish. That’s it.