General introAs I've said elsewhere, I believe in the promise and reality of blogging. The apostle Paul either would have done it, would have had his trainees do it — or both. It's a mode of outreach bristling with tantalizing potentials.
Or maybe the retiring blogger found a more fruitful outreach, like being offered Rick Warren's pulpit while he reforms his worldview. Or something. If it's more fruitful and precludes blogging, go for it. Otherwise, if you've something worth saying, stay with it.
I have some thoughts I'd like to share on... well, see the title. Do I have the right to pontificate? Oh mercy me, no. But I think I may have accumulated the cred to offer some pointers born of experience. Apply as you see fit, remembering that your mileage may vary.
You need to decide what you intend to accomplish. If you just need an ID so you can comment on blogs, then don't bother writing any posts. If you just want to post occasional updates about your family, go for it, and be content with the 3-22 visits you get a day. (Truly, I'm not being sarcastic. There's nothing wrong with that as a goal.) If you just want to offer 2-5 very important thoughts that you can refer people to later, that's fine, too.
How do you decide?
- Pray for God's help in thinking it through.
- Invite (and listen to) counsel from wise friends with the time to give it (Proverbs 15:22; 20:18; 27:6b, 17).
- Consider where your passions lie.
Expanding on number three: maybe you look at some blog you admire and think, "That looks easy and fun. I want to do that!" Sure... but are you writing now? Have you always written, a lot? Have people enjoyed your writing? Have you journaled, written letters, created stories, done essays — without being forced to do it by a teacher or boss?
See, if you don't love to write, your blogging-impact will be minimal. You have to keep writing, if you want people to keep coming. If you don't love to write, then keeping writing will become a ball and chain. It won't be fun for anyone. So don't.
Having done this, then...
You need to pursue your goal. Be disciplined. Write. Keep writing. Write more.
What are some practical ways to do this?
- Always have some recording-device with you — pen and paper, smart-phone, PDA, something.
- As you read the Bible and books and papers and web sites, jot down thoughts that strike you which might become a post.
- Do the same as you hear sermons.
- Do the same as you walk, wait in line, watch TV, drive (safety first).
- As soon as you can, take any of these ideas and start a post. If it bubbles out full-blown, finish the post. If you only have a nub, start it and do an outline to be finished later.
Strategery and etiquette
So let's say you have your goal in mind, you have some idea what you're doing, you have something worth saying, and you have skill in saying it.
Naturally, you want people to read it. You don't want to be talking to yourself in a grand echo-chamber. You want to make a difference, have an impact — unless, as I said, you just want family and a few friends to drop by occasionally for personal updates.
How do you do that? I offer a do, a don't, and two do's.
Do read broadly. Go to a number of blogs. See how the effective writers are doing it. You probably already know who they are. Check the blogrolls at Pyro and elsewhere for ideas. See who your favorite bloggers tend to quote, and read them. Develop your own tastes. Learn from the accomplished and experienced.
The next is important, and I will shout it.
DO NOT abuse your hosts by littering their comment-threads with self-serving ads! Maybe I'm only speaking for myself — but I very much doubt it. I think few things in the world are (A) more annoying and (B) less effective than comments which read "Nice blog. Come check mine out (link)."
You've written about the deity of Christ, about the fall of America, about penal substitutionary atonement, about marriage... and someone comments, "Nice blog. Come check mine out (link)."
Do that, and three things are likely to happen.
- A few will indeed visit - once.
- The host will think dark thoughts of you.
- Most commenters will think the same.
You only get one shot at a first-impression, and that's a bad way to take it.
A much better idea is....
DO write brief, concise, meaty, well-phrased, relevant comments engaging the posts on your favorite blogs. What gets me to visit the blog of a complete stranger I've never heard of in my life? A great comment. I don't care who it is, I don't care if (s)he is a no-name: if (s)he posts a sharp, witty, pithy comment on my or anyone's blog, I am going to click on the name, go to the profile, and visit that blog.
Now, in this context only, it may be perfectly fine to say "I think A, B, and C about this post, and wrote a bit more about it here."
But that is the best honest way to attract readers. Go to blogs people read, read them, and interact meaningfully and (if I may say it this way) tastily. Folks will legitimately want to know more of what you think.
Do have something worth reading once they come to visit. Many times, a pithy commenter at one blog becomes a verbose rambler at his own. The comment draws visitors once, but a barrage sends them on their way. Better to write two really good concise posts than one long, rambling one.
Which seems like a good note on which to end.
Hope this helps.
Hope this helps.