If I had my way, every preacher would also be a writer.
Some of that is because of purely selfish reasons. I think most of our brethren have amazing content that deserves to be read, and nowhere will it achieve a wider audience than online.
(I guess that means some preachers could also do videos or podcasts instead of writing, but that defeats my argument here, so I’m just gonna keep moving on.)
The real reason I wish every preacher wrote online more was because the internet is inherently a content-generation machine. He who has the most (optimized and well-written and useful and relevant) material wins.
And boy oh boy, do I want to win this battle.
There are way too many blogs out there churning out low-quality material simply for ranking purposes, including supposed “Bible teachers.” Even if it’s not heretical, most of what’s online is just not very deep. It’s repetitive, surface-level, and not challenging.
The more we have in the way of Truth making its way to the internet, the better everyone will be.
Advantages of Blogging Sites
I want to be clear: There is nothing inherently wrong with choosing any of those sites to write on. I just think there are better options out there that will make better use of all that time.
Still, if you’re determined to write online and you don’t have a lot of time to start a church blog of your own, there are several advantages to this route.
Quick to Set Up
From start to finish, you could probably have a new blog up on something like Blogger in less than 15 minutes. And that’s if you have zero technical skills whatsoever.
Those that have even amateur-level skills with online work could probably cut that time in half.
That’s truly where sites like these shine. They make it so incredibly easy for anyone to get online that they will almost take your hand and walk you through the setup process. Often, they’ll even provide a semi-personal concierge to answer any of your questions along the way.
Of course, part of the goal of this type of approach is to get you to eventually sign up for a paid plan, but that’s not vital. They understand that most people will use their free services and never upgrade.
By comparison, if you were to set up a site on WordPress.org, you would have to buy the domain name and the hosting, then link the two together. If you wanted additional add-ons like plugins or a customized email address, that would cost extra and require some setup.
Honestly, setting up a WordPress blog will still not take you forever since there are thousands of tutorials online, but it can be intimidating. And most people didn’t get into this to become a web developer — they just want to write.
Extremely User Friendly
Since blogging sites are designed to minimize the technical specs, you should expect that the platform is also really user friendly.
Most utilize some kind of drag-and-drop feature to build out your space. If you want a picture or comment section on your blog, just grab it from the sidebar and slap it where you want it.
This can be both a blessing and a curse. Sites that have these premade templates generally limit whatever customization you may actually want. Ironically, you’ll need to learn some advanced coding techniques in order to manipulate the design, which kinda defeats the purpose.
The benefit is that these blogging sites usually know exactly what you want. They don’t load you down with a ton of features that you won’t ever use and will just make it more complicated to get going.
You’ll still be able to get a great looking blog; if you ever decide you need more, you can always move to something else later.
Most SEO Features Built In
Optimizing your blog for search engines is something you probably won’t think about early in your blogging journey.
That’s totally fine. At this stage, you should just be concerned with laying a solid foundation for yourself: developing a content calendar, setting — and staying with — a writing cadence, and finding your own style.
Fortunately, blogging sites will take care of the SEO elements for you without you really even noticing. They’ll provide “best practices” reminders, help you set your headings, and may even ask you for a keyword or two.
It certainly won’t be enough to make your blog take off, but it can help you get your feet wet. You’ll pick up some of the pieces as you go and should be able to implement them on your blog over time.
Disadvantages of Blogging Sites
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of going all in on developing a blog from the beginning. It will require a lot more work and have a steeper learning curve, but since you’re already committed to a long-term approach to your blog to begin with (right?), it makes sense to just bite the bullet.
For that reason, it’s smart to consider some of the disadvantages of blogging sites that come with all those benefits listed above.
This one is a bit of a misnomer, because Blogger is actually free to use.
You heard me right. It costs zero dollars to get a blog up and going with blogger. Zip. Zero. Nada.
So why does it have a “higher cost” than using something else?
Because the opportunities you’ll miss by using a blogging site are exponentially higher than if you just paid for your own site and built it yourself.
For instance, although you can monetize your blogger blog via Google Adsense, you have zero e-commerce options, so you can’t sell items directly from your site.
You also can’t install popups or create an online community for your website straight on your blog. And if you want a custom theme or domain, that’ll be extra.
After you have it set up, the sky is the limit as far as where you can go. It’s a small price to pay for having the maximum potential for growth.
Confined to an Ecosystem
One of the main reasons I love email marketing so much is that you own your own contact list. No one — short of the government — can come into your hard drive and take your contact list without your consent.
That’s not the case with blogging sites. Although the risk is small, there’s always the chance your site could be shut down because of some random interpretation of that site’s terms of services.
If that happens, all of that work is gone…forever. Hopefully you’ve saved those blog articles somewhere else because that will be gone too.
Branding is another issue. The free plan on Blogger forces you to use a subdomain, so if this were a site on blogger, it would be called mydigitalevangelism.blogspot.com. Not exactly ideal for people to remember.
There are just a whole lot of issues when it comes to playing inside someone else’s sandbox. You probably won’t care about 99% of those restrictions you’ll run into, but the 1% you find will probably make you livid.
Limited Customization Options
Medium is a great blogging site, but nearly every one of their articles looks the same. That’s not their choice — that’s forced on the content creators by medium.com
Here’s something to think about: Around 43% of all the websites in existence today are powered by WordPress. That translates to millions upon millions of WordPress sites out there, some of which look very different from the others.
The customization options for WordPress are so vast and so powerful that you are literally only limited by your imagination. If you can think it, you can create it.
Not just design either, but software too.
Plugins, themes, e-commerce, SEO, font styles, color schemes, animations — all of it is at your fingertips (no pun intended).
Just Get Writing
Honestly, it really doesn’t matter whether you use a blogging site or not, just get writing. Find a topic, write about it, then rinse and repeat. Build some consistency, find your audience, and get going.
The rest will follow.