Blogging is an amazing digital tool! Developing a church blog with excellence will enable you to better communicate and inspire your church family. The people that haven’t made it as far as your church yet, as well as the wider communities in which your church lives, can also be impacted by your church blog. In short, blogging can become a huge method of influence for your church if harnessed properly. I’ve just celebrated ten years of blogging so I hope that these eight tips that I’m about to offer by way of blogging advice is tried and tested and, ultimately, helpful for you doing the same!
1) Why Would Your Church Blog?
Blogging is a primary way for your church to produce digital content and is essential best practice for outworking your digital/marketing strategy to engage with an audience online. Of course, you may not have a marketing or digital strategy yet, but I would encourage you to invest in this as one of your primary “business” goals moving forward as a church.
Having a strong blogging presence will generate traffic to your church website, communicating updates on services or initiatives. Church blogs dovetail very effectively with social media activity by providing content links to share via popular platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. They also create an optimised online presence that is more likely to be searchable (SEO) via engines such as Google as you increase your engagement with the people who form your church.
2) Passion and Discipline
All good blogging should be pleasurable! Indeed, one overarching key to effective blogging in any context is ensuring that you write from a place of passion. Blogging should never be from a place of ‘I should..’ but as much as possible from a place of ‘I can…’.
Having said that, effective blogging also requires discipline because even the most passionate blogger in the world will occasionally lack the motivation and drive to write enthusiastically and, therefore, with quality. It’s vital to remember that you may occasionally experience this lack of drive but your readership will still be expecting your content! (I’ll revisit strategies to help motivation for writing later).
3) Understanding the Universal Blogging Culture
It’s vital to understand the universal purpose and ‘culture’ of blogging so that you don’t blog ineffectively. There are countless thousands of blogs out there! So, you need to have your own clearly-defined online personality but still observe certain “key” universal etiquettes:
- Don’t blog to provide news updates on their own without any other content, and never copy/paste content from previous posts (this is a sure-fire way of losing readers).
- Don’t publish blog pieces that are irrelevant in theme/content to the life of your church and inappropriate for your readership.
- Don’t blog in a way that demonstrates no preparation or attention to facts/detail in grammar, etc.
- Don’t write blogs that are too long/waffly or inappropriate in tone.
- Always, always reply to the comments of people who’ve given time to read and engage with you.
4) Manage Your Blog Site Well
You need to intentionally look after your church blog because on its own it will achieve very little! A high percentage of people start blogs only to give up after a few weeks. There are some other dos/don’ts that I’d encourage you to think about to help with this:
- Post at least once a fortnight, preferably once a week. (Some bloggers will blog once a day!)
- Use a content calendar to plan your blogging (feel free to ask me about this)
- Decide what you would like your online personality to be and aim to be as consistent with that as much as possible
- Who are your target audience? What is your social proposition? (What is your church’s signature ‘nutshell’ message in one or two sentences, or your purpose for being online?).
- Plan your posts or even series of posts
5) What Makes A Good Blog Post Itself?
- Between 700-900 words (start shorter if you are less experienced in blogging)
- Preparation/research/notes (get your stuff and main thoughts together before you start writing)
- Don’t be too intense – i.e. don’t over-prepare or become anxious about your posts
- Keep your introduction short and snappy
- Use sub-titles well that guide the reader through your post
- Use high-quality images, ideally your own
- Use hyperlinks or ping backs within your posts to give reader’s “further or related reading”
- Invite others to contribute to your blog as guest writers and ask if you can do the same on others
- Use featured images that are cropped correctly and not low resolution. Also ensure the images you use are appropriate for the dimensions for your theme.
6) Maintain Your Motivation
One of the main ways you can avoid (or break) the lack of motivation that I mentioned earlier is – wait for it – to read! Fresh content ideas, vocabulary, concepts and styles are all something that you can observe in the lives of other bloggers. Here are my other key bits of motivation-maintaining advice:
- Investing in a good theme, some art-work/logo is a motivating investment
- Find other church bloggers who have a similar niche to yourself/your church
- Spend time reading their posts and social media activity
- Find inspiring material and ask yourself “why am I inspired by this?”
- Don’t settle for being an echo of someone else; allow your inspiration from others to help you clarify your own voice and style.
- Be confident in your passions! Don’t allow the response of ‘public opinion’ to cripple your “due North”
- Write for yourself. Even if no-one ever reads your posts, recognise the inherent worth in communicating your own thoughts/interests/passions in as best a presentation as you can.
- Remember: “Writing makes you more precise”
7) Use Fantastic Images
Even when you invest in great blog themes, and even when you write great content, unless you have great images your blog will remain bland. Our visually-driven world doesn’t tolerate either poor images, stock images or no images so I suggest trying to take your own. You needn’t be a professional photographer but through a little time and effort you can create something that will cause your church blog to stand-out. Look for the “featured images” section on your blog template and make sure you use them.
8) Prioritise Exploring the Use of Film
One of the ‘essentials’ to stand out in today’s blogging world is the intelligent use of film. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend thousands of dollars on huge film campaigns but it does mean that you need to intentionally explore how to get the best out of your smartphone or other equipment available. Showcasing a creative use of film that is a maximum of approximately 90 seconds in length will really help your church to connect with people. When I say ‘explore’ above, use Google, etc. to explore the many ways that you can create excellent film content without necessarily spending thousands. Film is essential and if you can afford to invest in some good projects, I would highly recommend that as well.
I pray that these snippets of advice will motivate you to either launch out with a blog for the very first time or lift the level of what you’re already doing! Please feel free to drop me a line; I will ensure I get back to you as quickly as possible.
Nick Franks is a freelance digital leader living in resplendent Edinburgh, Scotland. Learning to love as he should, Nick is engrossed in living a contagious lifestyle of worship and prayer. He sweats under his eyes when he eats too much cheese, adores Liverpool FC and has a strong preference for Earl Grey leaf tea. Nick is married to the beautiful Mairi. Consider contacting Nick at www.nicholasfranks.com for any of your media-related projects in photography, writing and film.
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