I’ve been getting a lot of email recently from enthusiastic LDS folks anxious to start blogging, inspired by some recent comments of Elder Russel M. Ballard encouraging students and others to take up blogging and other approaches to make Gospel truth more visible to the world. (And according to the More Good Foundation, he even mentioned Bookslinger’s blog – one of my favorite commenters here!) That’s wonderful!
Starting a new blog may not be the best way to help. Much of the action on blogs, forums, and many Websites takes place in the comments. That’s a great place to be active in supporting the Gospel. I’m so grateful to some of the readers here who take time to respond to comments and questions posed in the comments areas. Sometimes some great insights and excellent research can be found there. Helping out in that way can be a very effective way to have an impact. We need more people to do this kind of thing, including on news sites where people can respond to stories. When there is an LDS topic being covered, there is a need for intelligent Latter-day Saints to be there and help spread a little truth and even make the pro-LDS part of the Web more visible to those looking for answers.
For those of you taking up blogging, make sure you have a reason for being, a theme, an angle, a value proposition, or whatever you call it. Why should anyone care? What do you offer? Share your plans with other bloggers and get some feedback.
Still interested in starting a blog? Be prepared for a long haul if you want to do any good. Most bloggers stop after a few weeks. Many don’t last more than about 10 or 20 posts. That’s why I probably am not going to link to new blogs until they have a track record – no offense, please, but it’s a pain to add a link only to have it die a few weeks later. And I’m pretty fussy as it is when it comes to links – please don’t be offended.
Blogging is a pain. Part of me really enjoys it, but the sane part of me regrets the time I spend for almost every post. I don’t have the 20+ minutes it takes for a quick 5-minute post. Teams of bloggers are a way to reduce the work load on any one person, but teams come and go and are hard to manage. I prefer to work mostly alone here to maintain my carefully tailored haphazard style and erratic, idiosyncratic feel that is hard to do with sane people on your committee.
You’ll probably never have as many readers as you would like (it may seem like shouting to the wind much of the time), and many times you’ll find what you think is your best work is simply ignored. But if you endure to the end (with the right software tools, this should be at least three to four months after you croak), you can prevail, especially if you remember each day Whom you are trying to please and serve: Google.
Oops! A Freudian slip, really. As Latter-day Saints, you naturally want to please the Lord, but as a blogger, but you must also serve Google and look for ways to be visible with Google. Can you please God and Google? Maybe, just maybe. Well, as least do your best to stay out of Google hell. More on that later.
Have fun, be yourself, be prepared for a lot of abuse, be careful what you say and try to save more souls than you offend or drive out of the Church. I hope I’m on the positive side of that equation, though it’s hard to say. Some folks enjoy telling me that my stupid defense of the Gospel is the reason they left the Church. (Maybe that will help me on the day of judgment if it turns out I’m actually supporting a demonic cult after all – “Hey, look, I did help save some souls after all.”) But I sincerely am trying to do some good, at least some of the time.
I’m a couple days away from my 1000th post and nearing my 4-year anniversary with Mormanity. I have plenty of regrets and frequently consider throwing in the towel to focus more on the books I’m writing (ooh, can’t wait to complete the one on Innovation Fatigue! so much fun!), the photography I’m doing, my family, and my work. And I still might need to do that, but for now, I continue trying to squeeze in a few minutes here and there and there. And sometimes it’s really quite fun. I really had fun doing the “Gift for Anti-Mormons,” for example. But was it worth it? Maybe not. Did it offend and harm people? Perhaps. Did it increase my visibility in Google? Ah, there we go.
One more tip: if you have a good name for your blog, be sure to get the domain name locked up before squatters and click farms do. My biggest mistake was not grabbing Mormanity.com. Once the name gets known, squatters nab the domain and make money off your name. I had to settle for Mormanity.org, but really wish I had thought of nabbing the dot com version. (Please don’t click on anything on that other site – it just encourages the squatters and gives them money.) Domain names are cheap these days. Invest in one or a few.
Best wishes blogging! But be sure to consider other routes, like helping existing blogs or being a pro-LDS voice to balance the critics out there in various forums.