Getting started with Obsidian Publish in three steps
This guide is the one I wish I had when starting the daunting journey of publishing my thoughts online. I hope it is helpful for you as well.
Disclaimer: Thanks to its wonderful developers, Obsidian changes rapidly. This guide is written in March 2021 using Obsidian v0.11.5. Specific technicalities may have changed.
Step 1: Set up Publish
Buy Obsidian Publish at Obsidian Publish. Currently it’s at Lifetime Early Bird Pricing with 8$/month. For extra motivation (and to save a bit of money), I recommend paying annually. With your digital garden, you are in it for the long-haul.
Get familiar with the Plugin
Right now the plugin is quite straightforward.
It shows you three categories:
- changed - folders or notes that you can update on your Publish,
- unchanged - ones that you can unpublish from your site and
- new - notes or folder which you can upload.
Through the gear icon you can access your site settings.
You also have the option to
Add linked. When selecting this option, Obsidian will automatically upload every note that is linked to notes you selected.
Be careful with this option. Make sure you know exactly which notes are linked, you don’t want any private information being shared without your oversight.
A better way to publish is to create a temporary outline note.[^1] Run a search in Obsidian, copy search results, paste them into a new note, open the plugin and upload that note with
Add linked on.
With all links visible in a note, you can easily stop linked notes from being automatically uploaded.
Step 2: Basic tweaking
Let me warn you: this is the most dangerous step. Many aspiring gardeners have been lured off the straight path by the temptation of total tweaking. Don’t get lost in the weeds of CSS styles. Start writing!
A bit of personalising how your Publish looks goes a long way. Create a
publish.css file in your root vault. Copy and paste your favourite Obsidian theme (My pick: kepano’s Minimal or ericgregorich’s custom CSS). Change the primary and accent colour to your liking and stop.
Start getting your thoughts out first. Further down the line you can always come back to tweak each element to your liking.
Step 3: Start publishing
This can be daunting. Tweaking is such a temptation because publishing is a bit scary. Here is the key: Don’t overthink. Don’t build a brand, don’t find your niche but:
Write your first note, read over it once and press publish.
Share it with your friends and family. Share it with the Obsidian Forum. Don’t worry about feedback yet.
Then, start publishing your second note.
You become prolific with consistency. Set time aside daily or weekly, set yourself deadlines or sign up to a Obsidian Publish Challenge.
Some ideas for basic notes
- Welcome: This is the first thing people see. Share about yourself, introduce your digital garden and list your favourite or most recent notes. Help people follow along. (Great examples: Alexis Rondeau)
- Explaining “digital gardens”: The concept of sharing your thoughts-in-process is still novel. Explain what your visitors can expect. A good starting point are these Digital Garden Terms of Service.
- Contact Me: Digital gardens are even more conversational than regular blogs. Let people engage with you or point out mistakes. (Example: anthonyamar)
Congratulations, you set up the basis for your Obsidian publish. While it may be daunting to start, you pick up steam when you’re going. Putting your thoughts online is great for you to sharpen your thinking, remember more and get to know people who share your interests.
After setting the basics, you might want to include a newsletter to share the best from your garden. I use ConvertKit but there are plenty of options.
And now, get started!
I’d love to hear your thoughts: Is this helpful? What is missing? What has your experience been like getting started on Publish?