Starting a Blog: Tips Based on 60 Days of Blogging

March 5, 2009 | Startups, Web Design

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It has been an interesting journey starting this blog. I actually have previously helped a few of my client’s with their own blogs, but this is a first for me personally. I thought I’d share my thoughts and tips now that I am at day 60 of running the blog.

Start with a soft launch

A soft launch means that you are using the blog tools and adding content, but you’re not screaming for attention yet. If you choose to use WordPress you can even turn off the ability for Google and other search engines to find you. (If you do this, make sure you remember to turn it back on later!) By adding content before you officially go live, you will have a few articles and entries to interest readers when they do arrive.

For Visible Logic’s blog, I created posts before adding the link to the blog into the navigation of the site. That means the blog was technically “live” but no one had access to the page.

Practice using the features

Before going live I suggest you not only write and publish some posts, but make sure you’ve tested all the other features. Make sure you know how to link to other pages and to add photos. Test the formatting tools to see what the end result looks like. You should specifically plan to make sure all of the following are working, and look and act as you expect:

  • Comments. Enlist a few friends or colleagues to add a comments to one or more of your posts. This allows you to understand the commenting process: Are you requiring registration or not? Are you moderating some or all comments? Do you have a spam filter in place? Do you have avatars? Also, it will show you how the comments look within your blog pages.
  • Feeds. Get your feeds up and running. Make sure your subscription links work. Also, when you subscribe to your own feeds you’ll see how the posts look in feed format. Are you feeding the entire post or just the start or the summary? Are photos and formatting looking as expected?
  • Tags, categories, spelling, etc. Going through the process of writing, proofreading, editing, and publishing several posts will help you establish a routine. Personally, I kept forgetting to use tags before publishing a post. Also, I sometimes left posts as “uncategorized” instead of marking them into one or more categories.

Tweak the settings

I found there were a few things that didn’t look like I wanted. For some reason, my WordPress default setting was to show the main headline as an H2 rather than an H1 head. So I had to change that to make the blog more consistent with the rest of my web site.

I’ve also made other changes the default settings. For example, some of my first posts had the author as “admin” which I was able to change. I also played around with how many posts to place on the home page of the blog. The default is 10, but I think that’s far too much scrolling.

Then go live

Once you’re feeling more confident about how the blog is coming together, you can add the navigation throughout the rest of your web site. But realize that not everyone is viewing your site, just waiting for updates. So let them know. Use your newsletter list, your facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts announce the launch. Sign up with Technorati (BTW, they’re going to make you post a specific link on your blog, so here’s mine: Technorati Profile) Finally, consider adding the direct link to the signature line of our email.

Remember, blogs are by their very nature works in progress.

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