30 Tips on Christian Blogging, Part 1

Well, I’m a veteran blogger now. I’ve been at is for nearly 18 months! I’ve learned a little HTML (not much). And I can spell URL. (I’m not sure how to pronounce it, though.)

I’ve read a whole bunch of blogs by other people, largely on church issues and Alabama football (what else really matters?) And I think I’ve picked up a few things on how to do it worth sharing. The readers are encouraged to pitch in with other ideas. (Many of you have been at this much longer than I have!)

1. Decide what your blog is about and stick with it.

Some manage to violate this rule with great style and to great effect, but for most of us, it’s best to separate our personal blog from our religion blog. Those people who care about my thoughts on predestination aren’t too likely to want to know what I had for breakfast or how cute my daughter-in-law’s kitten is.

Patrick Mead has a personal blog a separate blog for spiritual questions. It’s a good idea.

2. But don’t stick with it too much.

Even if your passion is predestination, your readers still want to know something of who you are. Personal stories, examples from your home church, and such help people know who you are. Christianity is not just abstraction. It’s personal, and so don’t be afraid to share something of yourself. Your heart matters to your readers — even though they may not care much about your pet or views on American Idol.

3. Index your posts

Now this just drives me nuts! A surprising number of blogs have no way to dig through old posts. Some give you nothing but monthly archives. Write an INDEX!

Now, indexes are royal pains to do, but if you plan on making a difference with your writing, make it easy for people to find your stuff.

4. Include your email address

Not all readers want to talk in open public. Some may have very personal questions. Be sure your email is easily found. And replace the @ with (at) so the spam bots don’t find you!

5. Use pictures

I learned this one from Al Maxey. Al always has a brightly colored picture or drawing to start off his posts. All-text blogs just look so boring, so old-fashioned, and so — you know — Church of Christ, like the old Gospel Advocate quarterlies! Illustrate your posts somehow or other.

The human eye was designed for pictures and colors, not words and letters.

I use my pictures to help the eye see which posts relate to each other. I spend a lot of time finding just the right little icon. It’s worth the effort.

6. Don’t be too longwinded

This is my great failing. Ed Fudge is the master at very brief posts of marvelous depth and insight. I try to stay at under 1,500 words per post, which is the length of a short magazine article. And that’s too long really. To give you a sense of things, this post is only about 850 words.

7. Don’t moderate comments

Most blogging software gives you the option to pre-approve (moderate) comments or just let anyone post who wants to. I never moderate comments. Here’s why –

* WordPress has excellent anti-spam software, so I don’t need to moderate comments to keep the spam out. But for the software, I’d have to, because some of the spam is pretty revolting stuff.

* Moderating comments slows the conversation

* I can’t think of any reason why I should get to say anything I want and my readers shouldn’t.

* I particularly want to encourage comments that disagree with me. Truth is best found in dialog. If I’m afraid of being disagreed with, I must not be very confident of my position!

8. Participate in the discussion

I actually struggle not to comment on every comment! But it’s best when I wait and let others respond. I’ve usually pretty much said what I know to say anyway, and when someone else responds, they add new and often better ideas.

But if I don’t participate at all, people will assume I’m not reading the comments. But I read them all! I can’t respond to them all, but I try to comment when I can think of something new to say, and I avoid commenting when I’ve already said all I know on the subject. (And don’t say “but” three times in the same paragraph. You’ll sound like a lawyer!)

9. Don’t post too often

Most people don’t have that much time to read blogs, and many read several blogs. Post too much and folks will be forced to skip material.

And, yes, I’m guilty of this one. It’s because I’ll start a couple of series, post several days ahead, and then something will come up where I just have to post right now! And while I love the WordPress software, it’s a pain to reschedule posts once the schedule is set — especially if you’re posting weeks into the future, as I sometimes do.

I’m trying hard to control myself!

10. Don’t wait too long between posts

Whether you post daily or weekly, you help develop a readership if you’re consistent. People who log into your site and only find a month-old post will soon tire of trying.

Avatar of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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9 Responses to 30 Tips on Christian Blogging, Part 1

  1. I believe URL is pronounced "universal resource locator" or alternately, "uniform resource locator".

  2. Jay Guin says:

    I keep hearing "earl" — which just seems so wrong …

  3. Thanks Jay this was totally unexpected but a nice change.

  4. Alan says:

    And I can spell URL. (I’m not sure how to pronounce it, though.)

    "You-Are-Ell"

  5. Adam G. says:

    My blogging began as a sort of therapy after some nearly faith-ending ministry experiences. Thus, my blog is more for me to work out and express what I think than an effort to build a readership (though I have, apparently, to some extent).

    Here's my response to your advice, point by point:

    "1. Decide what your blog is about and stick with it."

    Maybe, but I found myself spread pretty thin as I tried to keep up with more than one blog. After a brief hiatus recently I decided to do all my blogging on the blog I've had since January 2006, Igneous Quill. I blog mostly about theology, but also about a little telecommunications tech and some personal stuff. I post in English and in Portuguese.

    "2. But don’t stick with it too much."

    Agreed

    "3. Index your posts"

    I make a list of "Recommended Posts" and edit it as I go along. I've noticed, though, that quite a bit of my blog's traffic comes from Google searches, so the indexing really doesn't do much for most incoming traffic.

    "4. Include your email address"

    It's on my blogger profile.

    "5. Use pictures"

    Sometimes. Too many pics gets distracting, and though blogger has a pretty generous limit on photo uploads, I'd just as soon not hit it too soon.

    "6. Don’t be too longwinded"

    This varies, but I tend to agree. In depth studies take as long as they take, but in a blog format it's better to take them apart into several smaller posts. If there's a document for the study, it could be uploaded to an online storage site and linked into the blog for downloading.

    "7. Don’t moderate comments"

    Nope. I've seen too many disrespecful "discussions" and nasty comments from anonymous readers across multiple forums online over the roughly decade and a half I've been online to allow unmoderated comments on my blog. I've had to reject several very mean-spirited anonymous comments to my blog over the two years I've been doing this.

    Besides, it's MY blog. If they want to say whatever they want to say, they can set up their OWN blog.

    "8. Participate in the discussion"

    Agreed

    "9. Don’t post too often"

    Ha! I've been keeping myself to one post a day, two MAX for a while now, but recently I said "To heck with it" and have been posting everything I want. I know, people won't be able to keep up. But again, the people who are looking for the things I discuss will catch it on Google.

    "10. Don’t wait too long between posts"

    Agreed. A blog that hasn't been updated in two weeks, with no sign of where the blogger went, is as bad as a website that hasn't been updated since 2006. Dead in the water.

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