In this video Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution has some helpful advice on how to be an effective blogger (RSS and email readers click through to see video):

  • When I’m reading things, I’m always thinking, “Is this bloggable in some way?” If you’re going to have fresh material every day, the switch has got to be always on.
  • I don’t worry about, “This kind of post will draw in more readers.” I think that’s a big mistake. It makes the blog boring, least common denominator, less innovative, less entrepreneurial.
  • I try to make people think about old things in a new way…It’s about ideas and trying to open up horizons.
  • Blogs will last forever. I don’t think it’s a phase. I think the combination of information with personality will persist.

When I think of the bloggers I enjoy most, it’s definitely that combination of content + personality that draws me to their writing.

Some bloggers have lots of content, but it’s a character-free-zone – you’d think that a robot was writing the posts. Others have little to say, or just recycle the same message again and again, and hope that the force of their personality or the details of their personal life is enough of a draw.

It’s a very difficult balance to strike, but Cowen is right, it’s content PLUS personality that attracts us, interests us, and inspires us.

I’ve noticed an increasing number of Christian authors going down this route too (intertwining their own story with their teaching) and in some books it does enhance the final product.

However,  I wouldn’t like to see preachers taking this approach in the pulpit. A personal story now and again may help illustrate a point, but too much of that and the focus easily and fatally moves from God and His Word to the preacher and his life.

So, what do you think makes a successful blog? And should a preacher regularly bring his own story into the pulpit?

  • Kim Shay

    I have to say that one thing I really like is when a male blogger reveals more of his personality. There are any number of women bloggers who are willing to delve into practical, personal examples to illustrate a point. When I read a gentleman blogger do that, I like it, because I feel like I’m really seeing a person behind the words. And yes, I would much rather see a preacher share a personal story, rather than something from pop culture or sports.

    I think what makes a good blog is a balance between a conversational style of writing and writing that is more informative. I have been blessed to meet a few bloggers in person, and I really like it when it is apparent that they write like they speak.

    • David Murray

      Yes, Kim, I’ve enjoyed meeting other bloggers in person too. Guys don’t find it so easy to be touchy-feely!

  • David Murray (Isle of Lewis)

    I agree with you that preachers shouldn’t take this approach.
    I recently decided to see what a very popular Mr Driscoll from America was like and I discovered a stark contrast in style of preaching to the style of my own minister Kenneth Stewart in Glasgow. I think he spent less than half of his sermons speaking directly about his text. There were hundreds of stories about his church and conversations he’s had with people and these kinds of things throughout.
    I’ve listened to a lot of ministers and I always find that there’s a correlation between liberal theology and the level of use of news, stories and anything which is barely related to the passage.
    I have to say my own minister never tells stories or anything like that and spends the whole sermon expounding scripture and I find it FAR more engaging than those who seem to make a specific attempt to BE engaging.

    • David Murray

      Astute words, David.