Back To Blogging Basics – Intro

If you don’t already know, I’m the Community Manager behind Symbian-Guru.com. I started the site in November 2006, and with the help of 2 other authors (and a few who have come and gone), built it to be one of the top Symbian-related blogs on the Internet. Unfortunately, along the way, the site itself has gotten a bit complex, and the backend is now rather messy. In order to create and publish a post, you *must* use FTP, Photoshop (or some other slightly-more complex photo editing tool), and an actual computer. Blogging from our phones is not possible, and even if it were, the process would be so complex that it wouldn’t be realistically feasible.

Currently, Symbian-Guru is hosted with WordPress 2.8, using Justin Tadlock’s Structure theme (which has since been discontinued, annoyingly). Our forums are powered by vBulletin v3.8.3, using a hacked up vBulletin bridge that you can check out here. With three authors (and the need to bring on at least one more), it’s become imperative that we slim things down quite a bit. I’m sure that there are some of you out there who have either already started blogging and are in a similar position as I am, or are looking to start blogging, and want to avoid the same mistakes I have in letting the blog management get completely out of control.

As I gather the resources I need to do this, I have some starting advice that I’ve already learned. Here’s 5 mistakes that I made when starting Symbian-Guru.com:

1. Buy a domain – this is crucial, even for small-time bloggers that never intend to be ‘huge’. When I started Symbian-Guru, I had no idea it would go where it has, and moving from symbianguru.typepad.com to Symbian-Guru.com was a *huge* pain, and something I wish I could have avoided. You can buy a domain for less than $10/year, and hosting can be just as cheap.

2. Choose your blogging platform carefully – WordPress is typically the default, but choose wisely. Do your research and explore at least 2-3 options, even if you think you know what you want. When I was setting up the forum, I just assumed I should go with vBulletin, without first checking out if there was a proper WordPress bridge (there’s not, really), and now I’m wishing I’d done a bit more research.

3. Don’t make sacrifices for ‘coolness’ – When choosing the theme for Symbian-Guru.com, I discovered that I would have to manually create at least 2 images for each post, FTP them over, and then insert them in the post. Whereas that seemed small at the time, after nearly 2 years with this layout, it’s getting *really* old. Make sure you aren’t negatively impacting the posting process when you choose a theme.

4. Setup analytics as soon as possible – There are several stats services available, such as Google Analytics. The sooner you set these up, the better picture you’ll have of your traffic. While you may not think you care, it’s a good idea to have an idea of when, where, and how your traffic gets to your site, even if you just glance at it every couple of days.

5. Don’t use services that you don’t control for your blog – For a period of several months, I used Flickr to host my images. At the time, I thought it would be a good way to reduce the load on my hosting servers. However, when I stopped using Flickr for my personal photos and let my Pro account go un-renewed, it also hosed all my photos, so I now have a bunch of posts with empty photo placeholders.

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