Are you considering starting a blog but don’t know where to begin? Or have you set up a blog but rarely use it? If so, I’d love to help.
I know there are tons of blogs already, and you may wonder if the world wide web needs another one. Sometimes it seems nearly every church, every pastor, and every Christian who ever felt an ounce of calling to write, has one. There’s something right about this. There have always been Christians who, having been gripped by the hope of the gospel, felt a passion to write. Some used papyrus or parchment. Others use moleskin or Wordpress.
But too many blogs—if you will permit a personal evaluation—are not done with the high quality. There is a certain quality Christians should strive for as we represent God to the world. To say it another way, our blogging form should match our function: to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Of course, I’m not offering my own blog as the gold standard. It’s certainly not. I’m definitely not an expert blogger either, if by an expert we mean someone who has quit his day job or been invited to blog on a larger platform. Neither of these has happened to me, nor do I expect them to.
I have, however, been blogging consistently for several years all while trying to do it with as much excellence as I know how. This means I’ve learned too many things the hard way, and I’d love to spare you some of my frustrations. Below are some of the questions that I wish I was asking before I started a blog. If you’ve already started one, perhaps they can help guide your next steps.
Purpose & Audience: Why am I blogging, and who am I trying to reach?
1. What is my purpose in blogging, and what goals do I hope to achieve?
2. If in two years I consider my blog a “success,” what things will have happened?
3. What ways has God worked in my life that I need to share? What passions has God given me that I can harness to build up the church?
4. If I’m married, do I have the support of my spouse?
5. Does blogging distract from my responsibilities at home and church?
6. Have I prayerfully considered the dangers of self-promotion and undue concern for reputation, and how am I combating this?
7. Who is my audience right now (age, passions, hobbies, common challenges)? How might my audience change over the next few years?
8. What is the name of my blog?
9. What 3 websites do I most appreciate? What do they do well?
10. What are my pet peeves about other blogs, and how will I avoid them?
Commitment: How much time and effort will I give to blogging?
11. Does my blog have a theme—that is, what topics will I come back to again and again?
12. What will be the typical word count of my blog posts?
13. How much time will I devote to blogging each week?
14. When will I schedule this time to blog?
15. How long do I plan on blogging: one year, five years, more?
16. How often will I post: quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily? Is this frequency sustainable? How often do my readers want to hear from me?
17. Because blogs often tend to be more responsive to current events, am I cultivating the spiritual maturity required to thoughtfully address a topic?
18. Will I promote my blog on my social media platforms? If so, which ones and how often?
19. How does blogging relate to my full-time job? Is it something that remains entirely distinct or is there overlap? And if there is overlap, do I need to talk to my employer before I begin?
Networking: How will I connect with readers and other like-minded bloggers?
20. Do I know more experienced bloggers who could mentor me?
21. Who might be willing to promote my blog?
22. Who will edit my blog posts before publication? How will I not exhaust my editor(s)?
23. How will readers find out about my new posts (email, social media, etc.)?
24. Am I the only contributor to my blog, or do others post as well? If there are other contributors, how is this relationship defined and what are the criteria for selecting guest posts?
25. Will I allow comments on my blog posts? If so, will I censor them? How quickly will I try to respond to comments?
26. Will my contact information be on the blog?
27. Where will I get pictures for my blog, and how will I give credit to those sources?
28. Will I use free pictures or purchase them? If using free pictures, am I making sure I am not ripping off copyrighted material? If buying the rights to use pictures, what is an appropriate budget for this?
29. Will I attempt to write guest posts for publication on other websites? If so, what sites? If an article is published elsewhere, how will I let my blog readers know?
Money & Growth: How much money will I invest in blogging and what might be the returns?
30. How much money am I able to spend on blogging costs such as the domain purchase, web hosting, editing, and email service?
31. Do I have a patron who can help offset some of the costs associated with blogging?
32. Do I have specific hopes about how fast, if at all, my blog audience size will grow? How will I go about achieving this growth?
33. Do I have an ebook or something else to give away when people subscribe to my blog?
34. Will I participate in the Amazon affiliate program, which provides a small profit when readers click to Amazon and purchase something?
35. Do I want my blog to make money? If so, how will I go about this?
There are a dozen technical, behind-the-scenes details that you’ll also want to consider, but let’s leave them for another day. I hope the questions I did include haven’t scared you away from blogging. Really, it’s not that hard. You write something; you post something. That’s blogging.
And you certainly don’t need to be able to answer all these questions before you begin. In fact, before you do anything else, I’d encourage you to make your first step by writing posts, even before you have a blog where you can post them. Just write for a month or two, building up a storehouse of content. This will give you a better feel for the time commitment and whether it’s sustainable. On the positive side, when you do launch, you’ll have a good backlog to draw from.
As I said at the start, writing is a good thing. It’s never been easier to share your words with the world. We are Christians, so let’s care about the quality of our art not simply because it reflects on us, but more importantly, because it reflects our God.