That is a subject and a half.
I have had some form of a website on and off for 10 or so years, and constantly maintained one for nearly 4 now. I started what evolved into this on May 27, 2003. I was bored one night, lonely, upset about having just had to move, and decided to start a blog on Blogger. During one post, I needed a way to post some images. As I was a regular .Mac subscriber at the time, I hosted the images there linked to from my blog. Come September 1, 2003, I realized the futility of having a presence in two different places and migrated from Blogger to iBlog, which ran right from my .Mac service.
So, I started looking for alternatives. There was other software that could run on .Mac, but that was only a partial fix. What I needed was to leave .Mac. In my searches, I found Nearly Free Speech. Unlike other hosts I had looked at, they have a pay only for what you use model. Instead of paying a set amount for a set service, I pay for the storage that I use and for the bandwidth that I use. No wasted money, and very flexible. Plus, they offer all the cool stuff I had hoped for (PHP, MySQL, etc…).
So having a new host, I needed a new blog software. There were 4 options at the time that I really considered. WordPress, MoveableType, keeping iBlog, or writing my own. WordPress was totally opensource, and offered everything I wanted. MoveableType also offered all that I wanted, but were becoming a little bit “corporate”. They had just instituted a pay for certain uses policy, and I didn’t want to start using it just to need to move to something else after a year because they wanted money. iBlog had served me well, and it would ease the transition some to keep it, but was a little under-featured. And writing my own would be ugly. I am sure it’s more than possible, but for a truly flexible system thats easy to use, it wasn’t really a great option. There were other ideas I looked at too. Blosxom was a contender for a little while, but seemed too small to be highly configurable. In the end, WordPress came out on top.
Before the real work began though, a few more pieces were required. I could keep my old support services, but I decided to look for new ones. For stat tracking, I tried AWStats, but couldn’t seem to get it working. I ended up with BBClone instead, which has served me well. NFSN eventually installed AWStats by default and I tried it for a while, but prefer BBClone (despite it seeming to now be a dead project). Comments are built into WordPress, so that was already solved. For polls, I went through several trys at different services. My initial poll offering was simply asking a question in a post and asking for votes as comments. Eventually though, I found WP-Polls and have liked it. Gallery software was also a difficult one to find, eventually opting for Aniga Gallery. After some time though, I moved my galleries off-site to Picasa WebAlbums. It allows me to link to all by pictures, but I don’t need to pay to host them.
Finally, I wrote up a new template for the blog to make it my own, and wrote up a website for all the other information using the same style and theme. In September 2005, I declared the move complete. One problem remained though, moving old entries/comments/polls to the new site. Entries I moved over in about a month, comments and polls I didn’t fully integrate for about 2 years though, as different difficulties presented themselves.
A year after the big move, in the summer of 2006, I decided that my theme was getting old, and I was growing tired of hand coding every page of the site, envious of the easy templating of the blog. Since WP allows pages in a blog, along with the normal posts, I decided to attempt integration. Overall, this has been a great decision. There is less HTML to deal with, and backups are easier as well. I wrote up a new template with seven different color schemes to apply to the new blog. I also did something I had considered since the year before when I moved, and purchased a domain name, atomicow.org.
Since then, I have moved to a more descriptive domain, nicholasyax.com. I have also changed themes a few more times, sometimes of my own creation and sometimes a ready-made one with some modifications.
Work on the site continues, of course, as it always will. Since WordPress introduced “tags”, I have been slowly tagging past posts, and changing the categories older posts are listed under.
Ironically, The day I started my blog, May 27, 2003, is the same day that the WordPress project went public. While I did not use WordPress for the first 2 years, it still seems fitting that I ended up with them, as the blog and WordPress both share the same birthday.
To see what some of the old sites looked like, have a look at the history page.