4 Things to Ask If You’re Not Getting Blog Followers

Are you sinking endless time into your blog, hoping to expand it, only to find yourself scraping for likes and comments?

Are you tossing out deep, powerful insights that honor God and his Word, but watching everyone meander past like browsers at a farmers’ market?

Are you sharing the absolute bottom depths of your heart, knowing full well there are others undergoing the same struggle, yet wondering why they never show up?

It’s not sinful to desire a larger platform through your blog. It can be, if your motives are wrong. But if your passion is elevating God and encouraging others, it’s unlikely that he has a problem with your goals.

But, as we’ve figured out by now (and of course this is what often drives us to blogging), God allows the world’s rules to matter. If you need a job, you have to submit resumes. If you want friends, you have to put in the effort. If you want to hike the Continental Divide Trail, you’ll need to be in shape. God’s favor and faithfulness will rarely bypass these realities. Though he does intervene, it behooves us to put in the hard work, and hard work includes knowing the rules.

If you’re frustrated with your blog’s inchworm growth, here are a few things you can ask yourself:

 

1. Am I relying too heavily on real-life friends?

I have a few blessed real-life friends who actively follow and interact with my blog. It took me a while to figure out why I wasn’t getting more.

Eventually I realized something that should have been obvious from the start: for the most part, the average cross-section of one’s real-life squad are not blog readers. Or readers of any kind, come to think of it.

When you offer a post to the WordPress community, you’re offering to a crowd that’s all bloggers to begin with. When you offer the same to your church crowd, it’s a very different composition of folks.

Only a certain type of person tends to peruse blogs as a habit. They have to be 1) given to social media habits, 2) possessed of at least some spare time, and 3) appreciative of reading. As you apply each condition, your audience shrinks. And it’s only then that we get to the question of whether your content actually resonates with the real-life chums you happen to know. It might not.

Don’t expect your entire real-life crowd to come flocking to your blog. Lean on the ones who do; encourage them to share on social media and invite the bloggy types they know. But to really grow your platform, you will, at some point, have to rely pretty heavily on pursuing other bloggers. That’s where you’re likely to find some of your biggest and most loyal followers.

 

2. Am I just posting Bible verses?

“The Bible is all we need,” you think to yourself as you post the 1,945th straight blog article containing one Scripture passage and no other content. “If people are going to pass me over because they think the Scripture I present is boring and insufficient, that’s on them, not me.”

You’re right that Scripture is all we need. But you’re still looking at an empty blog. And that may yet be on you. I know how this sounds on the surface, but as a blogger, you do need more than just reproduction of Scripture.

Keep in mind two things. One, Scripture itself tells us that it requires teaching. The practice of humans expounding the Bible is well-established throughout God’s Word, particularly in Paul’s pastoral letters – 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. If quoting Scripture alone were all that’s required, pastors wouldn’t be needed. (I know a few highly literal minds out there actually feel this way – that none of us should be teaching each other, that our words’ inferiority to Scripture means that our words should not be heard. But that’s a theological debate for another day, and not one in which church history has generally fallen on your side.)

More importantly, though, remember that many of your potential readers are already getting their Bible reading from other places. They attend church; they have personal study and devotional plans; they read together with others. They aren’t coming to you for that. When they seek you out, they’re looking for tertiary sources of spiritual education, blended with witty or evocative writing, soaked in themes they resonate with. That’s what blogging is, and that’s what potential readers are expecting. If all they get from you is the same thing they’re getting in five other channels, they’ll probably just move on.

Make it interesting. Tell a story from your life that illustrates a Scriptural truth. Offer an insight that popped into your head recently. Share something that gets you good and mad. Give them something they won’t get from the Bible sitting right next to their computer. You’re not sinning by doing any of this. You’re doing what pastors and teachers have been doing for generations – leading them back to the Word, just in a creative way.

(Technical note: when you do share Scripture verses – and make sure you do! – don’t make them the first words in your post. The WordPress Reader uses your first words as the teaser for your post, and if all people see is unvarnished Scripture in every teaser of yours, they may pass you up for the unfortunate but understandable reasons I’ve mentioned above.)

 

3. Am I interacting with my readers?

Funny story. It was New Years’ Eve 2016, and I was looking to push my yearly viewer count over a certain number threshold. In the waning hours, as I played Pandemic with friends (a board game I highly recommend) while staring at the WordPress dashboard on my phone, I threw good taste to the wind and simply started liking every post in my Reader. Immediately I got a huge, unprecedented spurt of likes and site hits. By midnight, I’d blown right past my threshold.

For the next 16 months, having learned my lesson, I kept up a high level of interaction with other bloggers. I liked a lot, I commented a lot, and in an attempt to maintain a certain integrity in all this, I actually read their stuff, too. It did take me an hour or so each day to really get myself out there in the WordPress blogosphere, but it brought a lot of attention back to my own blog.

In the 20 months since, I’ve let all that go, and my numbers have languished. There are certain reasons, and sure it takes some time, but it boils down to me. When you stop reciprocating other bloggers’ attention and participating in the community, your traffic drops until you’re left with only your most loyal followers. While they’re invaluable and treasured (hi guys! I love you!), they alone can’t be the platform you need for expansion.

Blogging is a community. We already feel alone in this world; why bring that here, too? Participate in the community. Explore others’ stuff. Cheer them on and let them know they’re doing great. Prioritize the ones who do swing by your blog.

 

4. Are my topics relevant?

I’m friends with a handful of published authors, and one once said: “If I see a blog post containing information, I don’t even think about clicking it.”

You might be excited about the doctrinal knowledge you’ve attained and eager to share it with the world. I won’t even call it pride. You just love learning about God and want others to join in your exploration.

Problem is, Karen, your average potential reader, is tottering through the kitchen with four deafening children on her heels, just found out her father has melanoma, and is teetering on bankruptcy from bailing her younger brother out of prison so many times. She just does not care about your formal dissertation on the doctrines of grace right now. She’s crying out to God.

What do you have for her, blogger?

This, I might venture, is where many male bloggers stumble. They have a tendency to dive deep into the apologetics or hermeneutics or discernment categories that come so naturally to them and don’t realize that, frankly, they’re niche categories. You can get a following there, but it’s even harder than ordinary blogging because your target audience is slim pickings at the outset (and already captured by more established bloggers). It takes a ton of pizazz and talent to even get people into such posts, much less expound this stuff in an engaging, relatable way.

You’re much more likely to make headway when your passions intersect with a topic that more people are dealing with this very day. That is not to say you can’t write about your other passions. Most likely, you will want to diversify your content. If you love breaking down the minutiae of the symbologies of baptism and think you’ve got the writing chops to get people intrigued, go right ahead, but Karen will probably respond more readily to your post last week about God’s fierce attention to the cries of his overwhelmed saints. It’s just how people are, and at one point, we have to play by those rules.

 

I hope this helped someone today. Keep it up. Don’t forget to use intriguing titles – delay a post for a week if you can’t think of one. Don’t post too much, or too seldom. Pray before you write – it makes a huge difference!

 

I’m glad you tuned in today. If you’ve found this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media.

 

 

 

The “Enter” Key: How to Instantly Get Readers to Finish Your Post

If you’re wondering why you’re getting so few likes and comments on your blog posts, there’s one suspect you can immediately investigate.

Your readers’ attention is fragile. They have limited spare time and mental bandwidth, and most will decide whether they’ll stay and finish your post upon first glance. This creates a number of “traps” your post can fall into, which may cause readers take the path of least resistance and move on.

One is unnecessary clicks. Surveys, subscription requests, content-less home pages that require people to dig for your actual posts – this stuff will dislodge many readers at first sight. Be careful with these.

Another is sheer length. If visitors skim the post and see that it’ll take more than a couple minutes, you’ve probably lost them, no matter how good your content. 500 words is a good maximum.

But the subject of this post is the size of your paragraphs.

Paragraphs exist for a reason. They break down your ideas into manageable chunks, lend flow to your work. This is Writing 101.

People struggle to follow paragraphs that ramble on. It signals “massive investment required”. If the first thing that greets visitors is a paragraph running off the page, many will just click “X”. They’re not book readers. They’re surfers, read-on-the-go types.

On the other hand, a post that’s split into manageable paragraphs tells them “I’m going to do the hard work of building and supporting my ideas for you, reader!” This is a good thing.

I personally don’t like going over four or five lines in any single paragraph (my column width is about 90 characters long).

I also don’t make EVERYTHING a paragraph. Some ideas can stand on their own as a single sentence.

Then again, making EVERYTHING a single sentence is just wonky. It strikes readers as a pretension, draws attention to itself. It also doesn’t do much to reveal your ideas’ structure and interplay.

Vary the lengths of your paragraphs (using the “size” of each idea as a guide). Shake things up. I’ve tried to make this post a good example.

I’m rooting for you, Christian blogger, to hold onto those slippery readers when they come by. I know it’s frustrating that your valuable ideas alone won’t hold onto people, but that’s just life. Let’s embrace the art – be good at everything, as Christians should be.

 

Appreciating My Top Likers, Part II

This post exists to appreciate those who like my blog posts consistently, by pointing back to their blogs as a “thanks”. With all the endless content out there, blogging is an ocean. I figure the least I can do is foghorn people towards others’ content. As always, folks, I am honored and confused to have your followership.

I did a post like this about ten months ago. While reviewing that post in order to smithy this little sequel, I noticed how many of the bloggers mentioned in that first post have dropped off the face of the planet in the intervening time. Probably about 60% remain active. Kind of a sobering note of how life grabs at us and shuffles our priorities. Blogging is one tough mistress. Hope to see them back soon.

Below (in no particular order) are the Top 25 likers of this year’s original posts on Brandonjadams.com. I cannot promise that they’ll match your spiritual tastes, only that they are active and that you won’t be blasted with X-rated hijinks upon linking to them. Enjoy, and leave a comment in order to encourage them!

Following Him Beside Still Waters
Sarah J. Callen
Makayla Nielson
Marques Jeffries
Robert Hansen
homelife7597
Mike Polinske
Those Who Sin Differently
Chilavertnmezi
Adewumi Peter Blog
Lynn Abbott Studios
Sherline’s Whatchu Thinkin’ Blog 
Elihu’s Corner
Dorissa Vanover
Michael E. Lynch
Jesus and Green Tea
gracedaily365
idaratext
Debra Pedrow
Beholding Him Ministries
The Lost Coin Blog
Fractured Faith Blog
Sue Cass
Smiley Riley
thenewleaf2016

Honorable mentions:

jenniapril
maranatha2018 10–
disciple120

I wanted to show these three folks, too, but…they didn’t have a blog that I could find! If do, and you’d like to drop a comment specifying where it can be found, I’d be happy to link to it.

In fact, I wanted to show everyone. But I had to make a cutoff somewhere or I’d be here all year. Sorry! If you stick around, you might make the next batch… 😉

I’m also happy to note that many of these bloggers are millennials! It’s nice to know that I’m reaching my target audience, though, of course, I’m more than happy to have the older ones as well.

Enjoy Easter week and try not to gorge on Cadbury eggs too much.

Get a Blogging Small Group

A story for the benefit of the new bloggers…

One of the strengths of my church (membership in the upper three digits) is that it doesn’t just put on Sunday service and then leave people to carve out their own connections. It actively encourages small groups. It recognizes that these bands of brothers/sisters, who walk with you and support you and fight for you, are everything to the believer as they navigate the narrow road.

I feel that it works the same for bloggers.

I’m currently in two Facebook groups for believing bloggers. The first is over 10,000 bloggers (not all active, of course) and is managed decently. Some good content there.

But the smaller one, with less than 200 bloggers, has blessed me far more.

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Small Christian Blogs Worth Your Time: New Girls on the Block Edition

You’ve seen the first two posts. You’ve heard the rumors. Now get ready for…new girls on the block!

This is a collection of lady bloggers whom I’ve been privileged to meet and read. But not just any bloggers – new ones. We all need help getting noticed in the earsplitting deluge that is the internet, so these compilations are built in the hopes of bringing them some attention.

 

To qualify for these posts, you must:

  • Have less than 100 WordPress followers
  • Post semi-frequently
  • Show Biblical maturity and substance
  • Be a better writer than me. Wait, never mind, that’s everyone.

Enjoy!

Kathleen Raygoza @ Huckleberry Coffee – A real-life friend. Heartfelt, drowned in Scripture, and also knowledgeable about the military wife life.

Adventures of a Single Pretzel – She’s not really new (she’s been blogging longer than I, actually), but she was one of my first followers…like, literally, one of the first five…so she gets a shout-out. Did I mention her writing is profound?

Ashleigh Rich – This one’s going all in. Fan page, series of posts, the whole nine yards. She seems to think she has a message, and I agree!

Joey @ Training for Eternity – Terrific insight. No punches pulled. Tune into Joey’s blog for life as it really is.

Get Real With D – Quite honest about the inner life and especially relationships. I recommend.

Lena Cavitt – Lena just followed me this week. Socially relevant, funny, and plenty of Scripture to sink your teeth into.

Lady in Waiting – She loves to put new spins on things, and it’ll make you think. Try her out!

Made Piece by Piece – This one has a way with words and mental pictures. “Growth” is a frequent tag with her.

AdriannaJ @ Your Godly Words – Come here for your weekly dose of the “boom words” of Christianity (if that’s even a phrase…is that a phrase?) – power, freedom, boldness, etc.

 

Megan Reedy @ Teaching in the Philippines – If that tag doesn’t interest you, her thoughts about total surrender to and intimacy with God should.

 

I’m out of town until Monday, but feel free to comment and I’ll reply then!

 

Good Grief! 5 MORE tips for Christian WordPress bloggers?!

Alright…I think I might finally be out of ideas. I’ve enjoyed writing this series. I pray for and wish you all the best of luck in your God-glorifying blogging endeavors. (You can find the previous installments here, here, here, and here).

 

21. Don’t give up

It will take time to get a following. If someone told you to expect quick results, they tricked you. There’s a certain “critical mass” to be reached after a few months, at which a new visitors find enough content on your blog to spend a while clicking through and recommending your site, in turn boosting your metrics. You’ll need a good backdrop of solid content to get there, and that takes time. Keep it up!

 

22. Weigh visitors more than views

That said, eventually views start to level off. But I’ve found that my visitor count is still slowly growing. Those and comments are probably the best metrics to judge whether you’re doing well. Viewcount might be the worst. It’s distorted by all kinds of things.

 

23. Copyright yourself

Find a generic copyright statement somewhere on the internet and put it on your blog. You don’t want other bloggers, random sites, or most embareassingly, some actual online publication coming along and unscrupulously claiming your words as theirs. It can be surprisingly hard to prove otherwise.

 

24. Use a variety of platforms

This should probably have come earlier in the series, but…

Don’t rely solely on your WordPress audience to bring you attention. Spread out to Facebook and Twitter. Join Christian blogging groups on those platforms. There are auto-posting options (or third-party software, like Hootsuite or Sprout) that you can use to automatically post your links there (though you’ll have to do it manually in groups).

And don’t count out picture-oriented platforms like Pinterest or Instagram. I haven’t updated it in a while, but Pinterest provides a GREAT way to use images as blog links AND lets you categorize them.

 

25. Write good, unique content

One of the first criticisms I received on my blog went something like, “You express yourself well, but your content is common.”

Ouch.

It was a benign comment, but it still felt unfair. It’s hard enough just to get a blog post up. You’re saying I have to make it stand out, too?

You probably already know that there are no clever shortcuts, SEO tricks, marketing strategies, or magic bullets that will get you around the need to write solid content. The blog has to be relevant and well-written or people won’t come back. That’s all there is to it.

But uniqueness is another level of challenge. And it’s a special challenge for Christian bloggers because, as believers in timeless truths, there’s only so much room for change and novelty. The truths of Scripture bear repeating, over and over, until they are firmly rooted in the bedrock of our souls. The Christian life. How do you get fresh and unique with something that isn’t supposed to be new?

There is some good news here. First of all, Scripture tends to stay fresh all on its own. Scholars down through the ages have commented on how the perennial pep and immediacy of the Bible make it stand out from other literature (a hint as to who wrote it).

Second, our own daily apostasy and falling away from God, or our need for daily guidance, creates a constant need for even the most “boring” Scriptural truth. This week, God unexpectedly used one of my blog posts, something I thought would be old hat to its audience, to guide a viewer into his will (or so she claims). God is really the one at the controls here, so post! You never know what he’ll use.

Thirdly, plenty of God’s truth gets lost over time. Ever written one of those posts that countered a distortion or half-truth that Christians use? Those posts are fun and exciting to write, especially for us against-the-grainers and envelope-pushers. Look for those opportunities.

In the end, though, do try to make things fresh. Write from your own life. That’s always unique, because you’re unique. Use examples from daily life as metaphors for some Scriptural truth (if they lend themselves well…don’t strain it). Come up with new turns of phrase. Read a lot, both Scripture and otherwise – it adds to your vocabulary. Write a first draft, walk away, and come back to it – you might find new ways to express what you’ve already written.

 

 

 

Bloggers As a Church; Are We A Welcoming One?

church3As you know, some Christian blogs contain a “Community” section where other bloggers who follow them can be seen in their “face-tile” form. This human kaleidoscope provides a wonderful portal for surfing WordPress and discovering new blogs.

But it can also throw you for a loop. Some of the blogs you visit are distinctly un-Christian in their content. Sometimes it’s flat-out erotica (flee, men! Not even a hint!). Other times it’s coarse language and brazenly worldly talk. Other blogs are very gracious and gentle in tone, so much so that you feel guilty criticizing, but they do promote pantheistic “many ways to God” and “positive energy” ideas, or simple “inspiration” that’s ultimately empty and powerless to save.

Whatever the case, not all of WordPress clings to the stark, dirty beauty of the cross of Christ – or the glory of his empty tomb. Yet these unbelieving bloggers follow, and consistently like posts from, Christian bloggers whose Bible-derived beliefs leave virtually no room for theirs.

I’ve often wondered what’s going through their minds. Some of them are just hoping for a follow back. But not all of them.

For the past season, I’ve had an unwritten post draft directed towards those unbelieving bloggers. It was a challenge. “Why do you stick around? Do you understand how directly and entirely these Christian precepts contradict your own?” it was going to say, basically. “What are you going to do about these ideas? Why do you keep following and liking when you don’t seem interested in believing?”

And then – and I can only credit the Holy Spirit for breaching my foolishness so eloquently – a question surfaced in my mind in response.

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