It was my good buddy Tim Challies’ 10th Blogging Anniversary yesterday. Mega congratulations, Tim, on this happy anniversary and may you have many, many more of them. Like multitudes of others I owe you a huge debt for all the hours and effort you put in to keep us informed, edified, and challenged on a daily basis. You have a significant spiritual role in many of our lives.  Thanks for being such a rare model of courage, clarity, humility, transparency, and love, for the rest of us baby bloggers out here. May God keep you faithful and fervent all your days.

Though barely out of my blogging diapers – I’m just coming up for my third birthday next month – I was recently asked for tips on how to start a blog that people will read. Although it feels a bit like asking a T-ball player how to hit a home run at Yankee stadium, I thought I’d make a quick list of blogging tips I’ve learned from the daddy of all bloggers with a few of my own mini-tips thrown in as well:

  1. Read lots of blogs in lots of different subject areas, Christian and non-Christian. It stimulates your mind, exposes you to different writing styles, and gives you material to comment on and link to.
  2. Observe the master bloggers and try to identify what makes them successful. Don’t copy them but adapt and translate what they do to your own talents and interests.
  3. Balance teaching with personal information. The world probably doesn’t need more sermons, but neither does it need to know the intimate details of your marriage every day. Tim is a master at getting this balance right, keeping his focus on God’s revelation while also revealing enough of his own life and character to keep it personal and human.
  4. Don’t make every post a hit-job on someone or something but keep it positive and edifying. Some people have built readerships on a diet of controversy. But do you really want these kinds of readers?
  5. Vary between short posts and longer posts. Unless you are someone like Tim Challies who has earned the right (and has the ability) to write 1000 words a day, you are best to keep it to 500 words or less, with some rare exceptions.
  6. Be consistent and regular in your blogging. Don’t post five one week and then nothing for five weeks. Set yourself a target of 2-3 posts a week and post them on the same days each week.
  7. Exercise patience – like everything else overnight success is very rare. If you’re just starting, you’re very late to the party. Most people already read too many blogs, and you may have to wait for dead men’s shoes to make a breakthrough.
  8. Comment on other people’s blogs and interact with comments on your own blogs. Blogging is social media, so be sociable.
  9. Promote other beginner bloggers. The big boys have lots of links already. Encourage fellow-strugglers.
  10. Don’t check your stats every day. Maybe once a month or once a week will suffice. If you make it all about stats, you will either get proud or devastated.
  11. Be content with the readership God gives you. Even if it’s only 20 people a day, consider that you are witnessing to and influencing 20 people a day. That’s probably far more than you would impact without a blog.
  12. Do it for your own spiritual benefit. Writing an edifying blog is a spiritual discipline that can develop you intellectually and grow you spiritually. Even if you never become the daddy (or the mommy) of all bloggers, it can help you toddle a few steps further along the road of your spiritual walk.
  13. Limit your time. As reading and writing blogs can easily devour time, set yourself some time limits and force yourself to stay within them.
  14. Try to specialize in a certain subject. Look for a niche that isn’t being serviced and try to fill it. I initially focused on pastoral leadership. When non-pastors began to read my blog, I decided to widen my scope and write for young leaders in business and education as well. Then I was increasingly asked about family leadership issues, until eventually my blog morphed into a covering more or less the whole Christian life. But I’d still advise a narrow focus initially and build out from there.
  15. Pray for God’s blessing. Not a day goes by without me praying for God to use my few loaves and fishes to bless His people. And He often surprises me with how much He can do with so little.
  • Kim Shay

    I would also add that we ought to support the ordinary bloggers out there, not just the big ones. You’ve alluded to that in your point about supporting other beginning bloggers. I have found such wisdom in the ordinary folk like myself as much as the more well-known folks. I like, also, your point about balancing personal information and teaching. I know that it’s more women than men who reveal personal details, but it always does my heart good to read a male blogger sharing about his family. It makes me feel like I’m hearing a person, not just a bunch of pixels.

    • David Murray

      Agree with you, Kim, on the wonderful wisdom God has placed among His people. I’ve certainly benefitted from the nuggets you’ve mined out of your life experiences.

  • Don

    Successful blogging is seemingly a nebulous blend of art and science. Those bloggers who manage to keep their readers engaged in the discussion dialog on a consistent basis amaze me.Thank you for your blog.

    • David Murray

      Thanks, Don.

  • Wesley

    Happy third birthday David (coming up)! I appreciate what you’ve written here and seek to implement much of what you listed here in my own blog (except for maybe the length – i tend to have a lot to say/write these days ;) ) One thing i especially want to highlight is your encouragement to write for your own spiritual benefit. I’ve found my blog firstly a way to seek to glorify God and second a way to write through/process what God is revealing to me. It helps to solidify what i’m learning as well as think through and condense down how to communicate it well to others in an engaging and faithful way.

  • Fr. James Guirguis

    Wow. Thanks for these great tips. I’ve been blogging for about 4 months and I have to say that it’s easy to get caught up in stats and figures and forget that ultimately it’s God’s work that matters.

  • Se7en

    Such a great post!!! Gotta love fabulous tips… somehow there’s always a beginner blogger in us, no matter how long you have been blogging – lots to learn!!! Love #15.

    • David Murray

      May we always stay beginners!

  • purisomniapura

    Dr. Murray, I think at one point in time you did put up a post about the areas you’d indentified that were seemingly neglected. Do you still have that list (perhaps even updated) available to post here?

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