Why do you blog?
“Remember that people are attracted to people, not to abstract principles, sound bites, or sanitized corporate communications. We all are drawn to stories that underpin our human experience.”
– Born to Blog
If you blog, why do you?
Here are 5 common reasons we blog, according to Mark Schaefer and Stanford Smith in their book, Born to Blog. Which category best fits you?
They offer a short quiz to help you find your category if you’re not sure (I wasn’t sure, even after seeing the results; I’m a mix). In the book they go through each category and offer specific tips.
They also give general tips that you may know, but it’s good to be reminded about.
- Don’t think every post has to be profound. Short, simple observations and “how-to” posts often work best.
- Make it personal. Connect what you’re writing to your unique perspective.
- Don’t wait on perfect. Have courage to post at good instead of delaying for perfect. Lacking courage is one of the largest obstacles to blogging.
- Wipe out the first third of the story. It’s hard. But sometimes starting in the middle is the most interesting spot.
- Be passionate. The authors believe passion is the “secret sauce” for a powerful blog.
- Shorten your post. Take out what doesn’t belong. Staying under 1,000 words usually works best.
Overall, remember that your voice is unique. No one has the exact stories or experiences that you do. Write what only you can write.
“Our conversations and research shows that you don’t have to be a ‘great’ storyteller. You don’t have to be an accomplished playwright or understand the nuances of a riveting screenplay.
The only prerequisite for blogging is the willingness to share your thoughts and opinions.
Think about your day. How do you feel? What caught your attention? What surprising tidbit did you learn about a colleague? How could you weave this into a story? If you are stuck, then shift your perspective. How would you describe your day to a significant other or best friend?
Much easier, right?”
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What’s a piece of blogging advice you’ve appreciated along the way? Please share.
- Fasting or feasting? An approach to Lent
- Jesus’ gloves
Why blog? Well, it’s getting hard to find a phone booth in which to change into my working clothes, and the world still needs saving.
Oddly enough, that’s the truth.
You keep us smiling, Andrew, even through your pain. Definitely less phone booths these days. Wonder what message there is in that…. Thankful you’re still blogging.
Great advice. Before I ever started to blog, I made a conscious effort to describe my platform. For me I titled it “Christian Inspiration and Reflection”. It didn’t take long to figure out that you have to keep it short. In short, we have to do what we find attractive for ourselves. We’re all more the same than we are different…
Yes, I definitely prefer short too. In the writing and in the reading. I’m wondering how you transition that to your book-writing. Looking forward to seeing how you did it one day! I know your book will be great.
This looks good, Lisa. I’m with you, I think I’m a combo … and probably few of us would simply classify ourselves in one specific niche or another.
Love the pointers, especially about knocking out the first 1/3 of the story. Not aiming for perfection.
And, shortening our posts. Definitely. It’s rare that a lengthy post holds my interest.
I agree, Linda–rare is the person who fits just one category. And I also agree about long posts online–I’m usually just scanning those for highlights. Not very often that I’ll scroll and scroll and scroll to read every word to get to the very end. Has to be REALLY good to hold my attention. Which probably says more about my shortened attention span these days than the quality of the authors. Now with real books? That’s another story. 🙂
GREAT tips, Lisa. Tnx. I am going to try #4.
Wiping out the beginning of a story is sometimes so painful! But I try it periodically anyway. Let me know how it works for you, Sheila. It’s training me to just start more in the middle of the story anyway, rather than thinking I have to give so much background that no one really cares about. 🙂
I am almost ashamed now to admit why I started to blog: because my writing friends all were starting one and I didn’t want to be left out. Out of that small group only two of us have kept up with it. Why do I still blog? It has helped me find my writing voice. It is like a journal for me – clarifying my thoughts, hearing God in new ways, sharing the good news and finding companions in the struggles too. My best tip: have one really good sentence that the reader can cling to and end with a call to action/question to respond.
All your reasons are mine too, Jean. I have to write to clarify my own thoughts and to record for myself what I see God doing around me. And the super bonus that I didn’t expect was finding community as well. Now that ranks up high on my list of reasons to blog!
Thanks for sharing your tip–trying to write that one defining sentence really pushes us to clarify our message.
There is one blogging reason I don’t see listed: interaction. I know some bloggers whose blogs are pretty much made up of memes through which they interact with others. I wish my mom had lived long enough to get in on that kind of thing. Well, I wish she had lived longer for greater reasons than that. 🙂 But she kept working past retirement mainly because she thought she’d be bored and lonely at home, and there is a whole blogging world out there I think she would have enjoyed.
I don’t see myself in any one of those categories, but I guess teaching/persuading would be a big part of it. I tend to think of it more as coming alongside and sharing what I have learned and hopefully helping people along the way rather than speaking from a position of authority. I also started blogging in order to (hopefully) improve my writing by writing, but my posts do tend to be too lengthy still. And, yes, I even blog for some of that interaction. I’ve gotten to know folks like you that I count as dear friends that I will likely never meet in person (though I’d love to!)
I think my dad would have loved blogging for those same reasons, Barbara. The interaction is amazing, and it’s an aspect of blogging that I didn’t really know about until I got into it. I had no idea how much community could develop this way! But I do now and testify to it that it’s real and helpful.
Maybe one day we will meet in person. But even if we don’t, I feel like I know you anyway. I’ve definitely been blessed by your friendship.
I think all of my blogs (inc. my work blogs) are like diaries or workbooks. Each post is either working through or writing up a recent problem. Sometimes they turn out to be useful or at least interesting to someone else. So, maybe dreaming? Dreaming in public.
Those six tips are good. #4 is definitely true: you can make a lot of assumptions about your readers (and your readers will appreciate your cutting to the chase).
I agree with Barbara H’s point about interaction. I think that is the secret sauce.
It’s funny how writing can really help us work through our problems. I’ve never quite understood how that works, but I know it does. Putting pen to paper (figuratively anyway) seems to engage the brain in a way just purely “thinking” doesn’t.
I started to blog for the discipline of having a reason to write regularly and to finish things. I blogged about the same things I’d always dabbled with writing, but the discipline helped and I learned that my online voice is a little different than my narrative essay/that-book-I’ve-been-slowly-working-on voice.
After a year of blogging I’d more than met my objective of becoming a more disciplined writer, and to tell the truth, I’ve felt a little lost with my blog ever since. Lost isn’t a bad place, just a place, one I’m (mostly) okay with.
That’s interesting, Natalie. Sounds like blogging served its purpose for the season, and now you’re in the midst of discovering new purposes for it….
Very useful tips here. Myself I think I probably fall between the teaching and curating categories in terms of my motivations for blogging. So a bit of a mixture too. It’s great to think about though as it’s probably not a question I’ve spent a great deal reflecting on, as strange as that may be.
We probably would all do well to periodically take time to reflect on our purpose again, even if we have before. Sometimes it changes over time. Thanks for chiming in, Micah.
I’m a Teacher and a Writer and i would love to write a book or two but that takes courage and i am still finding mine.
I agree with you, Beverley–you definitely are a Teacher and Writer, and you’re very good at both! I pray the Lord will continue sending you courage and next steps.