Blog Building: 10 In Depth Tips

June 18, 2020


I have been blogging for ten years now. Sometimes successfully. Sometimes not. In this article I'm going to share some of what I've learned across six different blogs.

I started my first blog, The Mystic Review  in August of 2010. For the first year I had an audience of one (thank you Tara) but over the next couple of years the blog's popularity grew. By 2017 it was getting thousands of views a day.

That was when I stepped away from the occult and shut down the blog I had worked so hard to build.

I started a new Christian blog I called Today's Christian Life almost immediately. That blog did not do well. So I started a third and a fourth blog. Blog number three was called New Age To Christian. Blog number four was a bible blog, called Scripture Sunday. Despite the cute names, neither caught on.

Then, in late 2019 I started blog number five at ChasingTheSaints.com.  A few months later I caved in to my need to write about books and writing (and etsy selling) and started this blog.  Although Chasing the Saints got a headstart, I'm happy to say that people are reading both. And that it's nice to be read.

Since things are going well with the blogs, I decided to write a post sharing some of what I've learned over the last ten years of blogging.

UPDATE:  Due, in pretty much equal parts, to the popularity of this post, the results of my Finding a Good Nonfiction Book Idea exercise and the fact that I can't stop thinking about ways I can go deeper into this topic I've starting working on a short ebook, also called "Faith Based Blogging." I hope to be able to make it available (for cheap) by the end of the summer.

Do's and Don't's:


  1. Don't get too hung up on a name.  A domain name (preferably a dotcom) is important but picking the perfect domain is not.  In blogs 2 through 4 I used domain names that included popular keywords (Christian, scripture, new age, etc.) because I thought doing that would make it easier to find my blogs. But there were a couple of problems with this. The first was that these key words were so popular that a zillion websites came up whenever they were entered. The second was that Google doesn't rank websites the way it did in 2010 when I started my first blog.  According to some, Google now ranks spammy, keyword rich domain names lower than unique non keyword specific names.  This may or may not be true but what is true is that using keywords in a blog name probably isn't worth the effort.  My advice? Use a name you like or your own name.  Or both!
  2. Don't go too wide.  My blog number 2 blog concept (Christian Living) was too broad.  Writing for a broad audience (all Christians) wasn't effective.  Potential readers didn't identify with my concept. They didn't feel my blog was "perfect for them." They also didn't know what to expect from my blog. 
  3. Don't go too narrow. Scripture Sunday and New Age To Christian were great names. And I liked writing about these topics - but I wanted to blog about other things too. Yes, the conventional wisdom is that blogs should aim for a very narrow niche but you don't want to be too focused because, eventually, you'll want to rebel.  For me blogging on the Catholic saints was perfect because it was defined but still allows for a lifetime worth of writing on the saints and what the wrote.  Ditto with a blog on books and writing and etsy selling - not three things that are necessarily related unless you sell your ebooks on etsy - or hope to :)
  4. Don't let anyone tell you you must use WordPress. I know that everybody loves WordPress but it just didn't work for me. I didn't really like the interface and I was never able to establish a readership. When I came back to blogger I was happier and it wasn't long before people started reading my articles.  There were a couple of different reasons why that happened but one, in my opinion, is that Google takes care of their own - usually. A bonus for me was that you can set up a custom domain on blogger for free. If you want to do that on WordPress you have to pay for hosting. 
  5. Do blog every week.  Actually, in my first blog I blogged twice a week. Week in. Week out. For seven years. Now because I'm doing other writing I usually do one post a week. But I do one post every week. If you only do one thing listed here - do that! Blogging regularly doesn't guarantee success and it will get discouraging when your posts aren't getting a lot of attention - but if you don't do it, nothing else you do to promote your blog will have an effect.
  6. Define your audience.  My first blog was (at the time I started it) relatively niche.  Blogs 2 (Christians) and 3 (people who read the Bible) were not. My current blog is a good fit for Catholics who are interested in the saints and how they can inform our spiritual life.  It isn't all that narrow but it is perfect for me as a blogger.  It gives me space AND focus which is exactly what I need.
  7. Do promote your posts. When I write a new blog post I try to take a few minutes to post it to Twitter and Facebook. I also use Hootesuite to schedule the same post to pop up again a couple of weeks or months later on Twitter. And sometimes I do the same thing on Facebook via the Facebook fan page scheduler. I always include an interesting image. I did not do this consistently with blogs 2-4 because my platform at that time wasn't interested in Christian only or Bible only posts. Caution: do not overdo this or people will get annoyed.
  8. Do take a multimedia approach. Educators have long known that people have different ways of learning. Now, thanks to technology people can chose media that fits their learning styles. So it's important to remember that text is only one way to acquire information. While blogging is usually text based it doesn't have to be and - even when it is mostly text - it's a good idea to include some audio or video too. I plan on adding more video to this blog by making and posting more YouTube videos. For more on this, see my post on Joanne Penn's Audio for Authors. Nice images are helpful as well.
  9. Do make it look good.  Actually I did this in blogs 2 through four too but I am especially happy with what I've done with this one. It's based on an inexpensive blogger template I bought from an etsy-based web designer. My $10 purchase included free installation and great customer support - which means that you don't have to personally know anything about web design to have a pretty and professional blog. The designer I used (and could not recommend more highly) is Eve from Fearne Creative Designs. You can check out her beautiful templates at etsy.com/shop/FearneCreativeDesign.
  10. Don't spend a lot of money. The old adage, you can't buy success is absolutely true of blogging.  Chasing the Saints is a do-it-yourself free blogger blog with a $10 template (as is this one).  Images are mostly freebies from pixabay. Video is embedded from my non-premium YouTube channel. But both blogs are getting read. Between the two, there almost 600,000 page views.  And counting.

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