Getting started with Obsidian Publish in three steps

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.

:seedling: Read this post on my Obsidian Publish for updates and additional links.
It is also available on Medium.

Step 1: Set up Publish

Buy 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.

:warning: 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.

:white_check_mark: 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)

Continue publishing! :writing_hand:

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.

Next steps

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?


[^1]: AutonomyGaps shared this workaround in the Obsidian forum.

9 Likes

This is a wonderful, welcoming introduction to the joys of Obsidian publishing! Thanks for posting.

Thank you for your kind words! I am glad it is received well. Your workaround using a temporary upload file has been invaluable for me!

Thanks for sharing @Joschua – such an insightful post.

Do you have any experiences about the ability of Obsidian Publish to show some analytics? Site views etc. in particular?

Thanks @eskusema! Unfortunately Publish doesn’t show analytics yet. Here is the related feature request: Allow more hackability for Obsidian Publish - Feature requests - Obsidian Forum (like! :grin:).

However, I found a workaround-ish for now: When you embed a newsletter signup form (using ConvertKit), you get some basic statistics on how often it has been viewed:

Of course, this is no substitute for decent analytics but provides a bit of an idea how often people have seen a page where your Newsletter is embedded.

1 Like

Thats a nice hackaround, thank you @Joschua !