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.