Thursday, December 4, 2008

What Makes a Good Blog?

Two years ago, I began blogging to get my thoughts out on virtual "paper". I often come up with book ideas, but never have had enough perseverance or time to get it all out, so I figured, one post at a time, I'd write something like a book.

I privately asked a few close friends to review my writing and give me feedback. I didn't dream that the readership would grow, and that I would be blessed with new friends and encouragement, being both challenged and refined by those who come to Making Home.

Now, I'm no expert blogger, but I've steadily gained readership and tags/links over the two years I've been blogging. So, it may not be much, but I thought I'd share some of my own tips for making a good, readable, worth-someone-else's-time blog:

  1. PURPOSE. Know what you're "shooting" for. If your purpose is to keep grandma and grandpa updated about your kids and their changing lives, don't try to shift purposes mid-stream and suddenly have a wide readership tackling hard issues of life. If your desire is to bring up controversial subjects, don't be surprised when people get their hackles up from time to time. People won't come to your blog if there's not a reason, so figure out what it is you're wanting to do or say, and blog accordingly.

  2. HONESTY. Show people the real deal. It's not worth your time and it's not worth anyone else's time to share only the perfectly decorated, fully disciplined, amazing parts of your life. Share the hard things too. Be willing to share about the good and not-so-good days of life-- particularly about those things that your blog is focused on. Not only does it help cultivate an attitude of humility, but it also gives other people realistic expectations as they begin ________ (homeschooling, breastfeeding, working from home, parenting six children, etc.) --whatever it is that you write about.

  3. LONGEVITY. Once you decide to blog, stick it out. Don't stop and start. Don't expect to build readers in a couple months' time, and don't expect to retain readers if you're wishy-washy in your frequency of posts, subject matter, or attitude.

    Don't get frustrated because you have one bad day, week, or month and write some philosophical post about how you need to quit... only to start blogging again a couple weeks/months later. (Don't get me wrong; I take breaks when my family needs it-- I even took a 6-week hiatus this summer... and now, I have enough posts pre-scheduled so that I take breaks and no one even knows it!) You don't have to blog everyday (I don't...), but post somewhat regularly, and don't. give. up.

  4. One more thought about PURPOSE... you don't have to have a laser-beam focus on one issue or theme, but if you're too random, people will stop coming around. They only have so much time that they're willing to spend online, and if you're asking a stay-home mom to also regularly listen to your thoughts on working in an office, or expecting unmarried theology students to check out your posts on specific issues in parenting, they probably won't.

    Also-- FOR AN "ISSUES" BLOG-- I have been blasted for saying this before, but it's just the truth. Unless someone is already your friend or has a specific reason to read about your personal life details, they generally don't have time or just won't want to. So, if you need to start a separate blog to post skads of life stories and kids' pics, do it. (We have one, totally unconnected to Making Home, for that very purpose... to update family and friends about our family & our experiences living overseas.)

    Occasional things shared are great-- and keep it real. Sometimes I still share cute anecdotes here or illustrative pictures or stories... but my purpose here at Making Home is to encourage, exhort, and be sharpened by other Christian women. So that's what I generally try to hone in on.

Here are a few other articles you may find helpful as you strive to fine-tune and improve your own blog:

I hope this helps as you consider blogging or try to refine your own website or content. Some people are saying that blogging is dead, but I think that aimless blogging is the thing that's dying. Have a purpose, something specific to say, and say it well, and I believe there is still plenty of room in the blogosphere for you!

Happy blogging! :-)


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