This post is a part of the Technology in Youth Ministry series]
There are several reasons that you might be interested in blogging as a youth worker. It might simply be your passion for writing and for youth ministry. It might be a way to connect with other youth workers around the country. It could even be a tool to communicate to parents or train your volunteers. Whatever the reason might be that you are interested in blogging, there are a few hurdles to get over as you start blogging.
When choosing a blogging platform, the amount of options can be overwhelming. With each of the options come a variety of different benefits and shortcomings. There are countless options that you could use and that might be perfect for your needs, but to help narrow the focus a bit, these are my 3 favorite options:
- Tumblr. This is an extremely easy option; it has great social features, but it is designed more to be it's own social network (a great benefit for students) and because of that there's less you can do with it.
- Wordpress.com. Wordpress is one of the best blogging platforms out there. You can set up a wordpress.com account for free, look for wordpress themes, and have some flexibility in the customization of your blog.
- Wordpress.org. This option is the most flexible and is what you use for a blog that you're hosting on your own. It works just like wordpress.com, but with almost limiteless flexibility. Because of this option being hosted on your own domain it is very flexibility, but with the greater flexibility comes more work on the front-end to get it set up.
Tools for Blogging
There are a few tools that in my experience have been essential as I try to write on my blogs:
- Themes. If you have wordpress, you can download a variety of great themes to improve the look of your blog. Find a theme by searching sites like WooThemes or ThemeForest. Or even better, choose Standard Theme.
- Evernote. If you have a blog, but don't have anything to say that's going to be a problem. A tool like evernote can help you capture your ideas wherever you go.
- MarsEdit. If you have a Mac, MarsEdit is one of the best blogging tools that I've seen. It allows me to have a great writing environment for my posts, to save a variety of drafts, and integrates perfectly with my blog.
Do the work.
Once you have a blog, it doesn't stop there. The discipline of actually doing the work of writing for the blog will be the most difficult part of the process. If you do in fact want to blog and have completed the first steps, it's time to start the hard work on blogging. The work of blogging entails at minimum working on your writing skills, knowing your audience, and reading blogs.
Work on your skills as a writer. Nobody can become a great writer without consistently writing. One of the things that I've learned with time is that it's more important to worry about writing great content in the initial stages than worrying about whether or not anyone is reading the blog. Do whatever you can to become a better writer and to develop better content.
Know your audience. Who do you expect to be reading your posts? Is it a blog designed for the students in your ministry? For the parents in your ministry? Is it a blog for your mom to read? Or is it a blog that other youth workers read? Chances are that there is some overlap of those questions, but learn who you are writing for, what your voice is, and what your unique focus will be.
Read other great blogs. There are a ton of great blogs on the web so find some and begin reading them. Find the things that you like about them and interact with them in the comments. If you have no idea where to start in finding some great blogs check out: tentblogger, the youth ministry top 20 list, and the church top 200 blogs list.
Photo Credit: Kristarella