Tune-up Your Christian Blog in 3 Easy Steps
A blog is vital to Christian writers. You can share your ideas with the world. If you are also an author, a blog allows you to build a following so you can sell more books.
Blogs, like cars, need a tune-up periodically. Sometimes it is attention to minor details, but at other times you need to make massive changes to make your blog or your car serviceable and reliable.
There are three things every Christian blogger should do to tune-up their blog.
Know Why You are Blogging
Are you blogging just because some writing guru says you should? Is it to get names on your mailing list? Is it to sell books? These are good reasons, but not reason enough. Sometimes writers need to stop and think about their blogging experience and revitalize their vision.
The most useful tune-up is to regain your “first love.” No matter what secondary purposes you may have for blogging, a Christian blog should focus on sharing Christian values or providing spiritual solutions to common problems.
The primary purpose of your blogs should be to build relationships. You should feel good about that. An actor builds fan relationships by stellar stage or film performances. A singer gains an audience with records and concerts. An artist gets attention by having a gallery exhibition. What can authors do? Most are limited. An author, especially self-published authors, don’t get star treatment, except for the elite who are featured on radio or TV shows. Blogging is an answer for almost all.
If you have a blog, you should take the time to look at it with new eyes. View it as a new visitor. Perhaps your vision for your blog has dimmed or been diluted, and it is not accomplishing what you wished. You might need to redesign it in simple ways (change color palette and fonts), or do something more dramatic.
What about your content? Are you saying what you intend to say? Are your readers responding to it? Some times you need an opinion from a professional to get the perspective you need.
Have a clear vision of the purpose of your blog. Sit and think about what you want to accomplish.
Provide Helpful and Entertaining Information
Review your posts and make sure they offer helpful, entertaining information. Structure it in a way that invites people to read, and then provide information that will help them in practical ways.
Some bloggers think they are providing information OR entertainment, and never shall the twain shall meet. Rubbish. You can become an exceptional writer by providing helpful information in an entertaining.
Most writers have no problem writing factual content. But they stumble when it comes to writing entertainingly. What does it mean to be entertaining?
- A positive attitude. You transfer your frame of mind to your reader. If you want to be entertaining, you want to change their mental state, so they have a pleasant reading experience. Your content may be a less-than-happy topic. It okay to write such things, of course. But start and end with hope.
- Tell a story. Stories connect us all. They define our family structure. They define our faith too. We are attracted to God’s story (the Gospel), and our individual stories are connected to each other through the Lord. When you tell a story about yourself or others, you entertain readers.
- Capture and use the small elements of life. Jerry Seinfeld became a famous and wealthy stand-up comic because of his observational humor. People say his TV show was “about nothing,” but it has generated billions of dollars in revenue because it is about something. It is about the minutia of life with which we can all identify. You can capture those elements of life by reading widely and by keeping a notebook of what you see and hear. As Seinfeld has proved, it is highly entertaining.
Structure Adds Interest
The structure of a blog takes two forms. One is about how you present the material; the other is how you format it.
When you tune-up up your blog, take a look at individual posts and change them. It’s okay to revisit old posts and update them. You are likely to get higher search engine rankings and more visitors when you do. Here are the things you want to address.
The old preacher joke is that a sermon is composed of “a joke, three points, and a poem.” That’s not as funny as it might seem. The joke gets the congregation in the right frame of mind. The three points are the core content of the sermon. Wise preachers know that people cannot handle more than three main ideas. The poem? That’s an old fashioned way of emotionally cementing the main points.
A blog post should have a similar structure. Drop the poem, however. Replace it with a Call-to-Action. This is not a summary of your points. It is telling people what they can do to implement the core content into their lives. After all, that is why they are reading your blog posts. Almost all are looking to a solution to a problem they are facing.
Remember to keep paragraphs short. If a paragraph is more than 5-6 sentences long, considered revising it.
Cluster paragraphs under subheadings. Even if you lose your attention of your reader briefly, they will scan ahead, and you have the opportunity to keep them reading if you have a snappy or informative subheading. Subheadings are attention magnets.
If your blog posts are not following this structure, rewrite them as part of your blog tune-up.
Formatting is how your content appears on the page. You never want a “wall of type.” That’s not entertaining. You want a visually pleasing look.
The entertainment element is adding images (photos, charts, graphs, etc.), and text features like well-spaced headings and subheadings, pull quotes, and bullet-points.
One of the easiest ways to tune-up your blog is to reformat what you have already written. Here is a list of free, fresh contemporary images.
Do a Technical Tune-up
Most bloggers consider themselves to be creative people and dislike the technical side of their blog. We like to drive, but we are forced periodically to deal with a technical issue like an oil leak or a flat tire. In both cases, we need to take responsibility for the technical side of things.
There are trends in blogging, and Christian writers need to keep abreast of them. Here are three crucial ones you must review as you tune-up your site.
Verify your Blog is Mobile Friendly
I am amazed that over 60% of ChristianWritingToday.com readers are viewing it on a smartphone or tablet. Most are not using a desktop or laptop computer, as I suspected. You must confirm you are using a “responsive” template to make sure your pages resize themselves to fit the device the reader is using.
If your site is not responsive by now, you are living in the Dark Ages of the Internet. You are not getting the traffic you deserve.
By the way, look at your site on various devices so you can check your font is readable, and menus and pop-ups and other elements you use retain their functionality on smaller screens.
Connect with Google Analytics
How can you know what kind of device people are using to view your site? How can you know how many site visitors you’re getting, where they’re coming from, what pages they’re visiting, and how long they stay on each page? All of this important data is provided when you link to the free Google Analytics service. It is easy to connect, especially if you have a WordPress site on your own hosting service. This is a critical tune-up to do if you’re not already tracking the performance of your site.
Comply with Laws
Security and privacy are important to your site visitors. Christian bloggers need to observe the laws that pertain to privacy. Three basic laws apply to sites of all sizes.
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This is a US government law to protect children. To comply, you must state whether or not your site is aimed at children under 13, and, if so, follow the appropriate rules.
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This is a European Union (EU) law that protects your site visitors by telling them how you use the information you collect. You have to give them the ability to delete the data you have collected.
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This is a privacy law much like GDPR, but protects California residents who visit your site. Again, you must give notice about your compliance where a person visits, and allow them to control the data you may hold.
Many Christian bloggers think these laws do not apply to them. They’re wrong. You may not be located in the EU or California, but as long as you’re getting visitors from those places, you need to comply. The economic impact of a particular site indeed comes into play, but the regulators are thinking not only of your website but the economic and privacy impact of sites to which you link.
Compliance is relatively easy, especially if you have WordPress site you use on paid hosting. You can install a few plug-ins and revise your privacy statement and Terms of Service, and you’re good to go.
Compliance is not an option. You must do it. Make compliance a part of your blog tune-up.
Take Action Now
If you don’t have a blog, you want to think about how you can reach the people you influence, or the world, by creating one. You don’t have to have perfect writing skills; you can learn and grow as a writer with a blog.
If you are a blogger, now is the time to review it and give it a tune-up. You’ll increase your readership and give them a better experience when you define or confirm your purpose, make your writing more interesting, and by doing the small technical things that make your blog run smoother.