Catholic Blogging In 17.5 Easy Steps
I don’t like talking about my blog, which is the reason why I never write blog posts like “this is my 300th post” and the like.
Still, I have been blogging for almost one year now and have, I think, learned one thing or two about what – at least in my case – goes and what not.
As I have written a couple of times in the recent past about Catholic blogging, I thought that I may write here a couple of suggestions that might be obvious to the already experienced blogger, but not so obvious to the person thinking of starting a Catholic blog for the first time.
If you were to ask me for advice about how to start a conservative Catholic blog, I would – based exclusively on my personal experience; your mileage may vary – suggest the following steps. Others will, no doubt, have different opinions. Still, here we are:
1) anonymity. It is pure illusion to think that future employers – or people relevant to one’s business – will not trace all your activity whether you want it or not; and this without you having any control about the matter and without you ever knowing what damage this has done to you. If you are like me you’ll seek wisdom, not martyrdom.
2) No public stat counter. To have a public stat counter means to make an emotional investment in how many page views you get, in front of all your readers. This can easily lead – human nature being what it is – to a perversion of the scope of the blog and you might end up writing what you think might bring more page views, rather than what you think is more deserving of a blog post. Do your own thing. It’s not an exercise in popularity.
3) Activate comments. People like to comment and yes, you will like to answer to them. It doesn’t take much time. Only a very tiny minority of readers comments, but many more enjoy to read the comments. Comments also help to clarify and expand the blog post material. In time, you’ll receive many useful hints about further posts, too.
4) Moderate comments before they are posted. It is astonishing how every blog is visited by people whose only apparent scope in life is to annoy others. Don’t be a Pollyanna, it’s full of rubbish-spitting trolls out there. You will have a “trash” button. Use it.
5) Variety. Blog about a mixture of news and general issues. A blog is very useful for themes of general Catholicism because, contrarily to what you may think, your blog posts do not get buried. See below about this, point 7). Use your blog to propagate Catholic devotions. Particularly the Rosary. And Fatima. Ah, and Padre Pio. Oh, and Pius XII. You get the drift……. 😉
6) Post just a few blog links. Too many links is the same as no links. Have just a limited number of links that work as a real endorsement and whose profile well complements your own blog. Escape the temptation of the “I link to you if you link to me”-mentality. It doesn’t even work, because being buried among 200 links against your burying others among your 200 links is, I think, not going to help much. I would also opine that Google is, very probably, smarter than that. Ah, and don’t be an ass: link to the right blogs even if they don’t link to you. You are trying to give a service to your readers, not to wage a link war….
7) Be patient. A blog must grow like a tree, with the slow accumulation of concentric circles of blog posts. The accumulation of good, serious content is at least as important as the issue of the day. A blog slowly builds on the foundation of a growing number of posts your readers will love to browse around. I see this on my own (hidden to you 😉 ) statistics, with a surprising percentage of page views daily devoted to old posts. This I hadn’t expected. A blog doesn’t work – as I thought initially – like a pile of magazines, with the older ones being buried under a ton of newer material; rather, it works more like an electronic archive always accessible – and continuously accessed – through individual clicking and search engines. You’ll do well to link to older posts within new ones anyway, as it shows to your new readers that there is a lot to read around.
8 ) Method. A blog can’t eat your life, because if you do you’ll soon abandon the effort after the first enthusiasms. Rather, the decision to devote so and so much time to the blog every week – something reasonable, but “visible” and half way constant – will help you to make of this a long-term project. Those who start a blog for the stat counter – and those who think that the world has been waiting for what they have to say – will be disappointed and will soon stop blogging.
9) Honesty. Make every blog post something uniquely yours. If you link to external material, write your own thoughts about it. If you take the habit of merely posting external documents that hey can easily google you don’t give anything unique to the reader. Readers don’t visit your blog for the text of, say, “Universae Ecclesiae”, but for your take on it. The first can be had everywhere, the second from you only.
10) Images. Post images whenever you have time. Make the image relevant and striking; or use it to bring some irony, or a joke, or even to administer some cod liver oil when appropriate. Pay attention that you do not infringe about other people’s copyrights. Still, don’t be a slave to the pleasant layout: if there’s no time, it’s better to post good content with a simple layout than no content at all.
11) Tags. Post all tags you think relevant to the post. Don’t neglect this part because tags are an important part of your ability to be reached through internet searches. Whenever I saw a sudden decrease of pageviews the reason was, without a single exception, my forgetting to write the tags.
12) Technology. Make your readers as comfortable as your technical savvy allows. Post on twitter and facebook, allow internal post search, etc. Similarly, use the technology available to you. The “timer” function – allowing you to write when you have time, and to publish when you think it’s right – is a very useful tool.
13) Bite. Make your blog unique, not just another “let us get along” product. Give it assertiveness, substance, chuzpah. Write an opinion, not merely a fact. Tell clearly what you want to say. Don’t be afraid of being harsh with people who deserve to be treated harshly. You are blogging, not having afternoon tea, so stop being so English 😉 and take inspiration from the chap in the photo above 😉
13b) Bite part II, or political incorrectness. Don’t be afraid of exercising your rights. Tell it as it is. For example, don’t say “gay” unless you mean “happy”. Use “homosexual” or “sodomite” instead. You may want to sprinkle with “faggot” and “poof” whenever a harsher reproach sounds appropriate, but that’s up to you. Don’t be pussyfooting around. You have an agenda that must be said loud and clear, not whispered. Show your readers that you eat meat, not tofu. Ridicule the enemy, as this has always been an extremely effective weapon. Una risata li seppellira’ (“a laugh will bury them”).
14) Blog profile. Do your own thing. Don’t ask your readers how they’d like your blog to be, and don’t try to fathom how they would best like it. This is nonsensical; tot capita, tot sententiae. Write your blog as you like it, and other people will like it too. There’s no blog which, when properly cared for and written from the heart, doesn’t attract the readership congenial to it. Even sedevacantist sites, when properly made, attract readers! It is better to have a product with a real, individualised character, that one which tries to be all things to all people. The first gives a very good service to a limited few, but the second no added value to anyone.
15) Keep your ego outside as much as practicable. Blog anonymously and if you can (no spouse around, say) don’t tell anyone you’re blogging. Train yourself to think that you write to fight the good fight, not for human recognition. Your service is twofold: a) to God, who sees you even if no one else knows, and b) to your readers, to whom you give a service if you give a unique and instructive product instead of a copycat, or a collection of common places. This is also useful for point 1) above.
16) Accuracy. Write your blog posts in correct, proper English. If you don’t know the difference between “their”, “there” and “they’re”, “its” and “it’s”, “Popes” and “Pope’s” and the like, do not expect to be taken seriously. If you are, like me, a foreigner, do make an extra effort. “He who [writes] badly, thinks badly” (Nanni Moretti).
17) Seek remuneration. The thing with the free meal, and all that. You put a lot of work in your blog and give your readers a service which some of them will find valuable. Don’t be a wimp, and ask for your readers’ prayers (I suggest the “about the author” page for that; we don’t want to be a nuisance; or perhaps we should be a nuisance?). With the years, think of how many they might become. One day, this will be a very useful currency, and certainly worth every minute of your time, and the best compensation for your effort you may desire. Most people are honest folks: when they see added value, they are glad to give back for it; and don’t think you don’t need prayers because, if you are any similar to me, you most certainly do.
Posted on May 26, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged Blog, Blogger, Catholic, Catholic Crusaders, Catholicism, Conservative Catholic, conservative catholicism, Crusader, Google, How to blog, Rosary. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.
This is sound advice. I wish I’d: a) thought of it; and b) stuck to it. One thing to debate – anonymity. As you say, it takes ego out of the equation – and why volunteer for martyrdom if you’re blogging on a subject – eg, conservative Catholicism – which might attract flack in other contexts such as work, but I’ve operated on the two blogs I’ve run on the principle that you shouldn’t put into print anything you aren’t prepared to put your name to, unless you’re talking life-and-death consequences, such as being an Iraqi translator working for the US forces …
I actually made and possibly still make a lot of mistakes myself, I even didn’t want to have the “rolling” page because to me a blog had to be like a book: something you click your way through page by page. It was only a couple of weeks ago that it dawned on me that I was, very probably, just making the blog less usable for my readers and only then I noticed that my blog was the only one I knew that used the “book” system …. 😦
As to the martyrdom: I think it depends a lot on the country you live in.
In countries like Poland or the United States one may consider the potential risk of being persecuted as relatively mild. In countries like the United Kingdom this is, I believe, truly not the case.
Also consider that the internet makes, to all intents and purposes, everything permanent. In 30 years time, everyone will be able to see what your opinions are.
I operate, to use your words, on the principle that God puts my name on everything I write anyway, and other humans knowing which human being is behind the blog is not truly relevant to them anyway.
Anonymity is bad if it leads to abuse, but this can in my eyes never be the case for a serious blogger.
To me there is also another element: I strongly oppose to let other people decide about my life without me knowing. It is like giving them control over your future, irrespective of how bad they may be. True, I could adopt the “Thy will be done” attitude, but I don’t think this includes unnecessary exposure to danger.
I believe in God, and lock my car.
Have clocked that my wordpresss.com a/c does not tie up with my self-hosted blog of same name – http://www.actuosaparticipatio.org – so I’ve put the link in – where anyone who is interested will see a particular implementation of a non-rolling-blog format using a WordPress theme called zigzag3.
Interesting layout, AP.
1) Can one experiment with a new format only for new posts? I’m afraid not, is it? I am terrified of changing theme and making a mess of things.
2) Do you know any theme similar to twenty ten but with three columns? I have read one can “tweak” twenty ten, but tweaking is truly not my thing…..
Can’t immediately think of a way to apply new theme only to new posts – although I would imagine it may be possible if one were clever enough to apply a heavily modded ‘child’ theme to an archive of historical posts.
As to three-column twentyten, Aaron Jorbin has posted instructions on how to hack Twenty Ten to three columns; or you can download his ready-madeThirty Ten theme in which he has done the work for you – but I’m not keen on what he’s done with the header / page menu.
It was looking for a three-column twentyten that led me to zigzag3 and a totally different layout. May sole gripe with zigzag3 is that I want to remove the self-publicist panel at the middle top and replace it with the latest post, with the category view beneath. I’m sure it is possible and think I may have an idea as to how to do it, but don’t have the time to play with CSS at the moment.
I found zigzag certainly “new” but not really what I wanted. If I could have a third column on twenty ten I’d be a happy bunny already. When time allows I’ll look at what he has done, but I’ll most certainly not start to “tweak” anything, two days ago I wanted to change the typefont (=make it bigger) and I almost destroyed everything..
One of the things I like aesthetically about your blog is the lack of clutter. It is very clean and it utilizes a harmonius palette of color. There are no distractions from the post other than a discreet side bar. The traditionalist in me says… “Dont change a thing” 🙂 heh heh
Insightful and fascinating post, Mundabor. This is like “The Philosophy of Catholic Blogging”. Nos. 5, 7 and 13b are my favourites. Nota bene: I also very much appreciated your previous post on anonymous Catholic blogging. Well done, sir.
Mundabor, one thing is missing in your guidance. That is, you need quite some writing talent and writing skills (and time!) to maintain a blog in the same way you do it. I am not trying to flatter you, this is my honest opinion, I would not be able to establish a blog in that kind of quality as you do, on top in a foreign language. I am just lacking the talent for that. Again, my sincerest congratulation and God’s blessing to your work.
on second thought, there is much in what you say and whilst I always liked the sober, “uncluttered” layout of my blog I thought a third column might add to the information without becoming – as I have also seen often – a sort of overkill.
In the end, I might just leave it all as it is..
Many thanks th2!
Thanks to you too, wk1999; in fact not everyone has the time for such an endeavour and I admit being, since a little child, one of those always having great difficulties in shutting up.
I do think, though, that even without a special inclination for writing someoen with the time and the intention (not everyone’s cup of tea, clearly) could create a good product able to help others. In the end, some excellent blogs only have a couple of posts a week on average, which helps both on the writing and on the time issues.
This is very good advice and there’s much to reflect on.
Incidentally I have received 261 visitors who came via your site — you’re my ninth biggest referrer. Many thanks!
a pleasure to help such a good blog as yours!