Christian blogs can be a helpful resource for spiritual growth. Especially when the blogger devotes themselves to speak God’s voice with clarity. But, there’s another benefit Christian blogs offer- they help the Christian blogger grow spiritually through engaging believers from all over the world and carefully listening to the word of God.
The most important lesson I learned in 2014 about keeping Christian blogs was to stop writing from the head and start writing from the heart. This happened after months of introspection and self-evaluation. Grace Revealed had evolved into one of the many book review Christian blogs and I wasn’t prepared to go in that direction. So, I started Naked Christian, then called Chronicles of a Kid Next Door, which has been a great success so far.
Every week I receive emails from fellow writers seeking advice. It is such an honor to receive these emails and at the same time scary.
I am honored because you recognize what the Lord has accomplished through me. I am honored because you have counted me among those wise enough to give advice. But, I am scared because I might give you the wrong advice. I am scared because I might fail to see that the success came from the Lord and not my Christian blogging skills.
I have compiled the top 15 lessons I learned in 2015, which I believe might help you in 2016 and beyond.
15 Simple Lessons for Christian Blogs
1. You Don’t Have to write
After blogging every day for a month, I began thinking I was under an obligation to write something. From Neil Patel to Michael Hyatt, they all said I had to blog regularly. Every day, if possible. The truth is, I wanted to, but I didn’t have to. If I write as the Lord leads, sometimes God doesn’t want me to say anything. And it’s okay!
2. You Don’t Have to pursue every idea that enters your head
After blogging consistently for three months, you morph into a scary blogging ideas monster. Ideas flock into your brain relieving yourself in the restroom. Ideas come when you’re driving kids to church. It’s okay to let the ideas pass. Don’t miss out today because of a blog post, life is more important than that.
3. Not every idea is a good idea even if it comes from an expert
Why do you want to try a new idea? I tried link sharing, blog curation, popular WordPress themes to increase blogging traffic. Tim Challies has a daily A la carte, so I tried a weekly curation, twice (you remember Mutakura and recently Faith, Life and Society). It didn’t work. Only pursue ideas that are in line with the mission of your blog. Christian blogs should keep the Bible foundational, everything else is personal opnion.
4. Revise your About page often
I read my About page several times. It gives me the much needed moment for self-evaluation. With a third of my daily traffic visiting this page, I have found it is the best place to show first-time visitors what my blog is all about. I have learned to revise the About page once every quarter so that it may reflect the purpose of Naked Christian.
5. Don’t waste your time waiting for influencers to pick your article
Neil Patel advises his readers to reach out to influencers in their niche. I did. I reached out to The Gospel Coalition’s Themelios with a review for Let the Earth Hear His Voice by Greg Scharf. It was turned down. Don’t focus on influencers, focus on hearing God’s voice with clarity. You don’t need influencers, you need a message from the Father, wisdom of the Son and guidance of the Holy Spirit!
6. Forget about guest blogging and focus on your blog
I wrote two articles for one of the largest men’s online magazine, The Good Men Project. It could have been awesome if I received 0.1 % of the traffic from those posts. I received zero. I also thought I could promote other bloggers by opening to guest blogging. Probably the problem is I guest blogged on a site that wasn’t a Christian blog. But, people who guest blog on Naked Christian received less than 5 referrals even though their articles received nearly 1,000 views.
7. Read before you comment it’s worth it
Often bloggers have a tendency of commenting before they read an article. One of the reasons they do that is to find exposure for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that except it doesn’t work. Only people who add value to the article receive referrals. For example, comments by Sheri who blogs at Ink Pastries received most referrals because they were thoughtful.
8. Your blog doesn’t need followers, it needs readers
This might sound hypocritical coming from a guy with more than 4,500 followers. My posts are read by less than 10 followers. Each post averages 500 views per month, which means less than 0.2 % of my followers visit my blog per day. Followers are mostly bloggers, they already have their blogs to worry about. What you need are readers.
9. Readers are found on Google
Google ‘Christianity and lobola’, ‘Paul Young Eve review’ or anything like that, Naked Christian will probably be in the top five of your search results. My review of Paul Young’s Eve has been receiving an average of 110 views per week since September. No one linked back to my post or even reblogged it. All the traffic is coming from Google! To be on Google a lot of work needs to be done, for example, for this article to have more readers Amy Wheeler at inbound.org suggested I should target ‘Christian blogs’ not ‘Christian blogging’.
10. Authors might not mention your blog, even if you write glowing reviews on their book
Publishers and authors sometimes irritate me. They think giving me a book for free is enough compensation for the time I spend writing their book review. I have written a dozen reviews in 2015, only Barnabas Piper mentioned my posts on his Facebook page. All the authors I sent emails and DMs on Facebook or Twitter never responded, except Greg R. Scharf, Tim Challies and Wm Paul Young who appreciated the review.
11. You Don’t Have to be Freshly Pressed or Discovered by WordPress Editors
It’s cool being recognized by WordPress Editors and have your blog featured on Discover for a week. It will certainly bump your traffic. I once studied the type of Christian blogs that get Freshly Pressed, now Discovered. I spent weeks trying to follow the anatomy of those posts. It didn’t work. As time went by, I noticed a trend with the posts that get Discovered, they all rejected the full counsel of God’s word and most affirmed practices they Christ condemned. That’s not the company I want to keep. I will stick to 200 views per day!
12. Blogging wastes time
They are more important things to do instead of blogging. You need to study God’s word for you and not the blog. What benefit will it be if your blog becomes popular and you lose your soul, family or job? I wasted a lot of time responding to comments, checking blog statistics, writing posts as creating images. All these things came at a cost and I am not willing to continue putting my career, family and faith on the line for likes, shares, comments, Alexa rank, followers and unique visitors.
13. Your family might not care about your blog
We all expect those who know us to support our blogging efforts; sharing or commenting. But, they might not. It hurts, a lot. It is even worse seeing your friends and family sharing on their Facebook wall a link from a popular Christian when you wrote something similar before. I have learned to live with the reality that I might not be my wife, sibling or friend’s favorite writer. It’s okay, even though it hurts.
14. You are a minister of God’s word
If you have a Christian blog, whether you like it or not, you’re a minister of the word. I discovered this after reading Keller’s Preaching. This made me realize that all the blogging advice I was giving and following were wrong. Instead of spending time searching for images, creating the best headline, making back links or any of the SEO stuff, I needed prayer. I need to speak as an oracle of God otherwise, I will be deceiving God’s people.
15. It’s okay to take a break
I took a break, a seven-week break. I am planning to take another soon, maybe the whole of January and February. I don’t know. This will definitely hurt my traffic and page ranking, but it doesn’t matter. God is more interested in me than the things I write. The beauty of Christian writing isn’t found in the lessons learned when people read or the number of people who read it, but the lessons we learn about ourselves and, importantly, the transformation we see in ourselves. Taking a break helps us refocus and refresh. After all, rest is a Holy Spirit directed activity.