At a recent Christian event for men I was asked to help out with a workshop on the basics, opportunities and potential dangers of using technology to share and interact online, focused on social media. Eight of us sat around the edge of the room with laptops and projectors to demonstrate different platforms and media and how they could be used for the gospel. We covered a lot between us, including Facebook, Twitter, child protection, SEO and blogging, amongst others.
My subject was blogging, so I thought I’d share my ‘what, why and how’ notes here for anyone who’s interested in starting their own blog.
- What is a blog?
Blog is short for ‘web log’; it’s an online diary for a person, business or group. It shows posts (entries) in increasing age, so the most recent posts appear at the top. Because it’s on the web anyone on the web can find it and share it with their friends, and that’s the social networking element.
- The most important principle
Is to have an interesting life. Social networking allows you to share what’s interesting about your life. See it as a communication tool, not a destination.
- Why blog?
Who we are together in Jesus has a lot to say to the world. Shape a broad theme for your blog from your life. Mine’s about brotherhood. Some of my friends have blogs about creativity, leadership, inspiring quotes & experiences, our Jesus Centres, poetry, evangelism, whatever.
- How to blog?
Sign up for a service that’s suitable. A simple scale of ‘simple’ to ‘feature-rich’ goes- Posterous, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress.
- For the simplest solution use Posterous as you can email text, photos, videos and links and it’ll do the rest. Themes are available but it’s not really customisable.
- Tumblr is great for arty stuff.
- Blogger flexible but not too complicated an option. This blog is Blogger based.
- WordPress best for extendability, for the technologically savvy.
- What to blog?
Fortunately for dyslexics blogging doesn’t have to be all writing. A few ideas:
- A photojournal – if photos speak a thousand words then speak many thousands with some large photos. Give it a short intro paragraph and use concise captions.
- A piece of artwork or single photo
- A vlog – a videoed entry
- A traditional diary entry
- A musing or inspiration
- A tutorial relevant to your blog subject
- Write a little on something interesting that you’ve found and link to it. Always give credit where it’s due.
A meaningful theme makes a blog flavoursome but occasional variety is the spice of life!
Ask friends for feedback to get better at the craft.
- Link it up:
Put a link to your blog on the profile of any other social network you use and in your email footer.
Link to other blogs you enjoy reading and ask them to reciprocate with a link to yours.
Post a link on your social networks every time you publish a blog post.
Tell friends and relatives about it.
- What not to be:
- Narcissistic – Do talk about other people and use the word ‘we’.
- Preachy – You’re free to rant occasionally but also explore your own struggles and ask questions. Constant glossy triumphalism or rudeness only put-off. Don’t just post scriptures but be human, give it a personal touch.
- Too vulnerable! Unless you give your blog a password the whole world can see it.
- Obsessive or fickle – One post per week will keep subscribers interested but not bombard them.