10 things i wish i’d known when i started blogging

People I meet are always telling me that they’re about to start a blog. Having sort of just woke up one day and started this blog, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes which, hopefully, this post might help a few other people avoid:

  1. Sort out your domain name: if you think there’s a chance you’ll keep blogging, buy a domain name and map it to your blog before people start to notice and link to it, otherwise you’ll get trapped into the service you initially used to set your blog up to avoid losing all your traffic
  2. Sign up to a third party RSS service, such as feedburner, and de-activate the one that comes with your blogging platform (or you’ll get locked in – see number 1 above)
  3. Join technorati and claim your blog. People always talk about blogs being "conversations" yet most blogs get very few, if any, comments. The conversations that pundits talk about often take place on other blogs, where people link to and comment on your posts. Technorati helps you keep track of the longtail of conversation.
  4. Host your images using another service, for example flickr or buzznet, and when you post them their link back to your blog. It’s a good way to point people towards your blog. It will also help you keep within your monthly bandwidth allocation.
  5. Consider signing up to sites like blogburst which syndicate your content to news and media websites (giving you links from sites like the Washington Post)
  6. Make sure you add your URL to Google once you’ve sorted out your domain name (and I’d almost swear that signing up to display google ads and use google search on my site got me indexed more quickly – it’s also helped by for the blogging service I use)
  7. Add some sites with similar content to yours to your typepad list, blog roll, or whatever your blogging platform calls lists of links. You might also want to consider displaying the RSS feed contents from those sites actually on your page. Then, when you’re looking for something to write about, visit your site and use those links. They owners will see traffic coming from you and perhaps visit themselves, maybe finding good content in the process. Don’t underestimate the importance of linking and checking who is linking to you but also don’t sit and click on the links just to get noticed as it’s likely to make you look like an idiot.
  8. Sign up for, and start using, del.icio.us and publish the links you collect there. (I’m just starting to experiment with this.)
  9. Use pingomatic to let various content agregators know when you’ve published new content
  10. Post comments on other blogs and leave your URL there – but don’t make an ass of yourself by doing this when you don’t have anything to say!
  11. When you first set up your blog, really put some thought into the categories you’re going to use. I’m sure I’m not the first blogger who has over a dozen categories currently active, all of which are getting traffic, but half of which make no sense or are duplicated by other tags.

Ok, so that’s eleven, but I think they’re all sensible tips. Of course there are other things you should do, for example take time to properly design and layout your blog, choose the right blogging platform for your needs, keep posting after the initial excitement of the first two weeks, tell friends and colleagues who might be interested about your blog, post stuff that people might actually want to look at, etc. Maybe I should have called it twenty things I wish I’d known when I started blogging…

Do any readers have tips they’d like to add?

(This post is available as a podcast)


  1. A good solid list for starters. I would say that blogrolls and various ‘clutter’ in blog sidebars these days does look dated. In blog years I guess a packed sidebar looks mid 70’s. Disco. My feeling is as blogs move more ‘mainstream’ that clutter is on the way out and clean is coming in. with technorati, delicious and various other tools there’s plenty ways to give out the googlejuice without creating an overpacked blog template. Most people who read blogs don’t know they’re reading a blog and it must be very confusing for a time until you figure out the landscape, no? Is it not time to go minimal?

  2. Good stuff. The third party RSS is something I regret not doing on a daily basis.
    And design is crucial. pieman makes a good point. Get a feel for what kind of atmosphere you want to create, create it, and stick by it.
    Another option on the categories – write pages (with comments enabled) instead if you’re going to be all over the place. Display by ranking/views/your choice. It works for some people.

  3. Oh, sorry, and the last two things – sign up for a statistics service, and consider a commenting policy (typekey, open, moderated etc).

  4. Oh, very good. Useful for who hasn’t got clear ideas about it.
    I’ll recommend it on my blog, maybe in an Italian translated version.

  5. This seems to be a very reasonable checklist. But what sense does it make to use the services listed when you have a non-English blog – like me, Czech?

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