Thank you so much for reading! I am so blessed that so many of you read this blog. I pray that It will encourage you. This week it has been one month since I started my own self-hosted blog.
I have learned a few things and there is more planned for the future
I began to get more serious about “leadership” and applying proven principles to my ministry to increase my effectiveness. As John Maxwell states “leadership is influence: nothing more, nothing less.” To this end, I found two men’s blogs exceptionally helpful: Ron Edmondson and Michael Hyatt. One quick glance at their “Followers Count” (a widget in Standard Theme 2 that they both use, as do I) and you’ll see that tens and hundreds (respectively) of thousands of people feel the same way. There are many places that I go for leadership information, but these two blogs are the only ones I actually look forward to “what’s next.” Plus, both of these men are strong Believers (Ron is a pastor, and Michael considered traditional ministry for a time).
I went from playing with a few blogs to focusing more on my blog. I began to hear people say “thanks so much for writing that…” and “I read your blog, that got me to think…” and I realized that I was extending my influence. I was actually helping people in my ministry and my ministry leadership was growing.
Then, Michael Hyatt came out with his book “Platform.” I got an audio version in addition to the print. We left for a road-trip to visit our family in Texas the next day and I listened to the whole thing straight through (with bathroom breaks). I was inspired.
This was when my blog got a little more serious and not just “fun.” I moved my WordPress.com over to WordPress.org. I think it’s a beneficial addition to the ministry that God has entrusted to me. I’ve gone from a few hundred subscribers to a few thousand. I’m definitely not in Ron Edmondson territory, and I can’t even see Michael Hyatt level from here, but I’m making a bit of a difference. So, here are a few things that I did and what I’ve learned that might help you if you’re headed down the same road.
- Start Small. I began with several other little free blogs and played around with them for a long time. I’d suggest taking 6 months to a year to start a blog and just post away. Don’t promote it very heavily, just have fun and learn what interests you.
- Scale. Once you get in a rhythm, you can ramp it up a bit. Post links to Facebook and twitter (if you don’t have Facebook and Twitter, stop now, get them) every once in a while when you’re really proud of a post.
- Consistency. This is really important. If you can’t post at least once a week, blogging isn’t for you. You can’t post a few this week, and then nothing for 2 months, people just won’t read it. If you have something to say, you need to say it, consistently.
- Pull the trigger! Once you’ve decided that you do have something to say, and you want to be a blogger, go for it! It doesn’t cost all that much.
Here’s what I did…
- Domain Name. This is the actual address that people type, you will want to get one that is easy to remember and one that people associate with you. It is, after all, your influence you’re trying to increase. Mine, obviously, is johnmarkharris.net (the johnmarkharris.com guy wouldn’t sell)
- Host. I use BlueHost.com as my host, and I’m happy. To be honest, the customer service has been 50/50 for me. If you get someone nice, they take you 110% of the way. If you get an über-geek who looks down on you because you can “speak code,” be prepared for “we don’t support that” and just try again for a nice person. I use their live chat feature, super helpful. Ask yourself the question “is it worth $4.95 a month to blog?” That’s about 30 min. of minimum wage. Not much.
- WordPress.org. This is why you get a host, WordPress.org is basically a software package you load on your server at your host. This is super fun to play with, there are bagillions of “plug-ins” to make your site unique and professional looking.
- Standard Theme. The best thing you can do for your site is make it look great. The best way to do that is to get a quality theme that is flexible and easy to use. Granted, I’ve only been doing this for a month (for real anyway) but Standard Theme is the way to go. I went with the “lifetime upgrades and lifetime support” for a one time $99.
- Plan the time. This is a labor of love, it will take time. I started this at the beginning of a long family vacation. I suggest taking two days off of work, a holiday weekend etc. everything takes longer than you think.
- Educate yourself. There are oodles of blogs and YouTube posts to teach you how to do stuff. Search and learn. If this is not your personality, you won’t make it. Learn how .php files work and .css this will help. DON’T CHANGE THE “STYLE.CSS” FILE…
- FeedBurner. You will want to set-up feed burner to send out emails to people who subscribe and to track your blog etc. if you ever get a podcast going, you’ll want to be familiar with feed burner anyway, just do it…
- Google Reader. This is a great way to look through all your favorite blogs to give you ideas on what you can post about.
- MarsEdit. I use this to write posts so that I don’t have to log-in. Under “post” “edit date” that’s where you can set when your post will actually publish. (shhh… that’s the secret. It’s really June 27 at 8:00pm when I’m writing this 😉 )
- HootSuite. Just like Google Reader helps you take in lots of blogs in a short time, so does HootSuite for Twitter. You can also schedule your “tweets” (and Facebook, LinkedIN etc. updates). It’s a great tool.
- Buffer. This is a super easy way to space-out your “tweets” (and updates to linkedIN, Facebook, etc.). I also put a buffer button on my posts so I can go back through my blog and schedule them to go back out to be read again.
Honestly, this post could go on forever. So what’s next? I need to get more focused in my topics, I need to hone my “voice.” I love the New Testament, but I’m also passionate about Evangelism and Mentoring (Discipleship). I’m still finding my niche, but I’m having fun doing it. That’s what you’ll find, blogging makes you think, it makes you deeper. If my family and friends are the only ones who ever read it, it’s worth it for the personal development.
I have plans to start a Podcast, I want to get into a regular teaching schedule to make a 15-20 min. audio podcast. I’ll start with a “New Testament Survey” and then an “Old Testament Survey” followed by some sort of “Biblical Theology” covering all the major Christian Doctrines, at least that’s the idea. I’ll be using part of the course that I’ve created. I’d appreciate your feedback on what topics are of interest to you.
Do you blog? Where are you on the continuum “recreational” “serious” “pro”?
How much influence do you have for good? Have you ever thought of blogging in this way?
What topics would you want to hear in my Podcast as I start in a few months?
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