Svbtle is a minimalist blogging platform that has been through a few changes since its launch in 2011.
Initially, Svbtle membership was invite only, and this exclusivity was actually one of its key selling points. In 2014 though, it became available to everyone for $6 a month.
Svbtle creator, Dennis Curtis, says he initially limited users because he wanted to prime the site with strong content and test it out before launching to the wider public. By inviting only select members, his goal was to create a site that housed meaningful and substantial content, but that might be a little tough to maintain now that it’s been made accessible to everyone.
I decided to take a look and see what Svbtle has to offer and hopefully this review will help you to decide if it’s publishing platform you’re looking for.
The signup process is simple. First, you’ll have to insert your name, email, password, and then come up with a nickname for your subdomain (you’ll get a svtble.com domain name automatically, but you can create a custom one later on).
New customers are offered a 2 week free trial, but you’ll need your credit card on hand to sign up for the monthly $6 fee; if you don’t wish to continue after the 2 weeks, you can simply cancel your card.
I can’t say I’m fan of this method though; it might as well say ‘please insert your card details and forget to cancel so that we can continue to charge you’.
But if you keep track of time, you won’t have any problems. And who knows, you may not want to cancel at all.
Ease Of Use
All of your posts will be composed on the ‘Ideas’ page, which you will be brought to when you click on the dashboard tab in the menu on the right hand side.
This screen is divided into 2 sections with your unpublished posts (ideas) on one side, and your published posts on the other.
When it comes to publishing a post, the Svbtle ‘editor’ really is as minimalist as it gets.
There are no menus available and you’re simply presented with a space to enter your blog title and post. If you want to make edits such as font changes, you will need to use Markdown – which adds in extra work that you really don’t need, especially if you have to learn it from scratch.
The only other features are the post scheduler and custom URL. If you wish, you can also choose to allow Svbtle to feature your post.
If you love customizing and designing your own themes, then you won’t be very happy with what’s on offer.
There are no tools or widgets, so choosing an accent colour and adding an avatar will be the extent of your creative endeavors here. I understand why Svbtle went down this route, after all – it’s a minimalist blog, but it won’t be for everyone.
Content Management and Promotion
Svbtle doesn’t allow comments. Instead, users can offer ‘kudos’ if they like a post – which isn’t exactly the best conversation starter.
Your readers also can give you a ‘nudge’ if you haven’t posted recently.
In terms of social sharing, there are optional Twitter and Facebook share buttons which you have to enable yourself, and you can also add your email address for people to contact you with feedback.
I can see how disabling comments minimizes the work involved in managing a blog, but I think users should have the option to enable them if they wish. SEO is also left out of the loop and there are no tools available to keep your metadata in order which will probably be an issue for some users.
However, there is at least a Google Analytics section which will allow you to incorporate analytics by typing in a code number.
There’s a distinct lack of community within Svbtle and this contributes to the lack of support available.
In the Help section, you’ll find a few FAQ’s and some useful Markdown documentation, and there’s an email address you can contact with any issues – but then you’re playing the waiting game until someone gets back to you.
Some real-time action would make a big difference here, such as adding an instant chat box or a help forum to the mix.
On The Fence
To sum it up, Svbtle just isn’t what is used to be.
When Svbtle first launched, it was a status symbol of sorts – and the sleek design and simplicity wasn’t its only appeal. Bloggers felt ‘special’ to be invited and have their work featured. But now that it’s readily available and competing with similar platforms such as Medium, Svbtle is going to have to up its game.
Sure, it has a beautiful design and an easy-to-use interface – but is that it? It can’t be, not if it wants to succeed.
Instead of being created with the user in mind, I think Svbtle was originally created with Svbtle in mind. And this worked when it was a clique that remained elusive and difficult to join, but now that it’s become open to everyone – the ‘we don’t need any frills because we’re the best’ vibe doesn’t really work anymore.
Hopefully this is something that will change pretty soon, because this is an elegant writing platform with a ton of potential.
Svbtle will appeal mostly to writers who aren’t overly concerned with engagement or promotion, and that’s absolutely fine. Maybe that’s the niche it’s going for. Not everyone simply writes content to improve their SEO ratings, promote their business, or create communities online.
Some people just write, to write. Svbtle was created for the lone wolf; the writer who will mull over drafts for weeks and tweak their posts to perfection; the writer who writes only for themselves and isn’t one bit apologetic for it. And I love those kinds of writers. Sometimes I am that kind of writer.
It can’t be denied that Svbtle is beautifully designed platform creates a distraction free zone for professional writers, and if I was looking for something like Evernote to keep track of notes and ideas for personal use, then Svbtle would be perfect.
But if a client asked me to set up a business blog for them today, this platform wouldn’t be my first port of call.
Have you used Svbtle in the past, or are you using it at the moment? We would love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below.