I’ve been blogging, intermittently, for five years. Somehow I don’t completely hate my first post.
I started with a hope.
I hope this can be a place where I can share my thoughts, my encounters, and my opinions in an effort to make this world a better place, one reader at a time.
I was called a pliable college idealist shortly after writing that. I suppose I’m now a pliable twentysomething idealist, because my hope remains.
Five years later, I’m still clicking away on my keyboard, trying to be witty and pithy, helpful and inspiring. I’m not always those things. Not even close.
I’m going to take you on a 1,300-word journey through my emotions and realizations of the blogging process throughout this post–why I write, why I’ve changed what I write about, fears I experience, and advice I’d give to people who are embarking on the journey of online publishing.
Why I Still Write
I share my words to be helpful, encouraging, entertaining, and inspiring. If a post is none of the above–at least in my mind–I don’t click publish.
Above all, I want to write about common problems and issues that, even if not explicitly, point people to Jesus.
I’ve wrestled with that bit–pointing people to Jesus via blog posts–for years.
Does telling people how to save a buck on apps advance the Kingdom of God?
Is this worth it?
Does what I’m doing make any noticeable difference?
The short answer: I still don’t know. Maybe. Hopefully. Possibly.
Martin Luther allegedly said, 1
The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.
As Justin Taylor notes, I think God wants us to love our neighbors more than he wants us to make nice shoes. Making crappy shoes and then selling them to your unknowing neighbor is fully unloving. So, as a Christian blogger, I post seemingly random, commonplace tips and advice because I think it may help someone, in some tiny way, and that could clear the way for more important things.
I love my neighbor by helping my neighbor however I can–especially in the ways I most enjoy helping.
I try to love my neighbors (that’s you, my gracious reader) in the simple and in the ideological. I share what I’m struggling with and see if others can relate.
Some days I want to write posts that advance my kingdom instead of God’s. I write to make me look good, or funny, or intelligent, or sharp. I write to attract eyeballs instead of influence hearts. I like it when my stats are off the charts, and I get way too much cheap satisfaction when people share or comment on my posts.
Even though I’m trying to write for God’s glory, I still live for man’s approval over His more often than I’d care to admit.
Why What I Write About Changed
I used to write more frequently about life experiences correlated to ideas and theories. I’ve subtly shifted over the years to more practical tips and technology advice, with the occasional theological revelation.
I often say my target reader would be someone who is engaged in ministry (personally or professionally, maybe both) and is a technology geek. That would be me. I write for an audience that looks like me in many ways, and I adhere to the advice, “Write the Internet you want to read.”
At the same time, I write for what I think people might, maybe, perhaps, possibly want to read. I try to guess. But I’m a bad forecaster.
I waffle back and forth, not wanting the people who read for the technology tips to stop reading because of the theology stuff while not wanting the people who read for the faith-related posts to get bogged down by me explaining if their iPhone shift key is on.
Typical people pleasing. My rationale is fear laden.
I feel unqualified to write about theology and biblical theories.
What if my analysis is wrong? What if I say something heretical, accidentally?
Why should I write (or podcast) when there are guys like John Piper–who are smarter and more godly–writing and speaking?
Should I even bother when there are far more prolific, intelligent, poised authors publishing with better quality and a higher frequency?
I still spar with those questions. I often want to leave the important to the professionals and instead take care of the interesting-to-me-yet-at-times-menial posts because, well, Kevin DeYoung isn’t going to write about how to use a text expander.
It feels good to get that off my chest. Thanks for bearing with me as I hopscotch between creating not for your feedback, yet wanting your feedback, and despairing and triumphing on the wave of emotion I feel in writing about different things.
All of this to say, this blog is still evolving. Slight changes, slight course corrections, slight tweaks and experiments. I’m still learning and growing and sharing what sticks along the way.
With all of that out of the way, here’s my last bit on what advice I’d give to someone who is starting to publish content online.
My Two Cents on Online Publishing
Anyone can start writing for the web.
There are tons of free ways to do it. If you want to be fancy and have a domain and seem more important, you can do that for less than $10 a month. I’m a huge fan of Squarespace, because they help make beautiful websites for next to nothing.
Your audience is out there.
If you want to write about anything–truly, anything–there is an audience for you. But you have to find them, or help them find you. There’s no simple way to do this. Twitter helps. Looking for similar blogs and commenting and engaging the author helps. But honestly, it’s process. There’s truly no overnight successes. But people want to hear from you. Let them.
There will be days when you want to quit.
You’ll be uninspired and have nothing to share. That’s ok. It’s part of the emotional rollercoaster you click yourself into when you start publishing online.
Don’t be ashamed of humble beginnings.
My mom was one of my only readers for a long time. For someone who has been blogging as long as I have, I should have more views. More subscribers. More comments. More feedback. Better SEO. Better stories. Better posts.
I don’t. But I decided a long time ago that if I helped one person with a post, it was worth it, even at the cost of my ego.
Don’t get consumed with stats.
It will kill your soul and the pleasure of someone sharing what you write is fleeting.
Don’t write for robots that will push you to the top of Google or for page views and click-throughs. Write to make a difference. Write to be helpful. Write to love your neighbor.
The value of publishing online for others to see can’t be underestimated.
Written communication is becoming increasingly important. Emails. Text messages. Tweets. Facebook updates. And the more you write, the better you get. Don’t just write and keep it to yourself. Please share.
Writing will always increasingly become an in-demand skill for nearly every job and career path. Write more to write better.
In my first post I admitted,
Everyone has an opinion about something; I’ve been blessed with opinions about everything.
That’s still true. I’m still a cornucopia of opinions–now hopefully more backed by careful thought and a Biblical basis rather than off-the-cuff rants and diatribes. I’m trying to hold opinions more loosely held when I’m unsure or unconvinced. Trying.
In the midst of all I’ve received from blogging, my greatest reward has been helping people. People who have stopped to take a moment to read. People who subscribe and reply and comment and those who don’t but still left better than when they arrived.
So thank you. Thanks for reading. Thanks for encouraging. Thanks for clicking and sharing and being willing to be challenged. Thanks for sticking with me.
I do this for God’s glory and your good. To another five years of that.
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