Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

Priority order when you start blogging

Let’s say you have decided to start a blog. Congratulations, it’s a good decision. I think everyone should at least consider having a blog. Now then, what should you do first?

Priority #1: Write the first blog post

The first priority for any blog should be to write the first post. No matter how you do it: in an existing blogging platform, locally with Markdown on your computer, with a quill, ink and paper – just do it. A blog with zero posts is not really a blog, it’s just a sad case of lost potential.

I’ve written before about how the decision of what tools you pick in the beginning is not that important. Don’t stress it, just pick one. At worst, you need to do a bit of manual work when migrating to a different system once you find what you actually need.

My advice for the first post is to not write about how you decided to start a blog and what tools you use to publish it and what you’ll eventually write. There are too many blogs in the world where that ends up being the only post. Write something of substance.

If you want to start a tech blog, write a post about something you learned recently or something you had to figure out by googling, reading Stack Overflow and documentation and some GitHub issues. Collect that knowledge you acquired into a blog post. If you want to start a cooking blog, cook something and write about that. Write some story before the recipe even, don’t let the haters stop those beautiful stories. If you’re traveling and want to share stories from across the globe, write about your latest trip.

Go straight in. You don’t need to write a blog post where you first tell people what you’re planning to write in the future.

Priority #2: Make sure you have RSS feed available

I think the most important thing to do once you have written your first post is to make sure the platform or tooling you use builds a RSS feed.

I may sound like a RSS salesman but hear me out. Even if RSS isn’t the most mainstream thing right now, a lot of readers especially in tech use them.

And it’s especially valuable to at the beginning: I may run into your blog, see your first blog post and get interested. But since there’s no other content, I’m heading out after I’ve read it and I might not run into links to your blog again for years. For new blogs, I’m not as motivated to manually bookmark them and go check them out all the time because so many new blogs are abandoned after the first post. So I lose out on a potentially great and interesting blog and you lose a reader who’s interested in what you have to say.

This happened to me recently. There was a blogger I knew in person for a few years and every now and then I saw them post on social media and I’d read their posts. But then our paths went different ways and 5-6 years later I accidentally ran into their blog again to find that they had been actively writing interesting pieces all this time. But since they didn’t have RSS feed available at the start, I didn’t know. When I found it now, they had added RSS feed and I became an active happy reader again.

Priority #3: Write more

Go and write more! Pour your heart and your soul onto the paper and the pages in the web. Share, document, inspire, entertain. Find a pace of publishing that works for you: maybe it’s daily, weekly, monthly or at completely random intervals. There are no rules.

Write what you find worth writing and sharing and let your writing find their audience rather than the other way around.

Last week I listened to a webinar by Finnish literature podcaster Marko Suomi of Takakansi podcast. What really resonated with me in that discussion was how for him, running a podcast deepened his interest towards the topic and made him learn more about it because of the podcast.

I find the same applies to blogging. Because I blog, I look at the world through different scopes and when I’m researching a topic and writing about it, I learn more which leads to my interest to the topic deepening.

And I find myself searching my blog constantly when I need something because I remember I wrote about it in the past. It’s a publicly available personal documentation system in addition to being a blog that readers enjoy to read.


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