15 Lessons I Learned from Christian Blogs in 2015

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.

Christian blogs should honor the readers

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.

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67 Comments

  1. It has been about a year or so since I started blogging. I find your advice and lessons here really practical and interesting. Very useful, and as I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for the great advice 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the comment. It’s been 13 months since I started this blog. I wanted to improve my reach, resonance and reactions, so I followed the advice all top bloggers agreed worked. Guess what? It didn’t. That made me wake up.

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  2. You took the words out of my mouth!
    I’ve been blogging for 2 yrs. I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for that “still small voice”
    I’ve stopped trying to figure out what people want because in God’s economy that’s not the ROI He’s promised me.
    I blog when he prompts. He’ll bring the readers he wants to it.

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        1. Amen @kenzelfire. I realized I blog better when my eyes are stayed on Jesus. Christ was right, where He is lifted up he draws many to himself. However, the lifting up He meant was his sacrifice. This made me realize that Christ wants to draw many to himself and I can be a hindrance if I seek personal recognition and numbers.

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  3. I’m so glad I found your blog! Thank you for sharing so much of your experience. I did not start blogging to “be a blogger,” but in the few short months I’ve been on WordPress, I’ve realized how easily blogging can become obsessive and consuming. . . .and humbling [I feel you on #13! It took 2 months for even my husband to subscribe to my blog and to this day I don’t think my parents have read a single one :-)]

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    1. Thanks Brooke for following the blog. #13 is a tough one. I once tried to email my friends and DM them on Facebook, out of 60 only 5 followed the links. I used bitly to trace how many clicked through. I stopped doing that.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing all these Edmond, for the sincerity,bluntness, and honesty to share from your experiences to help bloggers who have same passion of Christ and the advancement of His kingdom through all that He has given us especially the blogosphere. Every of the 15 speaks to me… and now I am getting clarity as per what 2016 and blogging will look like. God bless you immensely as give of what you have received from the Father.

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  5. Thank you for this. So practical and much needed! I was scratching my head (figuratively) and attempting to reconcile what I already know. I am called to write and spread the Good News. As long as the Lord is my foundation and I open my mouth, and put my hand to the plow, He will put those needing to hear and see in my path. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Blessings to you, and remain encouraged.
    Crystal

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  6. I agree with this. I just started a WordPress blog but was blogging years through blogger. I tried guest posting. My blog were popular on their sites but did not really drive traffic to my own. I tried to follow so many “rules” of blogging. Until I just decided that I was going to do what I wanted with my blog and stop running my self ragged off following a “blog formula.”

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    1. That’s true for me too. I blogged on Blogger from 2011 to 2014. I think the best rule to follow for me is the question does my post clearly answer the mission of my blog? If it doesn’t, then it’s not worth posting.

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  7. Thank you, brother. I am greatly encouraged and reassured. It helps to hear affirmation, confirmation, from someone who has crossed those items off the to-do list.
    At the times that I’ve wondered if I should do “more” — look into and apply some of those numerous blogging tips — I’ve taken a moment to instead bow to and respect the Holy Spirit’s guidance to write as more than sufficient.
    One day God may use such resources to bless me and those who read my writing. For now, I’m often led to bypass reading the blogging advice articles that I come across.
    Instead of focusing on how occasional my writing is, I’ve become more focused on the wonderful occasion of being inspired by the Holy Spirit to write. And on my trust that God can use those blogs wondrously — whether like loaves and fish, or like a mite tossed into an offering box.

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    1. Loaves and fishes, so true, so true. I want to be diligent in what He may be giving me to say in the arena, yet balanced by faith in the Holy Spirit’s grace to get it to the right person at the right time, (which, I humbly add, may simply be ME!!)

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    2. I once wrote a 12,000 review of a book, because I thought the message in it was caustic. The review was the worst performing post I ever wrote. For a week, less than 50 people read it. My posts average 100 on day of publishing. I complained, I didn’t want to write the review, but other bloggers encouraged me. That’s why I wrote it. But few people read it in first week. Today, the post is averaging 110 views per week. The people who encouraged me to write had indeed heard from the Lord!

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  8. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” (Col. 3:23) I think this verse sums it all. Thanks for sharing this honest to goodness tips. God Bless.

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  9. Thank you so much for this post. Your advice is sound and solid, and I think we all need to hear this message regularly. I am saving your post to read and re-read again. You have such a healthy, godly perspective. Thanks.

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  10. Brilliant! Thank you, brother, for such insights! I have had to come to grips with the “blogging monster” by leaving (and continuing to leave) the stats in God’s very capable hands. Who am I really blogging for anyway? He is the main audience in all things. Thank you again for your integrity in the blogging neighborhood, and being willing to share your ups and downs. God bless your short sabbatical, whenever you take it.

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  11. Wow…I really love the sincerity and honesty in this post!
    It really encourages me as a new blogger. There have been many times where I tend to take control, instead of letting God write through me. Such a blessing to have had the chance to read this.

    Thankyou 😀

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    1. Thanks for the comment. I love controlling and knowing when anything goes wrong, I am the only one to blame. The flip side revealed the reason why it was so. Pride. I wanted to get all the glory. God’s amazing love dealt with my pride, all the expert advice failed.

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    1. Not necessarily. They are various reasons why people blog. A careful blog will only blog in accordance to the purpose of the blog. For Christian bloggers, blogs can be a public diary documenting the blogger’s thoughts, essays on theology, Bible study or devotions, photography etc.

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  12. I desperately needed to hear this. My blog has been officially open for a year. I have found myself at points that you rose in this post such as looking for more traffic, concerned about followers, wondering why those close to me don’t read..etc. At one point I remember God placing in my heart to remain obedient in what he told me to write when He urges me to, and those who need it will be led..even if it’s just one. I appreciate your transparency and encouragement to fellow bloggers like myself. God bless and Happy New Year!

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  13. Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to share this. This ministers to me, and even as i pray about the year ahead, these pointers will be a gentle reminder for me why i blog… stats notwithstanding.

    Have a rejuvenating break Ed, your blog is a blessing.

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  14. In this world of celebrity, likes, follows etc your words stand in wonderful contrast and challenge to look up from the keyboard and actually live life, rather than through the lens of social media or a computer screen. well said thank you

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  15. Hi Edmond. Thank you for the awesome work in the Lord’s vineyard. I like your bluntness in the article. Your lessons and experiences are inspiring and mindboggling.
    It is true that we do not always succeed following popular opinions. It is not by might, nor by power but by the Spirit of the Lord.
    If we want to be led by the Lord, then we need to obey him and follow his way. You are going far Sir.
    More grace in the Lord’s vineyard

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    1. Thank you VaMutoko. Following popular opinions takes away God’s glory. We short circuit the process God wants to use to shape us by seeking quick results. God is looking for reckless obedience, the kind that gets us thrown in fire or lion’s den. I pray when I start writing again in April, everything I write will be marked with reckless obedience.

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  16. Edmond, Thanks a lot for the great tips you have shared with us here! May God forgive me for the many times I have failed to FOCUS on Him as I do a blog! I have learnt that it is all about HIM. I love the comment above that God will direct those He want see the post…it is not about us…
    Thanks again for the insights!

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  17. “You don’t need influencers, you need a message from the Father, wisdom of the Son and guidance of the Holy Spirit!” Thanks for such guidelines, I believe this year I won’t write just anything but that which pleases our Father in Heaven.

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  18. Edmond, Great stuff here!! I am very new at this. In fact, My niece had to coach me through it. For me it started as a daily personal devotion with God. I began sharing via text with a few family members and friends. My niece who is a college student at Texas A&M just finished a class where she was required to write a blog. So she encouraged me to write one. I, like you only write when led by the spirit. Many times I start to write something and find that the Holy Spirit changes the direction completely. Thanks for sharing!! I have had a few bloggers follow, and I have read some of each of their stuff. You are the first that i feel I have truly been fed from here. Thanks Again!! Chad Jones

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