I had a reader ask:
What are your suggestions when starting a new blog? How did you start up, and get so successful with so many active readers?
First of all, God has really blessed Raising Arrows. Never could I have imagined the community this place on the web has become. Not only do readers interact with me, but they interact with each other. I have seen all of you ask questions of each other, lend advice to each other, and pray for one another. It makes me smile. And it is so humbling that God has allowed my blog to be a place where other believers can connect.
That said, I am not of the “build it and they will come” mentality. I believe we must do everything “heartily as unto the Lord” — including blogging. In my mind, that means do what you can do. Be ready. Be available. Never do anything half-heartedly.
I have a series on being a Christian Mom Blogger, but I’m going to spend this post just talking some basics of building a blog that reaches out to others and builds community.
How did I get started?
Well, I’m a blogging grandma. I’ve been blogging since December of 2005. I started blogging because I no longer had a consistent writing outlet once we moved away from the church where I wrote a monthly column in a newsletter. Writing is like breathing for me. When I heard about blogging, I was hooked!
Then Emily got sick, and my blogging became a way to keep people updated. Then Emily passed away, and I grieved…on the blog. It wasn’t pretty, but it was real and very raw.
A couple of years later, I moved to the WordPress platform after much prayer. My husband and I decided to move forward with the blog in a more serious way. At that point in time, I had about 24,000 pageviews a month. I know for some of you, that seems like an unreal amount, but you must remember, by that point, I had been blogging for 4 years!
From there, the Raising Arrows community grew by leaps and bounds, but the foundation was already there. I only built on that foundation, rather than laying a brand new one.
What kind of foundation does it take?
A blog that truly reaches others needs an author who is honest, but encouraging. Your blog needs to offer something heartfelt and real, useful and inspirational. It needs to be God’s message wrapped up in your story.
When people ask me what they should write about and the way they should write, I tell them to be the blog they are looking for! What things keep you up at night? What do you search the web for? What blogs keep you coming back for more? What writing styles engage you? I imagine if you took a hard look at those blogs, you would find a common thread…
Real people sharing what they have learned.
So, how do you get started?
What is the ministry God has given you? What unique story has He given you? How can you take that story and share His message with others through it?
Now, when you start writing, you may be compelled to be a bit didactic, meaning you try to be ever-teaching and never just you. People don’t like to be talked at, so avoid the pontificating.
Also avoid the whining. Don’t be that blogger who never has anything positive to say. And don’t be that blogger who shares EVERYTHING. Guard and protect your family by honoring them in what you say as well as what you don’t say.
And lastly, BE YOU. Don’t copy the style of another blogger. Learn from other bloggers, but don’t BE other bloggers.
Once you have prayed through what it is God is wanting you to share, start writing! Put out GREAT content. Organize your blog into useful categories and pages – the kind of categories and pages that would interest you and keep you coming back for more. Start networking with other bloggers. Start sharing your content with others. Be bold, be respectful, be genuine.
Working Heartily in the Online World
I am available to my readers in the places where my readers are, but they can never come before my family. Even when what I am doing online is done in the name of the Lord, if I am neglecting my family, I am building my blog in vain (Psalm 127:1)
And just so you know, this balance I speak of is not something you do one time. It’s something you do over and over and over. If you ever once think you’ve arrived, you’re sunk.
So, now that we have balance thing settled, HOW do you work heartily? Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking in that direction:
- Your posts should be content-rich, useful, and well-organized. If you can’t manage that, don’t post it until you can.
- Any freebies you offer (ebooks, worksheets, etc) need to reflect your best work. Free isn’t an excuse for shoddy.
- Exemplify the Fruits of the Spirit in your posts, your dealings with others via social media, your answers to comments, your emails, and your business dealings.
- Never grow weary in doing good. (Galatians 6:9)
So, now I’m going to open it up for questions specific to building a blog that reaches out. If you have questions I didn’t answer here, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to respond with an answer that is helpful.