Blog? You want to blog? And do a Christian blog, at that? How would you like some Christian blogging tips?
Great, been there, still there, and doing that. With this in mind, here is some Christian blogger advice that you may need. So, I have a bunch of secrets to help you. To start, here’s how not to do it: don’t spend money on websites, dot.com-names, software; burning up your credit card. Do none of those things until you spend 15 minutes reading this article. (If you are thinking about a blog, it may be the best 15 minutes you spend, you might have a laugh or two as well).
Did you catch the error? Hope so; cause here’s the goof. This is not an “article”; this is a “post.” Don’t forget that, because blogging is not a different kind of work, it’s a different kind of universe.
“Who is this guy?” you ask. Let’s say I am the guy who will help you get your head on straight about blogging. I’m the guy who will tell you what the rules are (and why follow them). I’m the guy who has made tons of mistakes. (Including erasing every account number off the boss’s 250,000 business records, and still here to talk about it.) I may be one of those successful failure people you hear about. Regardless, I’m on your side. I’m a blogger.
We have 2,560 words to get this business covered and have just spent 199 getting introduced (don’t waste our time counting).
Notice, I will not talk about hosting, domain names, WordPress. You have read about those things already. I want to tell you about what you haven’t heard.
Blogging won’t make you a millionaire in six months
OK, first item: If your goal is to get rich quick, forget it. Go back to school and become a dentist or jump on the financial boom in the coming legal marijuana growing business.
The big money thing should not be your goal. Sure some people make fine incomes; but check, that was not their first goal. They found something they enjoyed, something that gave them a chance to be beneficial, a by-product was the income.
So, my dear people, begin by knowing yourself. What do you like, what are you good at, what are your priorities and goals? See how well you fit my image of you, most likely: 1. you can write and enjoy language; 2. you are independent and don’t mind working alone; 3. you are creative but not an artist; 4. you know more than you realize and want to share; 5. you have values and principles but can be open minded; and, 6. since you are reading this blog, you are a person of faith and feel a ‘calling’ you want to answer.
A few blogging secrets for you
The first secret: If you follow the typical course of today’s new bloggers you discover lots of people offering secrets (on learning to blog). Well, here’s one you won’t hear from. You can find college classes on blogging (examples: University of Maryland, London College of Fashion, UCSD Extension). Google it and see what’s happening near you.
Nobody in the blogging community will tell you that. So, why did J E Slone? Simple, I’m selling truth and honesty. I respect educated people who want to learn. I am not opposed to traditional or nontraditional education. Thus, if you prefer an academic environment, by all means explore that route.
The second secret: (this is a secret if you learned to type on a typewriter). Blogging is a cyber or virtual experience. Everything you do is done through the computer.
The new friends you make may be thousands of miles away. I have two or three who live on the opposite end of the country; and another in Singapore. These are more in tune with my work than nearly anyone I see in person every day.
I do online my blog-related business dealings with companies on both U.S. coasts and in Israel. Now, for the non-typewriter generation, this is no big thing. Those older may have to deal with culture shock; but, trust me, it will pass.
The third secret: the blogoverse is populated with every kind of writer imaginable. One gentleman I have encountered is a famous author. He blogs about blogging. Not unusual, so do I and lots of others. Blogging is a haven for introverts (again no problem). The experience allows these folks to get their message out to the world; something otherwise unimaginable.
The blogger’s many hats
Writing for the blog audience takes “getting used to” for those coming from print, academic and other traditional sorts of journalism. The writing should be crisp, functional, and to the point. Back in school, they taught us to write – period. Bloggers write, but, to be successful, they need to work with graphics, hyperlinks, and other structures. Then we have to handle our own editing.
As an example, blogs appear on device screens. Something about plain text on electronics displays is unpleasing. We often use subheadings, text blocks, photographs and other devices (including ads). These break up the sea of characters into digestible chunks that have better appeal to digitally trained eyes.
And there’s more. Besides writing, editing, and graphics, you, the a blogger, are also a publisher. For traditional scriveners, accustomed to work closely with micro elements, the blog publisher must be able to transition to the 30,000-foot view. This expansive added responsibility gets deep into marketing, advertising, affiliations, SEO, keywords; all new and foreign subjects. Each has its own minutiae and details.
Are you still here? Great, because we’re, still, not done. Wearing the publishing hat means business and financial management. Here’s another realm where many have no experience. But, for any effort beyond the hobby level, business skills become essential.
Blogs and laws, especially European
Likewise, a blog publisher encounters the legal world. First, there are copyrights and licensing. Those photographs used for enhancing and balancing posts have to come from somewhere. Copyright infringement and intellectual property theft are not fun.
Adding to all this joy and excitement are a few other things worth mentioning: FTC regulations, affiliate notice requirements, sales taxes, business fees, income taxes, the CAN-SPAM Act, the EU Cookie Law, and GDPR. These things matter, if you like to keep your money and don’t like to meet new people who show up on the doorstep carrying legal documents for you.
Take note, if you have a yard sale, it will connect you to people from you neighborhood and passers-by. Once it’s over, it’s over and everybody will forget about it and live happily ever after. On the other hand (maybe use both hands for this), when you place something on the internet, the person next door may see it. But it can also reach people in all 50 states plus every nook and cranny around the globe. This includes the nations of Europe (more about them in a minute).
Will you CAN-SPAM?
Think about nuisances like junk mail and robo-calls. Did you also think of junk e-mail? You should have. Remember, if your blog is a business, you will send out email. Ding, Ding, Ding. You just came under authority of The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003. Yeah, it’s been around for 15 years and nobody told us.
This piece of federal legislation has a load of requirements. For example, you must promptly respond to requests to stop sending emails when asked to. Also, your messages have to be truthful (I can’t imagine anyone lying in an email, but that’s just me). And, include a real address where you receive regular, old-fashioned United States (snail) mail, in case someone you emailed wants to write a letter to you and stick a stamp on it.
Would you believe there’s more? Well, a violation (just one, sole, single, itty-bitty violation) can be result in a fine of up to $41,484. If you didn’t get it, that penalty is for each email found in violation. Remember, I mentioned you like to keep your money? Want details on this CAN-SPAM business? Read More
If that isn’t enough, your blog may be read in Europe. That simple fact brings you under the authority of the laws of the European Union (EU). Yes, really. The EU has determined that the cookies your, mine and everyone else’s website uses represent a danger to the privacy of Europeans. Thus they came up with the EU cookie law. Remember those pesky little pop-ups you have to click OK, or ‘Accept,’ or such, to get rid of? Well that shows the page you are viewing is trying to comply with the EU cookie law. You will want to do that, too. I have read the UK lists a fine of £500,000 for serious violations of it (trust me, that’s a lot).
While we’re talking about the EU, we must mention GDPR, officially General Data Protection Regulation. This law is all about protecting the private data of European persons throughout the continent, the world, and the universe (sorry, hope you get the point). So, if you collect data from a European person, you must inform him what you are collecting and what you plan to do with it. Then if he wants, he gets a copy of what you have. If he wants it erased, you must get rid of it for him. A violation of this one is worth €20,000,000 ( 20 million euros) (like the price of a really nice yacht).
Just an aside, you are likely thinking, “but I’m not in Europe.” Sorry, no luck. This is not a yard sale; just ask Facebook and Google. Those giant companies, and others, have been whipped around by the Europeans. Your blog presence on the worldwide web makes you a just a mini-Facebook in their eyes. Further, the United States regulators could also adopt these or similar laws and regulations. In September, 2018, Facebook and Google agreed to accept an EU “Code of Conduct” aimed at fake news. Most likely this will expand to cover the rest of us eventually.
What’s a blogger to do?
Sick yet? I was too. But we all need to know. After a lot of hunting, I found good news. There are plugins, templates and other doo-dads you can get to satisfy all these regulations and laws. You can even get your own little popup about cookies (I like French vanilla).
Knowledge is power. Hopefully, this has not been overdone here (well maybe). Most likely, nobody else has taken, or will take, the time to air this stuff out for you. So be warned. And I thank you, and I will sleep better tonight knowing that you know.
By the way. When you are starting out, the ‘fine-print’ legal stuff you have to load into your pages will possibly take more space on your site than your posts, photos, etc. Just remember to check on it from time to time and examine reliable sources to see if requirements have been changed or added. (Give me a call if you find any have been eliminated, it would be big news)
We are close to, almost, nearly done. Thanks for staying around.
Your big blog picture
So, the basics for you are: an online presence, a blogging platform, software and add-ons, a message or topic, and compliance with a boatload of laws and regs. But, we still lack the most essential item.
The big thing you still needed is an audience. Fortunately brigades of fellow bloggers spend countless pages and posts trying to teach you this. I just this second Googled “build audience for blog” and the result was 227 Million pages. Confession time, I am still learning myself. I feel confident that a course I have chosen will lead me to success. So far, I am pleased with my progress. But, in good conscience, I am not going to try to compete with the giants, experts, and geniuses in this arena. They fill the social media with ideas, groups, classes, and more.
Top Christian blogging tips and ideas
I have saved the best and most important till now. I hope you will agree.
This thought is especially for the Christian bloggers. Over, above, and beyond everything I, or anyone else can suggest, make the decision to become a blogger prayerfully. A person of faith should make all important decisions in a spiritual way. There are religious bloggers propounding sermons, offering teachings, sharing inspirational thoughts, and other messages of faith over the internet. Others, myself included, take a lighter touch. We are all working from our knowledge and experience and, hopefully in obedience to God.
You should keep a few thoughts about you as you progress. Remember, you will be addressing a worldwide audience. Some will agree with you, others will disagree, perhaps strongly, some even violently. This is reality, so study and prepare a suitable responsive plan for the time it will be needed. Keep in mind, we are writing about one of the Big Three Social No-no’s (religion, politics, and sex). Your efforts to be positive and spiritual can result in a terrific message or a terrifying backlash. Knowledge is power, so now you know.
Not everyone will be happy
Half the world’s population, over three billion people, have internet access. When you post a message, someone will see it. Hopefully, a lot of someones. However, when you get one response, you will want two, then four, then eight… you get the idea; it never ends. Celebrities count their internet followings in the tens of millions. One blog I read has over a million page views a month. These numbers seem astronomical. As with any goal, once reached, it is replaced by another, still higher, target.
One frequent complaint is frustration from working, then being patient, and after all that, nothing happening. This, and other problems come from nowhere to challenge us. Imagine the delight when the problem disappears, or (more often) when you find a solution. There are countless means and methods to accomplish just about anything you encounter. The joy of finding just the right one is a delight of blogging. We encounter an obstacle; conquer it, and move on.
All along the way, we have a learning experience. We find that endurance, in the face of seemingly fruitless work, ultimately pays off.
Some suggestions in addition to the Christian blogging tips we have discussed: do your research and get educated. Lay out a game plan and timetable for yourself. Mentors will tell you some of these things take time — they are right. When it is obvious a plan is not working, don’t be afraid to scrap it and start fresh. Remember, you have not failed, you have discovered a way not to do it.
Have you learned anything? Have I scared you away? I hope not because my aim was to give you a bit of knowledge that I did not have at the start. Contact me with your thoughts, suggestions, gripes, whatever. I might just learn something from you.
Keep learning, blogging is a fantastic vehicle for it. One favor as we wrap up this visit, how about leaving your name and email so I can share news, ideas, and tidbits that might help. No obligation, no problem, just catch the sign-up form below.
Good luck, happy blogging, and continued growth in your faith.