I get asked a LOT for advice on blogs – how to start one – what to put on them – how to add pictures – what to say – how to promote – etc. I’m not going to answer any of those questions here! Instead, I’d like to suggest the First Question any blogger should answer.
Before I go on, let me start by saying I do NOT consider myself an expert on blogging – nor to I think my blog lives up to my own suggestions listed below. But I have been bloggin’ for 32 consistant months, which makes my blog rare and reading blogs since 2002. In fact, I was making blog posts since before there were blogs! (sample, sample, & sample)
As one noted pessimist once stated, “The Blogosphere is exploding- like a self-replicating supervirus bursting with mundane observations, bad poetry, and generously misrepresentative photos. Never have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.” – Dr. E. L. Kersten, Founder – Despair, Inc.
O.K. – here is the “BIG QUESTION” I ask anyone who asks me any question about blogging – the most important question is:
“WHY are you starting a blog?”
A blog should have a unique purpose. As of today, Google says there is around 1,570,000,000 blogs or sites referring to blogs. If you want to have readers, you need a reason to have a blog that is UNIQUE to YOU. Why should I come to your blog and not one of the millions of others, or better yet, go outside and ride my bike?
When I don’t like a blog:
- When it was last updated in 2005. Delete it already.
- When it rambles on about pointless personal details that no one cares about. Stop blogging and get a life.
- When it shamelessly exists to sell something. This doesn’t mean I don’t buy from blogs or from links on blogs, but if it smacks of “we started a blog just to sell our product” I’m gone.
- When posts are too long and don’t ever get to a point. If I want to read a book, I’ll go to the library. Just because Internet pages have no limit in length, doesn’t mean you have to try to create the infinite post.
- When it copies from other blogs and puts it out there as its own brilliant thought. Be original, and if you must copy to have something to say, give credit.
- When the posts are just short pithy posts that say nothing other than, “Got my post in for today.”
- When it blogs about blogging. (oops!) Seriously, though, a blog filled with posts about whether to blog or not or whether anyone is reading, or whether or not the blogger may continue, or begs for comments or it will shut down, etc. is a sure way to say, ‘Don’t come here again, I’m dying already.’
- When it loaded with so many plug-ins and features that it is hard to find what the owner has contributed. If I want the weather or news I’m not coming to your blog to get it – give me a better reason to come and read.
- ADD YOUR OWN BLOG GRIPES IN COMMENTS, unless it describes mine, of course!
(select category LUKE on this blog!)
Why I blog:
- CHRISTMAS LETTER: It is so hard to keep in touch with family all over the country. My blog is the annual “Christmas Letter” on steroids… why wait until Christmas or be limited to one or two pages, and why pay postage? For family, my blog is my weekly Christmas letter. Pass the egg nog, please!
- FRIENDSHIPS: The upside of the internet and modern technology is that you can make friends all over the country – even around the world. The downside is that it is very hard to maintain and keep in contact with these friendships. Blogs enable me to keep up with friends even when I don’t get to talk to them that much. There are friends I may talk to only every few months, but via their blog I get to keep up with their family and life often weekly! My blog gives me a way to “keep in touch” with people that I meet where ever I go, and comments at times are a blessing beyond the words because I see a familiar name has checked in.
- THE REAL ME: My main ministry site, Kidology.org, was once my personal site. It was this guy named Karl sharing his ministry ideas and experiences with whoever would actually want to read it. By God’s grace, it grew to become an incorporated non-profit ministry that out grew being just one guy’s site, and is now the site of a team and has contributors all over the world. As the site grew and got more professional and the contribution base broadened (all good things!) some said they kinda missed knowing the personal side of the guy behind the ministry. My blog gives people the opportunity, if they desire it, to get a glimpse into the life of the founder of an organization they enjoy and/or benefit from. I wish more leaders of ministries would come out of hiding and let us get to know them. There are many writers, founders, etc. that I wish I could get to know better. If they had a blog I’d be able to feel a little more connected to them and their ministry. I hope my blog does that a little for those who love Kidology.
- DIGITAL SOAP BOX: Sometime I just want to share something that has me bursting and I want to tell the world or I just don’t want to bore my wife with it. It may be something about politics, or a lesson in life I just learned, or an observation or insight that I think or hope others might enjoy or benefit from. Many times it’s not important to me if any one reads it, just writing it out helps me form and define my thoughts on it.
- DIGITAL SHOE BOX: The last reason I blog is simply for my own archival benefit. There are often times I come across things on my computer or on the Internet that I enjoy and want to make sure I always have access to it, especially on the road. By blogging about it, I can always find it if I need it with a quick search, or tell someone, “Go to my blog and search for Cedar Point,” for example, if I want to share my videos taken from the front seat of every coaster at Cedar Point.
Why Should YOU Blog?
How you answer that question will determine the success of your blog. Keeping in touch with family may be the most important to you – if so, your readership will be smaller, limited to those who know you and actually care about baby’s first steps or that you remodeled the bathroom. There is no “wrong answer” to why you blog – but you should have one, and I HIGHLY recommend it be as unique as you.
- Have a PURPOSE
- Pick a THEME and stick with it.
- Consider what makes you unique and share it.
- Ask yourself, “What do I have to offer the world?”
- Then be consistent, at least 2-3 times a month.
- Use pictures – they say a thousands words, and better!
- Use humor – smiles go miles!
- Make people think – challenged people return
- Help Someone – a blog in need, is a blog indeed
- Bottom line: make it interesting, or spare the world.
SERIOUS BLOGGERS: You might find this article fascinating: Christianity Today on The Death of Blogs
Wow…gulp…I dunno. Is “because Karl looked like he was having so much fun doing it” a good reason to start a blog?
Seriously, I have posted missives that meet Dr. E.E. Kersten’s sour assesement of blogs. I have also written brilliant monographs that leave the readers breathless with online literary delight. But my main criteria in being a part of this alternate universe called the blogosphere is this: did someone read it? If so, then I am content.
(now please excuse me while I delete my long pithy poem about my cat Snickers from my latest post!)
I love wrestling with this topic, and I seem to wrestle with it often.
As an ameteur blogger I really appreiate these insights. I just started blogging less than a year ago just because I was looking for something new to do. Lately I have been rethinking my blog life and will be trying to shift the focus so that it becomes a site that offers thoughts, resources and ideas that provoke deep thought and help individuals in cm specifically. I want people to stop by my blog and come back again and again, so this post will help me work on that. Thanks!
I’ve been blogging since fall of 2004, all on the same site too. But my blog has only ever been intended for personal friends to keep up with what I am doing. It is a tool for socializing for me. I put almost everything an anything on it and it doesn’t matter. There are 15 or so people who read every post.
The thing that bothers me most is when people write something that they know their readers won’t understand. That drives me nuts!!!
Karl, This is a very helpful blog about blogging. I am such a newbie with all of this, that having some help like this means a lot. You are my blogging hero. Thanks for the encouragement and help. Barney
I have m y blog to journal my fitness journey for the most part and some family stuff. It is a lot of fun and I’ve met some incredible people out there. The purpose started out for family and friends when I went away to a fitness camp, but now it is for me, so one day when I reach all my goals I can look back and see where I’ve come from. I love that people read it, but it wouldn’t bother me if they didn’t. It’s all about the journey for me. As Confucious say, “A journey of a million miles begins with one step.” With all this said though, I do like getting comments on my blog, but I don’t blog just to get comments.
This summer of ’08 will mark 3 years of blogging. I cannot believe it’s been that long.
I love when you blog about my adorable little nephew. Keep the cute pictures coming, especially of the ones with his favorite aunt that lives 4 doors down. :-) I know all his aunts are his favorite, but I’m his favorite four doors down. I had to put that, so I don’t get in trouble with his other aunts. LOL