I’ve been blogging in some form or fashion since I was in the eighth grade, around 2004. Way back then, my blog posts were ramblings of a couple hundred words long, usually loosely associated with what I had been learning at youth group or in my personal, infrequent Bible study.
I encourage anyone and everyone to have a blog, if for no other reason than to improve your writing by practicing it as often as possible. Even if no one ever reads it, it’s a great exercise.
I used to consider myself a really good writer, and then I moved to Nashville and I met dozens of people far better at writing than I am, and I’ve been humbled quite a bit. But, looking back over the years, I can see how I have matured as a writer and even become more efficient at writing overall.
I owe much of my development as a writer to friends like Trevin Wax, Marty Duren, and Barnabas Piper. But a lot of my improvement, I think, has come simply because of reps. Learning to be a better blogger, or writer in general, takes time and practice. I wouldn’t consider myself a great writer, but I’m better than I was a few years ago.
If you’re new to blogging, or if you are thinking of starting a blog, you may not know what to expect, and that’s OK.
Next week, I will share three things blogging is. Today, here are three things a blog is not:
1. Your own little vehicle to fame and fortune
I hear far too many stories of Christians starting blogs because they want to get Christian famous and/or make a lot of money. Usually, Christians who start blogs to get rich or famous end up abandoning their blog within the first year or so because they realize it’s not that easy.
With one or two exceptions, my most successful blogger friends make, at most, a few hundred dollars a month. That might sound like a lot, but when you think about how much time those bloggers put into their blogs, two or three hundred bucks a month works itself out to a pretty pitiful hourly wage.
If you want to get rich and famous online, you’re far better off buying random junk from Kohl’s and going on Facebook Live than you are starting a blog. It takes a lot less time and effort.
Forget, for a minute, the slim odds that blogging will lead you to fame and fortune. If you start a blog with the goal of becoming rich and famous, it will be clear in your writing and no one will want to read you. So, you end up shooting yourself in the foot anyway.
A Christian who blogs must do so as an act of service to the Church, not as a hopeful means of acquiring fame and fortune.
2. An endeavor for the lazy or lighthearted
The blog is an unforgiving taskmaster. When I started my personal blog, my hope was to post content five days a week: three original blog posts and two link roundups. Yeah…that never really happened.
Book projects have an end. School papers have a due date. But blogs are perpetual, indefinite projects. A blog is the school paper that never meets its page requirement no matter how much you write, or the book that is never due, but must be done so that it can be mercilessly criticized.
Blogs are sorta like teenage boys: you feed them constantly and it’s just never quite enough.
Putting aside the never-ending nature of blogs, when you actually muster up the time and courage to write one, you will probably get criticized for something you didn’t include or for something you didn’t explain as much as a particularly squirrely commenter would have liked. Then, you spend half your Saturday defending yourself against accusations of poor blogging from people you don’t know on the internet.
There is no effort so Sisyphean as blogging for the ever-fickle internet.
A Christian who blogs must not be lazy or lighthearted if he or she hopes to maintain the will to roll the rock back up the hill.
3. A place for you to drag people through the mud
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a blog is not a place for you call people names and be nasty toward others.
This tends to be more of a problem during election seasons like in 2016, but it is not a phenomenon limited to politics.
In Christian blogospheres, there are bloggers known as “watch bloggers” or “discernment bloggers” who dig into well-known Christians’ personal lives in an effort to expose them as frauds or otherwise untrustworthy individuals. These bloggers consider their work a service to the Church, when, most of the time, they are less interested in building up the body than they are tearing down others.
Sometimes, watch bloggers are addressing serious issues with Christian leaders or organizations, but these issues are both 1) serious enough not to be batted around the blogosphere, and 2) not the business of random bloggers on the internet. Many Church issues are best handled by leaders in local churches or by members of the organizations in question, as well as law enforcement if a crime has taken place.
Too many Christian bloggers try to be Woodward and Berstein and end up looking like Statler and Waldorf.
Blogs are not platforms for nastiness, even if it’s done in the name of “discernment.”
Three Things a Blog Is
Have I scared you away from blogging? If I did, I probably saved you a lot of time and heartbreak. If I didn’t, you’re brave.
Next week, I’ll be back with three things a blog is.
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social as well as a Content Strategist at LifeWay. He and his wife Susie live outside Nashville, TN.