Blogs are website collections of articles or images. Some blogs are purely photography and graphic design images, while others are pure textual content, but most are somewhere in between. Bloggers are most commonly seen as millennials living in their moms’ basements but corporate America uses blogs too. They use them to drive awareness of their products and services, create leads, get more traffic to their website, and establish themselves as thought leaders.
“In terms of church publications, the goal is to show that the only satisfying worldview is rooted in Christ’s person and work, then teaching life under his reign.”
There are parallels here that apply to the Church. We definitely want our communities to become aware of the saving power of the gospel and union with Christ and his Church; it would be incredible if people living around our churches started to ask questions about the faith because of something we had written. Our websites are tools that we invest in, so we should want as many people utilizing them as possible. Thought leadership in the business world means an individual company is setting the trend for how a market is going – think Apple seven years ago. In terms of church publications, the goal is to show that the only satisfying worldview is rooted in Christ’s person and work, then teaching life under his reign.
Why do people read blogs? Because they can’t help it. They offer free information that tends to be incredibly valuable. It doesn’t matter what your hobby is, you can find a blog for it. When it comes to articles on parenting or politics or faith, people share them because they were personally helpful for them. The online population reads blogs because they’re in front of them; the more an article or website is accessed, the more attention it gets from search engines and social media.
How to Blog
The first necessity of blogging is a goal, a point in writing, a thesis statement. What do you want people to do or know once they’ve read it? The more clearly you identify this, the easier it will be to write and prioritize ideas. If there are several values or ideas that you want to embed in the blog as a whole, then write those out and cycle through them.
Having a content calendar will make juggling topics, authors, and deadlines a streamlined process. Chances are that you already have a content calendar, your preaching schedule; the articles written can be an extension of the pulpit. They can be used to enhance the sermon or touch on something that didn’t make the final sermon draft. A content calendar will also help organize ideas, church events, holidays, and add a layer of accountability to the team creating the content. This process can put the church on a stream of related content and keep it consistent. Two of the worst things to see on a website are blogs and sermons that haven’t been updated in some time.
How long should an article be? The most successful articles are between 1,100 and 1,300 words.1 Some articles are shorter but not many are longer. Our normal articles often fit in this range, but our Spokes series articles are a bit shorter. The overall consensus is that in-depth articles are more valuable because they give comprehensive information. The challenge for our churches is to create value without wearing out the audience. Decide a topic, stick to it, and clean it up.
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain
Most people skim articles. This shouldn’t surprise us – we live in a high-paced, pragmatic society. If we want people to continue trafficking our websites, we have to shape our content in a way that is convenient for them. Using headlines, excerpts, bolded type, and other structure-establishing formats will make it easier for visitors to get the information they need and continue to trust us.
What is the best way to cut through the clutter and get attention? Visuals. Articles with images receive 94% more engagement than those without. Visuals can convey the theme of the information much faster and more clearly than words can, which why they can grab attention better than text alone. Every article must have an image head, and that photo or graphic should be thematically related to the content of the article.