Lessons I’ve Learned from Blogging Over the Last Four Years

Today I’m excited to share a guest post with you about the benefits of blogging and some fantastic tips for bloggers.  Frank Viola and I connected on Twitter several weeks ago (see, Twitter IS awesome) and I’ve been following his blog since.  Check out his blog for more helpful posts for bloggers (like this one).

By Frank Viola

I began blogging in 2008. My blog Beyond Evangelical does fairly well. It’s rated in the top 20 Christian blogs on the Web today. While my audience is primarily Christian, I write a lot about contemporary issues, social media, writing (as I’m an author), and blogging.

So I have readers who have no vested interested in Christianity.

In this post, I’ve distilled the top 7 chief benefits (or lessons) I’ve discovered in blogging as well as my top 5 tips for bloggers. I hope that what I’ve written here will encourage and inspire you in your blogging journey:

7 Chief Reasons Why I Blog

  1. Blogging clarifies my thinking. For me, writing is a way of sorting through my thoughts and clarifying them. I blog 5 days a week, so blogging helps me almost daily to crystallize my thinking on a given topic.
  2. Blogging gives me a venue to test my ideas. Since I’m an author, I like to test my ideas out before I commit them to print. My blog is also a sounding board to test future ideas. The instant feedback that blogging affords helps a great deal with this.
  3. Blogging gives me an opportunity to learn from others. I happen to believe that some of the sharpest people in the world comment on my blog. And I’ve been sharpened a great deal by them. Anytime I’ve had a question about an issue or have asked for feedback on an idea, I’ve been impressed with the responses.
  4. Blogging gives me a venue to push the limits by experimenting with new innovations. I think of my blog as sort of a studio where creativity knows no bounds. Some examples are: the one word monologue – the two word monologue – and the now famous (or infamous) $25,000 give-away to every person who commented or “read” someone else’s comment. (You have to read the post to believe it!)
  5. Blogging provides a means for connecting with others. People who have similar interests find and interact with one another on the blog. In addition, it gives my readers a way to connect with me personally. Many authors are inaccessible and unreachable. And some who blog don’t allow comments. I love meeting new people and those who read my books.
  6. Blogging gives me a venue to answer questions about my books. This is a great resource for my readers and a great exercise for me. I even created a special FAQ page for those who wish to ask questions about my work. Personally, I wish every author would do the same.
  7. Blogging has helped me answer my critics in a gracious manner. I hope this is true. One way to react to unjust criticism is to get angry, reject it out of hand, defend, or attack back (this seems to be the norm today). The other way is to view criticism as an opportunity to reveal God’s love in one’s response. Blogging gives me such an opportunity.

My Top 5 Tips for Bloggers

  1. The Chief Way to Gain Traffic: If you are looking for more traffic, the best way is to blog 4 – 6 days a week and make most of your posts less than 850 words. It goes without saying that your content needs to be interesting.
  2. The Chief Way to Get People to View a Post. Your headlines need to be catchy and compelling. People will ignore a post if the headline doesn’t grab them. Use Twitter and Facebook to let folks know you’ve created a new post. But remember: the headline is going to provoke them to click the link or ignore it.
  3. The Chief Way to Encourage Civil Conversation: Ask a question at the end of your posts, don’t make them jump through hoops to make a comment, and be sure to moderate comments. Unfortunately, there are people in this world who act like jerks online. They don’t know how to disagree without becoming verbally abusive. (I wrote an entire post underscoring this called, The Art of Being a Jerk Online: 10 Sure Ways.)
  4. The Chief Way to Have Your Blog Posts Found in the Search Engines: Locate your keyword (the word or phrase you want people to search for in Google, Bing, etc.). Use the word in your title, use it in the first sentence, use it in the last sentence, and use it 3x for every 100 words in your post. I also recommend you download the plug-in called “All in One SEO Pack.” It’s free and does a good job.
  5. The Chief Way to Build a Readership: Give people an easy way to subscribe to your blog. Put your subscribe buttons in highly visible places on your blog (mine is a big banner located on the top right-hand corner), at the end of every post you write, and in your About page. And (of course), write quality posts to keep people coming back.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post entitled Advice for Bloggers: 25 Practical Tips. So if you want more practical advice, you can check that post out.

FRANK VIOLA is a best-selling author of numerous inspirational books including, “Revise Us Again,” “From Eternity to Here,” “Pagan Christianity?” (co-authored with George Barna), and “Jesus Manifesto” (co-authored with Leonard Sweet). His blog, “Beyond Evangelical,” is rated as one of the most popular in Christian circles today: frankviola.org

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  1. Frank, thanks so much for stopping by to share your lessons learned with us!

    1. Michelle: It’s my honor. I hope it inspires some of your readers, just as I’ve been inspired by your excellent blog.


  2. Hi Frank,

    I completely agree with your reason #1 for blogging – it is amazing how much writing helps get a clearer mind. I know when I have several things going at one time, it often feels like I don’t have time to write a post, but as soon as I do sit down to do it, everything else just seems to fall into place as well!

    Amazing how well that works!

    And definitely make it easy for people to comment, short of a voice stating, please leave your comment :) the form needs to be really visible.

    Great tips!
    Christine Brady recently posted… The Best Things About Blogging…My Profile

    1. The easier we make it to find and use that form, the more people who will use it. :)

      And I find the same thing, Christine–it’s just sitting down and making the decision to get that post done.

      Thanks for stopping by and finding my comment form! ;)

  3. Thanks for introducing me to Frank. I’ll be checking him out. Also, thanks again, Michelle, for how you give and give to fellow bloggers. You are inspirational.
    Bonnie Anderson recently posted… One Moment in TimeMy Profile

    1. Hey Bonnie, you’ll enjoy his blog. Lots of thought-provoking posts, and great advice for bloggers. :)

  4. Thank you very much to both, Michelle, for being the owner of the blog and let us enjoy this excellent writing, and Frank for writing and offer to us this wonderful teaching masterpiece. I can not agree more with these seven reasons for blogging, and I will always keep them in my mind. This kind of post encourage me more to stay in my path, but at the same time it show me how much I have to learn.
    Juan G Garcia recently posted… Internet Marketing and Online Advertisement.My Profile

    1. I’m encouraged by posts like this too, Juan. It helps me to see what people who’ve been blogging (or in business) for years have to share–learning from their successes and mistakes and shorten our own learning curves. :)

  5. Delighted to cross (cyberspace) paths with you, Frank.

    I hope you’ll snoop around Michelle’s blog to find a post where she asked readers to tell her “why” they blog. I know you’ll love catching that one. :)

    A twinge of guilt passed over me as I read your suggestion to blog several times a week.

    I used to be a fervent blogger and now I’m posting once or maybe twice a week. But funny thing … a lighter blogging schedule seems to be working out fine for me. After participating in a number of back-to-back blogging challenges where I was posting 5 – 7 days a week … I figured a little easing up on the keyboard was in order. Burnout can … well … burn you out! LOL

    Thanks for passing along some truly awesome lessons and tips!
    Melanie Kissell recently posted… Toilet Paper and ToothpicksMy Profile

    1. We don’t want you to burn out, Melanie! :)

      I loved the comment thread on that post — so neat to see all the reasons why people are motivated to blog.

      1. Not to worry — I’ve got a grip on burnout. And I’ve discovered it’s okay to say “No” to people once in a while. That’s a word that was void from my vocabulary for far too long. :)

        Oh, I loved that post, Michelle! I really enjoyed reading everyone’s responses.
        Melanie Kissell recently posted… Toilet Paper and ToothpicksMy Profile

        1. I’m with you there. It’s tough to say no, but we’ve got to say it!
          Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Creative Women Can Rocket in BusinessMy Profile

  6. Thanks for another awesome guest post. I have been utilizing Frank’s five tips except for tip #1 … yes, I would like more traffic to my blog BUT I have to accept it will not happen from me posting 4 to 5 times per week, I do not have the time. As for tip#2 – I think my headlines are catchy but I could be wrong. As a matter of fact, my last blog headline would be catchier if it said “50 Rocking Confident Business Women.” Still learning.
    Adalia John recently posted… 50 Confident Business WomenMy Profile

    1. I like that tweak on the headline, Adalia – rocking – good adjective to add in there. :)

      It’s definitely a challenge to post that often. I shoot for 3-4 times a week and usually hit 5-6 but definitely not every week. Though I can tell the difference in the traffic when I do.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Creative Women Can Rocket in BusinessMy Profile

  7. Thanks for the great tips. Whenever I make a blog I must keep all points in my mind, how we interact with others and how we get more traffic and all these. Yep!! it’s true when we relate with sharp people we have been sharpen by them.

    1. Sometimes those “challenging” comments are the best for making us think. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Creative Women Can Rocket in BusinessMy Profile

  8. (Problem with commenting… Am I getting through?)

    1. Hey Eleni, that one got through. :) Could you let me know what it was doing when you tried to comment? I recently setup CloudFlare with some more security to protect the blog and that could be what’s causing issues.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Creative Women Can Rocket in BusinessMy Profile

  9. Hi Mich…Great tips you have provided here in this guest post…Blogging is not just about for money but for me, it can build relationships too…And it makes our life more meaningful…

    1. I agree, Shirley. I’ve connected with some of my best online friends through blogging.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Creative Women Can Rocket in BusinessMy Profile

  10. Hi Michelle & Frank
    A great guest post from Frank, I love writing a new post it makes me feel so good after I hit that publish button!
    I agree with Shirley blogging is not all about making money I love building relationships with other bloggers, I have met some great people through blog commenting and it’s a great way of increasing traffic to my blog!
    Have a great day
    Pauline recently posted… Tips On How To Get Free TrafficMy Profile

    1. Me, too! I love to hit the “Publish” button. :)

      Blogging really is an amazing way to connect with people.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Creative Women Can Rocket in BusinessMy Profile

  11. Also blogging helps to meet new wise and nice people and be a part of some cool communities.
    thanks for this excellent post.

    1. Hi Becca, it sure does. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Creative Women Can Rocket in BusinessMy Profile

  12. Your tips for building blog traffic are solid. I especially like the last 2 and it’s so simple but so important to put that keyword in the title and in the first line of the blog at the very least! Easy to do. Easy not to do. OH, and giving people an easy way to subscribe to your blog, is so important.

    My blog is WordPress and Thesis Theme Video Tutorials. Totally NON-controversial. However, I recently made a post about Google Panda and a very lengthy, detailed comment said he “despised” what I had said! It would have been easy for me to get nasty, especially since I was “right” however, I just replied in a very civil and dignified manner. Like you said, no reason to get verbally abusive cause it probably don’t help your blog in the long run.

    Thanks for sharing your post and your tips!

    — Jupiter Jim
    Jupiter Jim recently posted… Google Panda Updates Infographic for WordPress Blogs and WebsitesMy Profile

    1. I agree, too. Civility is the best way to go.

      It is easy to forget the keywords–but it makes a difference.

      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your experience, Jim.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 4 Fun Ways Experts Build Their Mailing ListsMy Profile

  13. Hi Michelle,
    You are an awesome blogger and also very active in blogging.Its a good step to share your experience with others and I liked your tips.Keep on keepin on.Thanks.
    Pete Goumas recently posted… Petmountein Coupon & ReviewMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Pete, I appreciate that. I was happy to share Frank’s experience and tips here. So many great lessons.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 22 Ways to Get Past Writer’s Block and Create Something AwesomeMy Profile

  14. Thank you for the post. I learned a great deal today.
    Sigrid Rogowski recently posted… Beautiful ButterfliesMy Profile

  15. Your lesson #7 is a very important one. I often run across articles that touch on a topic that’s very sensitive and important to me. What better way to respond than to create my own rebuttal of their article in a blog post.
    It relieves my upset while making a case for another viewpoint.
    Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. recently posted… The Journey to Your Book Might Be Best Through Blog WayMy Profile

  16. Very inspired! Thank you for sharing your post. :)

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