So, I tried writing a blog post to give some suggestions to people with a youth ministry blog some things I look for. However, I took the negative approach and said what I don’t like in a blog, which ended up coming off kind of pompous and haughty. So, at the request of Laura, I’ve decided to put a positive spin on things.
This list is a combination of personal preference (which may or may not help increase your readership) and some are common sense tricks of the blogging trade (which you should probably take into consideration).
I would love to read your youth ministry blog if…
- You post at a reasonable rate – In my mind, there are two ways to get readership. No, three. The first is to be famous. Since most of us aren’t famous, that leaves us only two. The first is to get search engine traffic, which is often a quick glance at a page and then readers will never come back. You can get a lot of hits this way by making sure there is plenty of content for Google to send people to on your site, so posting multiple times a day could be a good tactic. The second is to get the same people coming back over and over again. When I am looking for youth ministry blog, I look for someone I can get to know, someone I can have a conversation with. So, I want to come back over and over again. Posting multiple times a day makes it difficult to keep up. Now, most of us don’t have a problem with posting too much. Usually we go a few days without posting, get a few good ideas, then post 2-3 times in one day. I would suggest it would be better to stretch these 2-3 posts out one per day. Use the ability to schedule posts in your blog software to spread out your posts over a few days.
- You have an easy-to-find RSS feed – The kind of people who will become regular readers of your blog will use RSS feed readers (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Click here). Having an easy-to-find link to your RSS feed is imperative. When someone comes to your site, there should be an icon and link readily visible that people can find without scrolling around. Blogspot is notoriously bad for forcing readers to hunt to find a site’s RSS feed, so make sure you put one where people can find it (drop me a comment if you are having trouble figuring things out). The vast majority of people subscribed to my feed use Google’s Feed Reader, so I added a button that will allow people to add my site to their Google Reader with one click. You can do the same by clicking here.
- You publish a full RSS feed – Most blogging software allows you the option to publish all of your RSS feed or only an introductory snippet. If you only publish a portion of your feed, the idea is that you will get more traffic to your website because people will have to click through their feed reader and go to your blog to read the post. The problem is, most of people don’t like doing that. You will get more long-term readers if you publish a full RSS feed.
- You post quality content with original thoughts – Anyone can fill a blog with links, videos, quotes, and a lot of personal reporting. People who stand out are people who can write with a fresh voice. Quality trumps quantity in the blog world, in my opinion. Notice that I didn’t say that you need to post regularly. 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.
- You have a tasteful amount of advertising (or none) – Honestly, you must have lots of traffic to make enough money worth counting on your blog (I would say well over 1,000 unique visitors a month). Trying to make enough money to cover your hosting costs by littering an otherwise beautiful website with ads is oftentimes counterproductive. I’m not saying you can’t have any ads, but use discretion. And, if you put ads in the RSS feed, please put them at the bottom of the post.
- You write well – There is a difference between having original thoughts and writing well. Good writing will make your original thinking clear and understandable. I have found there are two ways to make sure the quality of your writing stays acceptable. First, proofread your posts. Secondly, do a lot of reading, which can improve writing almost by osmosis as you are exposed to quality writers.
- You genuinely want to have a conversation – Be acceptable of opposing viewpoints, interact with commenters, and really try to understand where people are coming from. This is one of the hardest things to do, but readers will appreciate it.
So there you have it. Those are the kinds of things I look for in a youth ministry blog, and I’m sure many people have similar criteria. 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.