It is hard to believe how long I have been blogging. We are around 7 years now, and some of you have been with us since the start. Though our blog is still small in the blogging world, we have seen some growth (especially in the last few months), and we are thankful. Whether we grow very much or not, though, we are planning on being around for awhile, because we love doing this.
One reason I love the internet is because Christians can “flood the market.” It is so inexpensive to get good, helpful, Biblical content out there for people to see. From blogging to podcasting; from YouTube to Facebook statuses; from Pinterest to Kindle books; from tweets to diggs;, there are so many ways to get information to the world at no cost, or very little cost.
Obviously, we blog more than anything else, so that’s what we want to focus on today. However, these principles could help you if you think you would do better with video work or podcasting. If you have not started yet, or if you are trying to “relaunch,” here are some questions to ask and some tips to help you get started. Enjoy!
1. What is Your Focus? I know some guys who just publish their bulletin articles on a blog. That’s fine, because that is their focus. Even if it is as “loose” as that, they at least know what they are trying to accomplish. When we first started this blog, we posted about anything and everything. Now, we try to keep most posts about church life or family life, with just a few other things (like this post, for example) sprinkled in. We also try to make it as personal as possible. Maybe you could focus on…
- Christian photography or videography. How can Christians use these media to make a Kingdom impact?
- The Christians and grief. I have a couple of blogs I follow this this emphasis, and they are fantastic…but they are not your story!
- Resources about a certain topic. Maybe you become the “go to” place for resources on Christian evidences or youth group videos.
- Being a Christian on the school ________ (sports team, student government, etc.)
And, of course, there are a zillion other possibilities. Whatever you choose, though, make it about your story and connecting to your readers. They come to your blog because they want to hear what you have to say.
2. Can You Be Consistent? This is the biggie! I can’t tell you how many blogs I follow that started, got going, and then……….
I would advise you to decide how often you are going to blog before you start, with a minimum of once per week (3 or 5 times is better, but no fewer than one). Then, I would advise you to go ahead and write out at least 5 posts before you launch, and have titles or themes for at least 5 more posts. That way, if you do get writer’s block (which will happen), you have a list to tap into that will help you.
Remember, every blogging platform I know about lets you schedule posts, so if you are going to be away for a long time, or just don’t know if you can find a regular time to write, write when you can, and schedule it to come out at a set time.
[Side note: As a bit of a veteran, I can tell you that you can take time away, but it needs to be scheduled. I sometimes take a whole week off of blogging, but not without thinking about it beforehand. If you don't schedule it, you won't get back into the "flow" again once the "break" is done, and a large number of blogs end this way.]
3. What Tools Do You Need? You could spend all sorts of money to start a blog, but you don’t have to. You can do it for free on Blogger.com or WordPress.com, but these do not allow you to make the site as much “yours” as some others.
If you don’t mind a list, here are some tools we use, and we will even let you in on how much they cost.
- WordPress.org. The “.com” version of WordPress is free, but very difficult to customize. The “.org” version is also free, but you will have to pay for a hosting site (see next item). This is worth it, though, because you can customize the site to your heart’s desire.
- Bluehost.com [affiliate link]. This is our hosting company. We pay $240 for three years of service through this company, but we feel it is more than worth it. For that price, we get our domain name, amazing customer service, and our site backed up by them on a regular basis. Further, we like Bluehost because they have a “non-adult-site” policy, meaning they will not host a pornographic site at all.
- Standard Theme [affiliate link]. This is the theme we use to make our site look the way it does. While it is not perfect, it is extremely customizable, and very easy to change. We like it because it is simple and it makes pictures and graphics really “pop.” The cost for the theme is $50, but that is a one-time purchase.
- ThemeForest [affiliate link]. If you are not interested in paying that much for a theme, there are tons of themes on this site that are free, or very low cost. We have used a couple in the past. Also, this site features many “bells and whistles” to help make your site truly “your” site. Some are free, but others cost a few dollars. Again, free is awesome, but you can spend a few dollars if you choose to make the site truly “yours.”
- Evernote. Instead of writing posts in random locations, make an Evernote folder and type when you get the chance. Your posts will sync to any device where you have Evernote, or wherever you can jump online. This is a great way to work on posts whenever you get a chance. Best of all, it’s free!
- Twitter and Facebook. This may seem obvious, but people will not come to your blog just because you start one. You must advertise your posts through social media. This, of course, is free.
- Feedburner. Feedburner is Google’s rss site. Simply register your site there and people will be able to subscribe to your site through rss or email.
- MailChimp. However, if you want to take your email a step further, use MailChimp. Personally, this is a mistake we made. We have Feedburner for our email client, and use MailChimp only for our monthly e-newsletter. I wish we used it for both. Unless you build a fairly large email list, this is free (up to 2000 “sent” emails per month). The reason I would change if I could is that the emails sent by MailChimp are more pleasing on the eyes than Feedburner’s emails.
Other than those things, you just need a good idea, some perseverance (okay, a LOT of perseverance), and a love of helping people. Again, you do not have to have all these tools, but I recommend them. These are things that we have used after some trial and error.
QUESTION: What other tools would you use? What is keeping you from blogging? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Photo credit: Mike Licht on Creative Commons
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