Milking The GNU is just 3-month old and its readership is growing nicely. In May, we had more visitors than in April and March combined, totaling more than 30K reads (well, hits) in May alone. MTG's feed now reaches more than 30 countries over 4 continents.
Others have already given useful tips, from starting-up to properly evangelize a blog. So rather than to list more boring numbers, it might be more interesting to elaborate on this experience.
Let's start by some advice. Although please remember, 3 months of writing is hardly enough to claim being an experienced blogger, so take it with a pinch of salt and feel free to comment heavily.
Four rules I found important:
- Get a hosted blog solution
- Get your own domain name
- Write regularly on a well-defined subject
- Care about your community
A hosted solution brings you focus, reliability and protection
- Focus: If you’re a developer you’re going to spend far too much time worrying about details and/or installation issues than you are about writing. So using a hosted service is a good way to keep the hacker in check.
- Reliability: If you’re successful, at some point you are going to hit a first page on Slashdot, Digg or Reddit. This means getting hit maybe 10,000 a day or even 10 times more if you’re Slashdotted. Even so this is not an enormous amount of bandwidth as such, this is really the wrong time to realize that you’ve misspelled some stuffs in an obscure config file of your WordPress/Apache or MySQL installation.
- Protection: If you’re speaking your mind (somewhat you shouldn’t fear to be a tad controversial if you want your voice to be heard over these 100 millions blogs out there) you don’t want to spend hours on the phone with your service providers explaining that they could help you fighting a DoS.
A domain name brings you flexibility
This is pretty simple. Should you change hosting or even decide for your own server farm you need to take those readers with you. Owning your own domain is the key to avoid infrastructure lock-in.
Write often, write with focus
Writing is the hard part. Doing it regularly is hard. Doing it really regularly is very hard. It requires all of your focus. And yes, the main topic of your blog should be focused as well and you should stick to it most of the times.
Don’t write about all the interesting stuffs you like from wine to cooking, rock climbing or paragliding. Pick up one and only one narrow subject. Ask yourself: which one would you rather read by accident?
- My Laundry list by John Richard
- Linux news and other geek stuffs by Paul Unknown
- My Day-to-day life with Ubuntu by J. Smith, Microsoft accountant
Care about your community and your ecosystem
This really warrants another post: stay tuned for: 1 reader every 90s in just 90 days (Part II).