The tips you will read in this post are responsible for causing this blog to reach the top 10 out of all Christian blogs on the Web.
I started blogging in 2008. Almost a decade before that, some of my friends tried to persuade me to start blogging. But I resisted.
My reason: I didn’t have enough time.
Well, I still don’t have enough time, yet I’ve managed to blog for over three years now. And looking back, I wish I had heeded my friends’ advice and started earlier. My bad.
You see, I love blogging. In fact, I enjoy it more than writing books. It’s far less tedious, takes less time, and affords instant feedback.
I also view it as a major way of influencing people with my message on the deeper Christian life. It’s not quite as powerful a tool of influence as a book or a spoken message, but it’s close.
While I’m still learning the craft, I’ve discovered some valuable tips about the art of blogging that I’d like to share with you. They are . . .
1. Get the Right Hosting Company, Domain Name, and Blog Platform. Buy a domain name that uses your own name (e.g., JoeyBudafooko.com) or the name of your blog. This will make your blog easier to find and spread. (JoeyBudafooko.com is easier to share and remember than JoeyBudafooko.wordpress.com.)
If you don’t already own a domain name, I recommend BlueHost to buy one. I also recommend BlueHost to be your blog hosting service. It’s excellent in service, stability (which is huge), and price. In addition, they have an awesome affiliate program. Finally, I suggest you start a WordPress blog. WordPress is the best platform available and it’s super easy to use. Click here for easy steps on how to start a blog in less than 10 minutes.
I then suggest you switch to WordPress.org so you can use plugins.
I recommend Jeremy Myers if you need any help. He’s a great resource and can set your blog up.
2. Create an Appealing Design, Theme, and Name. Cosmetic appeal means a lot on the Internet. So use colors and graphics that you (and others) find appealing. I recommend StudioPress Themes. These blog themes are beautiful, inexpensive, and very powerful. Make sure the name of your blog reflects what you write about mostly. My blog is called Beyond Evangelical. I write on seven topics that relate to Christians who are moving beyond modern evangelicalism. My blog matches my Website and Twitter page. So they are all easy to recognize. Go for consistency in your blog look and name. First impressions are important.
3. Blog Often, But Not Too Much. If you want your blog to succeed, you should blog at least 2 times a week. If you can blog 5 or 6 days week, that’s even better for gaining traffic in the beginning. By the same token, blogging too much will overwhelm and turn off some of your readers. Blogging 2 to 5 days a week – once a day – is recommended.
4. Be Concise. The most viewed posts are between 300 and 800 words. Try not to go over 800 words. Most of my posts are within that range. However, some of my posts are longish because they are reprinted essays, interviews, or tips on a given topic (like this one). If you have a long post, break it up by using numbered or bulleted points. Or turn it into a series. Master the art of compression.
5. Use Subheadings, Numbered Lists, Bullet Points, and Short Paragraphs. The attention span of the average Internet reader is quite short. So make the content of your posts digestible. Using subheadings is a great way to do this. Paragraphs should be short as well. So cherish the line break. Using numbered and bulleted lists makes your posts easy to scan. When it comes to blogging, brevity rules. Thus edit ruthlessly. Reduce as much as you can. And cut until there’s nothing left to cut.
6. Use Proper Grammar and Spelling. Misspelled words and bad grammar communicate that you’re not terribly educated, and hence, people shouldn’t take you seriously. Typos are inevitable. But poor grammar and misspellings hurt your content and message. Blogs are casual. So it’s fine to use incomplete sentences, ending a sentence with a preposition, etc. Poor grammar is when a post is written so badly that readers have to work to understand it. If you aren’t sharp on this, get someone to edit your posts before you publish them.
7. Discern the Difference Between Notifying and Self-Promoting. People who follow you on Twitter want to hear what you have to say. So most of them will want to know when you’ve written a new blog post (or if you are reposting an old one from the archives). BUT . . . tweet it once or at the most twice, then leave it alone. (If you tweet the same blog post twice in a day, put 5 to 8 hours between the tweets.) Tweeting a post that you’ve written over and over reeks of self-promotion, and you will lose readers.
The same is true with your Facebook wall. Because it’s your wall, it’s fine to notify your friends about a post you‘ve written. However, I suggest you simply post the title with the link or frame it with a question (e.g, “Looking for advice on how to blog more effectively?” Link). Saying things like, “You’ve got to read this post I’m launching on Tuesday. It’s a must-read!, etc. etc.” will turn off many readers. You don’t want to call a piece that you have written a “must-read.” Let other people decide that (Prov. 27:2).
I would also advise against posting your blog posts on forums like Facebook groups. Many people will see it as using a public venue for self-promotion purposes. Your Facebook wall is different because people have friended you voluntarily, so you have every right to inform them about your newest work. But to post on a public venue where people are not signed up specifically to follow you is poor taste, in my judgment. And some people will view it as spammy.
At the same time, realize that there are a handful of people who will always read bad motives into your heart, even if those motives aren’t present. As I’ve said elsewhere, whenever someone judges the motives of another person, they are simply revealing what’s in their own hearts. But you don’t want the charge of self-promotion to be justified.
8. Don’t Obsess Over Statistics. Some bloggers I know are constantly measuring their traffic to the point of insanity. My advice: Keep track once in a while to measure your blog’s visibility and test the effectiveness of new plug-ins, but don’t obsess over it. Be faithful, and leave the results with God.
9. Never Copy & Paste Someone’s Blog Post on Your Blog or Facebook Page. This is just bad etiquette. Bloggers who write quality posts spend hours crafting them. It takes a lot of time and energy to put out a first-rate post. Consequently, for someone to just copy and paste it on their blog, Facebook wall, or discussion forum (which takes seconds) is regarded by many as inconsiderate and lazy.
The blogger who crafted the post will likely feel cheated and robbed. If you like someone’s post, it’s best to excerpt a section of it and then provide the link so readers can view the entire post. This also allows readers to interact with the author about the post if they so choose.
Also, if you post an excerpt of a blog on Facebook or Twitter as a quote, be sure to put the link to the entire post as well. Excerpts are out-of-context soundbytes. As such, they typically lead to misunderstanding (at best) or hostile criticism (at worse). People need to see the whole context of a post if they will completely understand it. So be careful to add the link if you do any quoting.
Finally, if you enjoy a post and want to spread it to others, it’s best to “like” or “share” it (for Facebook) and “tweet” it (for Twitter). See the Like, Share, and Tweet buttons below this post as an example. It takes a second to click those buttons, and people can see the entire post for themselves and comment on it if they like.
10. Use Titles That Are Magnetic. Writing good titles is an art. The title of a post is either going to grab your readers or cause them to lose interest. Make sure the title fits the post, but be creative. Good title-writing is a skill, and there are some great resources that will teach you how create killer titles within seconds. With time and practice, you’ll hone the craft.
The rest of the list is contained in The Buzz Seminar Master Course.