Maybe you started a church blog because you read that it’s a good way to share the content your church is already creating, create an online presence, and drive traffic to your website. But it’s been up and running for a while, and you’re not seeing a lot of impact.
Don’t lose heart! Your blog can still do those things for you. It’s just a matter of making sure that everything’s running efficiently. An anemic blog can become a thriving one—and it’s easy to start this process by nailing a few best practices.
We’ve put together these eight tips to take your blog to the next level:
1. Establish an editorial calendar
Every church staff is juggling a lot of tasks. When you sprinkle a few crises on top of that, it’s easy for your blog to fall to the bottom of the priority pile. That’s completely fine. Your blog doesn’t need to be your top priority in order to thrive.
But you do need regular content on a predictable schedule. If you’re not careful, your blog will become something that’s updated randomly and infrequently, which is a slow and steady death. Even if you only update it every other week, make sure that it’s on a regular schedule. Knowing when to expect content helps to build an audience.
Some examples could be:
- Regularly posting a sermon recap every Monday
- Publishing a devotional blog post every other Wednesday
- Answering questions from the congregation on Fridays
2. Focus on no more than three categories
It might seem counterintuitive, but narrowing the focus of your content is much better than bouncing from topic to topic. People become committed to online platforms when they resonate with the content. If someone discovers something you shared that touches them, but you never publish content like that again, they’ll lose interest. The more they know what to expect from you, the more committed to your platform they’ll become.
It’s important to establish a clear voice and hone in on a couple topics where you can establish yourself as an authority. The more distinct and clear about your blog’s focus, the easier it will be to create a devoted readership.
Some examples of blog categories might be:
- Your community
- Bible study
3. Turn questions into content
Sometimes coming up with content ideas can be a bit of a drag. But don’t fret. Between your congregation, social media followers, and blog comments, you have a never-ending reservoir of new material. Here’s a couple tips for soliciting new content concepts:
- Invite your congregation to share ideas. When the ideas start slowing down, send out an email or mention the blog from the pulpit.
- When you share a post on Facebook or Twitter, encourage people to respond with questions that the content raises.
- As people comment on the blog, distill their objections and questions into a list of future post ideas.
4. Optimize images for search images
You want your posts to show up in Google searches for related topics. In order for that to happen, your posts need to be optimized for search engines. And one of the most frequently overlooked areas is your naming conventions for the images in your post.
First of all, make sure that you’re using alt text, which is text that the search engine uses to understand images. Most blogging platforms like WordPress make adding alt text a breeze, but you can also do it in html by adding alt=”whatever your alt text will be” to your image tag.
It will look like this: <img src=”easter-sunday.jpg.” alt=“Jesus resurrection” />
You’ll also want your image files titles to match what you’re blogging about. So it you’re writing about managing a budget, name the file of your image something like “christian-budgeting-tips.jpg” rather than “stock-image-09090980-couple-family-etc.jpg”.
5. Don’t try to be clever with blog titles
When you’re naming a blog post, you want to create a title that dares people not to read it. It needs to be clear and compelling. You can pour a lot of energy into trying to come up with a clever title and end up with a post that no one ever reads because they don’t know what it’s about.
You’re looking for something short and concise that clearly communicates the post content. You get extra points if the post title invokes an emotional response that makes people want to click.
Try running your headline past someone who hasn’t read the post yet and ask them what they’d expect a post like this to be about. If they’re close, you’re on the right track. If they’re not, devise a clearer title.
6. Send your content to your email list
Hopefully you already have an email list for your congregation. You can send an email to them whenever your blog is updated. Add an encouragement to share it on their social media accounts.
And as your blog readership grows, make sure you have an email capture form on your blog posts, so your email list grows, too. This way, your readers won’t miss out on future content.
7. Share blog posts on social and your church app
Make sure that every blog posts get shared to your social media accounts. Don’t be afraid to share more than once. For instance, you can share the same post to Twitter multiple times in a day and a couple more throughout the week. For Facebook, you can share it once and then share it again in a month.
If you have a church app, make sure posts are being shared there as well.
8. Update and re-promote evergreen content
Sometimes you create content that’s not time bound, but it might reference a news story that’s hot at the moment. After a year passes, the post might still be good even though the story you used as an illustration is no longer really relevant. Don’t be afraid to go back and update those stories and re-share them.
After a couple of years worth of content, you should have some evergreen content that you can share between new postings.
Stay on Top of Best Practices
When it comes to maintaining a thriving online platform, you need to stay on top of your game. Changes in social media platforms and search engine algorithms can dramatically change best practices.
You might not have the time to stay on top of changes in the blogosphere, but make sure there’s someone in your organization that’s monitoring changes that will affect how your create content and promote your blog. As you commit to these best practices, your church blog will continue to flourish.