Category Archives: Blogging Tips
I want to encourage pastors to go ahead and jump into the world of social media, but I’d also like to offer some words of caution.
For about a year now, I’ve been enjoying the social media insights of Justin Wise. Justin is the social media director for Monk Development, an Internet solutions company. He also co-directs the Center for Church Communication. He blogs about social media strategy, personal productivity, lifestyle design, and entrepreneurship. Today, he’s joining me for a conversation about the future of social media.
Trevin Wax: Justin, what do you think is the next big shift coming in how social media is used by participants?
Justin Wise: I believe that social media will continue to integrate more deeply into the minutiae of everyday life. Social will find its way into what we eat, what we wear, where we are (and where we’re going to be), what we’re listening to. Social is and will continue to be everywhere.
When I say “social,” I really mean two things:
The ability to share
The ability to interact
Share and interact. We want the ability to tell people, namely our friends and family, what we’re doing/eating/going to/listening to. We share, much in the same way we’d tell a friend or spouse over dinner, what our day was like. Now we can share socially and experience feedback in real-time, regardless of where our “conversation partners” are located.
Similarly, we also want the ability to see what others are doing. We want to interact with others. It’s an in-built human desire, isn’t it? The relational convenience that social affords us gives us the ability …
The blogosphere is filled with tips from bloggers on how to blog well. I know. I’ve chimed in myself with tips from time to time. The advice generally follows a well-worth path: choose a good theme, work on your writing, post consistently, build a network, etc.
All of these tips are helpful. But lately, I’ve been thinking, What is it about a blog that makes me a regular reader? Which bloggers feature articles that consistently attract my attention? No matter what kind of blog or blogger it may be, I’ve discovered a common characteristic in the best of them: curiosity.
Curiosity works itself out in two ways:
The blogger provokes a sense of curiosity and wonder in his or her readers.
The blogger has an innate curiosity that enables him or her to write from a unique perspective.
Let’s look at each aspect.
Writing with an Eye to Provoking Curiosity
Good blogs pique your curiosity. The headline grabs you. The first few sentences draw you in. A quote from the blogger’s Twitter causes you to click over and see what the discussion is about. Sometimes, you’re as interested in what the blogger’s community of commenters thinks about a given subject than you are the blogger’s perspective. No matter your exact reason for reading, it’s usually curiosity that drives you to a blog.
Writing with an Innate Sense of Curiosity
But then there’s the second aspect – the blogger’s innate sense of curiosity. Here is where it gets a bit tricky. Some bloggers succeed well at #1 (grabbing a reader’s attention), …
Today’s post is contributed by Derek Ouellette, who blogs at Covenant of Love.
Over the years of blogging I have learned through trial and error many Christ-honoring principles. In this brief testimonial, I offer four. I have no doubt that if I were to write this article again, four completely different principles would emerge.
Principle #1: Nobody likes somebody who writes against everybody.
When I think back to my first attempt at blogging four years ago, I’m actually quite ashamed. It was as though I had an axe to grind. Blogging became my vent, my release, my grinding mill. I convinced myself that I was blogging to “explore” theology, but in short order my posts began to take aim at every view I had come to reject. At the same time I wondered why I had virtually no visitors to my blog. I let all of my friends know about it, but none of them ever seem to have visited more than once.
Today, I am not surprised that I had so few visitors back then and that nobody ever left a comment. Axe-grinding requires a heavy hand, and it’s the same when blogging with an axe. Exclamation marks [!], CAPLOCKS, as well as bold and underlined words and sentences were all common features of my blog. I thought I had an important message to get out, so I added emphases as often as I could. But for the reader, this translated into a lack of substance. I remember reading somewhere that, …
Today, I’m foregoing a regular post in order to point you to a roundtable discussion about Christians and internet presence. Brandon Smith moderated a discussion between myself, Jared Wilson, and Steve McCoy on the practicality and benefits of social media, not limited to but including blogging.
I hope you find our conversation engaging and that you’ll join in the comments section.
Here are some insightful quotes:
Steve McCoy: Tell your pastor about your blog for accountability. Or maybe find a trusted, knowledgeable friend who can challenge you when necessary on what you are writing.
Brandon Smith: I always remind myself of this: God has given me X number of blog readers, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and other contacts in order to glorify Him and fulfill the Great Commission in whatever small or large way He has granted me to do so. I would be remiss to prostitute His gifts for my own gain.
Jared Wilson: The best practical way social media can benefit churches and leaders is through the rapid updating of informational “bullet points.”
Steve McCoy: For me social media isn’t about permanence of what is said but the permanence of those saying it.
Occasionally, I receive questions from blog readers who are curious to know how I wound up writing a book. Many bloggers have similar aspirations of writing for a larger audience. So questions inevitably come up:
“How did you get published?”
“What kind of proposal did you do?”
“What is the key to getting a book deal?”
Of course, the questioners are not merely interested in my personal story; they want to follow the same road and get published themselves.
The only advice that I can give about publishing comes solely from the author’s standpoint. I usually recommend that you try to get published in some magazines first. Building a blog audience is a good idea. Try to get your work into other places (whether there is a financial benefit or not). Sometimes, I will tell someone to consider self-publishing, especially if they have many traveling and speaking opportunities.
Of course, all this advice is from the author’s standpoint. The best thing you can do is hear the editor’s point of view.
The world of Christian publishing differs quite a bit from the world of non-Christian publishing, but enough of the same rules apply to non-fiction that one can glean important insights from editors of secular non-fiction. Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction–and Get It Published (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 2003) by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato is a good place to get started.
Aspiring authors need to know what editors look for when they see a book proposal. They also need …
Am I exaggerating? Maybe. After all, there are plenty of people who have never seen a blog. Many people give you a blank stare if you ask them what a “blogger” is. But there is no doubt that the way we obtain information in this Internet age is changing, and the blogosphere is a big part of that information revolution.
Blogging has democratized the way we access information. It has also democratized the way we publish information.
The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ (Crossway, 2008) illuminates the promises and pitfalls of engaging in this new media. Especially helpful is the Christian focus that this book brings to blogging.
John Mark Reynolds starts off the book by describing the difference between “live” and “preserved” discourse. He shows how the world has moved from “live” performance to “preserved” performance. Now this pendulum is swinging back towards “live” performance. Maintaing the balance between instant communication and preserved communicatio is of the utmost importance.
An interesting phenomena that Reynolds does not address: ”live” performance sometimes leads to “preserved” performance. Take American Idol for example - direct performances (“live”) that (hopefully) lead to recording contracts (“preserved”). Or the success of bloggers (“live”) who wound up writing “preserved” discourse for this book!
Matthew Lee Anderson warns us about the blogosphere. He sees a number of deficiencies in online communication and so he points out some dangers that should be avoided. Of primary concern is the way that connecting online is inferior than connecting face to face. Likewise, the emphasis in blogging is on posting and publishing. You cannot simply “be” an …
Blogging is fun. It takes work and discipline, but it can be a lot of fun. Recently, a friend who is beginning a new blog asked me for some blogging advice. I thought I would pass along my advice to him. If you’re thinking about starting a blog, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Choose a WordPress Theme that has two or three columns.
It will help your readers if you have a sidebar with some important information in it. For example, at Kingdom People, the sidebar offers ways for people to connect with me, find out more about the blog, see other bloggers I like, and so on.
Most importantly, the top ten most visited posts for any given day are listed down the side. This feature helps first-time visitors find some good material.
(I only have two columns because I don’t like the “crammed” feeling I get when I visit some three or four column blogs.)
2. Include pictures if possible.
I don’t include a photograph with every post, but I try to when I can. The post should stand on its own merit, but a picture can help it make a greater impact.
3. Don’t worry too much about the name of your blog.
More than likely, people are going to search for ”Your Name” and not the blog name you have. Some link to me as “Kingdom People,” but the majority use my name. Whichever is fine. I know some guys who change up their blog names every now and then for …
Many of the most popular blogs on the web have risen to prominence from pointing out the shortcomings of other believers. This is a cheap and easy way to gain traffic for your site and build some sort of “name” for yourself on the internet.
Yes, it’s easy to criticize the Church for failing to live up to all that Scripture would have her be. After all, our shortcomings are often evident – and more visible than we would wish.
Much more difficult is the task of going past the critique of today’s Church towards setting a vision for the Church of the future.
I have decided to devote more time to thinking and writing, not about the current state of the Church, but about what the Church could and should be. I want to spend time, not reacting to the current trajectory of the world and the Church today, but proactively seeking ways to navigate through this postmodern morass and out to the other side.
Despite the valiant efforts of many of my brothers and sisters, our society is not returning to a world before postmodernism. Neither is the Church. And I’m not sure we should be trying. Instead, we must be the same Church in the midst of a postmodern culture, adapting to our new environment without compromising the core doctrines and essential beliefs of our faith.
Let’s take a deep breath and remember that the true Church’s survival through this postmodern era is already assured. Jesus told …