Words on a Page Writings about writing

Taking your blogging back to basics

A diary

Blogging should be simple. But, unfortunately, some people make it (or make it out to be) more complex than it is.

They get hung up on details. They get hung up on platforms, themes, plugins, widgets, SEO, and more. They lose sight of what’s at the heart of blogging: communicating thoughts and ideas, sharing information in various forms.

Why make things more complex than they need to be? Instead, consider taking your blogging back to basics.

What do I mean by back to basics? Adopting simple blogging platforms and techniques that let you get up and running quickly. Platforms and techniques that let you focus on writing posts instead of worry about a theme or the best SEO plugin or your Google PageRank. Ones which let you write the best posts that you can.

Ways to get back to basics

What do you need to take your blogging back to basics? If you’re starting out, or want to make a change, then choose a simple blogging platform. While I often recommend and advocate using WordPress, for many people it’s overkill. You might just need something simple to get your thoughts and words out.

There are several blogging platforms which fit that bill. Here are a few of my favourites:

If you’re of a slightly (or more than slightly) techie bent, then consider tools like Jekyll, Pelican, Nikola, or Hugo.

But if you use WordPress or another well-known platform like Blogger or Tumblr, then you can still simplify. How? By thinking about:

  • Switching to a clean, simple theme.
  • Using few, or no, plugins or widgets.

Choose a theme that lets you, and your readers, focus on the words (or photos and pictures) you’re publishing. Don’t worry about fancy typography or complex layouts or colours or graphics.

A good example of a blog that follows this philosophy is Zen Habits. That blog uses a theme that Leo Babauta hand crafted and which he makes available for anyone to use or modify. And, yes, it’s free of charge. Babauta’s theme is simple, but it is striking. Best of all, it’s readable.

Final thoughts

A blog doesn’t need to be flashy or cumbersome. Blogging doesn’t need to be a complex or arcane process.

Blogging should be about you writing and publishing posts, and having to deal with the minimum of setup and maintenance.

Taking your blogging back to basics lets you focus on what’s important: the writing that’s on your blog. That, and not a cool look or SEO, is what will bring readers to you. And what will keep them coming back.

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