Max Rozen

About

Everything I know about starting a blog in 2020

June 30, 2020

As a person in tech, setting up a blog is mighty important for getting noticed. Your blog might just differentiate you enough from others and get you an interview, or give you something to talk about with interviewers or potential colleagues.

So I’m writing this article from the perspective that you’re in tech, and want a place you can write your own articles. This advice might not be as useful if you’re trying to monetise your writing (whether via ads, writing content for your side project, etc).

Table of Contents

Hosting

You’re going to need a place to host your blog.

You could self-host on a Raspberry Pi if you want, but some people might want to read your content in between the time your SD card stops working, and you noticing it several weeks later.

The blogging solution you choose will greatly impact your choice of hosting, and the cost.

On the upper end, there’s WordPress. A reputable host (such as WPEngine) will set you back $300 USD per year. If you want to extend the functionality, you’ll also need pay for plugins.

Slightly cheaper, you’ve got Ghost. Ghost starts at $348 USD per year, and includes membership/email functionality, CDN and an SEO plugin.

For effectively nothing, you can run a static HTML website (such as those generated by GatsbyJS, Jekyll, Hugo, or Eleventy) on Netlify or AWS S3, but it’s up to you to figure out almost everything (including SEO, CDN, SSL/HTTPS, etc).

The learning curve isn’t the best, but highly rewarding. This blog was written in GatsbyJS and hosted on AWS S3.

Astute readers may note that I haven’t mentioned Medium. Since you just create an account at Medium, you are not in full control of what your readers experience when they visit your blog.

Often, they’ll see this: Why I don't recommend Medium

No one wants to see that. Don’t use Medium as your only method of blogging.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO matters to an extent.

By which I mean, if you do things correctly, Google might just rank your content appropriately relative to similar content.

If you get it wrong, Google will flat out ignore your existence.

Here’s what you need to know:

All the other things in SEO, such as keyword research, on-page SEO, and link-building sort of matter, but won’t make or break your website as much as getting technical SEO wrong.

Reposting, or “syndicating” content

Your blog is but a tiny island on the Internet. Sharing your articles on sites like Dev.to and Medium is a great way to get noticed, and get people visiting your blog to see what else you’ve written.

“But wait, didn’t you just say Medium was the devil, a few seconds ago?”

I sure did! Medium’s great for reposting your content. I would never trust it to be my primary blog though.

How I write my content

  1. I write my posts in markdown, publishing directly to a Gatsby site for either PerfBeacon.com or MaxRozen.com

These sites don’t get much traffic, but syndicating to other sites has driven more and more Google traffic my way.

  1. After publishing, I take the generated link and syndicate it to Medium and Dev.to.

Dev.to sends me the most views, though as I’m also a Medium Partner I get a bit of money each month for reposting there as well.

Exporting my blog posts to other platforms lets me retain the “SEO juice” as the platforms set my original post as the canonical version.

Here’s how Medium does it:

<link
  data-rh="true"
  rel="canonical"
  href="https://perfbeacon.com/blog/improve-page-speed/"
/>

Shameless Plug

If you'd like more tips on how to improve your frontend, you can follow me on Twitter as I regularly post articles there.