Friday, May 2, 2008

Notes from a Novice Blogger

Have you noticed that everyone has a blog? Churches, radio stations, news channels - all have blogs. Remember when people used to send out 'family newsletters'? It was like a page telling what all the family had been up to (usually sent in place of a Christmas card). I always thought those were kind of arrogant. What makes you think we care what the 6th cousins twice removed have been up to this year? Maybe it's just me - don't take offense if you send those out every year (I just recommend sending them to close family because the extended family will probably just turn them over and use them for scratch paper). Nowadays, we have replaced handwritten notes with emails and newsletters with blogs. It is sort of sad that we are so busy we can't sit down and pen a note to someone, but times have changed and it is just too easy to type a note and hit send (not to mention that it saves a stamp - stamps are dern expensive!).

I have said before that the main intention of this blog is to record my thoughts and feelings (kind of a display of my true personality) for my children to read in the future. If Jesus tarries, my children will grow up. You just never know what is going to happen day by day, but in the unfortunate event that I become ill or worse, I want my kids to really know who their mother is, know her character (flawed as it is), know her true heart (the faithful part and the unfaithful part), and know that I know Jesus personally. If I remain healthy, this blog will simply be something they can look back on and smile about, remember things our family did, things we went through together. They will be able to see life through the eyes of their thirty-something mother. I see the blog as kind of a lazy person's scrapbook - no cropping, pasting, and writing sweet little captions under each picture. Blogging is a 'down to the nitty-gritty' journal of life.

When I started the blog, I never dreamed that anyone other than a few would ever visit. Aside from my experience with Worshipping Christian, I had no real idea how the whole blogging thing worked . I just knew that I like to write and that I could forever record who I really am for my kids to see someday. I saw an outlet to write down what the Lord is saying to me or teaching me at the time. I am quick to forget, so I have to write things down or I will never remember them (apparently even if they are taught to me by God - sad, but true). So, when I started getting lots of comments and making lots of blog friends, that was just icing on the cake.

I was talking yesterday with a fellow blogger. This person expressed his concern that people are not really reading their blog. I was quick to reply "Not everyone that reads will leave a comment". The person said that they felt like they were 'typing to themself'. That might be true on some days. There may be days that no one even visits your blog and then there may be days when many visit, but none comment. Such is blogging. I suppose that one must figure out the reason for their blog. Do you blog for yourself? Do you blog with the intention of reaching lots of people? Why do you blog at all?

I was thinking about this last night and it came to me how blogging is a reflection of life. We can apply the same principles to blogging as we do our everyday lives. So for those two of you who have asked me how to build a huge readership, I say, "I have no idea - I will tell you when I get one", but until then here are some things that I think we can all apply to both our everyday lives and blogging:

To make friends you have to be a friend. In other words, if you want people to visit your blog, visit theirs. If you want people to respond to you, respond to them.

You can't start at the top. When you begin work in a corporation, most often times you start at the bottom (or really close to the bottom) and work your way up. Same with blogging. You can't start a blog today and expect to have a thousand hits by tomorrow. Ain't gonna happen. I have been blogging for close to a year and I only average about 15 comments per post. It's okay to have only a few comments. Better to reach a few with your message than none at all.

Be real. No one wants to befriend someone who is perfect (in life or in blogland). You know how dogs (and kids) can smell fear? People who read blogs can smell a faker. Don't try to act like you have all the answers........everyone knows you don't. The thing that makes me leave a blog quickly is when I think someone is painting a perfectly rosy picture of everything. Hidden flaws make for a small readership. Tell people who you used to be and who you really are now. People like honesty. If you portray yourself as perfect, the only one you are fooling is yourself.

Humor is attractive. Wouldn't we all rather spend time with someone funny than someone who is always dull? Of course, be funny and they will come (or is that 'build it and they will come'? If you didn't get that joke, might wanna work on your humor).

If you want to reach people for Christ through your blog (as I believe most of you reading this do), write down what God is teaching you and let Him do the rest. When you tell someone about the Lord, it isn't you who does the convicting, it's the Holy Spirit. Same with the blog. If you have a word from God that someone needs to hear, He will bring them to your blog.

Pictures help. It is nice for people to be able to see who they are reading about. Doesn't matter if you don't look like Ken or Barbie. I like to see who I am reading about, don't you? Gives more insight to the person. You can tell a lot about a person from their picture or their family pictures.

Figure out your purpose. Why are you blogging at all? What is the goal? I have spent lots of time lately trying to figure out the purpose/goal of my life. I am not exactly sure what it is yet, but I do know the purpose of this blog (see above). When you know the purpose of your life, you plow ahead no matter what other people say or don't say. Same with the blog. Know the purpose of your blog and keep typing no matter how many comments you get (or don't get).

Don't do things to bring glory to yourself, do them to bring glory to God. Use your blog to draw people to or closer to the Lord. Haven't we all read something on another blog that made us think about our relationship with God? A Blog can be used to edify each other.
We can bring glory to God through our writing even if it is not a devotional type piece. Shouldn't our personalities bring glory to God? When we show people that we love the Lord and that God's people can have fun and be silly sometimes, we bring glory to Him. People need to know that Christians are not just stuffy old party poopers who sit around and wait for someone to sin so we can judge them for it. Christians need to show lost people that it is fun to follow God, not a drudgery. The blog can help you say "Hey I am a Christian and I have fun with life".

Don't get caught up in the numbers. In life, we worry about numbers all the time. The numbers on the scale, in our bank account, number of friends we have, etc. The numbers don't matter if you are "blogging as unto the Lord". Doesn't the Bible tell us that in everything we do, do it as unto the Lord? Same with the blog. Numbers do not matter - your heart does. God knows your intentions, let that be the only thing that matters.

Let God rule your life, nothing else. I read so many blogs where people say, "I am neglecting my children, husband because of this blog". Remember, this is a hobby for most of us. If it is taking the place of God, your kids, etc......time to cut back. Cut that computer off if you have to. If you aren't being filled with the Holy Spirit, then no one really needs to read what you have to say anyway.

Okay, those are just a few of my thoughts. I hope they are helpful to some of you. I know that some of you will read them and comment and some of you will remain silent. There will be some that will say "How boring" and others will say "Good word". Some will begin reading them and quit after the first paragraph while others will read to the end. Some will agree with me while others will not. It's's all okay. Why?

Because such is blogging and such is life.


Steve said...

Good thoughts, Beth!

Mari said...

Those are good thoughts on blogging. I never realized how much blogging is like real life, but it makes sense. I really feel that a lot of bloggers are my friends, although in a different way than other friends. I know I can count on them to pray for me and that means a lot.

Cassie said...

Very true...especially the part about the numbers...Who are we blogging for anyway? Something for all of us to think about...Have a great weekend.

Grammy and Olivia said...

Thanks for the blog tips. I was drawn into the whole blog thing because so many have been a source of inspiration and challenge, encouragement and laughter. I don't comment often partly because I wonder why anyone would care if I did and sometimes I feel like an intruder in someone else's personal space. Obviously it is on a very surface level, but I love the connection with such a wide variety of Christian women.

Jennifer Partin said...

You go girl!

That about sums it up! Very true and good points and pointers for all of us.

Earen said...

Funny that I'm just reading this because I just blogged about realizing that not many of my close friends read my blog or at least don't comment. Just an observation...I think sometimes I can express my heart & thoughts better on paper (blogging) and there are times in which I'd love for them to check it out. But, you're right...I know that the people that are suppose to be reading it are! Great thoughts!

Fran said...

Bring it!!

And..#10 is a must. Don't let this thing become an addiction of any kind....and don't let these people replace the real people in your life!

Have a great weekend. The storms are headin this way...again....

Hunkerin down!!

Shelley said...

Just wanted to say YOu ROCK. Thanks for taking the time to write this. Also, I'm with you--I would be a scrapbooker if I had the time, but my blog gives me the instant gratification I crave. ;-)
Love ya Sis!!

Alana said...

Blogging is such a unique medium. I have grown so much in so many ways since I started this journey. So glad I "met" you along the way!

Christy said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog. I'm not sure how I got here- I am a friend of Amie Mumpowers and I think maybe that's how?? It's nice to know that all of us women/moms/wifes are all going through the same things on a daily basis- thanks for the daily encouragemets. Christy Nelson

Mommyluann said...

Bravo Bravo!Wisdom beyond your years my thirty something friend.

Greg P. said...

I was thinking about the quality of my own blog this morning. Your post today mirrored my thinking. I posted yesterday and when I got up this morning I read yesterday's post. I did not like it at all so I deleted it. If it isn't my best I'd rather not give it at all.

Good job Beth.

Jungle Mom said...

Thanks so much for coming by my blog! I love new readers and especially ones that leave comments!

{patty} said...

I love blogs because I am nosy. :)

Sarah Markley said...

Great tips, bethanne!

Nicole said...

I really loved this post! It is so easy to get caught up in the numbers and that isn't what it is about. I mainly blog for my family and of course for all of my busy friends who like me have a hard time keeping in touch. Not to mention it keeps me from telling the same stories over and over! ;)

Dionna said...

Great post. Thanks for the reminder of how to keep blogging in perspective!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Well thought. Well said.

I've thought a lot about my reasons for blogging since beginning in February. There are brilliant humorists in blog land. I'm not one of them. I'm a funny person, but my writing lends itself to my more serious side.

Through blogging I've found an inexpensive and effective forum for my paintbrush...

painting the thoughts of my heart as it relates to my creative and awesome God.

Thank you for your many good thoughts in the matter!


I'm Tara. said...

Okay - first of all I have to tell you that I miss commenting on your blog, but due to #10, I had to take a break and get a grip. Besides, if it isn't 3:31 am (like now), I often don't have time to do much but read very often. :) I can appreciate very much what you wrote, so put me in the good word category.

That said, I lost some bladder control reading about you running around with hosiery on your head and my giggles nearly woke my hubby who is NOT suffering with heartburn at this very minute. Maybe I'll try it with him tomorrow. I'll let you know.

p.s. - I miss you, my friend. Hugs!!!

HisTreasuredPossession said...

Sooo true!! The last 10 days I've dealt with your #7 and #10. Thanks for bringing somethings back into focus, siesta!

Linda said...

Good stuff, for sure!