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40Tech: Steps & Missteps in Starting a Blog, Part I

Nuts and bolts of blogging As we approach the six month anniversary of 40Tech’s launch, we are taking a look behind the curtain here at the site.  In this post and a future post, we will take a look at the basics of the site, the inspiration behind the site launch, and other questions that arise when starting a blog.  If you’re considering blogging, it might give you some helpful insights into what it is like to get a blog up off the ground.  If you have your own blog, and are like me, then you enjoy learning about other blogs. In future posts, we also will take a look at traffic growth and site stastics, and the motivations and non-technical decisions associated with starting the site.  But first let’s look at the nuts and bolts of the site.

Blogging Platform

One of the first decisions I had to make prior to launching 40Tech concerned what platform or CMS I would use on the site.  I’ve built sites with both Drupal and Joomla, and both have served me well.  Both have some amazing strengths, but I needed a platform that was easy to manage, and geared towards blogging.  I built both my family site and the site for my wedding using WordPress, and I knew just how extensible and easy to use it was.  I went with WordPress, and haven’t regretted that choice yet.

I’ve previously written about five WordPress plugins used on the site, and also about my experiences in trying to settle on a commenting system.  We use several other plugins, which we’ll talk about in a future post.



The decision on a host was pretty easy.  I previously had launched a gaming site with Hawk Host, and had been thrilled with my choice (especially compared to a previous host of my family site).  I picked Hawk Host after doing exhaustive research at various sites around the internet, and hearing nothing but glowing reviews.  Hawk Host is small, but large enough that it isn’t a fly-by-night operation.  The support is amazing.  Whenever I have had to submit a support ticket, I’ve always received replies within just a few minutes.  Hawk Host has also taken real steps on my tickets, instead of just giving me a useless response to buy more time, which I’ve run into with a past host.


Traffic monitoring

When you first start a site, you will want to decide on an application to monitor your statistics.  Most applications work the same way, with either a WordPress plugin, or a snippet of code to place in your site’s footer.  I use Google Analytics, and the free version of Clicky.  Google Analytics provides in depth analysis, but I use Clicky due to its real time capabilities.  I’ve considered switching to the paid version of Clicky, but haven’t done so yet.  In a future post, we’ll look at some of our traffic statistics.



We use Feedburner here at 40Tech to handle our RSS feed.  We initially used the default WordPress feed for the site, but quickly realized that we wanted to monitor how many subscribers we had.  Feedburner makes this easy, especially if you use the FD Feedburner Plugin for WordPress.  In the upcoming post about our traffic statistics, we’ll also cover our RSS subscribers.



We use AdSense to run a couple of ads in the sidebar, but we haven’t focused too much on the money side of things yet.  We do use affiliate links, such as with Amazon, if we recommend a product and feel that it is something we would put our name behind.  (Speaking of which, the Hawk Host link, above, is an affiliate link.  We are using that because of how pleased we’ve been with Hawk Host).

One tip – make sure you use the same Google account across all Google properties.  That is one mistake I made.  There was such a delay in getting a response from Google regarding my AdSense application that I applied a second time under a secondary account.  My AdSense account now uses a different  username than my Feedburner account, so I can’t serve any ads in the RSS feed.  To fix that, I would need to cancel my AdSense account, and reapply with the other username.


Those are some of the nuts and bolts of the site.  Is there anything we didn’t cover, that we should have?  For you bloggers out there, what are you using on your site?