Church Girl Blog

Blogging 101

by | Jul 27, 2018 | A WRITER'S Life | 8 comments

Blogging goes across international boundaries as the Internet penetrates deep into territories that forbid the Bible, Christ, and hope. With minimal financial investment, a  blogger can safely reach places instantly where it would otherwise be a long, expensive, and dangerous trek to bring the Gospel message…
…and she can do it
weekly,
comfortably wearing pajamas,

Bible and coffee close,
a dog or chicken
perched
upon her lap,

kids and hens
and husband circling.
(But still go on mission trips, too!)
MY ONE YEAR STATS:
Since launching in June, 2017, The Church Girl Writes/Jesus in Everything has had 19,000+ views, 10,000+ visitors, 69 different countries, every inhabited continent, including places like Bangladesh, Turkey, Nepal and Pakistan and seven different African countries, too. I just gotta trust that the Word of God will not go out and return void. Even if someone accidentally clicked, they just accidentally got “Jesus in Everything” and might be intrigued enough to read more!  Haha! Awesome!

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“I just gotta trust that the Word of God will not go out and return void.” ~TCGW (photo credit: IG Brian @orphanrunner, Chicago)

“How did you get started as a blogger/writer, Church Girl?”
 
I’ve been asked this more than a few times in the last year.
 
On Tuesday for 35 minutes, I shared with a Facebook Live audience about blogging at the request of my girl, Danyele Ritz. She heard me wax poetic about blogging a few months ago with Jamie Morgan at her amazing book launch for “A Journey to Ministry: Discover Your Calling, Purpose, and Destiny”.  (Click HERE to preview/buy her book on Amazon!) After that, Danyele decided to start a blog herself called “Deeply Rooted in Christ”! YAY!
Realizing she had some big questions about blogging, she reached out to me. We thought this might be a great opportunity for more than just her, so we shared the FBLivecast for anyone who might be interested in this subject.
 
The Content:
1. How/why I launched my blog.
2. Length of blog posts and how often I post.
3. Subscribers and mailing lists…how do you manage it all?
3. Lessons learned in the past year as a Christian blogger. (mistakes, opportunities, and lessons)
(Click HERE to listen to the entire talk on YouTube.)
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1. Why did I start blogging?

  • Well, God was going to squish me like a grape if I didn’t start taking the calling to write seriously! My heart was finally lining up with my head, so I grabbed my board and surfed the web. I. Just. Started. What else was I going to do? Not obey?
  • God had given me a divine opportunity to write for The Christian Standard magazine and I wanted a place to display my creative writing for future work. (You can read my latest hilarious work for them in this month’s edition under “Ministry Life” at the link HERE. I landed this job because my editor read the blog! Woot, woot! )
  • I love researching and writing for my senior pastor for sermons and writing for other pastors with TCS, but I also needed a creative outlet for “my stuff”: the mom, the wife, the “girly-swat”-who-loves-coffee-and-cosmetics-and-couture-and-chickens-and-children-and-church-and-Christ all at once. I wanted to write for a more varied audience, too, and be a little more funny and zany, a little less serious.
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“Just start writing. Write a lot, but edit more..” ~TCGW  (photo credit: Natalie Halma)

2. Length of blogposts/How often to post?

  • Usually 500-1000 words. Post consistently…consistently post. (Obviously, this post is way more for instructional purposes.) If you decide 1X/week is good or once per month, start there and be consistent. Your readers need to know what to expect and that you’ll give your best every time – consistently. 🙂 Your readers deserve it, but mostly,
God
deserves
it.
  • Disclaimer: When you first start (no matter what your mommy says to you!), your writing is probably not going to be that great unless you’ve had some previous training. And even then, you won’t be nearly as good a writer at the beginning as you will be after months of solid writing. You get better with practice.
  • Blogging Websites: WordPress, Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, Blogger, and Tumblr. (You can search online “best free blogging sites” or click HERE for one site’s advice.) I liked WordPress for all it’s complimentary add-ons and connections with other things like MailChimp for mailing lists and email subscribers.
A few things I DIDN’T mention yesterday:
  • If you’re looking for graphics and design, fiverr.com (Click HERE) artists can produce logos and all starting as low as $5.00. Yes, for five macaronis, you can choose your artist, negotiate a price, give’em your specs and VOÌLA! You have yourself a logo. If you can, be sure to get a package that includes a vector file and a source file to allow for more in-depth editing later on when you decide to order business cards, notepads, t-shirts, mugs, or whatever…’cuz you’re gonna be amazing!
  • Creating Website Pages: This is just some friendly advice. Have a dynamic HOME page where your posts are. Have an ABOUT page that talks about your purpose, what readers might want to know about the content. A “Background” page (mine is called “About The Church Girl Writes”) is about the author or group of contributors. The final page is the CONTACT page for subscribing and actually contacting you. (This took me days, possibly weeks, to finalize when I started! Save yourself some time.)
  • If you like to do visuals yourself but need a little va-voom, check out some great free apps like “A Color Story” and Danyele’s suggestion, “Canva”. There’s another photo site, Unsplash, that I have used.
  • As mentioned in the FBLivecast, enlist people who have a gift set who are just waiting to use their talents to serve the Kingdom! I use a lot of talented teens’ work, evidenced above by Natalie’s “Faith” above and Ashley’s boxwood-light photo below.
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Where do you get YOUR “creative-sparkletivity”? (photo credit: Ashley Kim)

3. Resources, Subscribers, and Mailing Lists:

  • I mentioned Jeff Goins, author/blogger/speaker. He has been a great resource for me as a writer and blogger. (Click HERE for some terrific FREE! content for writers. I had also given you www.creativelive.com to go see videos of Jeff teaching, but they charge for these.)
  • If you get on The New York Times best selling author Jerry Jenkins‘ email, there is some great content you can get directly to your inbox from https://jerryjenkins.com. I have gleaned from his wisdom and had glints of “creative-sparkletivity” with his ideas. (Though, ultimately, anything excellent or praiseworthy or creative comes from the Holy Spirit!)
  • Ally, from “The Modern Mary“, had a great post with resources at her site for Christian bloggers. (And I just found out that she has recommended my blog as one of the “Top 25+ blogs for Christian Moms to Read“, too! WOW! I’m a little teary-eyed now…I have never met her…or knew that she knew me…)
  • Friends, what I didn’t mention in the Livecast is that in the writing industry, the only subscribers who count are email subscribers according to Jeff. Social followers on FB, IG, Twitter and the rest are not considered true marketing connections because the algorithms change constantly and your post that showed up in someone’s feed yesterday will not necessarily show up today. That said, you market yourself through social media to find the people who want to sign up for your emails. Ya gotta think about both from the start.
  • If you you have a a four-figure email subscriber list, Jeff has said you have the potential of having a six-figure income. (Our buddy JG is huge on monetizing and not being a starving writer.) Personally, I don’t monetize (allow ads) and haven’t sought out or been offered pay for my blog posts through sponsors. For now I am content for this to be a missionary effort and a service to encourage believers.
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“Nothing is more important than family.” ~TCGW (photo credit: Kim Harris)

4. Lessons Learned:

  1. Write one day, edit ruthlessly on another! (Start writing. Write a lot, but edit more.)
  2. Don’t let a blog (or anything other that Jesus!) take over your life. Who cares about the stats, stop obsessing if people like you or not, if they unsubscribe or never open your emails. Have you done what the Lord has asked of you? He is your Audience of One. Please Him.
  3. Set aside specific times to write. Organize time for writing. If you have a husband or kids, write while they’re at work/school, after the family goes to bed, or before they get up. Nothing is as important as family.
  4. Ask for help from people who were more talented in specific things or who knew more than I did about tech (like my teenaged son!), website and design (from my crazy-talented friend Megan Kempf!), photography (from IG Brian @orphanrunner in Chicago, the multi-talented Kim Harris, and my teen girlfriends).
  5. Lose your pride. Don’t crumple in a blubbering mess on the kitchen floor because you’re overwhelmed and overloaded with the burden of incompetency for, say, website design. (Not that this EVER happened to me…ahem…) Get over yourself and get the help you need.
  6. Consider the “P”-word – “PLATFORM”. Find a groove and your unique voice.
  7. What is your clear, concise message? Once this is clear, the lens through which you write will sharpen considerably.
  8. What is your platform personality? Ask people to describe you three words. (In the Livecast I talked about Journalist*Prophet*Artist*Professor**Star). Click HERE to watch Jeff Goins teach about this.

**Michael Hyatt is the super-famous
“Professor” dude I couldn’t recall.

Hopefully, this helps each of you who are budding writers! Please leave comments or inbox me about anything that stood out to you as helpful. 🙂

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“…and she can do it
weekly,
comfortably wearing pajamas,

Bible and coffee close,
a dog or chicken 
perched
upon her lap,

kids and chickens
and husband circling. (But still go on mission trips, too!)” ~TCGW

“I think every writer needs some bravery and some boldness, and a little bit of unicorn in them to make it. Eighty percent of writing is about persevering.” ~Jacqueline Woodson

 

8 Comments

  1. Francine S. Rivers

    I’m spreading the word on this blog, Leigh. Lots of great information! Thanks for sharing!

    • Leigh Mackenzie

      It’s my pleasure, Dear Frani!!

  2. Jamie Morgan

    Leigh, you are a bright, shining light in this crooked and perverse generation! You continually life His name on high and give glory to Him. I am so glad that God crossed our paths at Mout Hermon! i look forward to many more years of friendship, mutual encouragment, and laughs! And thank you so much for mentioning my book in your blog! You are truly Kingdom-minded! Love ya, my sister!

    • Leigh Mackenzie

      I love you so much, Jamie. You were a gift from God from the moment I met up with you in Dallas. Christ-focused friendships last for eternity.

  3. Iris Delesantro

    Thank you so much. Great info. I am in the same mentoring class that Danielle is in. Blogging is new to me and I am about to start. I have been writing some of my experiences on FB under “a walk with my Lord”. Your notes are very helpful as I walk into this new venture. Thank you. – Iris #irisdtalks

    • Leigh Mackenzie

      I’m so glad to hear this, Sweet Iris! You’re so lucky to be in such a great group.

      Be sure to share this post on your Social Media pages for others to see. You never know who might need to read it or who is secretly wanting to begin blogging…?

  4. Danyele

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is such amazing information!

    • Leigh Mackenzie

      Yay!!! I was hoping it would help brand new Christian bloggers not waste as much time as I did when I started. It was SO frustrating until I started reaching out and letting others help, too. ? It’s just my way of giving back the blessing that God so freely gave me.