I thought I was done with my series on contentment that begins here, but the Lord had more to say to me about it.
I just returned from a homeschool speech and debate tournament with my oldest son. How strange it is to watch your child agonize over others’ evaluations of him as you once did. I remember the feelings of frustration I had in being praised and criticized for the very same aspect of my speeches. I remember feeling like I wasn’t as good as my teammates who had taken home trophies when I did not. I remember feeling so low at times that I considered quitting.
Don’t get me wrong. I think speech competition (and even the constructive criticism I received) prepared me for what I do today as a speaker. I was driven to improve and I learned to use discernment about the feedback I received. (Just because a judge says it, doesn’t make it so.) But competition can also confuse us; I know it does me.
When I watch my son debate, I just think, “Wow!” I am unable to be objective about how his speaking skills compare to others’, because I love him so much. To me, he isn’t better, just beloved.
One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. – John 13:23
I have heard a number of teachings on John’s reference to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Most of them emphasized that Jesus spent more time with John and as a result, was closer to him. I can’t deny that. But I don’t think that John was emphasizing that he was better, just beloved. The most amazing thing about Jesus for John was that He loved him.
When I am tempted to be discontented about not being better or my children not comparing to others, I want to remember this: I am the disciple that Jesus loves. When He looks at me, He sees what I see when I look at my son. Wow.
What do you think? Does Jesus spend time considering which of us is better?
I know a little something about writing. Even though I’ve been blogging on and off for a long time, I don’t know how to write a great blog. Or even a better blog. What I do know from experience is how to write a bad one. Here are 31 ways to be sure and write a blog that stops traffic.
- Write long posts. Writers making the transition from print to blog make this mistake often. Unless it’s very compelling content, readers quickly scroll and click on after about 500 words. This post is going to be a bad one. I promise.
- Write daily. The blogging experts love to point out that the most popular blogs are updated at least daily. I think that’s confusing correlation with causation. Before you’re really popular, daily updates can overwhelm readers.
- Write your diary. Many blogs read like a bad journal entry. “Today I went to the gym, did some laundry, and watched TV.” Even on Facebook, that’s not good reading.
- Write old news. Readers want what’s fresh, even if that’s a fresh take on an old issue.
- Write too personally. Reality TV has made it acceptable to bare it all, but there are still plenty of us cringing.
- Write without spell check. If you can’t spell and you post your errors, your readers who can spell are going to focus on them and nothing else.
- Write without regard to grammar. While composing your post in a word processor, pay attention to the error indicators. Here’s a great free online grammar course to get you up to speed.
- Write to get your own needs met. These kinds of blogs come across like needy phone friends who never take a breath.
- Write to invoke guilt. Asking why no one is reading or commenting on your blog is like having BO.
- Write with unnecessary cursing. Even if you are comfortable with cursing, constant repetition of the same words is just bad writing, not to mention bad form when so many are offended by it.
- Write without regard for others’ feelings. Criticizing individuals and bashing entire classes of people may generate traffic, but won’t generate any good will.
- Write what’s controversial just to build your blog. Readers who appreciate honest, thoughtful debate will eventually see through you and move on.
- Write without reading others’ blogs. Just as writers in other genres hone their craft by reading the best writers, so bloggers benefit from reading good blogs.
- Write without building relationships. While traditional writers rarely engaged in relationship building, failing to make connections with readers puts your blog at risk. Responding to comments makes your readers feel appreciated.
- Write without giving credit. If you steal others’ work, you will eventually be called out for it.
- Write without linking to others’ blogs. Bloggers appreciate the links and so do readers who are looking for good content. Here is a great post on this topic. (I need to take this blogger’s advice.)
- Write without providing resources. Giving your perspective on a subject is a great start, but readers want to know where to go for more information. I think 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is a great resource.
- Write without humor. Even blogs on depression can be funny.
- Write about how you spend all your time blogging. Many of your readers are bloggers who will be put off by your obsession, although many will stick around to see the train wreck.
- Write amidst a busy, blinking background. Your readers with ADHD won’t be able to focus on your words and may need an extra dose of medication.
- Write infrequently. If you don’t update your blog, your readers won’t care because you don’t.
- Write like you’re perfect. Readers don’t like to feel like losers. Share your perfect photos of perfect people and places and your blog will be perfectly alone.
- Write like you know it all. This is a shift from traditional writing, too, where experts were supposed to give comprehensive information. Readers like to share, too.
- Write what you want to write about. Freelancers know they can’t sell pieces that readers don’t want. Blogs have to be about the topics your readers are interested in.
- Write without paragraphs. This is equivalent to blending a main dish, sides, and a dessert and serving it up in a bowl. Mmm.
- Write without subheadings or photos. Subheadings and photos are like keeping your foods from touching each other and some of us like that. I was going to add more photos to this post, but it messed up my numbering, so I will leave it as is in the interest of not appearing perfect.
- Write to constantly pitch your products. Blog posts that start off talking about how they’re giving me something “FREE to add value” tell me that the sales pitch is coming soon and it’s a turn off.
- Write sparsely to make room for long audio and video. Many readers (like me!) learn best by reading and don’t want to spend 15 minutes watching something they could learn by reading in five. I always appreciate the content in writing, too.
- Write with links to inappropriate content. Like it or not, readers trust that you are not going to send them to offensive or spammy links. Don’t violate that trust.
- Write without purpose. We have to know why we are blogging and even why we are writing a particular post, or we’re sure to go off the rails.
- What should this one be?
What other mistakes have you seen bloggers make or have you made yourself?