Monday, January 08, 2007

a blogging tutorial

i am told that as christianity struggles to remain relevant in a fast-paced, anything-goes culture, a new kind of church is rising from the empty pews of the mainline protestant denominations. it's a church that seeks to provoke thought and kiss off complacency. it's a postmodern or emergent church. the pastor may drink beer or vote democrat. the worshippers may sing hymns or play crashing guitars and accordions. and the church treasury may sign checks to support human rights groups, evangelists, or artists.

i happen to attend a church like this, and every winter we do our part to encourage the arts. members of the bethany community volunteer to teach classes to fellow church-goers or folks in the north seattle community. the classes--thai fusion cooking, card making, ts eliot poetry, digital photography, salsa dancing, cheese making, classical guitar, lectio divina, etc, etc, etc--are advertised throughout the community and occur in homes, coffeshops, and the church basement.

last year, beth the s.o. and mari (she doesn't yet have a 17 point scale deidentifying nickname) both taught several classes for the bethany arts college. this december they nobly approached me to see if i might also teach a class. i say nobly not because it's a strange funny-looking word but because my 2 year attendance at bethany community church has been nearly devoid of service. that is, i show up on sunday but give almost nothing of my time. i am a christian parasite (yikes!), and beth and mari's recruitment efforts may perhaps represent an unconscious attempt to reform me and precipitate some kind of evolutionary event in my soul.

"you could teach a class in blogging," they said.

besides my initial gut reaction--"that's nerdy"--and an overwhelming sense that a class on blogging would be very unfun, there would be something akin to hypocrisy if i were suddenly deemed master blogger. you see, here's what i would teach as the three most important keys to successful:

  1. stay on topic. if you meander between discussions of books, sports, and religion, the bookworms, athletes, and clerics will usually look somewhere else for their blogging pleasure.
  2. visit other blogs. post lots of comments on blogs that share a similar topic to your blog (notice that's a similar topic not similar topics). posting comments gives other surfers a link to follow back to your blog. and back-links are the secret to good position on google.
  3. post briefly and post often. people will only return to your blog if they're confident that they can find new material.
now, how many of these tips do i follow? zero.

moreover, i am again considering a blogging hiatus. sean tells me this is a bad idea, but i'm worried that i spend to much time staring at my computer screen each evening. email, googling, blogging, uploading pictures to istock, checking sports's too much! and i haven't had much to say recently.

here are the last of my saskatchewan wedding photos.

unknown. "i'm too lazy to title these tonight, but that's nathan, andrew, beth, danny, and alison." shekinah, saskatchewan.


Sandra said...

andrew -

i stumbled upon your blog from another friends' blog and have enjoyed reading your wide range of thoughts and silly picture captions.

after much consideration i've finally begun a blog of my own and find that i too do not follow any of your prescribed rules. i've convinced myself that a (somewhat) defining purpose is more essential, although not usually as fruitful in acquiring readers. mine is a place to update friends and family on my thoughts and happenings, similar to your own. however, i wonder if i'll feel the same (and update as much) in a few weeks/months.

either way, good luck with the class (if you decide to teach it). i hope that life is treating beth and you well.

andrew said...

hi, sandra.

welcome to the world of blogging. have you installed a statcounter on your blog? beware. part of the reason that i occasionally find blogging stressful is because i'm too concerned about increasing traffic, so i teeter-totter between sharing whatever happens to cross my mind and only things that i think might snare readers.

in any case, i'm glad that you appreciate the variety on my blog. i hope you're doing well near portland and that 2007 will be like your new year's night, relaxing and filled with good cereal.