Yup, today is it. It’s hard to believe that I have been blogging for five years (although with varied degrees of commitment). For those who think that they will start blogging in order to become famous, I say: Ha! Blogging is a lesson in perseverance, my friend.
For those who are wondering how this thing has progressed over time, here’s the breakdown:
- 2004 – I started reading various blogs. I think the first blog I ever read was Tony Jones’ original blogspot blog, whose book I was reading for a youth ministry class. That I could read the original, timely thoughts of a real-life author was pretty cool to me. I was enamored with the blogging style: anyone anywhere could publish any thoughts to anyone in the world with no filter or hoops to jump through. I had to try this.
- October 14, 2004 – In my townhouse at John Brown University one evening, I started a blogspot account and began posting. Looking back, my posts were totally random and sporadic. I only made 47 posts between October 2004 and September 2006.
- September 19, 2006 – I migrated from blogspot to wordpress.org since WordPress had some widget features that blogspot hadn’t developed quite yet. I was much more disciplined and posted around 100 posts while on that site, including many of my personal favorites. That was when I wrote my Neo-Youth Ministry Series.
- November 28, 2007 – I switch from wordpress.org to a self-hosted wordpress website, MattCleaver.com, allowing me to do anything I want with this website. This is when I got really “serious” about blogging. I have made around 240 posts on MattCleaver.com. Not only that, but I have learned tons about wordpress and web publishing, and have even made a little (emphasis on “little”) money helping other people set up and tweak their own websites. I’m not an expert on WordPress, but I have learned quite a bit over the last two years.
When I started blogging, I had all these visions of grandeur that people would come and read my thoughts and be mesmerized by my theological insights. Well, I learned that sometimes the stuff that people want to read isn’t always what you think is the most important. Check out the top-10 posts of all time (since I started tracking with Google Analytics in November 2007):
- How I Built a Church Website for Free: Picking a WordPress Theme
- The Ultimate Ubiquitous Capture Device?
- How I Built a Church Website for Free: Introduction
- How I Built a Church Website for Free: WordPress Plugins
- 13 Reasons Why (Traditional) Seminaries are Irrelevant (For Church Leaders): Part 1
- Locution, Illocution, Perlocution, and Developmental Psychology: Age-Appropriate Cultural Texts
- 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly: Thoughts from One in the Minority
- Brian McLaren is a Heretic
- Review: Francis Chan’s Crazy Love DVD
- Podcast Episode 0: Church Marketing
Over the years, I’ve learned that the posts people read the most are the ones that rank well in search engines in a particular niche (hence I have 3 of my top 10 posts having to do with building a free church website with WordPress), that get linked to from bigger websites (Ubiquitous Capture Device and Podcast Episode 0 got linked to from much more popular sites), or are posts that are written to strike while the iron is hot (ELCA Churchwide Assembly). The posts that I think are most important often don’t make huge spikes in traffic.
And therein lies the frustration for many who blog. I have seen quite a few youth ministry bloggers come and go in my five years, and I have thought about quitting every now and then. Fortunately, ever since the beginning I have told myself “This blog is for me as much as anyone else.” I enjoy writing and haven’t taken the time to get really serious about publishing my thoughts in traditional forms of media, and blogging allows me to keep writing on a fairly regular basis.
To those who have stuck around for a few years and keep coming back, thank you. Your comments have (hopefully) made me a better writer, minister, and theologian. I hope to continue fruitful conversation here for the foreseeable future.
And for those who don’t keep coming back, please subscribe to my RSS Feed. 😉