Blogging: One Year Anniversary

1 year blogging anniversaryI have now been blogging for one year. Actually, the anniversary was last Friday, but real life got in the way of blogging. This is a good time to reflect on where I have been, what I have learned, and where I am headed over the next year.

Where I have been…

According to WordPress, I have written 104 posts. That is a good start, averaging exactly two posts per week, which is about the blogging frequency for which I was aiming. There are some very good blogs that have at least one good, substantive post every day. I’m not sure where the authors find the time to do that!

Since starting this site, I have made many changes to the appearance and function of the theme. Along the way I have learned how to customize WordPress themes and work with plugins. There has definitely been a learning curve, but now I feel confident that I can pretty much make the theme do whatever I want. I have benefited greatly from all the useful plugins that have been written for WordPress.

Part way through my first year I decided to split off the more technical posts into a new blog called TechSpeak. My reason for doing this was that I felt that they two types of posts were written for two very different audiences, and that including them in a single blog created a lack of focus. My tech blog has been mostly neglected, but eventually I want to write more there to share some of the things that I have learned working on this site and moving my church site to WordPress.

What I have learned…

I have learned some important lessons about blogging over the past year. This seems like a good time to share some of them.

  1. Blogging is not easy
  2. If you want to do something more than write an occasional post to share something interesting that has happened to you, then blogging is hard work. As someone said, a blog can be a very demanding mistress. There is a certain pressure to keep writing, because if there are too many long gaps between posts people will stop coming back to read. I have plenty of things that I want to say, but limited time to write. Quality writing is hard work.
    One Year Old!

  3. Blogs need a focus
  4. Several lists of tips for bloggers say that a blog is more effective if it has a clear focus rather than including posts about many different subjects. Some fairly popular blogs break this rule, but overall it does make sense. Friends and family might want to hear about what I did on my day off, but readers looking for articles on worship probably are not interested. Those who want information about customizing WordPress plugins may not care what I think about faith and works. Just as in writing a book or preparing a sermon, you need to know your audience.

  5. Write about what you know
  6. Some sites on blogging discuss the problem of coming up with enough good content. Many of them are approaching blogging as a money making tool, and looking for ways to draw readers so that they will see the ads. I approach blogging from a very different perspective. I write because I have some things that I want to say. If you have nothing worthwhile to say, it would be better if you do not blog. The blogosphere already has enough trite and trivial blogs.

    But if you have something worth saying, then write about what you know. I don’t have time to do the research necessary to write quality articles every week, but I already do a significant amount of study for my preaching and teaching. Most of what I write here comes out of the fruit of that study. This gives me a way to share some of the study that never makes it into the sermon, as well as share a summary of what I preach and teach with a wider audience.

  7. You need to find your writer’s “voice”
  8. In his excellent book On Writing Well, William Zinsser talks about finding your writer’s voice. He advises “Don’t alter your voice to fit your subject. Develop one voice that readers will recognize when they hear it on a page” (p. 233). It took me a little while to find the proper writing style for my blog, and to some extent I am still working on it. When I first summarized the main points from some of my sermons, they came off sounding too preachy because they were really only outlines of the messages without the warmth that is added by the other elements of a sermon.

  9. Avoid the frenzy
  10. In some ways blogging is like news reporting, because the posts are dated and the most recent ones receive the most attention. This is appropriate for discussion of current events, but not very helpful for discussions of biblical truth. I have been frustrated more than once while reading a post that was a week or two old, knowing that if I post any comments to join the discussion very few people will read them. The discussion has already moved on to the next “new thing.” I simply do not have the time to jump into every “hot” discussion the same day it starts. But that is probably a good thing, since many of those discussions create more heat than light.

    Instead, my aim is to write quality posts that will be valuable beyond the short term. Hopefully through search engines people will be able to find some of my posts that are interest to them. The category pages and related posts lists should make it easier to find similar posts that I have written. Perhaps in this way I can minimize the impact of the “here today, gone tomorrow” nature of the internet.

Where I am headed…

I know that I want to keep writing. It’s something that I enjoy, and more importantly, something that I feel called to do. I hope to keep up the pace of one substantive article and a smaller article or two each week. After a few years, I should have a good collection of posts on topics about which I am passionate. Beyond blogging, I am considering writing some article for publication, and perhaps eventually a book or two. But first I must finish my D.Min. dissertation!

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"True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." -- C. S. Lewis