seven-lessons-blogging

I don’t consider myself a big-time blogger. There are many Christian bloggers with readerships far larger than mine.

Neither do I consider my blog to be the home of the best content on the Internet. I know of many blogs with better content and superior authors.

Indeed, I am still a novice in the blogosphere, and I have much to learn. But perhaps my perspective as a novice can offer some encouragement to current and potential bloggers. In the relatively short time I have been blogging (my seven-day-a-week blog schedule is only six months old), annualized page views have passed the one million mark. The growth rate is steep for the future as well.

Let me be clear that it has taken a small village to get me moving as a regular blogger. Al Mohler was the first person to push me to blog. Ed Stetzer has given me incredible advice and encouragement in my blogging endeavors. Both of these men are huge names in the Christian blogosphere. Jonathan Howe is my social media right hand man. This blog reflects his keen mind and unwavering work ethic. And Amy Jordan (a.k.a. Superwoman) is an ongoing and untiring worker for this blog.

I wrote my first blogpost in May 2009. I would write only sporadically for the next nineteen months. Then in January 2011, I began writing with consistency. It was also the first time I opened the blog to comments. But it took another year-and-a-half period before I began writing daily blogposts, an event which took place relatively recently in July 2012.

So what I have learned in this short time? Some of the lessons have been expressed multiple times on multiple blogs, but maybe I can add something to the conversation.

  1. Content is king. Nothing else matters if you don’t have something worthwhile to read. Believe me, I’ve had some blogposts that were hardly worth reading. It’s also important to communicate clearly and with good grammar. A blogger loses his or her credibility if the blogposts have consistent grammatical errors.
  2. Consistency is critical. My blog took a big jump in readership in 2011 when I began writing with consistency. It took another leap six months ago when it became a daily blog.
  3. Writing a consistent blog is work. Those with weak work ethics need not apply to be a serious blogger.
  4. Good bloggers are voracious readers. They are thus able to share with you their perspectives and the perspectives and news of others.
  5. Most of the better blogs have a clearly-defined niche. Al Mohler addresses cultural issues through the lens of a biblical worldview. Ed Stetzer is known as the missional blogger. Michael Hyatt is the social media expert. I have focused my blog on local church issues and leadership.
  6. Other social media can complement blogs. I have success in using my Twitter account to direct readers to my blogs and vice versa. My Facebook page has been another good referral site for my blog.
  7. Tone matters. The tone of the blog sets the tone for the comments. Sarcastic, angry, and controversial blogs attract sarcastic, angry, and controversial readers and commenters. My strong desire is to provide a place of Christlike and civil discourse. Such a tone must begin with me.

Such are a few of the lessons this novice blogger has learned.

What have you learned about blogging? What advice can you give me? How can I make this blog a more effective one?

I would love to hear your input.

Comments

  1. says

    Bro. Rainer,

    I’m always thankful when I read something that makes me stop and consider my ways. I’ve had several blogs and one of them even had decent readership but I was always discouraged by the comments. How sad it is to think that I have never once considered that I was inviting hateful comments by my sarcastic tone. Thank you for these thoughts.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks Tom. I too am challenged regularly in my own blog. Are my words Christlike? Does my tone reflect a pure heart? Am I writing for my own self-glory or do I really desire to make a contribution to others and to the Kingdom? I know that, more often than I’m comfortable to admit, I cannot give myself passing grades.

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing the lessons you’ve personally learned. I really enjoy hearing about personal experiences and lessons learned.

    I’ve noticed that consistency (you mentioned) and feedback also seem to be important. Does your blog have a feel to it that encourages people leaving comments? Is it designed in a way that makes it easy to skim & scan?

    There is so much information out there that people need it to be reasonably easy to digest quickly, and fosters a sense of community.

    • Thom Rainer says

      David -

      I’ve made three intentional efforts to engage readers. First, I keep most of my blogs to 600-800 words. People are busy and don’t have time to read multiple long blogs. Second, I often ask questions at the end of my blogs to encourage interaction. Third, I try to maintain a tone that lets people know their comments are “safe” and will not be metaphorically torn apart.

      I really appreciate your comments and questions.

  3. says

    Thom,

    Thanks for your input. While these are things I believe I have heard from Mr. Hyatt before, it is always good to hear again. I would love to write more but find it difficult being a seminary student and husband, father and actively involved in ministries. Thanks for trying to encourage those of us who are trying to make an impact in the blogosphere.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks Paul. You have you priorities right in this phase of your life. Blogging should not be at the top of your list.

  4. Charlie Sinclair says

    I’ve learned that including a picture with a post helps with attracting clicks via social media outlets. Pictures help a Twitter or Facebook post stand out from all the other “text-only” posts. This blog certainly does a great job of that.

  5. Steve Drake says

    Dr. Rainer, This year has been a real eye-opener for me regarding blogs. I have become much more involved in reading various blogs from key leaders in an array of disciplines. I have been blessed by what I have learned from the excellent content of these key leaders. When I go to a blog and find that the most recent blog is the same blog I read a week or two weeks ago, I’m disappointed and tend to replace trips to that blog for another blog in that field where I can count on greater consistency. I look forward to adding to the conversation in the launch of my own blog in the next few weeks.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks Steve.

      To the readers: In a few weeks, Steve Drake will launch his new blog, AlwaysAPastor.com. It will focus specifically on pastors of smaller churches, bivocational pastors, and retired pastors. I’ll let you know more later.

  6. says

    Dr. Rainer,

    Those who know me know I have a problem with using tabs as a low-tech “read later” system (I have way too many tabs open!). There are certain bloggers whose posts I frequently bookmark and read, and your content is a regular staple for me. Your provide really helpful content that is relevant and practical, but not in a pragmatist sort of way (if that makes sense). It is evident that you have a great heart for the local church and her leaders, and I have benefited personally from that. So thank you.

    As for input, I don’t think you need to fix what ain’t broke, but I did do a blogpost on “triperspectival blogging” that might be of interest to you. I argue that the most successful bloggers I know have all three perspectives operating on a regular basis (which I find you do as well). Here’s the link:

    http://timmybrister.com/2012/07/a-triperspectival-approach-to-blogging/

    • Thom Rainer says

      Tim -

      First, thank you for your kind words. Second, I read your blog you referenced. It is outstanding. I hope other readers will link to it. I will reference it in my blog tomorrow. You are one of those longstanding power bloggers who have been a positive influence on me. Thanks for all that you do.

  7. says

    I think one thing that’s extremely important these days is that we do our best to vet the theology of the writers, preachers, and teachers we link to on our blogs. If we unknowingly link to or endorse someone who is, for example, a universalist, modalist, prosperity gospel proponent, etc., we risk putting our seal of approval on those false doctrines in the eyes of our readers, which can lead them away from Christ rather than to Him. We can’t just assume someone is orthodox just because he/she claims to be. We’ve got to do our homework.

  8. says

    Dr. Rainer,

    Do you think the time of day the blog is posted has an impact? Also, should the time be consistent everyday? I just started blogging last month, my blog has a devotional tone geared more towards church members.

    Thanks for all of your tremendous insights. I am always blessed by your blog.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thank you Ashley.

      I watch traffic on my blog fairly closely. The traffic tends to be pretty even from 7 am to 10 pm. Morning is probably the heaviest time, but only marginally so. I am sure other bloggers have different experiences.

  9. Steve Pearson says

    Thank you for these great insights. I started blogging last December and enjoy it more and more as I go along. Not sure my readers are thrilled….yet. Articles like your post today give me a lot of encouragement. I printed it out so it will be close by each time I have a chance to write a post. By the way, I am a recently retired veterinarian who is and always has been blessed by involvement in my local church. I read your posts with great interest because I want to keep up with trends and changes affecting the Body of Christ. Keep up the good work!

  10. says

    I began my blog September 19, 2012. I felt a nudging from God to share about my experience with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility, as well as daily life lessons. One thing that God has shown me, and I have grown to enjoy, is praying for my readers on a daily basis. I pray God would bless them, speak to them, and grow each one of them according to His will for their lives.
    I’ve enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for sharing!

  11. says

    Dear Thom,

    Thanks for this post. I really enjoy your blog. I have a pretty good list of blogs I read regularly. I look forward to reading yours the most.

    I currently am pretty sporadic in my blogging. You and Michael Hyatt are inspiration for me. I know it is a great opportunity for ministry. I pastor a small church and its easy to think I am too busy or tired to write. I hope to do better.

    Keep up the good work. I know sometimes you may wonder if you are making a difference … You are.

    God Bless
    Royal

    • Thom Rainer says

      Royal -

      I am humbled by your words. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to encourage me. It really means a lot to me. Thank you friend.

  12. Mary says

    This actually lines up with a book I was reading dealing with blogging in the particular industry I work in. While the book has nothing to do with Christianity, it presents some of the same points you bring up: consistency, content, a clearly defined niche, etc. One thing I did was purchase myself a notebook and write out my personal mission statement for my blog. Then I started writing out my goals that fit within my mission. If I had goals outside of it, then I had to evaluate if my mission was really what I wanted it to be, or if my goals needed to be fixed. Previously, I was just blogging about anything and everything in this particular industry. But it was so all over the place that even my very small group of readers wound up losing interest…as did I. I stopped posting last year. When I finally laid out everything I wanted to do and what specific niche within the industry I wanted to focus on, I suddenly felt “right at home” with my own blog. I am relaunching it next week with an excitement I didn’t have previously.

    While my blog is not related to Christianity, I believe the same could be said about blogs focused on Christendom. I have come across several blogs that do not have a defined niche, and do what I did by writing about whatever caught their attention. As a reader, it can be frustrating and I wondered why I allowed myself to do it as a blogger for so long. Writing about EVERYTHING doesn’t give us the opportunity to fine tune our knowledge on a specific area we may be really good at. I would rather visit the blogs that focus on their area of expertise rather than visit the blogs that are seemingly odd smorgasbords.

    Thank you for sharing this. These are great lessons for ANY blogger to apply to their blogs, regardless of the topic. And, to be honest, it is always encouraging to see someone I respect and admire learning the same lessons I have just learned myself. Sometimes us small time bloggers forget that everyone has the same starting point. :)

    • Thom Rainer says

      Thanks Mary. Great story. And I appreciate your kind remarks. Let us
      know when you are posting and I will be happy to tweet it.

  13. says

    Never give up, Never lose the opportunity to succeed
    One needs 3 things to be truly happy living in the world: some thing to do, some one to love, some thing to hope for.
    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ( Voltaire )
    Motivational phrase

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


eight × = 8