I’ve been blogging for more than 8 years now. At first, my blog was really just an electronic version of my journal. It was truly a personal blog. I wrote as though no one else what out there, which was fine, because no one was :) Today this blog is read by people all over, and is syndicated or reposted by others in such a way by others that far more people read it through other channels. I’m great with that–and am happy with how the blog has evolved over all this time.
Today, what has become New Vintage Leadership is not a personal blog. It’s a ministry and leadership blog, though Friday Stream of Consciousness is a bit of a remnant of the personal blog days. I’m thankful for everyone who takes time to read this blog. Your time and thoughtful dialogue are a treasure house.
Every so often, someone will tell me they would like to start a blog and ask my advice on how to get started. Here’s what I say:
- Be honest with yourself about why you’re blogging. Knowing it’s real purpose–not the one you think you are supposed to have–is what will fuel you on the days when you would rather get that vasectomy than write another word. This blog is a place to share observations about ministry and leadership. That gives me a target, and targets matter in the world of blogging.
- Choose a topic for your blog you find insanely interesting. You are going to be writing a lot about this. You might as well pick something you enjoy. Ministry fascinates me more than any other subject on earth–probably because it’s interdisciplinary. It involves communication, business, theology, sociology, and other -ologies. It isn’t hard to find subject matter that interests me. That’s why the blog is rarely a drudge.
- Be gut-level honest with yourself about whether you care if others read it. If you do, you need to do three things: 1) Post consistently, 2) Know why people read the blog and post primarily in that stream of thought.
- Know that what you write sticks. It’s in ink, not pencil. Yes, you can pull posts down or edit them. But, it’s hard to make people unread something. Mean what you write, or make sure people understand it’s a stream of consciousness—or somewhere in between—in the context of the post.
- If you are in ministry, be aware of how your posts impact others—your family, your elders, etc. For some reason, it’s easy to think that because you write personal thoughts on your blog, it’s just you talking to your friends. You really are putting yourself out there to nearly anyone—if it isn’t explicit, people may believe the opinions expressed on your blog are that of your church, elders, spouse, or staff. The opinions expressed on my blog are completely mine alone. I don’t speak for anyone else. Nevertheless, some will believe I do. I try to be at least a little sensitive to that reality.
- The blog was made for people, not people for the blog. Make no mistake, it takes massive discipline to blog well over time. However, if you aren’t careful, the blog can take an undue place in your life. It took me a while before I learned this lesson. Be consistent, but don’t become a slave to your blog. Have set times you write, and set limits on how long you’re going to spend—unless it’s one you know is going to bring some heat your way. I try to write such a post once a month only, if for no other reason than I don’t have time to deal with the traffic that generates. I’m not a full-time blogger. I’m a full-time minister who blogs in his spare time as an extension of his ministry.
- It takes years of consistent, good blogging to build a readership. So, if you’re looking to build a readership, ask, “Am I willing to post at least three times every week for three years (that’s near 500 posts). Assuming 500 word posts, that’s 228,000 words—roughly 50,000 more words than in the entire New Testament. If you’re not up for that, it’s going to be hard to build a readership. It might be better to stick with a personal blog that allows you a place to journal your thoughts and you can post at your own leisure. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, if you’re looking to build a readership—think years, not weeks. I hope that doesn’t discourage you–but it is generally true.
What other things might you add? Those of you who blog, what have you observed?