Don’t get distracted
When you use a static site generator or a CMS for your blog, you’ll quickly find there are enormous opportunities for theming and customising. In fact, if you’re not careful, you won’t have time for anything else. Themes in particular, can have you downloading half the internet.
My advice (if you’re using Pelican) is to click this link on github. This will show you all Pelican themes that have been recently updated. This is how I found the theme I’m using here. Thanks, by the way to Anthony Bouvier who converted this theme from Hugo. It’s simple, responsive and fast. And that’s all I (or you) need.
Focus on writing content
Since you’ve decided to start blogging, I assume you’ve got things to say?! Personally, I think a blog has value even if nobody ever knows it, or you, exist. Writing is a skill which only gets better with practice. So if you want to write about something but aren’t sure if anyone else will be interested — just write it and throw it out there.
Don’t obssess about SEO
Let’s face it, neither one of our sites will ever be massive. We’ve got some things to say and we’re saying them. Occasionally, we might write a tutorial that gets a bit of traction, but generally things are quiet. Fine by us! After some time blogging, we might set up another one which is focused on making money in some way, but for the moment, we’re just writing and posting stuff. By all means go to one of the many sites for a SEO check, Bing and Google both do this. But you can always start writing and fix the technical issues when you’ve got more knowledge.
I have Analytics on this site, but it’s not really needed. I’ll probably start parsing the Apache logs directly at some point.
A short aside. Last year, my partner got very ill and nearly died. She has a Facebook account (I don’t), and so I asked people to pray for her. Out of courtesy I let them know her status the following day and got lots of comments asking me to keep them updated. So I did. Every day I made a post, often long and detailed about her progress and what I was doing, how the kids were doing, etc.
What amazed me was how people responded. After posting, I’d get messages saying “I’ve been looking forward to your daily updates. Keep it up!” The support was incredible.
My point? Even though I had no idea, our story was somehow interesting to other people. Lots of people. So even if you think something might be boring, you might be completely wrong.
Stay away from controversial topics
It’s really not worth your trouble. Not yet anyway. Keep things nice and cheerful. Professional, almost. We all have strong opinions about certain things, but let’s keep our blog cheerful. Remember, what you write could be here forever.
Writing can be hard or easy. It may depend on your level of interest and knowledge of the topic. When I’m writing a post like this one which is an informative post, I’ll start off with all my headings. That’s how my mind works; from broad to specific. Your mind may be set up differently though, and you might want to start writing until you’re done. Only time will tell what works best for you.
Ultimately, you must sit down and start writing though. I like pretty short and direct writing as I assume anyone reading my stuff is no fool. Their time is valuable and I don’t want to waste it. So keep waffle to a minimum, please.
I started emailing myself a while ago if I have a good idea that I can’t deal with at the time. Not only for blogging, but in general. You may prefer a notebook or a dictaphone (voice recorder). Now that you’re a writer, you need to capture those thoughts as they tend to evaporate within a few minutes.
And as always, my email is below if you’ve got something to say.