Today marks the 10 year anniversary of this website. It’s really, really hard to believe that I’ve been posting to and updating the site for a full decade already, and even crazier when I look back at how things have changed over the years, both in terms of the website, and in terms of me as a human as well.
Reflections on JustinVollmer.com Link to heading
January 6, 2014, was supposed to be a work day for me. However, where I was living at the time was under a Level 3 snow emergency that day, and so instead of driving to the office, I stayed home. Back then, I was much less equipped to work remotely than I am now, and so I didn’t have anything pressing to work on, and decided to set up a website. I had heard of Squarespace, and after taking a quick look at its features, decided it was probably the easiest way to start out. And so, with that, JustinVollmer.com was born! 🎉 If you want to get an idea of my thought process at the time, check out my Welcome blog post, left up for posterity.
Now, granted, at the time it was fairly humble, and looked quite different than today. My intent at the time was to use my website as a combination blog, social media hub, and place to feature videos I was shooting for the church I attended at the time. Over the next few years I would tweak various pieces of the site, but I kept the same general theme, and always hosted some creative work, some blog posts, links to my social media, and even my resume for a while when I was changing jobs.
Over my holiday break in 2017, I decided to move away from Squarespace, and instead migrated my content to a WordPress site, hosted on Amazon Lightsail. I also took the opportunity to prune some of the content that I was no longer actively working on (specifically videos), and went with a more simple design. Unfortunately, I don’t have any screenshots from this period, but if you are familiar with any of the default WordPress themes from that time, it probably had a similar look and feel. I dabbled with blogging for the next few years, mostly posting about my tech decisions and thoughts, and also introduced my Year in Review posts, which I have continued to this day.
Nothing much else changed however until mid-Spring of 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, when I decided to participate in the 100 Days to Offload challenge. I decided to focus my website even heavier on my blog during those 100 days, and actually managed to post something for 100 days straight, even though I would struggle to call some of the content a blog post in retrospect.
Unfortunately, the 100 days experience left me burned out to such an extent that I really didn’t touch my website until right before Thanksgiving, 2020, when I made the decision to both migrate my website from WordPress to Hugo, and also to switch my analytics platform. I spent a lot of time manually migrating all of my posts, ensuring that as many previous links worked as possible, and tweaking the config until I was happy with the end result.
And, really, my website hasn’t changed since the end of 2020. Of course, I’ve added a few pages here and there, and I’ve continued to post to my blog, somewhat sporadically. But I’ve left the overall design alone, and haven’t even replaced the theme. That’s not to say that I haven’t considered other options - I have. I just haven’t found a specific feature set that blends the easy support of Hugo with other features that are appealing enough to make me devote the time and energy required to migrate.
What will the future hold? I have no idea, honestly. I will continue to look at other options, I suspect, especially some of the CMS solutions that other bloggers use. Or perhaps I’ll look further into something like Eleventy (11ty), another static site generator, which has been on my radar for a while. I’m sure if and when I make a change, I’ll announce it with a post!
Reflections on Justin Vollmer Link to heading
Ten years has also led to many changes for me, as a person. As I begin writing this section, I expect it will be less wordy than the writing about my blog, but we’ll see.
In 2014, I was working at my first full-time job after college. I was still living near where I grew up, and was not really sure what I wanted to do with my life. I enjoyed the engineering work I was doing, which was in my field, but I was also dabbling enough with video work for the church I was attending (a non-denominational church associated loosely with the Word of Faith movement) that I was considering what full-time ministry would look like.
That changed in 2015, when I accepted my current position at Precision Planting, and moved to Illinois. I also began attending a non-denominational church with a different theology, with a much more Reformed bent (though I didn’t understand that at the time). I began to volunteer at church in other ways, not necessarily as creative, and spent a majority of my time focused on my work, while also making time for friends and small group.
2020 was really a shock to me, although in retrospect it was very good in a lot of ways. Prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns, I was becoming extremely burned out, and was about to take a step back from volunteering. The pandemic caused me to have to stay home, and gave me time to begin re-evaluating how I was spending my time, and to just decompress a bit. I have told people in my life, in all honesty, the 2020 to 2022 timeframe was one of the best for me personally, as it gave me time to work on myself as a person, to create some habits that have held to this day, and to just put my head down and do work in the comfort of my home, which helped me to feel extremely productive.
Mid-2022 saw a number of shifts though, in fairly rapid succession. First off, in the Spring, some theological study and re-evaluation that had been brewing for the past 9-12 months came to a head, and I made the decision to leave the church I had been at since moving to Illinois, and attend a church that matched what I now believe. Second, in the Summer, my career path at work took a turn, leading to my work now that is much less heads-down coding, and more project management focused, which includes what would have previously seemed to me an extreme amount of communication, but which I am now settling into with some degree of comfort.
And now, it’s 2024! What will the future hold for me? I also, of course, don’t know that. Or, rather, the parts I do know, I am not comfortable putting into writing yet. I have a few habits that I am working to rebuild this year, mostly from a health (physical and mental) perspective. I also have a few tech-related ideas that have been nagging at the back of my mind for a while that I may act on, mostly centered around how I accomplish certain tasks.
Conclusion Link to heading
Okay, yeah, this probably didn’t need a header. But I’m going to create one anyways!
Like I said at the start, in many ways, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s already been 10 years since I began this website, and even harder to fathom everything that’s changed since then. But also, I appreciate this opportunity to reflect, and to be thankful for the blessings I’ve been given, and the way I’ve grown, and the things I’ve learned, in that timespan.
Here’s to another ten years! 🥂