Tips & Tricks for Blogdown?

After talking to @mara and many others last week at a conference, I think I'm going to look into starting a blog to share my personal projects.

I'm hoping to create the website in Blogdown and was wondering what helpful hints the community has. I'd love to hear everything you think would help about Blogdown, writing a blog, running a website, etc...

Thanks everyone! :grin:


Hey @dlsweet,

You already got some of these out of me at EARL, and I'm actually planning to flesh this out a bit and write it up as a blog post, but here are the ones I can think of off hand:

  1. Put a bird on it… Actually, not just a bird (damn my dedication to TV show references), I'd recommend having your twitter handle (if you're on there) visible in writing (as someone who tweets posts from others, it's just easier if I can see the actual handle)
  2. Packages! Even if it's not a post about a particular package, it's super helpful to see examples of how people are using a given :package: ✘, and this gives your post relevance beyond just the novelty of a new post.
  3. Syntax highlighting! Just do it. I'm happy to help any and everyone figure this out in blogdown, but it's really not hard— I didn't even have to do anything special with my blogdown theme to get it working. This is covered in @yihui's :open_book: both as a theme parameter and/or if you want to include it in a custom template
  4. Socialize it. Not as do or die, but, as you can see on here (in discourse), and elsewhere, having the metadata right makes a big difference vis-a-vis "browseability." This is described :raised_hands: by Xavier ([at]xvrdm on twitter) in the post :point_down::

Those are just three four off the top of my head, and there are definitely more… No matter how niche your topic is, someone on the internet cares! There's no wrong way to go when it comes to blogging what you're learning, though, as it'll help solidify things for you!!


While I'm not sure it's even a question for you, since it's part of getting started on the right path, I'll point out that @yihui has a blog post that heartily endorses Netlify for hosting your blog, along with strong recommending a custom domain:


Thanks for the tips @mara and @nick! I'm really looking forward to trying this but have to keep reminding myself that it's definitely going to be harder than I think it will be.

I'm setting myself a goal of launching a live site by the end of January!

Don't put too much pressure on yourself about it being a big launch, or whatever. That was what kept me in (classic me) limbo for quite a while— the number of existing repos with specters :ghost: of feigned blog attempts pales in comparison to those I :fire: burned to the ground! (RIP dead repos).

My best friend gave me the advice I need all the time (since forever) YNTFI…you're not that freaking important. It's the loving-kindness antidote to anxiety about, well, things— meant to be liberating. And it is!


That's very good advice haha. The deadline isn't to make it a huge launch or anything, but more just to keep myself motivated so I have something to aim for. I have a terrible habit of going, "I should do this thing.", and then several months later I realize that I never did it.

1 Like

Smart move! A thing I think they should make possible on github (in lieu of my actually having self-control) is exploding :bomb::boom: privacy!! Because, yes, I pay the $7 or whatever to keep people from seeing certain code monstrosities, but if I don't set those free after 𝓧 amount of time, they should go public!

1 Like

That would definitely be an incentive! Is there anything similar that you could use to help you? I'm just thinking of one of those alarm clocks that donates money every time you hit snooze. :sleeping:

I think january as a deadline is an overkill. if you follow the blogdown book, it'll take less than 20 minutes to get things up and running.

You should be already familiar with markdown, rstudio and github, so there's not much else to learn.

As for advice, after your site is up and running, you can keep improving your site by tinkering the hugo templates, learning some html, css or even javascript.

and when you have issues, check yihui's book first, then hugo's documents.


Here's what helped me…working on that Archer viz project with Elijah for months, and then looking at the google analytics! Same goes for the blog…it's hard to be embarrassed when no one's looking! :wink:

Also, @jennybryan's point (read at some point in my journey through the STAT545 site) that it's actually kind of great to let the internet correct you!

@tctcab The January deadline is a little far, but it saves me the trouble of learning how to maintain a website well and learning how to create quality content over the holiday season and gives me a little bit of extra breathing room with everything else going on in life.

@mara big projects are huge when it comes to learning new skills, I feel like everytime I start one that I think I can handle it ends up taking twice and long and I learn about twice as much as I thought I knew going into it! And I'm still new to the sharing anything with the internet, it still makes me a little nervous but will hopefully pay off in the end!

1 Like

I haven't created many posts on my blog, but it's been up for over a year now and been generated from Rmarkdown the entire time. I actually have two different blog posts on making a blog using Rmarkdown, one on why it's a great tool, the other one using the blogdown package to do it. I think that second one might be useful to you, particularly the section titled "Lessons Learned".


@raybuhr Thanks for the post! It's definitely helpful to see the lessons learned from other people who have done this so I can hopefully avoid the same mistakes and have a smoother time of it. This is definitely an adventure and extra help is always welcome!

1 Like