[UPDATE 5/14/09: So, I’m not sure this post ended up coming out quite like I hoped. If you feel like this reads like I’m up on a high horse wanting you to cater to me, please read my thoughts in the comments section. Thanks.]
I’ve been perusing the blogosphere quite a bit lately as I get more acclimated to twitter. Whenever I follow someone or they follow me, I take a look at their blog if they have one to see if it’s worth reading. I’m especially interested in finding good youth ministry blogs, and I figure there’s got to be more out there. Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit disappointed in the blogs I’ve been finding.
I am unlikely to read your youth ministry blog if…
- you post 5 times a day – Most people don’t have this problem, but a few people like to post links or videos (and post them often). I don’t have time to read all of the articles you link to or sit through all the youtube videos you think are cool, especially if you post multiple times per day.
- you don’t have an easy-to-find RSS feed – If you have a good blog, I can subscribe to it and put it in it’s appropriate folder in my Google Reader with three clicks. If you have a link to your RSS feed it takes about 5 seconds. WIthout an RSS feed I have to copy your blog address, open up Google, add a subscription, move it to the folder, etc. I am much less excited to follow your blog if I have to hunt for the RSS address. You should always have an easy-to-find RSS link above the fold. Always.
- you don’t publish a full RSS feed – People use a feed reader so we don’t have to click to 100 different sites to keep up with what is going on. Only publishing part of your feed defeats that purpose. Do us all a favor and please publish the whole feed.
- your last three posts go something like this – “It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been super busy. I’ve been a total slacker on the blog lately. I hope to get back to regular blogging after this busy stretch clears.” Don’t apologize for not posting. Just post stuff when you are able.
- your site or content is filled with tons of ads – I know that you want to try to make enough money to pay for your server costs, which I understand. But don’t go overboard. The worst is those ad scripts that automatically find keywords in your posts and then link to an ad from them. Don’t go overboard on the ads. If you put ads in the RSS feed, put them at the bottom of the post.
- all you ever do is posts links and videos – I don’t mind you pointing out good stuff on the web, but what will really keep me coming back is if you have something good to say. So say it–be creative! A doubly bad version of this is if you only post to funny and/or gross youtube videos. Seriously guys, let’s not reinforce the youth ministry stereotypes. Give me something substantial.
- you have a huge photo of you – I don’t mind seeing who it is that is doing the writing. But I don’t want to feel like your site is trying to sell your own personal brand. Come on, we’re in youth ministry. We’re not that big of a deal.
- you only quote scripture out of the King James version – Hey, I’m just being honest. How many “KJV only” sites do you subscribe to? That’s what I thought.
- you use lots of exclamation marks – They should be used sparingly! Use them all the time and they lose their value! When you use them, only use one, not three!!! See what I mean!?!
- you use it just to try to sell me something – I don’t mind having a discussion around a topic that you’ve written about in a book or around a curriculum you’ve written. But I don’t want to feel like you are only using your blog to promote a commodity. Blogs are for exchange of ideas and dialogue. Don’t try and coerce (or worse, trick) me into buying something.
So there you have it. Don’t break the above rules and there’s a good chance I might follow your blog regularly. Notice that I didn’t say that you need to post regularly. I really don’t care how often you post–I prefer quality over quantity. Since I read feeds in an RSS reader, it doesn’t make any difference to me if you have a long time between posts. A few of my favorite blogs that I’ve subscribed to for years have really sporadic posting rhythms, but I know that the content will always be good when it comes across my screen. Of course, going a year without posting might not be a good idea, but put your focus on quality posts and don’t force yourself to write something just because it’s been a while.
Oh, and realize I’m just one person. These are my criteria, but some people have different criteria. For example, Josh Griffin posts way too often for my taste, and usually posts lots of links, videos, pictures, and quotes. So, I don’t subscribe to his feed. However, he has 1675 subscribers to his site (which is way more than I have). Obviously not everyone agrees with me.
If you know of youth ministry blogs that meet my above criteria and aren’t in my sidebar, let me know by dropping a comment. Yes, even if it’s your own blog.